No New Wind in my Sails

Our time on the East Coast has provided me with time to finish off books, most recently, David Seidman’s The Complete Sailor. While there may be an audience for this book, it wasn’t for a novice like me that doesn’t have a boat or isn’t currently on the water taking lessons. Sitting at home only looking out at the water and reading this book simply wasn’t the right combination to make much progress in obtaining sailing knowledge that may one day lead to me living on my own sailboat.

The book started out well and I appreciated the author’s dry, philosophic view of life on the water. Those that know me will likely understand why I was hooked reading about how “the true rewards of sailing – patience, philosophy, self-respect, and the mastery of time – became evident . To him, these were the pleasures that becoming a sailor promised and eventually fulfilled” (192). I loved it and was riding high on sailing.

And as a result, I plowed through the first few sections learning vocabulary about the boat, sails, directions, and winds but as time went on, the philosophy became less and the jargon became undecipherable. I have debated with myself as to culpability and think it is slightly my own for not being on or near boats in order to put the new language and knowledge into practice, and partly the author’s fault for not making the work more of a step by step plan for learning. I don’t think this is a case of me getting bored and not appreciating the author’s work or simply not putting in the effort necessary to learn a new subject. My criticism stems more from the actual book setup and organization. Some examples of my frustration are:

-Lots of information but very little flow. The chapters rarely seemed to build on one another and there was little to any continuity throughout the book. He could have likely swapped the chapters all around and it would have been hard to tell a difference.

-Very little in helpful practice or problem solving to solidify the new material. I’ve been studying Spanish and studying for the GRE and in both instances, have been using tools designed to help with increasing understanding and doing practice work to remember what I’ve been learning. With the sailing book, it was a few lines about a new topic, foreign to a lifetime landlocked creature like myself, and then on to the next, seemingly unconnected topic.

-there were graphs and pictures but on the Kindle, many were simply too small to get anything useful out of. (This could be user error on my part in not figuring out how to see the illustrations better.

In the end, I found myself pushing through to the finish of this book but not gathering much new knowledge that would stick in my brain. As mentioned before, I’ll take some of the blame, but my hunch is that there are better resources out there for a person with no experience or current knowledge of sailing lingo, and no current access to boats to practice on.

Currently, I’ve been researching the American Sailing Association website looking at various courses and certifications I could take to improve my sailing knowledge. They also provide a good amount of resources on how to learn through reading when it’s not possible to get out there and do it with hands on experience. I’m open to further suggestions on where to look and will continue looking myself for ways to increase my knowledge and comfort with the world of sailing. So while the Complete Sailor failed to put significant new wind in my sails, the idea for me right now is still to keep on learning what I can about sailing so when we’re in a situation where we can actually sail and possibly buy our own boat, I’ll be as prepared as I can.

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