Photo courtesy Eli Putnam.
I didn’t think I was going to be the sailing type when my parents signed me up for an eight day excursion on a historical pirate ship this past summer. And, as I expected, actually going out on the water only confirmed my original suspicions.
According to the program website, the purpose of the trip was “to give participants professional-level training in shipboard operations while exploring high-school and introductory collegiate concepts in environmental science.” But the sailing world proved to be complex, and for me, not much in this mission statement proved to be true.
Before the start of the trip, I expected to become fluent in the language of sailing by the end of the week. Little did I know that the language of sailing was much more difficult than I anticipated. I couldn’t remember the difference between bow and stern or port and starboard. If it was a sailing term, it’s a safe bet that I didn’t know what it meant.
I’ve also hated small spaces ever since I was little. Why my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to sail with 20 other people on a 50-foot boat for 10 days, I couldn’t tell you. For claustrophobes like myself, it was the opposite of an ideal situation.
One of the most awkward moments of the trip was when we were first boarding the boat. My friend Eli and I were some of the last ones on, and as we boarded, we were frantically applying sunscreen. Our fellow sailors stood, watching us cover ourselves in white cream. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best first impression.
Admittedly, my mindset coming into this trip wasn’t exactly positive. I wrote off sailing as a useless activity before I even tried it. Having a negative attitude before trying an activity will always set you up for failure — or, in my case, an unpleasant week-long boat ride.
I think that if I’d been more positive about this trip, my experience would’ve improved vastly. My parents told me that sailing would build character and give me a break from screen time for a week. But besides the many blisters, cuts, splinters and sore muscles that resulted from the voyage, I can’t pinpoint a specific way this trip changed me, largely due to my negative attitude.
Like author E.B. White said, “I cannot not sail.” I would relate to this quote entirely if the “not” was removed.