November 6, 2009

Who Do You Trust?

.




Blogger Greg, of Love and Coconuts, posted a while back about a sail in his new dinghy. He's just learning to sail it and, at the same time, trying to convince his young daughters that sailing is a survivable experience. It seems they are having some doubts.

It dawned on me that it's just that issue of trust that's bedeviled me throughout my whole sailing career. And, I suspect, Greg and I aren't the only ones.

From the beginning, I've wanted to share this whole sailing thing with my wife. She loves being by the water - you know, beaches, sunsets, a glass of merlot - but anything technical is just not her thing.

I remember how jazzed I was the first time we sailed a small dinghy - the acceleration as the sail was sheeted in. For me, this was some kind of impossible magic. But all my wife could say was:

"Be careful, you'll poke your eye out!"

Well OK, maybe those weren't her exact words, but the message was more in her tone. She just wasn't 'getting it' the way I was. She was happy to be along for the ride, if that's what I wanted to do, but she was just humoring me. And could it be she may have been just a little bit scared, too? Is it possible she may have doubted that I knew what I was doing?

Over time, we moved from rented Lasers, to a more stable 'family-style' daysailer, to a sailing club with keel boats, to chartering in turquoise water. At each step, the boats were more comfy and my wife's confidence in me was growing. One incredible day, she actually suggested it might be nice to have our own boat.

Thirty seconds later, there I was at the boat broker's, signing my life away for a slyly smiling 20-year-old Catalina 30 that knew more than it was letting on.

I declared victory - finally we had a boat that was substantial enough for my wife to feel safe on. But little did I suspect the battles that still lay ahead, some of which are still raging today.

What it's taken me years to figure out is that it's not the boat that inspires confidence. It's the skipper. And it's not enough to know how to trim the jib or how to steer through waves. Putting your crew at ease comes from a million little things.

Like knowing that the big wind is coming and getting a reef in ahead of it, sailing off the jib, before anyone goes sliding to the low side of the cockpit, while casually keeping up a friendly chat with your companions as if there were no other way to tie in a reef.

I think the casual chatter is a big part of it. If you can manage that while making the important stuff happen, seemingly all by itself, then you are truly a master of your vessel, in every sense.

A million little things.

I think I'm about half way there. I have just another half a million things to learn.

While others are working on their rolltacks, reading the shifts, and staying ahead of the deathrolls, I am learning when to just say "no" to sailing. When to say, "Today we shop, tomorrow we sail." How to make my wife feel that this is her boat, too. And that she has a say in how it is run. These are hard lessons to learn. Just as hard as backing down from a setting anchor, holding the bow up into the wind. Or figuring out what is exactly the best position for the jib fairlead.

Learning these lessons and failing to learn them has resulted in some of the best times my wife and I have shared together.

And in some of the worst.

One good thing about the small confines of a cruising boat, though, is that there is no place for either of us to run away. There are no doors to slam. We've both learned to face the little calamities and to deal with them, right then and there.

I think we've both learned that sailing together can be something so good that it's worth figuring out how to do without killing each other. I think she's learning to trust me and I think I'm learning to trust her.

How about you? Who do you trust?

.

34 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous, I guess I'm showing my age here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. When I was a very young kid, I used to watch a funny old guy on TV. I had no idea who he was, just that he had this TV show (which many thought was the inspiration for Who Do You Trust?).

    I kept telling my friends that this old guy was pretty funny, even though he was this, well, you know, old guy.

    It was Groucho Marx.

    Maybe I learned more than grammar from daytime TV.

    ReplyDelete
  5. O-Dude, what happened, are you not feeling well? Your boat still out of the water and you're having withdrawals ?
    This was a real post about sailing. Careful it will spoil your image...

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This post has not been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This second post has not been removed by the author.

    What's going on with all the deleted comments? I want to see them!!!!

    O Dock, you might be old, but you are wise. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks Joe, I'd like to see them, too. I've e-mailed the author to make sure this blog hasn't been hacked. Or, maybe my last check to him bounced.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. OK, this time I'm taking no chances. I'm quoting your comment before it disappears:

    Tillerman:

    I'm pioneering a new art form called "minimalist commenting". I'm deleting all my comments after they have been up for a few minutes to simulate the way in which everyone forgets everything I say in the real world. The result is that only one side of the debate remains visible to the world. A bit like "one hand clapping" or watching a political discussion on Fox News.

    Less is more.


    O Docker: For a complete, unexpurgated transcript of this comment thread, send 50 cents in coin to:

    O Dock Comments
    Merkle Press
    Paramus, NJ

    This thread is now actually like my wife's description of our discussions about sailing. She says I never listen to her point of view or opinions and that I see everything from only my perspective. I don't know how she can have such a one-sided view of things.

    (See how I'm cleverly trying to steer the thread back to the subject of the post?)

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That might not work out as you foresee:

    Tillerman:

    O Docker, this is one of the most brilliant posts I've ever read. How do you do it?

    Such insight! Such wit! Such, je ne sais quoi!

    I realize that for all of these years, I've been wasting my time sailing this crummy little Laser. How selfish I've been!

    I should have been thinking more of my wife and my family. I should have gotten a larger boat years ago so that we could all go sailing together. Thank you for helping me see the light.


    O Docker: Please, please, you are too kind. I'm only happy that I could help you see the error of your ways.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, that took a lot of maneuvering, but I've finally got the quote I've been looking for, for my 'What the critics say' banner.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Iron on a Laser? I thought they only had daggerboards! Or do some Laser sailors have a secret to getting extra stiffness under the rig?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I don't think I want to know what they're doing under their rigs, Pat, but Tillerman must realize how we in the media delight in taking quotes out of context.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Man, I leave you guys alone for a couple of hours and things get crazy.

    Great blog and funny comments section. Kind of a whiplasher, though, reading O'D's thoughtful discourse and then tuning into the Peanut Gallery comments section, like watching Brian's Song followed by an episode of Seinfeld.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you, Greg. At last, a voice of reason. I can't get Tillerman to stay on topic. Where does he get this from?

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  24. For those of you who don't have the 50 cents to send off to Merkle Press, here is a complete transcript of the missing 17 minutes of today's Tillerman tapes (he must have forgotten that he's dealing with an archivist here).

    I think what may have happened is that he finally tried taking Joe Rouse's suggestion to down an entire bottle of Maker's Mark in one sitting.

    As it turns out, a mind is a pretty good thing to waste.


    -------------------------------------------------
    "To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved." George MacDonald

    -------------------------------------------------
    O Docker, I am truly sorry to learn that you received your grammar education from American daytime television and not from a qualified English teacher. Did you notice that that Wikipedia link says that the 2007 revival was going to be called Do You Trust Me? I suppose that you probably expected it to be called Do You Trust I? Please take two aspirin and read Carol Anne's blog every day.

    -------------------------------------------------
    Zen, please don't try and drag this comment thread back to discussing sailing or, even worse, the original post. We are having a debate about the influence of American daytime television on the use of accusative interrogative pronouns.

    -------------------------------------------------
    I'm pioneering a new art form called "minimalist commenting". I'm deleting all my comments after they have been up for a few minutes to simulate the way in which everyone forgets everything I say in the real world. The result is that only one side of the debate remains visible to the world. A bit like "one hand clapping" or watching a political discussion on Fox News.

    Less is more.

    -------------------------------------------------
    I have a new idea. If I just posted "This post has been removed by the author" then O Docker would have to read my mind and try and transcribe what I really meant to say into one of his comments and I wouldn't have to even bother to delete my post because it would already say it had been removed.

    Truly effortless commenting.

    Less is more.

    -------------------------------------------------
    O Docker, this is one of the most brilliant posts I've ever read. How do you do it?

    Such insight! Such wit! Such, je ne sais quoi!

    I realize that for all of these years, I've been wasting my time thinking about getting a bigger boat to sail with my wife when I could have just been sailing my wonderful little Laser more. How selfless I've been!

    I should have been thinking more of my self. I should have abandoned my dream of a larger boat years ago. Thank you for helping me see the light.

    -------------------------------------------------
    Make sure that you point out that my words were meant ironically.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends." Friedrich Nietzsche

    ReplyDelete
  26. O Docker, great post. I trust K. Always rock solid. No drama, just matter of fact.

    word verif: ioninu - a Japanese dog whose protons and electrons are not equal in number.

    ReplyDelete
  27. damn! and he even took his space with him!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Who was it who said,

    "In God we trust.
    All others pay cash."

    ?

    or

    "Trust me, I'm from the government here to help you, the check is in the mail, no that outfit doesn't make you look the least bit fat, I'll respect you in the morning, it's the first right you can't miss it, yes I checked, everything's under control, nothing can go wrong so watch this...."

    ReplyDelete
  29. Pat, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash was a book of short stories by Jean Shepherd. If you read enough of my idle ranting here, you may discover why I didn't have to Google that.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Great post. I have found that a risky but great way to strengthen the bonds of a good marriage is to sail on and off the mooring for a season. The outboard died so we have no choice.

    In June I thought we might need lawyers but by September we had it down to an art form

    ReplyDelete
  31. tillerwoman12/2/09, 4:29 PM

    I like this one. But I still don't like the color...

    ReplyDelete
  32. Tillerwoman, thanks for stopping by O Dock.

    I see you have the same wry sense of humor as your husband. Great joke about how women care only about trivial issues like a blog's background color, rather than the substance of an argument.

    You gals can get away with joking about yourselves, but if I ever said something like that, my wife would slam me upside the head and I might be sleeping in the garage for a while.

    If you like, I can save your comment as a PDF file and e-mail it to you.

    Have a nice time in the Caribbean with Tillerman.

    ReplyDelete