Sailors Wisdom, Life Lessons From The Boat, Take 2

Those who have been following for awhile know that I am a sailor.  I love the water, the wind, the sun, the boat, and the way it all works together to move the boat over the water.  It’s like magic!  You can check out this post from July to read more about my last sailing experience.

SailingThis past weekend my family and I spent Sunday sailing on Sandusky Bay.  We chartered a sailboat and practiced our sailing skills.  It didn’t exactly go as planned.  You know what they say, experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want!

What we wanted was a smooth, uneventful daysail with perfect weather.  A sail where the completely uninitiated among us could ease into the ideas of sailing, get a little hands-on experience and just have fun.

Didn’t happen.

Instead we got 15-20 knots of wind, overcast skies, mid-seventies temperature (which with 15-20 knots of wind on the bay made for a chilly day), and a sprinkle of rain.  We had two unexpected equipment issues and an inexperienced captain who completely froze when it was time to dock the boat.

After thinking awhile, I realized we definitely learned a lot and got some great…  Um…  Experience.  Yeah, that’s what happened.  Here are some thoughts:

1. It’s not easy being captain!  This was my absolute first time out on a sailboat when I was the most experienced sailor on the boat.  It’s not easy!  You’re responsible for the welfare and safety of every soul on the boat as well as the safe operation of the boat itself.  There’s nobody aboard to ask if you have a question or problem.  I did have to call Captain Chris (Fair Wind Sailing Charters‘ EXCELLENT on-site charter support) twice and have him talk me through problems, but ultimately all went well.

2.  Stuff happens.  The weather conditions were pretty far from perfect, I had an inexperienced crew and a few equipment issues.  So what?  If you wait until everything is perfect you will never try anything new.  Don’t wait for it to be perfect, just cast off and do your best.  That’s the only way you learn.

3.  No yelling on the boat.  Panicking never helps anything.  If you stay calm and look at the situation rationally you will have a much better chance of figuring it out.  Plus your (very) inexperienced crew doesn’t take yelling well.  (PS – I apologized later.)

4.  Pull in your fenders.  Did you read the post from July?  Yep, I forgot.  Don’t know if anybody teased me on the open channel because I was busy and not listening.  If they were teasing me, I hope they enjoyed it.

So will we go out on a boat again?  Absolutely!!  Will we consider getting more experience in controlled circumstances?  Yes, but honestly, I think I learned more from two hours as captain than I will in any number of lessons.  Might consider docking lessons, though.  That would be good.

I haven’t asked Captain Dave what report he got from Captain Chris, or whether he will charter a boat to me again in the future.  What do you think?  I did remember his number-one lesson:  “Rocks are bad!”  I didn’t find any rocks with my keel.  I did look at the chart before heading out.  Nobody fell overboard and nobody threw up.  All in all, it was a pretty successful day.

Question:  Should Captain Dave charter me another boat sometime?

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