Going Sailing

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca


A true sailor’s definition of going offshore is not measured by the distance traveled from the coast but by the length of time spent at sea.  Prolonged voyages are marked by the time that the captain and crew spend away from supplies and professional assistance, building self reliance, learning accountability and perfecting mechanical expertise to weather any oncoming storms. 

Pre-passage preparations for setting sail are of the highest priority and are based on an inner acknowledgement and respect for the tremendous power and dynamics of the wind and water, even in favorable conditions. 

Absolutely nothing is taken for granted! 

The sea worthiness of the vessel is put under close structural and mechanical scrutiny before it is allowed to leave port.  Every inch of the vessel is inspected and if there is any doubt as to any part or device’s ability to hold strain under pressure, its replacement part is quickly installed.  Taking chances in this area is not an option.  Just one weak part could jeopardize the entire voyage.  The crew’s ability to manage the vessel with this weakness in extreme conditions would be compromised and an unnecessary element of danger would be introduced if the vessel gets caught offshore in severe weather conditions.

Storm force winds can only be conquered by the confidence of a crew that knows the vessel in which they are sailing is structurally strong and has been completely prepared for a prolonged voyage, no matter what the conditions.  The crew relaxes in the knowledge that following all the age-old basic sailing guidelines will bring them safely home.

Sailing directly into the wind, stalls the boat and requires a greater effort to restart.  A good sailor when in uncharted waters must never fight the wind. 

The only way to get back on course is to harness the natural forces of the wind and water, tacking back and forth and sailing just off of the wind to reposition their destination.  The elements drive the sailboat in a natural direction that is often contrary to where the captain wants the boat to go.

Losing sight of the destination brings added dangers.  While working so hard to keep the sail boat under control, the boat sometimes drifts so far that the shore can no longer be seen.  Captain’s instinct backed up with a trusted compass, sea charts and other sailing equipment ensures that there is always a disaster recovery plan.  A good sailor always packs emergency supplies and extras of everything, just in case the voyage turns out different to what was originally planned.  Taking mental note of the starting and ending point coordinates means that under pressure, the information is at their fingertips. 

Too much water adds to the onboard weight and this would eventually sink the ship.  A good sailor must always carry a bucket or container on the voyage to get rid of any excess water that may inadvertently get on board during the storm.  Excess water must be tossed overboard quickly.

Plain sailing only comes with practice.  Good navigation consists of charting a well planned course to a destination and measuring progress at consistent intervals, to compensate for any deviations. Navigating a sail boat takes experience that paradoxically only comes after many navigation trials. 

The resilience of the human spirit can never be underestimated.  Building a career or charting the direction of one’s life is like sailing across an ocean. 

You must know to which port you are sailing, your vessel must be voyage ready and all the training materials must either be in your head or at your fingertips for quick reference.  Thorough preparation will always meet opportunity.

The power is within all of us to drift aimlessly along taken by the tides and the winds or cruise with additional motor boat power on board or race to the finish line.  External forces influence our course if there is no plan or direction and we quickly lose our focus as to the purpose of the voyage in the first place.  If we are in control, we can arrive at our destination with skill and some maneuvering, varying only the speed of the voyage.  If we are fear-filled, we make excuses and never leave the port.

[Coaching Questions]

  •  Are you ready for the voyage?
  • Who are you on the voyage with? Who’s weighting down the boat? Who’s going to help you carry the boat?
  • What are you taking to cross the water? Sail boat? Canoe? Kayak? What difference does it make?
  • How do you stay on course in the middle of the ocean?
  • How have you prepared for weathering the storms of life?
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