The Mooring Field (Issue 1053)

In which we are reminded there is no shame in asking for assistance when we should ask for assistance to avoid damaging property, relationships, or opportunities. 

“Do you need help?”

A much more seasoned sailor called to us from a launch retrieving folks from another boat in the mooring field.

We’d been sailing a 15’ catboat for a couple of hours in significant and gusty wind. We’d started the sail double-reefed in wind speeds 10 – 12 knots with gusts to 18. As we returned, both sustained winds and gusts were a bit higher ‘though within our experience to manage.

The idea was that we’d under control sail between already moored boats to a float (tied to the mooring line) which we would pick out of the water by hand. Space between moored boats was 4 – 6 boat lengths. Tight. Our boat speed at that point should be “sufficient to steer” and “barely moving”.

We’d already missed on three attempts – came in too fast, came in too fast, came in too slow – and each time we’d had to sail out of the mooring field, turn around, and try again.

“Do you need help?”, he called again.

“No, we’ll get this,” we called back as we again sailed out of the mooring field to turn around.

This time, we came on target but too slowly – the wind pushed the boat away from the mooring float JUST as we reached it. We missed by inches. Ugh!

Taking the risk that we might collide with boats moored around us, we made two very quick turns and came back to the mooring. I had the tiller. My partner could reach the float only on the downwind side of the boat (my mistake!) …we were moving too fast for him to hold it (my mistake!) … he let go amidships (his mistake!) … and we sailed over and then snagged the underwater mooring line with the rudder. So, we were now somewhat dangerously (potential damage to the boat) stuck.

At this point, the launch came along side. “May I come aboard?”, asked the more experienced sailor.

“Yes, please, thanks for your help.” He hopped into the boat.

Extending himself over the stern of the boat, with a bit of tugging, he freed the mooring line (OK, lesson learned) and we were underway.

“Tiller, please?”, he asked. Rhetorical question. Yes, of course.

With two quick turns, we approached the mooring again. Too fast. We missed. [“Yeah, now we feel a little less stupid!”] He made two more quick turns and…. success. We grabbed the float and secured the boat.

“You’re all set then?”, he asked.

“Yes,” we said. “Thank you.”

He nodded, turned, hopped into the launch, and motored away.

I love Clint Eastwood’s movie line: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” It’s a fine line between “we can do this, so, we’ll keep trying” and “we’re too bullheaded to accept assistance when we’re over our heads”, whether it’s sailing or selling.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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