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Monday, October 8, 2018

A big Weekend, both good and bad.

It was a big weekend, that took a long time to make happen. I spent Saturday taking an introduction to sailing course in Oriental, NC. My wife and myself spent four hours sailing a beautiful Catalina 42 with a highly experienced captain.

We had been trying to make this happen since last April, and the plan changed dramatically over that course of time. If you have read my latest book you know the dramatic plan I laid out in it. A new challenge for myself, and my wife that would take years to make happen. I am still not sure we can pull it off, but I am at least confident in the next steps. We both enjoyed our time on the boat, and with the process of sailing, and now want to start learning the finer details of moving a boat with nothing more than wind.

I was amazed how much of my kayaking experience translated to a sailing environment. Things like reading and understanding wind. The feel of a boat in a following sea, and the effects of the shape of the keep on tracking. All had direct comparisons in the sailing world.

Unfortunately I wasn't surprised with the people of the sailing community. I have to stress, everyone was very nice and welcoming, but it is a community with very little diversity, and it is a sport that - at least in my small exposure to it - seems designed to be exclusionary. Besides the entry cost of sailing - though if you look at youtube you will see that there are ways around that - the thing that struck me the most was the amount of jargon that was thrown around and that people - even novices - are expected to know it. Keep in mind that I have worked the past 20 years (almost) in the outdoors. I was a skilled climber and mountaineer. I teach navigation and stand up paddling. I am a very skilled and highly experienced kayaker, having paddled thousands of miles in remote locations and extreme conditions. None of that prepared me for the amount of vocabulary and terminology that is used even amongst people who have admitted that they know nothing, which was how we described ourselves.

As an outdoor educator I can say that isn't a good way to welcome people to a sport. Now, admittedly, if you are teaching myself (a long time outdoor educator) and my wife (a tenured professor in higher ed) we are harsh critics of people who teach. To a point where it may be unfair. Our captain was a highly skilled sailor, there is no question. But having a great deal of skill is not my first criteria when I am hiring an educator. It is having the ability to break down concepts, simply, and make them easy to understand. With this, I was not impressed.

But enough of my complaining, I had a great time, and look forward to taking my next steps into sailing. I was super excited that after posting video on instagram I had a number of close friends who work in the outdoors fess up that they got started in sailing and would love to take me out, and were happy to help pass on knowledge. I am excited to have something new to learn.

Now here is the bad. We were in Oriental, NC about 30 miles north of where Hurricane Florence made landfall a bit less than 3 weeks ago. The coast of North Carolina is still in pretty bad shape. Though spirits are high, and peoples energy is positive. All the campgrounds were closed due to damage and what hotels were open were full of displaced people and people working to repair the damage. We got to spend our second night in a Wal-mart parking lot, which is really no fun. We planned on spending Saturday night at the coast again, but couldn't find place to stay, and started back early. We were almost in Raleigh before we found a place to stay.

Then, Sunday morning we were greeted by the IPCC report that the environment is getting worse more rapidly than the worst estimates and we have a mere 12 years to make dramatic changes across all parts of our society - power, fuel, housing, farming - to keep our temperature rise below 1.5 degrees centigrade. We have already risen a full degree. I was not surprised to see this story fall off the front page of CNN less than 24 hours later. It seems with all the chaos in the world, no one cares that we are destroying our world. The current US administration simply doesn't care, which leaves it up to us to either change the administration or make the changes to our society ourselves. The whole thing is pretty depressing.

So, that is where I am. Excited for new challenges and dreading the next 5 years, waiting to see the impact of our neglect coming home to bite us. Head over to instagram to see the video and the most amazing photo of storm damage imaginable.

Stick around here to see what else happens! A lot is brewing!