Hannah Kunert Hannah in her familiar role as a Dinghy Instructor during the 2021 OSC Sailing Courses
Hannah Kunert Learning from The Master. Hannah with our President and Ocean Yacht Master and Instructor James Robinson on the September Club Cruise
Hannah Kunert Hannah & ‘Juggler’ at sea for the first time with Joe Iliff as her crew 2021
Hannah Kunert Hannah & ‘Juggler’ about to enter the Deben for the first time 2021
Hannah Kunert Hannah at the helm of ‘Talisker 1’ and beyond the bar in a cruising boat for the first time 2021
Hannah Kunert Hannah Instructing our President’s granddaughter Jessica 2021

First Year Cruising – Hannah Kunert


There has always been something about sailing on the sea that has gripped my imagination tightly. In my Year 6 yearbook, I wrote that my dream was to sail around the world but even sailing out of the river seemed entirely unrealistic until this April when the stars aligned and I suddenly had six completely free months and the opportunity to buy a little 21ft Corribee called ‘Juggler’.

In many ways, Juggler is the perfect first big boat for me; she’s small enough to sail single-handed, is seaworthy (despite having a colander-like deck), and has a bilge keel which makes running aground slightly more forgiving. However, getting to know her was still the most terrifying sailing experience I have ever had; she seemed to go sideways as much as forwards, needed a lot of oomph to tack, had little hope against tide, and had a horribly fussy jib. However, I was by far the weakest link out of the two of us. At the beginning of the season, I had pitiful seamanship skills, was overwhelmed by anything that involved engines, was utterly clueless about boat maintenance, and had never single-handed a boat with two sails, let alone one over 13ft long.

Thankfully though, on the day that I launched ‘Juggler’, a wise and incredibly experienced mariner came up to me and gave me a valuable piece of advice: “have no pride”. I will always be grateful to Doc* for this advice because it carried me through a summer which was jammed with mistakes, awkward accidents, and an extremely steep learning curve. I was Philip’s first rescue of the season when I forgot to open the fuel tank air valve, I almost drove Juggler onto the mud when I tried to beat under jib only, I realised how abysmal my knot-tying skills were, and I messed up small things like getting fenders the right height. Every time I left my mooring I was reminded how green I really was. As an experienced dinghy sailor, this could have crushed my enthusiasm, but Doc’s advice lodged itself in my mind and gave me a certain level of grim determination that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

His advice also led me to the thing that most defined my first cruising season: the extraordinary kindness of the boating community. By definition, having no pride means being willing to ask for help, and I highly doubt that I would have sailed as much and as far as I did had it not been for some incredibly generous fellow sailors. Yes, they may heckle, but they also filled in leaks, gave me crash courses in tidal calcs, gave me books (including a very special one left in my lazarette locker), drove me around Suffolk in a (futile) search for Butane, donated an outboard and a camping stove, guided me out across the Bar for the first time, found me a berth on the OSC Cruise at short-notice, and swamped me with knowledge over enormous quantities of tea. I will forever be grateful to these people who took me and my boat absolutely seriously, pushed me, occasionally reined me in, and gave me one of the best summers that I can remember.

My first season cruising has been a wonderful experience – I could probably triple the length of this article talking about magical moments sitting on deck under a full moon eating Pot Noodles or the joy of successfully sailing Juggler to Harwich. I have well and truly caught the cruising bug and Juggler and I will be back next year, hopefully venturing even further. But I will also probably make more daft mistakes, I still haven’t mastered the jib, and my knot-tying skills still leave much to be desired so, going into my second season cruising, I will try to bear Doc’s advice in mind and continue to do my best to have no pride, embrace the learning curve, and lean on my friends.

*David Foreman, known to all as ‘Doc’ is a very accomplished sailor.  An Ocean Yacht Master and Instructor ‘Doc’ has single-handed to the Arctic and to South America and back.  Hannah is not the first sailor to benefit from ‘Doc’s remarkable wisdom.