Welcome to the July 2020 issue of Yachting Monthly, on sale 21 May

The number of people taking online navigation courses, we are told, has been soaring. Stuck at home and estranged from the sea, droves of us have been turning to theory lessons, virtual regattas and digital passage planning. It’s a poor second best, but one that should be of benefit.

The key to successful cruising, of course, lies in proper planning, even though no plan ever survives unscathed. We can set off with the perfect weather window on a straight-forward daysail and find ourselves facing calms, squalls and fouled propellers. Suddenly the cruise looks nothing like we had hoped. This season, confined ashore, has certainly turned out in a way none of us anticipated.

The unpredictability of sailing, however, far from being purely a frustration, is perhaps part of why we love it. Not because we enjoy our engine’s pig-headed refusal to start, or the electronics going on the blink, but because of what the experience of countering these challenges does for us as human beings.

As Army veteran Taylor Grieger discovered on his madcap voyage to Cape Horn (p18), there is nowhere to hide at sea when your plans start to fray at the edges. We find ourselves laid bare and vulnerable by the sea’s inanimate will, forced into an honest, humble appraisal of our own abilities. For Grieger, this allowed him to overcome traumatic memories and find a modicum of peace.

That’s not to say preparation is in vain. Far from it. Every scrap of knowledge, every checklist ticked off and every update installed (p68) buys the sailor another line of defence against calamity, and another step towards a successful adventure completed. The investment is not wasted.