Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Thoughts and reflections on sailing and life

I had a funny thought about my sailing escapades at the weekend. It was the Easter weekend and for three days I was alone on the water but on the last day suddenly the place came alive with other boats and racing, the club house bar opened and there were people about. There is something almost biblical about it.

I have been reading a book recently: "The stature of waiting" by Vanstone. It was recomended as preparation for a placement with a Hospice Chapliancy as part of my training. The gist of the book is that we sometimes find that we are passively waiting as we are subjected to situations that are beyond our control. This is especially true of people suffering from a terminal illness, or something less serious perhapps as retirement or losing a job but the book makes a point of saying that in our everyday life we are often subject to situations beyond our control and all we can do is wait. Our success is less dependant on our ability, wisdom, power or authority and quite often in something quite simple but beyond us, like a power cut or a traffic jam.

One of our Church members has an old 420 that he hasn't sailed in 22 years, it has sat in his garage for all that time collecting a film of grime and garden paraphenalia. He is 87 years old and is finding his increasing immobility frustrating. He was a very active man, ran a very succesful buisness, raced rally cars, flew aeroplanes, played a variety of sports, sailed boats of all types, raised a family. He has been a doer of stuff and now he can't. I can sense his frustration and I wonder how I will be when I cannot do the sailing I love so much.

So I got to thinking about sailing; why I like it so much, what is the attraction? And this is my thought: Sailing a boat has a number of variables to deal with but by and large our 'success' is a matter of our ability to master the elements and our vessel. Maybe this is why it is so relaxing (or should be), why it is so enjoyable, why we get such a sense of achievement. It might seem quite trivial and even pathetic for a grown man to race a small wooden boat around a collection of small plastic bouys but it sure is fun and maybe it restores a sense of sanity to the human soul.

I shall be collecting an old 420 on Thursday morning. The plan is to take it to the club for some of the older Junior sailors to try thier hand at something a little more challanging than a Topper. The thought that is in my mind now is what can I do for my old friend?

3 comments:

Tillerman said...

I'm not sure what to recommend for your old friend. But I did read some good advice for people just retired on how to prepare for such a situation. The advice was that we should think of our activities in two dimensions...

a) physical vs mental
b) social vs solo

Think of it as a 4-box grid and try to find an activity in every box i.e. physical solo, physical social, mental solo and mental social.

The reason is that as we get older we may lose our physical or mental abilities, and we may well lose our friends. Having one activity in each of thos boxes is an insurance against those losses.

Ant said...

NEVER STOP SAILING... and never stop being part of the sailing community...

1st things the community, how many of us know the older generation of sailors, how many of us still striuggle to get past some of them on the race course and how many of us love to sit in the sailing club bar and listen to bygone racing and sailing yarns... I certainly do and I knwo that sailing is the one sport that I have ever come across where age is not a differentiator...

If your friend stops sailing then you (the club) need to make sure he is participating in other ways.. passing on knowledge, entertaining and being part of the sailing community... hell why don't you get him blogging about his past experiences... maybe you could create the blog and create the persona and then take down his thoughtsa and put them on-line if he isnt comfortable doing that?? I for one will read his thoughts avidly if things go that way..?

Secondly, sailing, when things are getting a little wobbly in life... the thing to do is to get the right boat, a 420 obviosuly isnt, but an Enterprise or Wayfarer or Mirror/Miracle or one of the more stable Lasers would be perfect... not sure whether this would be suitable for your stretch of water but a 2.4m yacht would work great as you basically sit in the boat and steer without having to move about.. lets face it the legs may be going but I bet his brain is sharper than your or mine on the water!!

Wow, sory for the rambling comment... email me if you want to talk about this imporant issue more....

M Squared said...

I imagine he might enjoy seeing his boat restored and sailing again even if he's not at the helm.