To put my friends and families minds at ease and to be able to review the effectiveness of a training strategy after the fact, I thought I'd try to put words to my plan of attack for the Golden Globe Race (GGR). If you were a pleasure sailor that spent the majority of his time on freshwater lakes, what would you do to prepare for this daunting task? We're talking about sailing around the world without help, electronics, stopping, alone in a small boat.
while I didn't realize it initially, it seems as though my activities have been taking on three distinct regimens; education, others opinions and experiences (reading), and hands on salt water experience. For this post I'll deal with the first one of the three. Its the one that has required the most dedication, the others are just so fun to do you don't have to crack the whip as hard!
I'll start with a warm thank you going out to Tim Carlson of Sailcrafters Loft and Rigging (St. Louis Park, MN. www.sailcrafters.com ). He's a local pillar in the sailing community around these parts and was gracious enough to let me poke my nose in the loft on the weekends. They're about 15 minutes from the house and is a hive of nautical activity. All manner of sail repair, new sail making, rigging, hardware, splicing, there is no end to it. How fortunate am I to know a pro of so many different disciplines!
While nothing short of devoting years to the craft will get me anywhere close to someone like this, its still super helpful to see the variety of requests that come through those doors. To measure stainless 1x19 wire, decide which type of ends to use, how to fasten them, this was all priceless. It added to the list of must have items (mostly tools and fittings) that I'll want aboard. The feeling of being able to competently fix something like this aboard goes along way to building confidence.
Thanks Tim, See you next Saturday!
The race doesn't allow GPS navigation, if it wasn't used in the original race in 1968 then its not allowed this time. Celestial Navigation course work was on the menu! There seems to be no shortage of home study correspondence courses available and most have great reviews. But for no quantifiable reason that I've been able to to put words to, I wanted a classroom environment this this class. I was out of luck, nothing offered at my local university or out of any of the local yacht clubs. This wouldn't do, I had to get a little more crafty on this one.
A year before I took a Coastal Navigation course from Northern Breezes Sailing School (www.sailingbreezes.com). I put in a call to Captain Thom Burns, the proprietor of the school and he gave it to me straight. The demand for the class has been, not surprisingly, weak in recent years and they haven't taught it in a while. I pressed him, maybe even pleaded with him. Well he caved and said if I got 4 or 5 students to commit, he would teach us. Sold! That was a challenge I can deal with.
There is something about being able to tell where you are on this world by referencing heavenly bodies that carries undeniable appeal. An art perfected over mellennia by seaman the world over. What red blooded guy with a thirst for knowledge doesn't find it, at the least, interesting? Well I made quick work of sourcing our students. My sailing friends and brother to the rescue. Ziad Amra, Hashem Abukhadra, Brian Bourne, and Alberto Forte eagerly agreed and the schedule was set.
If I were to tell you it was easy, or that we are all experts now, I'd be a bold faced liar. It was a difficult skill to get the hang of and everyone struggled, even Thom Burns! Its become apparent to me that this isn't a trick like riding a bicycle. You can forget it and it happens easier then I'd care to admit. I head to the lake once a week and practice, and there is still so much more to be done. I'd like to get a handle on other heavenly bodies like the moon, planets and stars. The Sun's mysteries have mostly been revealed to me though. I have to thank Captain Thom Burns for teaching that class, as I know he wasn't excited about it! Also a hearty thanks to the other students that filled out the class. While everyone was interested in the subject, I know that helping me out was powerful motivation for them as well. Thanks fellas!
It would be hard to pick a favorite out of these things, they're all so different. As different as they may be, each is a cornerstone of a well rounded sailor. Each provides another little boast in confidence. Each accomplishment drives the next, its like chasing the dragon of knowledge and skill. There is a certain high that comes from hand stitching your own ditty bag to completion, working a brained on brained splice, using a sextant to get your position which ends up being a mile or two from your actual position (I call that a win!), or looking at a torn sail and knowing that you could fix it…if you have to.
Its been a good start, no question about it, but time flies. There is so much more to do before now and June 15th 2018. I feel like I have a good breeze behind me, great support around me, and a lifetime goal in front of me. Here we go.
Wishing you all fair winds and following seas.
(Stay tuned for the next installment!)