What is it about learning? Some get it out of the way quickly, others spend a lifetime figuring things out. The question that’s always rattled around in my mind is who gets bored more easily – the educated or the autodidacts? Then, just as often I wonder if that’s really the right question, or if indeed there is a right question when it comes to discovery, self or otherwise. (get on with it – ed.)

As has been postulated by the wonks, there are different styles of learning. Some, if the wonkers are to be believed, learn by observation, others through study, some through listening, and still others through physical engagement with the topic. Sailing Aleta has proven to be a feast for any type of learner – any. As it turns out I am mostly visual, with some study thrown in. Carol leans towards the physical, with some auditory thrown in. Given our different styles, we make pretty good complements, or not, as the case may be. But that’s not the point, not really. The point is, I think, we are both on a steep learning curve, and while I have a head start, Carol, despite what she might tell you, isn’t far behind.

When we committed to this adventure, I said to myself it would be like going back to school, after all it’s one thing to bugger about with someone else’s boat on holiday and really quite another to sail your home around the world. And like a house there’s much that could go wrong at any time. Unlike your house, though, access to ACE Hardware or your landlord is more than a phone call away. You’re on your own. You and your improv skills – so do something wonderful – straight away!

What has my Master’s course taught me so far (good idea to let Carol speak for herself – ed.)? Let’s see, there’s electronic charts – don’t trust ‘em, boats – they pivot around their center of mass, depth sounders – don’t trust ‘em, gut instinct – completely unreliable, Internet forums as a source of sailing advice – bunch of wasters, GPS location fixes – only good for telling you where you were, NOAA marine charts – completely awesome, but lacking in enough detail at times that you can become completely bollixed up, Valiant yachts – strong, stout vessels, and really not a beginner’s boat. As for that last one, we’re going to grow into her. That’s what learning is about. If only the lessons didn’t come with quite as much intensity and all at once.

I took heart in our electronics installer Chuck’s response to my comment, the one where I said, “we had all the gear with no idea.” He said, “don’t worry, next year you’ll be operating at a different baud rate.” There’s no substitute for experience. No amount of studying, listening, observing, or fiddling about can replace the knowledge gained by actually doing things. As any parent of college-age children will tell you, learning can be costly. It’s best taken one step at a time. Onwards and upwards.


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