The stick-shift sailboat-retrieving what-if blues
Rich has been really helpful with the whole Adams Cup sailing thing – in fact, he’s the one who petitioned US Sail to have the Rio Grande Sailing Club host the first round at Elephant Butte Lake. And he and Sue have been heavy-duty supporters of our whole team effort.
Sue was out with the flu this weekend, so Rich was here solo. Those of us who were training for the Adams Cup knew he wanted to take Kachina out of the water this weekend, and before we left, people assured us that they would be available to assist him.
As it turned out, when I went back to get the J/World videos he had said he wanted to lend me, I found him all alone, without assistance. I asked if he needed help, and he said what he really needed was a truck driver to drive the towing vehicle. I have driven towing vehicles on boat ramps, but his truck’s a stick shift, and I haven’t driven a manual in about 15 years, so I made an apology, which he accepted.
Then I got home, and WCMIK was doing his Driver’s Ed homework. He read to me the passages from his textbook about manual transmissions, and it seemed to me that the book got it all wrong – according to the book, you follow the numbers and shift from second to third when the vehicle speed is at least something but not less than something else. But what really matters is that you have a feel for the engine and the speed of the vehicle, and a whole lot of other factors like that. I used to have that feel, a long time ago, and I spent a good long while explaining what that feeling was like.
And then I realized, what I was telling WCMIK about manual transmissions was also what I had been writing but not doing in sailing until just a few weeks ago. I know these things. Maybe I would have been a bit more awkward on the boat ramp than Rich would have been (Sue drives the boat, not the truck). But really, I probably could have driven that truck. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Rich, I hope you forgive me, and next time I’m down there, will you let me drive the truck to launch a boat?