When I was a young lad, and as a result of my insisting, my uncle and grandfather tied me off their larger boat in a small rowing pram. While tethered to the mother ship (or father ship in this case), I developed my beginner rowing skills through a process of trial and error. I learned that if I pulled both oars with an even amount of pressure, the boat would move forward in a straight line. If I pulled on only the port oar, the bow would move to starboard and vice versa. I found that if I put the oars in the water and pushed the handles away from me, I would back the little boat down. Experience was the best teacher. For every action I executed, there was an immediate equal and opposite reaction. After some experimentation I was skilled enough to maneuver the little boat safely and I was untied and set free.
I started sailing at a young age at the Niantic Bay Yacht Club in Niantic, Connecticut. My parents signed me up for sailing lessons and I took to them like a bird on the wind. When I became sufficiently skilled, I was allowed to take out the club boats alone. I went out sailing as often as I could, imagining that I was a singlehanded around-the-world sailor. I was so proud when I won the junior sailing award for Seamanship that summer. Sailing alone instilled a sense of independence and self reliance unlike any experience I had previously known.
To this day I’ve benefited from the experiences I learned in small boats and the lessons remain lodged deep within in my sea soul. If you put too much weight on one side of the boat it tips over. If you pull hard on the oars of a small boat, it will move quickly through the water. If you hold both oars in the water it will stop the boat. There are consequences for every action. The principals apply directly to larger boats. The lessons apply to life. There are consequences to our actions.