Long-distance voyaging, such as that across oceans and between far-flung ports, can be considered the near-absolute province of the cruising sailboat. Most modern yachts of 25–55 feet long, propelled solely by mechanical powerplants, cannot carry the fuel sufficient for a point-to-point voyage of even 250–500 miles without needing to resupply; but a well-prepared sail-powered yacht of similar length is theoretically capable of sailing anywhere its crew is willing to guide it. Even considering that the cost benefits are offset by a much reduced cruising speed, many people traveling distances in small boats come to appreciate the more leisurely pace and increased time spent on the water. Since the solo circumnavigation of Joshua Slocum in the 1890s, long-distance cruising under sail has inspired thousands of otherwise normal people to explore distant seas and horizons. The important voyages of Robin Lee Graham, Eric Hiscock, Don Street and others have shown that, while not strictly racing, ocean voyaging carries with it an inherent sense of competition, especially that between man and the elements. Such a challenging enterprise requires keen knowledge of sailing in general as well as maintenance, navigation (especially celestial navigation), and often even international diplomacy (for which an entire set of protocols should be learned and practiced). But one of the great benefits to sailboat ownership is that one may at least imagine the type of adventure that the average affordable powerboat could never accomplish.
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