Saturday, April 21, 2012

Alisa's Advice

In the world of sailing couples, it's a cliché: the man is the one who has dreamed about going sailing all his life, the woman never thought about moving onto a boat before she met him, but now she's taken his dream as her own.

We've met any number of couples where that's the case.  Sometimes, it works out great - the woman buys into the dream completely, and quickly becomes an equal partner in the equation.  Like, for instance, the couple on Galactic.

In other cases, it doesn't work out nearly so well.  The woman never quite buys in to the whole idea, there are tensions on board, get the picture.

I'm not sure where it came from, but the other day Alisa had a sudden revelation.

I've got it, she said.  The perfect advice for guys who are trying to talk their wives into going sailing.

What's the advice? I asked.

Be a kick-ass sailor.  Don't be out there on passage wondering how to pole out the jib to sail downwind.  You've got to have your stuff together so she can trust you.


I thought about it a bit.  On one hand, if you're new to sailing, it's a pretty big ask to turn yourself into an expert before you leave home.

On the other hand, you do get the idea that there are a few people out there who are crossing oceans while they're still figuring out the basics.

Of course, there is a venerable tradition in every sort of adventure activity of being self-taught, of going out and doing whatever it was that grabbed your imagination until you're eventually competent at it.  But - if you're not used to sailing (and even sometimes if you are), sailboats can be pretty frightening things.  They flap, they heel, and they generate forces that can be really hard to deal with if you get in a bad situation.  And it really is too much to ask someone who hasn't been dreaming of palm-fringed anchorages their whole life to put up with all the scary, out-of-control moments while you're trying to figure out how to handle the boat.

So there it is - if you're the motivating factor for going sailing, and you want to give yourself the best chance for convincing that special someone to share the dream, learn to sail well before you go.

(Oh, and - those "learn to cruise" courses?  Useless, I reckon, for pure sailing knowledge.  The best way to become a better sailor, to learn to trim and balance and control a boat, is to go out and crew on a racing boat.  You might not meet the best class of people doing it, but you will definitely learn to sail.)

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