Beyond Wind And Water, Sailing Offers Life Lessons

March 22, 2017 by John A

Soundings Magazine ran this story about the the lessons sailing offer beyond moving a boat through the water by force of wind.  Over time most sailors get to appreciate this but it may often be hard to express.  Dieter Loibner captures those feelings in this simple story highlighing the great joys and values imparted by sailing.  Sailing is fantastic fun but there's more than meets the eye.  It's one of the many reasons we like to celebrate sailing with sailors around the world.  

Posted on 15 February 2017 Written by Dieter Loibner for Soundings

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This quote by George Santayana has been on replay in my mind for a while. But sometimes — and I explicitly do not imply political meaning here — it is desirable to do just that, to remember and repeat.

What seems like a lifetime ago, someone told me that sailing is not just the art of moving across the water by the force of the wind, but a holistic approach to living. I understood the words, but the deeper meaning proved elusive, and soon the idea was buried under the trivia of everyday life. It wasn’t until a cold and misty morning last October, puttering downstream on Germany’s majestic Elbe River, that this idea suddenly resurfaced.

Aboard Port Tudy — a spick-and-span Vindö 40 that belongs to my friend and colleague Lasse Johannsen — we set out from Wedel, a suburb on the western fringes of Hamburg, and were heading to Stade, a Hanseatic town about 10 miles downriver. It was a final trip before hauling out for winter. No agenda, just for kicks. At the helm was an old hand, Lasse’s 8-year-old son Jasper, who expertly steered the 31-foot yacht, keeping her outside the shipping lane, which is militantly off-limits for pleasure boats, while taking great care to stay away from the wooden stakes to starboard. “They mark the shallows at the end of the groins,” he said matter-of-factly, occasionally glancing aft to check on a cutter that followed in our wake.

The boy was in his element, but he also was showing off a bit; he was conscious of his little sister, Lisbeth, watching him like a hawk, no doubt plotting to take a trick at the wheel. Meanwhile, Lasse was preparing a thermos of java below in the galley, confident in the abilities of his two little mates, who knew the motion of the ocean long before they knew how to walk. Taking the kids sailing early and often is a family tradition, and it has a didactic purpose that’s removed from breeding rock star athletes who chase championships and scholarships.

“It’s not terribly important to me that they are going to sail around on an old boat [later],” Lasse says. “I’m interested in imparting values like personal conduct around others in a confined space, boat handling and seamanship, respect for nature, being outdoors and being active, talking to each other without staring at a screen, talking to others so one might get to know them, being able to take care of your own affairs and figuring out how to solve problems on the fly. If they can pick up on that, I’m happy, whether they become sailors or not.”

Click here for the rest of the story.

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