Thursday, December 02, 2010

Risk tolerance for new sailors?

The advice that is given to new sailors is fairly predictable: take lessons, do safety classes, read books, sail on other people's boats before buying your own, don't expect to find the "perfect boat" on the first try, and don't be surprised if your interests and preferences evolve as you spend more time on the water.

But the standard advice rubs some people the wrong way. There seems to be a divide between the free-spirited folks who need to learn by jumping in and making their own mistakes versus the more plan-ful people who don't want too many negative surprises. The careful people may think the free spirits are irresponsible and maybe even endangering themselves and others. They abhor and utterly deplore the idea of the waste or damage that can occur when people do things without thinking them through. The free spirits may think the planners are a bunch of fuddy-duddy, rigid, controlling, nanny-state sourpusses who wouldn't know fun if it spanked them in the butt and are unable to enjoy any spontaneous joy or adventure.

People vary hugely in their tolerance for risk. For some people, making mistakes and risking accidents ("learning experiences") isn't a big deal. Other folks are inherently more timid, careful, systematic, or whatever you might want to call it. Some people feel they don't have much to lose; some are very careful about risking anything.

And some people are not particularly careful for their own sake, but do become more cautious when the safety of others is involved. Good for them.

People at one end of the spectrum jump in head first. They may succeed or they may crash and burn. Those who are hardy and resilient shrug their shoulders at disappointments, learn from them, and press onward. Those who are more clueless and fragile may be stopped cold by failures that might have been avoided with a little knowledge and toss in the towel.

The careful folk at the other end of the spectrum may spend their lives dreaming and planning and fiddling and never get out on the water. Maybe some people really enjoy reading and dreaming or boat work more than sailing or voyaging.

Somewhere in between, most people seem happy with getting some advice, tips, coaching, or maybe formal or casual lessons, talking to other sailors, sailing on other people's boats, reading some books or looking at some videos. Some do more, some do less; some want structure, some demand freedom. Some want the journey to be their own, some need to share it. And so it goes. And so most people recognize the initialism, "YMMV -- Your Mileage May Vary."


At 2:35 PM, December 02, 2010, Blogger Nicholas Hayes said...

I think you're right. I've observed incongruous teaching/learning styles across gender, generations, background and even spacial orientation. Try to teach someone in a way that makes it hard for them to learn, and all you've taught them is that they're not interested. - Nicholas Hayes

At 3:05 AM, December 06, 2010, Blogger South Pacific said...

Nice post. Risk tolerance always matters a new sailors. Thanx for giving insight to this topic. Again a helpful post like your previous ones.



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