A Cautionary Tale

    c342w dreaming of sailingSal is a man whose dream for decades has been sailing from the United States to the Dominican Republic. It is more than a dream. It’s a burning, yearning passion and desire. So he says … but is it really?

    After years of using his “need” to work in Chicago as the reason (excuse?) he couldn’t sail, Sal realized retirement was eminent. Knowing full well he wanted to sail through the Caribbean, Sal bought a double-hull Dutch boat specifically designed for sailing in cold, icy North Atlantic waters.

    Sal lives in a marina. However, Sal is unable to take his boat out. The weight of the boat makes it difficult (not impossible) to maneuver in tight quarters. Sal has health issues. (Challenging, yes; over-comeable, yes.) Sal’s real problem is he can’t sail a boat by himself. His solution to the latter? He is actively looking for a female sailing companion. Sal is 74-years-old.

    Motoring straight through, it takes 71 days from Chicago to Central West Florida. Sal took two and a half years. To avoid sailing alone (and refusing to hire a crew), he would entice a friend to sail a portion of the trip. However, when the friend left Sal was stationary another friend joined him.

    Sal set out for the Dominican Republic three times with friends who purportedly had sailing experience. Friend No. 1 had no passport. Friend No. 2 got sea sick. Friend No. 3 couldn’t handle losing sight of land. The closest Sal made it to the D.R. was Marathon, Florida.

    Boats (like houses) require continual maintenance. (Common sense is also a helpful commodity.) But there is also such a thing as overkill.

    A sailboat is fully functional with one set of electrical panels. Sal installed six.

    When Sal heard about a 16 gallon per hour water maker, he decided he “needed” a 32 gph.

    Usually the head tank (a.k.a. poop storage container) in an out-of-the-way spot with as much ventilation as possible. Sal positioned it so in the warm weather the contents percolate, thus adding to the boat’s ambiance with eau de yuk!

    Teak decks require continual maintenance. In his quest for perfection Sal took so long (each slat had to be “perfect”) that by the time he finished, he needed to start over. (Which of course prevented him from sailing.) Sal is prepping his decks for their fourth go-through in 14 years. (Yet he continues to ignore the toe rail maintenance.)

    Sal has step-by-step instructions to single-hand from Tampa Bay to the D.R. with the option of stopping every night, either in an anchorage on the hook or in a marina on the dock. Sal never leaves his slip. After all, before he can set out he first needs to … [fill in the blank].

    Sal talks the talk, but his actions tell a different story. Actions of a man so focused on minutia he avoids facing the fact that, bottom line, he is afraid to sail. (Some might even say his is a story of self-defeating behavior.)

    Had Sal admitted a couple close encounters with rough seas and huge waves unnerved (frightened?) him he could have taken steps to overcome. Had he been honest with himself, he could have found a way to make his dream a reality. Perhaps even choosing a more appropriate boat for the type of sailing he wanted to do. After all, …

    He might have realized that a double keel North Atlantic sailing vessel was not only overkill for the Caribbean, but also a hindrance to one not comfortable sailing.

    He could have learned to read charts, take into account weather conditions, seasons, do his due diligence research regarding the route he planned to take so as not to put himself, others, and/or his boat at risk. He might have even enrolled in a few sailing courses.

    But Sal didn’t do any of that. Instead he put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a vessel which he can never hope to recoup.

    Instead of getting his boat to where it can be sailed and then actually sailing, he always intended to head out “Just as soon as I finish … [fill in the blank].

    Sal is 74-years-old.
    Sal has diabetes.
    Sal has bad knees.
    Sal is afraid to sail his boat.

    c343w 74th b-dAs much as Sal is afraid to sail his boat, he’s even more afraid to ask for help. Sal has spent 14 years doing everything he can to rationalize why he can’t sail to the D.R.

    It can be both exciting and scary learning new things. It can also be clunky and cumbersome until things become second nature. It can even be awkward to ask for help or overcome fears. So what? Of import is taking appropriate action, reasonable precaution, and being willing to move forward without things being “perfect.” After all, isn’t that what experimentation is all about?

    Sal’s story was a wake up call. I am officially motivated to avoid Sal’s mistakes so on my 74th birthday I will be able to say — better yet, scream out gleefully — “No Regrets!”

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    Star H. - May 25, 2016 - 4:43 am

    Extraordinary tale, Tana, with a great moral. We may not all want to sail to the Dominican Republic, but if we have a dream, let’s stop putting it off and do it!
    So happy to hear you are even more motivated to realize your dream.

    Tana Bevan - May 26, 2016 - 10:44 pm

    Star, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Sal’s tale. It’s the whole “it’s got to be perfect” mentality that can really trip a person up. The LoML has a saying, “Do something, even if it’s wrong.” Movement and action get the ball rolling. And if you’re already moving, it’s much easier to change direction. Yeah, Sal’s story was truly a wake-up call. Thanks so much for your encouragement. *hugs*