Boating Lessons

Tod Inlet, British Columbia. The name alone causes me to smile; actually being there makes my heart sing. Two nights at anchorage with kayaking in the early morning and dinghy trips to Butchart Gardens and nearby Brentwood Bay later in the day, engenders more joy than a reasonable person should expect.

Along with joy, I received a life lesson. When we arrived, the inlet was unusually lightly populated. Our second morning there a sailboat arrived and proceeded to drop anchor surprisingly near us. Her proximity wasn’t dangerous—as long as the water remained calm and both our anchors held.

The problems began when we started hoisting anchor in the afternoon, ready to head to our next destination. A stiff wind kicked up and as my husband hauled in the anchor from the bow, our boat drifted perilously close to our neighbors. Handling the wheel and controls in the pilothouse, I executed some deft maneuvering and with a dose of blessing, managed to avoid a collision. However, as we swung frighteningly near, they ran to their bow and loudly exclaimed, “A bit close, captain.” On the water, that is the equivalent of road rage.

I understood their unease. Yet it did set me thinking how they most probably didn’t recognize that their choice of a bad anchoring location is what caused the problem. Perhaps they went back into their cabin after the near-miss thinking, “Some people really don’t handle their boats well.” In reality, on this occasion, our boat handling was fine. By anchoring too close to us, they initiated the sequence of events that could have become a crisis.

How easy it is to do this. We behave in certain ways, speak or act recklessly and blame others when things go wrong. Often, enough of a time gap exists between our mistake and the consequences so that we don’t connect the dots. More frequently than we like to admit, we trigger many of our own problems, but rather than learning from our mistakes, we shake defiant fists at others.


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6 thoughts on “Boating Lessons”

  1. SECOND comment (historical improbability): the synchronicity of this week’s Musing with The Rabbi’s Thought Tools last week is astounding. Imagine the intent to get away on a mere boat voyage vacation (‘Everybody needs a break, climb a mountain or jump in a lake’*) and find that an innocuous change-of-wallpaper exercise is simply bristling with Divine messages. WOW. My sainted mother used to say: LIFE is what happens to you while you were busy making other plans.
    (*Apologies to renowned Irish folksinger Christy Moore: ‘Lisdoonvarna’)

  2. How right you are! Once as an inexperienced teenager I almost caused an accident when I entered the freeway too slowly. The tractor trailer (30 tons?) in the right lane could not slow down and I was in mortal danger of being rammed from behind and run over. But the driver was a gentleman who simply moved over into the next lane and cautioned me via hand gesture to move faster when entering the freeway. Today I thank God that he had the next lane free so that he could avoid me. My compact car and I could have been crushed into road pizza.
    Life hands you the same situation again, but these things oft return to you from another perspective. More recently I was moving down the freeway in the right lane, and a man in a van wanted me to slow down to allow him to enter, but he would not accelerate on the entrance ramp. He narrowly made it in but I did not slow down enough to suit him. He advised me of his displeasure by flipping me the finger. What he didn’t see was that I could not possibly slow down because I had a fast-moving 30-ton tractor trailer riding my back bumper, only ten feet away! He engaged his finger before he engaged his brain.
    And the next lane was chock full and moving along at 65mph: no place to swerve. What an awful chance he was taking! Our guardian angels were working overtime.

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