Assisted partly by the emergence of Starlink, Ocean Sailing Association of Southern Africa director John Franklin says in the latest OSASA newsletter.

The trend towards digitally-savvy and mobile sailors was reducing the average age of cruise sailors, and augured well for future growth of the cruise sailing sector, Franklin said.

This trend has commenced during the Covid-19 pandemic when many were forced to make lifestyle changes, or opted to pursue their dreams while they still have the chance. “The emergence of Starlink, a satellite-based fast internet service with almost worldwide coverage, is playing a significant part in this demographic change. Starlink brings affordable and reliable internet to small boats almost anywhere, even mid-ocean,” Franklin said.

Plans to introduce a nomad visa for South Africa could accelerate this trend. “South Africa recently announced a digital nomad visa, but then promptly withdrew it for further consideration after much criticism. However, the concept is there, and we just hope that when it finally emerges in a workable format, the terms will be attractive to the new breed of circumnavigators, enabling them and their families to spend more time in this beautiful country,” Franklin said.

Covid had prompted many cruisers and would-be cruisers to re-assess their plans and lifetime ambitions, with the net result being a growth in the cruising population: “Many decided not to put off their cruising ambitions until retirement and when the kids had left home. Rather, they opted to grab the opportunity NOW and worry about future employment and surviving until old age later,” Franklin said.  “As a result, we are now seeing an age shift, with many more young cruising couples on round-the-world cruises, often accompanied by their children who they are home schooling (or, rather, ‘boat schooling’). Contributory factors have been the emergence of successful young entrepreneurs who have sold their start-up businesses and, more particularly, the realisation by many that they are now able to earn a living while they cruise, with enhanced online connections and the greater acceptance of ‘work-from-home’ attitudes.”

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