I was in a conversation with a client of mine this week. They asked what was the most important thing I learned from my trip sailing around the world and how do I apply this piece of information to my travel business.
The answer is easy, “Always look forward. Focus on forwarding motion in any way that you can. Envision your future.” Actually putting this idea into practice takes some effort as most of us focus on what is going on around us in the here and now.
Let me tell you a story! Most long-distance sailors love to tell stories…and I am no different!
I was 23/24 when we were getting our “Peterson 44” sailboat “Rhiannon” ready to head off on a 5 1/2 year trip around the world. For those of you that know me to know that the trip actually took 11 1/2 years, but, well, that is another story!
Towards the end of our preparations for departing, we had a sail made, specially by a local sailmaker, for the boat. It is what is called a “storm sail” and it sits in its own bag at the base of the mast, has its own track on the mainmast, and is built very strongly with a thick cloth. It is used when the winds at sea get up above 40 miles an hour. In these types of winds, a sailor focuses more on reducing sail to steady the boat and to be safe for the crew. When winds get really strong, the voyage becomes rough and the “storm sail” is put up to steady the boat and still make a little movement forward.
The sail was made by the sailmaker and the track was put on the mast. We were ready to have the sailmaker come out to fit the sail. I headed down to the boat and an elderly man, moving along very jauntily, came to the boat with the sail in its sail bag over his shoulder. He asked permission to come aboard, he fitted the sail and he was done. He kept looking at me, remembering I was 24 or so and had just fitted a “storm sail,” which meant I was heading out to sea for a long time. As he was packing his gear to go, he asked me if I was heading out for long. I told him that the plan was to sail around the world. He paused and said, “I did that a couple of times, mind if I give you a piece of advice?” “No,” I said and eagerly sat down to hear what this man had to say.
He told me how he had sailed all over the world and had served on some of the last sailing merchant ships that were going around the horn and such.
Now at this time, my mind was racing as this man must be at least 70 to 80 years old and did not seem like the 70 and 80-year-old people I had experienced!
Then he got to his piece of advice, “When sailing long distances, always look forward to the new horizon. That is the direction in which your future lies. Never justify your future with your past. Use the past to learn for the future, mistakes are the sailors’ way of learning if you survive them.”
With that, he wished me well and wished that my “Sails will always be full.”
I remember sailing across the Atlantic from The Canary Islands to Martinique in the Caribbean when we were becalmed for 4 days. Flat calm, NO wind, and very hot. To top it off, there was wind just 100 miles north of us as we learned via the HAM radio schedule we were on! At that time I remembered the sail maker’s words, “Focus on the horizon, that is my path.” So, we sat, cleaned the bottom of the boat, did the varnishing, made great meals we had not had before, read, and enjoyed the time. Then…the wind came back and off we went! It took us 28 days for that transit.
How does this affect my business of helping people create the travel of their dreams? I see myself as the Sailmaker, stitching together an itinerary for each client that looks forward to what the client enjoys, wishes to experience, and with a few unexpected surprises along the way. I also love to tell stories!
“May your sails always be full!”