Genuine experience is what really counts at sea. Welcome to the September 2019 issue of Yachting Monthly, on sale 15 August

Experience is a hard-won thing. To have sailed north to the high Arctic, or short-handed across the Atlantic to the Azores, and returned to tell the tale, is a badge of honour for any sailor. We may not all aspire to stretch ourselves and our boats quite that far, but most of us will have wondered what it would be like, and if we could do it. I know I have.

So it was with some fascination that I read three articles in particular this month from others who have sailed their standard production boats, by no means specialised expedition yachts, in such challenging conditions. Brian Black, who has spent a decade’s worth of summers and more in the desolate beauty of Greenland’s fjords, shares what it takes to navigate the ice, the isolation and mental challenges of the high latitudes. Whether I follow in his wake or not, there are certainly some seamanlike ideas I’d like to adopt on my boat (p38).

For those that prefer warmer climes, four sailors from this year’s Azores and Back race explained how they got their boats – a Dehler 36 and a Westerly Ocean 33 among them – ready for 1,000 miles of open water. Susie Goodall may be a veteran of the Golden Globe Race, but racing doublehanded gave her new insights, while this was the second time offshore for Paralympic sailor Helena Lucas. Their experiences, including the odd mishap, provide valuable learning for the rest of us.

It may have been a step up for some of them, but it’s nothing compared to the plunge into the deep end taken by Loris Pattinson. The 18-year-old was helping crew a yacht through the fjords of Chile when the skipper had to urgently fly home for a few weeks, requiring the teenager to deliver the boat several hundred miles up this challenging coast, solo. A steep learning curve, but one he rose to admirably, emerging with a badge of honour only real experience can bestow.