Picture This

This is a story for which I have no pictures. I will recount it the way my eyes saw it and my heart felt it. So, picture this.

It happened another day, as I was working with a mechanic on Pesto’s cockpit.

Take 1: right across from our slip, a small sailing boat starts to maneuver inside the marina basin. Onboard is a young guy – which I will affectionately call here as the Little Boat Dude – and some 4 kids. All appropriately dressed with floating devices. The boat has a tiny outboard engine, which makes it not the most agile craft. Little Boat Dude maneuvers her in slow movements.

Take 2: enter the Big Boat Guy. Literally. A large sailing yacht, loaded with the latest and most expensive gear. She has a powerful main engine and an equally powerful bow truster (a transversal engine which adds tremendously to close-quarters maneuverability). Aboard are Big Boat Guy and his wife. She is at the bow with docking lines ready on her hand, and he is holding the large, shinning steering wheel of his majestic yacht with pride. This is not the first time they have both docked their yacht here, and their act is well trained. There is only one problem this time: the Little Boat was in the middle of its maneuver at this point, blocking the way for the Large Boat to dock in one move, without stopping, the same way they have done many times before.

Take 3: the lady aboard Large Boat starts to explain to Little Boat Dude that they need that space of water clear to make their maneuver. Little Boat Dude seems overwhelmed in between managing his craft, and trying to hear what the lady was saying amidst the chatter of the four kids onboard (they had not yet sensed the impending drama of the situation). Large Boat continues to move forward at speed, its powerful engine still engaged. At this moment, Large Boat Guy makes his theatrical move: interrupting his wife, he puts his head out of the cockpit and, gesticulating with one of his arms, he declares “GET OUT OF MY WAY !”. For a split second, the wife, Little Boat Dude, me, and everyone else who saw this at the marina were in a sudden state of shock. Both boats were under engine, Little Boat was obviously in the middle of its maneuver when Large Boat got inside the marina basin. Moreover, Large Boat had clearly better maneuverability than Little Boat – both in gear and in crew. Large Boat Guy could have stopped if he chose to. Not to mention the safety of the four kids aboard Little Boat.

Take 4: Little Boat Dude was still trying to understand the situation when Large Boat Guy reinforced his commandment, repeating it twice with his powerful bellow and coordinated arm choreography: “GET OUT OF THE WAY, GET OUT OF THE WAY”. The distance between the two craft was diminishing at an alarming rate.

Take 5: Little Boat Dude accelerated his tiny outboard engine to the maximum power in reverse gear and steered Little Boat to the far end of the marina basin, thus clearing the way for the majestic yacht to pass. The Large Boat duo then proceeded with their act, moved Large Boat smartly, and a few minutes later had her gloriously docked, while Little Boat steamed by, and sailed outside of the marina. Not a word was exchanged between the two crews, and the kids seemed to not have noticed anything at all.

My blood was still boiling inside my veins when Large Boat Guy tied the last knot of his docking lines. Large Boat Guy had been so rude, and not seamanlike at all in my view. I was equally confused as to why Little Boat Guy didn’t protest in any form either during or after the event.

Later that night it downed on me. What Little Boat Dude did that afternoon was absolutely the right thing. Putting aside his pride and the logic of who had which rights in the situation, he quickly assessed Large Boat Guy’s rock-solid intent to keep moving, and the impending risk of Large Boat’s ramming Little Boat right there and then. He thought of the security of the four kids. And he took Little Boat out of Large Boat’s way. That simple. A few minutes later he was probably having fun sailing with the kids in San Diego Bay, with this unfortunate event quickly (and hopefully) fading in his memory.

Little Boat Dude, I take my hat off to you. Not only did you teach a beautiful lesson to the four kids onboard your boat that day, you did so to me as well. Well done !

5 Replies to “Picture This”

  1. Well said. Who is the better sailor? Little boat dude for sure. Goes to prove that it takes a smarter, classier, person to be a great sailor. Money can’t buy what some people naturally have. Good, solid, common sense. Kudos to Small Boat Dude. Well written Alex. May all of us take the lessons learned for future use.

  2. I would have done almost the same! Except for the part of not extracting some blood out of Big Boat Guy!!!!

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