4.3.18 @ 1000 Local, 1700 Zulu Day #9
Latitude: 13°56N Longitude: 118°43W Covered Distance Last 24 Hours: 131 Distance to the Marquesas: 1856 Distance from Punta de Mita, Mexico: 967 Weather: 70% clouds Winds: 10 knots from the NNE Sea State: 1’-3’ choppy swell NNE Barometer: 1013 Crew’s Mood: Excellent!
The route of all is knowledge, but without experience and hands on trials and errors you may find yourself deficient in success. As we slowly splash through the wonderful Pacific Ocean, I some times ponder. You too? Well it happens to me frequently. Why do something this way or that way? Why make certain decisions from a given set of input factors? Jilly will ask me to teach her about sailing related things that I have learned from reading and or more importantly acquired through experience. There is a balance between knowledge and experience, but I believe that one without the other is incomplete.
How do you teach experience? There is something from the input factors of cause and effect. While riding a horse how much pressure do you input to get them to move left or right? Your knowledge has taught you what to do, but your actual experience teaches you how much force I use to give one horse verses another horse. Not all horses require the same input to get the same results. Sailing is kind of like that also.
What sails do you use? What compass heading do you steer to? How much heeling do you tolerate before reefing the main or taking in sail? As you can see there are so many variables that the all knowing Book of Sailing cannot express them all. Experience on a specific vessel is as important as local knowledge of a city. Without it you could easily be in the baddest part of town with Leroy Brown. You may have a boat load of repair parts in stores, but having varnish doesn’t mean you know how to get that glassy finish that sparkles in the sun light. A great cook doesn’t use measurements when cooking because of there experience. What is the exact measurement for a pinch or a handful? Don’t ask me, I only use the measuring cup when testing the grade of fresh water I’m making from the water maker on Dazzler.
Where am I going with all this? After 15 years of boating with Dazzler. I would say I know more about her than anyone else. I know a lot about her sailing characteristics and how she responds. That knowledge based on experience comes from a hands on feel. Knowing that right timing to make a tack or just when she needs a reef. It is hard to teach the feel that can only come from time in the saddle or rail time as I refer to in becoming a better fish catcher. I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way. A molecular biologist will spend countless hours in the lab running several thousands of test with most of the results being negative. They are not practicing being wrong. They have discovered what won’t work and hoping for that one positive result that can be repeated over and over again thus finding a cure for some cancer or communicable disease. So, making mistakes teaches us what won’t work or what not to do. Man that stove is hot. I think I burnt my hand. Right?
Which sail or sail combination do I use? Which tool do I use? Which pan do need? Sometimes you just have to think outside of the box and throw up a Hail Mary. From your experience you have narrowed down what won’t work and increased your odds of using the right combination.
With the light winds we’ve been experiencing, I can tell you that a 32 thousand pound sailboat requires some breeze to tug her heavy keel to and fro. We have found a combination that seams to work for us. During the day we are flying the spinnaker. During the early evenings we hoist the full main and Jib. During the early mornings we have kind of gotten used to bobbing around like a cork. Because no matter how you dissect, divide, or slice up 3 knots of wind, it’s still 3 knots of wind and at that point we just drop the sails and bob like a cork. Or maybe we’ll get lucky like last night and the winds favored us with about 8 knots for most of the evening. A definite nice change in our favor. We are looking forward to more nights like that. The winds yesterday and throughout the night gave us our best travel day to date with 131 nautical miles under our keel in a 24 hour period.
The sun is on the rise and here we are on passage to another land and culture in paradise. This journey should not be taken by the individuals that just bought a sailboat and decided to venture across the Big Water. Learn as much as you can about her strengths and especially her weaknesses. Spend time in the saddle learning the feelings of the force. When you do, your confidence and experience will enhance your off shore experience.
When people ask me what I think or what I do in certain situations, I try to explain that there is no magic pill that makes us suddenly empowered with experience or knowledge. You could make a small fortune if you owned the rights to those pills. The knowledge of experience comes from one place and that place is hands on. Until next time, be safe and dream on your coffee break not while driving. Cheers!
4.3.18 @ 1000 Local, 1700 Zulu Day #9