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The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:55 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
Just thinking now in the aftermath of the Race, and in light of some of the stories it generated, what was really produced out there ?
The immutable laws of nature cannot be escaped out on the water,
and the consequences of miscalculation can be immediate and profound.

This fact conditions the entire culture of seafaring, and binds mariners in ways that transcend our normal psychological and social limitations.

Nowhere is this more obvious than among veteran sailors and oarsmen on modest small commands of their own. These skippers,
often owner/builders themselves, bring a lifetime of perspectives to their endeavors.

When you combine this powerful experience bank with the essential purity of the elements of the is very likely that breakthroughs into the nature of thought and order will be the result....not to mention progress on boats, weather, and how to throw a good party!

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:03 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
The interface between land and sea, water and air , is our environment.
Do we go out seeking adventure? Most assuredly!
Consciously or not.
And adventure consistently finds us too, out way or the other.
Why is it always this way?
What is about the marine environment and the small vessel
combination that creates such a timeless teaching and testing tool?

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:28 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
A couple of leads emerge as one considers the related threads with this question in mind.

First off, and perhaps most salient, what are the limits of the "human scale" ? Boats that we can launch and fend off ourselves are certainly in this realm. Things seem to be fine under 18 feet or so, but change rapidly in the 20's. We can puzzle through this as far as what ballast might suggest as well.

The second chain of thought revolves around what the environment itself is supplying to the small boat sailor that guarantees adventure and learning.

An active and changing gradient of conditions.
Endless repetition, infinite variety.
Tradition, Innovation, Belonging.

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Sat Aug 08, 2015 7:19 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
The elements do not lie. This is actual reality, not virtual.. !

Who among us has not tested himself and his vessel a time or two against the ultimate powers of nature ?
On purpose, or by accident...

A smooth and relaxing summer sail, the idyllic stuff of popular does have a dark side that Winslow Homer captured in paintings like his masterpiece "Gulf Stream" and hinted at subtly
in the adorable picture "Breezing Up ".

That pleasing outing is never allowed without a small measure of risk to sharpen the enjoyment.
It's like we are getting away with something, romping like blithe spirits in a forbidden world..

And we love what we bring back, post race at the yacht club bar, or post storm at the harbor café.
But what the hell is it really?

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:23 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
Are experiences really tagged with emotion only for purposes of retrieval ?

.... Or..consider this:
Human emotion could be the clearest readout on the planet for the value system of nature herself..!?

By introducing competition, as in the recent race, we add a striving and an objective to the muddle of normal events. Things become focused on an end in view. With the clock and rules, judgments gain a context that is impossible to dispute.

A winner emerges!

The universe of struggle, the survival game, produces a champion!
And all interested observers are invited to share in the glory of victory...and the agony of defeat..

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:18 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
If a race narrows and sharpens the focus of our interpretations, then how do we go about restoring depth and diversity to the excitement.?

I was in Carmel, California yesterday for the largest car show in the world, the week- long Pebble Beach Concours. The display of all those vintage and performance machines in that handmade village
of human scale streets , shops, and old cottages made me wonder again about our motivations in the recent R2AK...

Undoubtably it worked to bring enthusiasts together. And showcase the area. And demonstrate sailing and building skills.
This was all somewhat expected, just like at the Concours.

But what about the unknown story lines that the unfolding of the Race provided?
Bus Bailey's masterful crossing of Leg 1, Sea Wolf's abandonment,
Elsie Piddock's runaway, Roger Mann's survival and triumph, the Soggy Beavers, and the dozens of other epic efforts, finishing or not!

These subsequent events are what really stitched the raw material together, made the experience active, made something fine out of the assembled parts, gave it the possibility of an interpretation on a higher level.
It was about what we did with the material, not just the material itself, beautiful and powerful as it might have been..

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:45 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
It strikes me this morning that there is a strong link between the storybook cottages of Hugh Comstock here in Carmel, and the shippy little sailboat of Welsford's. I don't see any in the driveways here, but would be hard pressed to think of a more appropriate vessel than the the little Scamp to round things out.

So what is it about that? What do the boat and the houses suggest with their eccentric harmony?

Human scale
..Something about a wholehearted yielding of pretense?

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:52 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
Advantages of the small boat that steepen the learning curve might include:

Closeness to the water engaging the five senses.
Bodily ability to affect vessel trim and stability.
Manageability of sails and sheets.
Hull and rig owner design, build, and repair ability
Human propulsion potential.
Economic accessibility.
Self rescue options.
Spartan accomodations.
Limited crew distractions.
Inescapable connection to the elements and weather.

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:09 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
"I once knew a writer who, after saying beautiful things
about the sea, passed through a Pacific hurricane, and he
became a changed man."

---Joshua Slocum
"Sailing Alone Around the World"

Heh, heh...
Reminds me a little of what we used to call the "Death Cruise", that unforgettable survival level trip which resets your normal priorities regarding life and the appreciation thereof.

And the key point might be that on a 12 or 14 foot open boat it doesn't take an offshore typhoon to get that job done..

The feedback loop is short, and the chain of command direct and unambiguous.
Maybe that's where the instructional power of the small boat really starts and ends...?

Re: The perfect learning environment, a small boat?

Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:14 pm
by Dirk Visser 166
Edging over to the boatshed side of things, in recognition of all the learning that even a simple decision implies, here is the other half of the pleasure and opportunity of small boat ownership.

"Any vessel is a series of compromises."
Yes, of course, but shall we not forget that versatility and performance and beauty occupy this territory as well?

Let's finally, at this stage of our understanding of boats and the sea, and mariners motivations, give these designers and builders their due.

The fundamental power of the universe lies in the choice:
"Yes" or " No ".
All design and action, nuanced or direct, flows forward from this truth: zeros and ones, as many as you want.

The pencil, saw blade, paint brush, and everything in between, gets it's direction here.

The environment and the material is the test bed for working these relationships out.
An adaptable mold for thought. The monkey puzzled by the crystal...

The small boat waits...