Lessons in Communication from the Great Sailing Adventure

by Betty Lochner on June 27, 2013

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


Captain Randy with Alcobri in Victoria, B.C.

Last week, I had the opportunity to go on a sailing trip. And, not just any sailing trip. It was my first – I had never been on a sail boat that wasn’t attached to a dock before.

     My newly retired cousin, Randy, needed a crew to get his newly purchased 34′ sailboat from Pt. Roberts to Gig Harbor. Desperation found him asking for crew volunteers at a recent family reunion.
     I hadn’t spoken more than a few words with Randy in years when we found ourselves seated next to each other at the event. I said “Sure, I’ll go.”  I don’t think he really thought I was serious until a few days later when we were on our way. I invited one of my best friends, Rachel, who had been sailing before (and could cook on a boat), to come along.
     We went through Canada to pick up the boat, then started the 3-day trip stopping in Friday Harbor, WA, Victoria B.C., Kingston, WA, and finally to Alcobri’s new home in Gig Harbor.
     I learned some stuff on our sailing adventure that applies to communication on and off a boat:
  1. 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.
  2. Enunciation is important.  I was relieved that we had a depth finder, not a death finder.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 roaming fees.

It was a great trip, but most important, we didn’t hit anything (though we came awfully close a few times).  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.

By the way, if anyone knows what the name  Alcobri means, please let us know.


Betty_boatBetty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training.  She is also the Director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition Program. 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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