The importance of making a good first impression when sailing

Making A Good First Impression

As all sailors soon figure out that proper style is a vital ingredient to sailing, here are two true tales of style from the archives.

Making an unforgettable impression on your advance sailing instructor.

Sometime back when I was just beginning to sail I took an advanced sailing class at J World in San Diego, Basic Keelboat and Basic Cruising all in five days with two 60 question written exams and an on the water practical exam. In other words a serious class and maybe not one for someone that has been on a boat only a few times, also suggested that maybe doing a bit of serious studying before the first day of class.

Monday morning was warm and bright for the beginning of the class. There was a general meeting for all the students taking any class first thing Monday morning, quite a few students as they had about 5 classes going at the same time from racing to very beginning “this is a sailboat.”

Then we broke into smaller groups to meet our instructor, I like the rest grabbed my bag and went over and introduced myself to my instructor and the rest of our class.

All went well until he looked down at my shoes and ask why I had a Green “S” on the toe of my right shoe and Red “P” on the toe of my left shoe on the toes of my shoes. I then explained to him how I always confused Port and Starboard so the letters on my shoes were to help me, BUT I continued on I could only do jobs that faced forward since when I turned around I got real confused.

At this point the shocked look on his face was priceless as he looked up with a looks of “oh why me lord” on his face. I kept straight very sincere face. The other instructors noticing that something was amiss soon all sort of dog piled on including Shala one of my old instructors who knew that I had a J/80n back in Seattle that I had owned for a while and that I was not quite as a klutz as I was making out to be.

Then we went out to the boats and it was a difficult to resist just going ahead and rigging the boat. In day or two my instructor said that he figured out I was yanking his halyard a bit.

However he could have looked at my sailing gear and probably got a bit of a hint early on as all my gear had some age and sun fade and was not brand new.

The class went well until Wednesday morning when it was time for the first exam, I finished mine in about 20 minutes or a bit less (60 questions, multiple choice/guess) I handed in my exam and the instructor started to hand it back to me explaining that since it was a multiple choice and that I should not leave any answer blank, he got a strange look on his face when I told him that I had answered all the questions. The next person to finish the exam took about an hour. I got a 100% on the exam. I did the same thing for the Friday exam, same time and score. The rest of the class was a it suspicious at this point on how could I finish the test faster than they could read the questions.

Anyway it was a nice class, learned a lot and was able to polish my skills.

About the same time Captain Andrew Kerr then an instructor at J World San Diego related an adventure he had along the “you always want to make a good first impression.” He was crew on a San Juan 24, a lake in Texas for Nationals or better for the fleet. On opening day and the first race race the owner/captain Chris Snow wanted to make his best impression on the rest of the fleet, so he showed up wearing his best “yachting suit” White pants, the Blue Blazer worn by Commodores of Yacht Clubs, a very fine Admirals Dress hat (cover) with the final crowning touch of a Horseshoe Type 1 Life-jacket in bright International Distress Orange.

The other competitors showed them true respect (or maybe is was more what the hell is this goofball doing) and stayed well away from Chris’s boat for the start of the first race giving Chris and crew a big hole and clean air. The big hole was appreciated and they did a hole shot on the fleet and I believe led for the entire race. Needless to say the fleet did not make the same mistake twice. Sorry I can’t remember if they won the regatta or not.

My apologies to Andrew and Chris if I got parts of the story mixed up, and if that’s not the way it happened it’s the way it should have happened.

The moral of these stories? Sailing in many ways is about style and you for sure always want to be sure to make a proper first impression on others and remember, if you are not having fun you are not doing it correctly.

Thanks for your interest and support of boating safety

– c / m –

This entry was posted in Boating Safety, History, Sailing and Boating Skills. Bookmark the permalink.

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