Lessons in Communication from the Great Sailing Adventure

by Betty Lochner on July 7, 2017

“If we aren’t careful, we’ll be home ahead of schedule.” ~ Captain Randy

While sitting on a deck at a local restaurant, watching the sailboats pass by, I had to laugh.  It looks so simple, so carefree, so unstressful. Just sailing in wind and enjoying the view.  But, I know better.  I remember my first big sailing trip with my cousin “Captain Randy”, and it was anything but carefree.  In my experience, sailing really comes down to this: a lot of (preferrably skilled) work and really good communication.

Captain Randy with Alcobri in Victoria, B.C.The adventure started when Randy announced at a family reunion that he needed a crew to get his 34′ sailboat from Pt. Roberts to Gig Harbor, Washington.  Sounded fun to me, so I signed up.  I invited one of my best friends, Rachel, who had been sailing before (and could cook on a boat), to come along. We figured it would be a relaxing, fun trip for the three of us.
We were chauffeured by my land-loving husband to Canada to pick up the boat, then started the 3-day trip stopping in Friday Harbor, Washington, Victoria B.C., Kingston, Washington, and finally to Alcobri’s new home in Gig Harbor.
AlcobriHere are some of the important lessions I learned that applies to communicating on and off a boat:
  • Use the right jargon for the situation. A tiller may look like a stick, but it’s not a stick.  Saying, “do you need me to hold the stick?” is bad form.  Also, a rope is not a rope. It’s a  line.  Left is Port and Right is Starboard.  Don’t ask why.
  • Enunciation is important.  I was relieved that we had a depth finder, not a death finder.
  • Be patient. Sailing is a slow process.  We could have run or even walked faster than we moved when the sail was up. It’s okay to take your time and enjoy the scenery and conversation.
  • Your patience will pay off. In our adventure we saw several schools of seals and dolphins, a lazy sea lion on a buoy, a sleeping otter, and an entire pod of Killer whales.
  • Sailing is windy.  To have a good sail, you have to have power in the wind.  Don’t be afraid to face the wind and go for it.
  • Storms are scary.  When you are in the open sea and a storm comes up, there is a desparate need to get to a safe harbor.  And while sailboats are for sailing, sometimes they are best left safely tied to a dock.  Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition about safety.
  • Sailing is immense.  At one point, we sailed on 35 miles of open sea. It made me think about what a small part we play in a big world.  In other words, keep things in perspective when you get a little too full of yourself.
  • Things may look exactly the same but really they aren’t.  We went in and out of Canada and it all looked basically the same, but the rules were very different.  Oh, and you will get charged international phone roaming fees.

It was a great trip, but most important, we didn’t hit anything (though we came awfully close a few times), and we survived a pretty wild storm.  We had great conversation, beautiful weather, unfilled time, fun ports, and met interesting people. And, yes, we learned some valuable communication lessons along the way.


Betty_boatBetty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home and 52 Communication Tips.  Both are  also available on Kindle at Amazon.com.

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:http://www.cornerstone-ct.com


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