We recently gathered in our boat — a 1976 27-foot Morgan — and tested it in calm waters.
I’m always a bundle of nerves whenever we launch into the water — be it a kayak, dingy or sail boat. The preparation and “don’t fail or we’ll all sink or die” weighs heavy in my Mommy Mind.
This day, we were able to loosen all the lines properly and motor out of the dock. I navigated using the Navatronics Boating app (you can learn about it by clicking here). It’s a paid app for your smartphone which offers water depth, marks buoys and known underwater debris, and a way to set a course on your map.
Getting out of our dock area also makes my nervous. Under the waterline, we have about 5 more feet of boat under us. If we happen to stray too far off the channel markers, we could get stuck or hit something. Again, the prospect of having to swim to shore or have our boat stuck in the water isn’t appealing to me.
Once we got clear of the skinny channel areas, we let everyone loose. Kids, with their life jackets on, explore the top part of the boat. A few realize that its colder on the water than on land, and put jackets on over their safety devices.
Each person takes a turn steering. The way it works on our boat, you hold a stick that is attached to the boat’s rudder. The rudder is like the back fin on a fish. You move the stick the opposite of where you want to go. Move the stick to the right, and the boat starts to move left. Move the stick to the left, and the rudder swings to the right, moving you in that direction.
As you can see in our photo gallery, each person held the rudder a different way. One held it beside him. His older brother steered with it was behind him, like he does when piloting the smaller, one-person Sunfish sail boats. My daughter and I prefer the two-handed approach, though I’m a bit more of a white-knuckle sailor.
Once you get out there it isn’t that bad. It’s beautiful. You see part of the world you don’t really see on land. It’s like being in a different place.
Seeing each person in our family approach steering differently reminded me a bit about life in general. People have different personalities and different life experiences, but we all navigate this thing called life. We take different approaches but we are doing the same thing — trying to get to our destination. The paths vary, but hopefully they all aim toward a similar goal — to live a fulfilling and meaningful life.
The key is to get out of the harbor. You sometimes have to do things that scare you. But those instances prepare you for something beautiful and uniquely yours.
Embrace the day, and get out of the dock.