Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

You’ve got a friend

The past eight and a half years have been … well … one long learning experience

Over at Proper Course, Tillerman has issued a challenge to fellow sailing bloggers: Write about a learning experience relating to sailing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one of those “Oh, no, another learning experience!” incidents – although there certainly are plenty of those. It could be any learning experience at all, so long as it’s related to sailing.

The deadline for entries is tomorrow, so for the past two weeks I’ve been trying to think of a learning experience that I could share with the world.

Well, I’ve already blogged about such things as the time we punched a cleat-shaped hole in the bow of Black Magic and we learned about docking under sail in stiff winds as well as how to do fiberglass work. I hadn’t started my blog at the time that we had the accident in California, in which Pat learned not to treat a big boat like a little boat, at the expense of a broken wrist, but I’ve referred to the incident enough that it seems like I’ve covered it enough. I blogged about the time I was sailing with Zorro and we got dismasted. I’ve blogged about various other goofs and gaffes on and around the water. I’ve blogged about transporting boats, including the time the tire blew on Syzygy’s trailer, and we found out that being in the shadow of multiple communication towers was meaningless with an obsolete cell phone. Since I’ve already covered all of those topics, it would be redundant to cover them again for the purposes of Tillerman’s challenge.

Then there are the learning experiences that were specifically designed as learning experiences, such as the classes Pat and I have taken. Since December of 1999, we have taken basic keelboat sailing, coastal cruising, coastal navigation, and other classes in handling a boat and operating its systems. We also took a class in race management last year, from which we learned a whole lot, the upshot of which is that Pat is now a certified race officer and working on the next level, and I’m working on getting certified myself. But I’ve already covered that here, too.

And of course, there was all of the training and hard work when I decided to try to be a helmsperson in the Adams Cup. For months, nearly all of my spare time was devoted to training and learning about racing and how to handle a racing boat, and I learned a heck of a lot. There were some “Oh no!” moments there, too, such as when I got clobbered by the boom. The quarterfinal races themselves constituted a learning experience. But regular readers of this blog already know about all of those things.

So I’ve been racking my brain to find some learning experience that I haven’t already covered, but that would be of interest to readers both of this blog and of Tillerman’s.

Then I realized … the greatest learning experience hasn’t been just one single event. The whole thing has been a learning experience, from the time Pat and I first joined both the New Mexico Sailing Club and the Rio Grande Sailing Club, in February of 2000.

From the beginning, when we were absolute, total newbies, the more experienced sailors were always there to help us. Whether it was something general about sailing, or something specific to our boat, we could always count on somebody to help us. Sometimes that meant offering help even when we didn’t know we needed it, such as specific tips for making life comfortable aboard a MacGregor. Sometimes, we knew we needed information, but we didn’t know exactly what questions to ask, and somebody always had an answer.

And there were always the senior-guru-types who just about knew everything, who had been sailing for ages, and who also had tales to tell, who could keep us excited about sailing and interested in sailing, whether it was racing in places other than New Mexico, or taking cruises to intriguing places, or whatever. All of those stories were learning experiences.

Now we’ve been around long enough that we’re regarded as senior-guru-types, so we’re now passing along the same kind of caring that we have received. But at the same time, there will always be somebody else from whom we can still learn. We will never know everything that there is to know. And neither will anybody else in the sailing clubs. But we can all share, and we can all learn, and as long as we keep sharing and learning, we will be all the stronger.

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