just because you can does it mean you should? - SailNet Community

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Old 12-31-2007
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just because you can does it mean you should?

i'm wary of posting this with all the raw passions out there, but what the hell. running with scissors
do people think that there some folks out there, that due to call it "character unsuitability", who just might not be able to be sailors? (alex suggested such a description might fit moi). people who shouldn't be at the helm of a sailboat? i know from personal experience that some people should just not drive; it's not in their bones. my daughter managed to get a driver's license and she is a terrible, terrible driver, despite everything tracy and i did to help her, including driving lessons. she is a brilliant young woman, but she is missing a driving gene or something. hell, she never really got very good on a bicycle. i'm glad she gave up her car this year.

the argument has been presented here is whether people get enough training or not, the process of learning (experience vs formal book learning etc.), but i'm wondering if some folks just don't belong on the water. i'm not talking if the skipper is a junkie or alcoholic, but whether they are too emotional, have too short a fuse, or are psychopathic and don't give a damn about others on the water, that kind of thing.

i remember watching a guy on a 40' power cruiser race and cut across the bows of a bc ferry: the name of the vessel was hooligan's wake. the antisocial name and behaviour of the skipper led me to think that this person should never be allowed to control a machine more complicated than a mousetrap.

we can learn all we want, but it's a hell of a lot more difficult changing one's personality. unfortunately, there is no personality testing this side of the space shuttle, but do some skippers need to take a hard look at themselves and realise they would be best taking up snooker? or can anyone be a sailor?

there are some people that i know who should (and will) never helm a boat of any kind, because of who they are. has anyone ever thought about this themselves?
red peril
severodvinsk class russian submarine
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Old 12-31-2007
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absolutely, i agree... i think there are certain people who should never try to even be on a boat, let alone skipper one!

it amazes me the iron determination of some folks i've met to keep trying to go out! i'm just thinking about seasickness and some of the other factors... inconveniences, etc, that can weed out the people who don't really love the lifestyle. depth perception and the feel of the size of things can get important when trying to dock, too, eh?
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Old 12-31-2007
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some people have a natural aptitude for sailing, some are "neutral", some have a natural inaptitude. Effort and training can overcome the latter--sometimes, but sometimes not. Not everyone should try to learn to fly a plane either.

There's a certain spatial and situational awareness, and a sense of relative motion, that really helps. Some are born with it, some learn it, some both.

Then there's having good judgement and understanding the forces of nature and especially your own limitations. This I think is learned, though maybe some personality types don't?

By and large, I think sailors "self-select" themselves. The ones who think, "I'd really like to try that" probably have some of the aptitude to start with, while those don't may decide they don't want to try sailing.

Ultimately who knows. these are just my feeble observations, as one who's sailed quite a few years and teaches it some.
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Old 12-31-2007
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You can't teach common sense, the skill I believe is the MOST important skill of all. All the education and experience in the world are merely tools in the arsenal to make your NEXT decision.

Good luck trying to convince others they don't belong on the water; they probably have less manners than common sense.

who is staring at the sea is already sailing a little
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Old 12-31-2007
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Having read through the other thread and declining to comment other than a heartfelt 'be careful out there' comment I think I'll throw my 2 cents into this one.
I think you are absolutely correct, there are too many rush junkies and weekend buttheads out there; I have no idea how they get insurance for the monster boats they drive with the arrogance and lack of foresight they apparently have.

Because I'm book taught and literally devour books I know the rules of the road, racing rules, physics, aerodynamics, hydraulics, electrical theory and have a excellent grasp on nautical terms and their usage, my 22 years in the navy provided me with (arguably) a sense of discipline and decorum.

I don't feel the wind; I'm not a natural sailor. I've had to learn via books, observation and repeating what I've seen work - nothing has come instinctively and everything has come the hard way - getting caught in irons, accidental jibes, failed tacks etc.

What I am is chock full of caution, common sense and a notion of personal responsibility that keeps me and mine afloat, out of harms way and with a boat that is maintained and safe - although since I don't wear a PFD let alone a harness and tether maybe I myself am not so safe.
Knowing my limitations, I self taught myself, read every book I could, then signed up and took the ASA courses through 106; passing each one. I think that makes me qualified to say that I know how to sail, and have the common sense to take the responsibility seriously.
I think the commonly known 6 pack USCG guard license, like most certifications has become a paper license - I've read of 16 year olds that hold it - a age I consider far to young to be responsible enough to qualify for command at sea, irregardless of how and where they grew up. I do respect those that have it because they went through the process, not because of the knowledge (and experience) the license is supposed to mean they have.
Just an opinion folks - the same one I hold on certification within my professional field so take it with a grain a salt (add flames here).

Having a driving license does not mean you will drive responsibily, it just means you drive at what some governing body has decided should be the lowest level of competency - generally in a parking lot with no other traffic or distractions around (5 kids, watched the process for all five).

Last edited by chucklesR; 12-31-2007 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 12-31-2007
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There's one in every PHRF fleet, it's said...

Yes, I would agree that there are manifestly people out there for whom no amount of training or application will yield sailing skill improvements. Club racing is instructive in this regard: there is always one boat in which every tack (gybes being out of the question) is a Chinese fire drill of wrong moves, wrong instruction, bad timing and mild injury to crew or gear.

That said, we all learn at our own rate and there are guys to whom I used to give a wide berth (literally, for fear they would T-bone me through sheer incompetence) that today are merely sub-par sailors, as opposed to actually dangerous.

There is a harder class to discern, however, and that includes the pessimists and the doom-sayers who have the skills (or at least some of them), but who always worry and fret about breaking gear, bad weather, logs in the water, fees at the club, etc. Sailing, even as a farting-around recreation, isn't for the timid or the easily discouraged, and I wonder why these guys bother, as it's always such a trial for them to actually enjoy the process.

So I differentiate between the unteachable who shouldn't sail because they are essentially idiots or "perceptually handicapped", versus those who have the skills, but worry about them to the point that they seem to derive little or no pleasure from owning and sailing a reasonably well-found boat.

I recall last year seeing a good sized race boat (about 30 feet, I guess, maybe an older J-Boat) being handled under sail inside our basin. This is a fairly tight area, with a screen of trees, plenty of moorings, and "laneways" of only about 40 feet. With full sails up in light airs, this beautiful boat was making about 3 knots, with an 11-year-old girl at the helm, and a man that I assume was her father giving the occasional instruction. I watched with fascination as this boat weaved its way through the basin, doing multiple tacks and gybes, and realized that the man was instructing his daughter on how to maneuver in tight quarters under sail alone. At one point, they missed stays and went in irons. The man calmly picked up a boat pole to fend off the sea walls or off other boats, and the girl started jumping on the rail to initiate a roll tack...I couldn't help buy laugh as she couldn't have weighed 45 kilos... Eventually, they got way on and continued to practice for 20 minutes or so...then they sailed out the way they came, to what place I don't know.

My point? They were calm, laughing and clearly ENJOYING themselves while experiencing pure (and rather technical) sailing. They were doing exactly the sort of sailing that every young helmsperson would have mastered as little as 40 years ago, which is about the point when a 30 footer would be "expected" to have some sort of an engine. But it made me realize that the sailing part of "sailing" can be a lot of fun, and that if I chose, I could show this to my son as well.

Those mopey, killjoy sailors I mentioned? I saw one on his boat, watching the same thing as I was, and I heard him mutter "if they aren't careful, they'll hit something..."

Better under sail than power, I say, realizing that he'd completely missed the point.
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Old 12-31-2007
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If you're self-aware enough to ask the question, there isn't likely much for you or others to worry about.

If you aren't, there isn't a damn thing the rest of us can do about it without regulation/testing/licensing and enforcement.

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Old 12-31-2007
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I agree and hope I am one of those that will be allowed to continiue sailing.

I used to sail to and from the dock and on and off the hook. I did it to the chagrin of a lot of folks, but I learned a lot.
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Old 12-31-2007
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Kind of a corollary, but my brother is a skydiving instructor on the weekends, and he loves telling the story of one guy who just could not get it right - constantly flipping over on his back in freefall, unable to maintain a heading, completely unaware of his altitude, etc. The only thing that kept him alive was my brother (and the other instructor) pulling his pilot chute for him at a relatively high altitude.

After this guy's fifth attempt (at Level 1), my brother went to the local bowling alley and grabbed the guy a pair of shoes.
Life is too short to sail ugly boats.

Commodore, OPBYC
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Old 12-31-2007
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sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice sailingdog is just really nice

You really have to just stop... now this means you have to give one of us here on sailnet your boat, and then buy an RV for you and Tracy to live in.

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Telstar 28
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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