Episode #008: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast: Overcoming a #boatfail

woman in purple sweater sitting on wooden floor with view of lake and mountains
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There’s nothing more humbling than having things not go as planned! We have all been there. You prepare, you’re ready to go, and then wham! Not what you intended to have happen! What the heck? It happens to us all, and there are several things you can do to get your confidence back after a #boatfail.

Listen to Episode #008: Overcoming a #boatfail!

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  1. #53: Crew Overboard!
  2. Technical Tuesday: Flares!

Common #boatfails

  1. Docking: hitting dock, hitting another boat, not ending up in your slip, too slow, too fast
  2. Running aground: submerged object, sandbar, didn’t know depth, not paying attention
  3. Running out of gas: lack of prep, bad weather, unexpected weather
  4. Forgetting drain plug: happens A LOT
  5. Overloading the boat: capacity plate, too many passengers, cutting down on trips
  6. Skying your halyard: didn’t hold on to the end, didn’t attach shackle properly

Don’t Worry

Many of us worry about failing. We think it will damage our character and affect how others see us. Well, it’s a part of life, and it’s a part of your boat life as well. Don’t fear failure, embrace it. Cheesy I know, but you can always learn from your mistakes if you are willing to wear them and be open to them. Shit happens. Move on.

Take Stock

First things first. Are you alright? Is your crew alright? And is your boat alright? Chances are, yes. Moving on… these situations are all learning experiences. Most likely you will walk away from the experience with your tail between your legs, but your head spinning with “what if” scenarios. Don’t ignore those! Embrace them, learn from them and use them to your advantage.

Get Angry

Are you angry about what happened? Did you do something silly that the voice in the back of your head kept telling you was going to happen? Yup. I’ve been there too. Get mad at yourself. Yell if you need to. And then take a breath and move on. What did you learn? Most importantly, what are you not going to do next time?

Write it Down

This may sound a bit lame, but writing down your experience and observations when they are raw is a great time to assess what happened and why. Don’t leave out details and keep your emotions true. Be honest with yourself and see where things could have been different.

Take Responsibility

Own it. It sucked, but you survived and now you will know what not to do in the future. Not only that, you have written down a few things so in a few months or years from now when you are about to repeat the same #fail, you should read your diary and remind yourself of why you changed your approach.

Check Your Habits

Did you skip a step or do something in a different order than usual? If this is the first time you have experienced this #boatfail it is quite possible you did. It is easy to start getting comfortable with our surroundings and we start skipping steps thinking “meh, what’s the worst that can happen?” Reassess your habits and see if there is room for improvement. Grab a pre-departure checklist to start a good habit now.

Move On

Taking responsibility and beating yourself up are two different things. Have a look at what happened. Own it. Learn from it, and move on to greener pastures. Every failure will make you a better boater in the end, provided you own it and learn from it. If you point the finger at everyone and everything else around you, you’re likely to repeat it again.

Experiencing a #boatfail says NOTHING about you as a successful boater. We all make mistakes. We all fall, then we get back up. Learn from it. Embrace it. Talk about it. And most important of all…. Don’t forget about it.

Happy boating!

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