Boating Adventures | "Baby Steps" | Article & 4 Photos by Vicki Totten

Photos courtesy of Sunsail and The Moorings
What motivates you to try new things? Does it take the threat of losing something? Does it take imagining how it will feel if you succeed? Or, does it take someone else pushing or pulling you along? I seem to have stumbled upon a winning recipe that seems to move me out of my comfort zone to try something new. A former colleague and friend used to say that she was much smarter when she was working in a group than when working alone. She often said this when we were working toward a goal or trying to solve a problem while serving on a committee together. Her assessment always resonated with me, since I have found it to be true in my own life.

And it's also true that I sometimes forget what I know. I wrote in an earlier article about how my husband and I had finally reached our goal of sailing out into the Gulf by timing it to coincide with the Rockport Yacht Club's regatta and identifying another boat to caravan with. What enabled us to finally reach that goal was remembering that goals can sometimes be more attainable in a group than alone.

Apparently, however, I am a slow learner - and as I said, I sometimes forget what I know. A separate goal my husband and I had was to charter a boat in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Last spring we even took a few private boating classes to increase our confidence and skills - which we hoped would result in us booking a trip. The booking, however, still didn't happen. Even though we had been sailing a great deal this past year, chartering a boat still seemed like an unreachable goal. That is, until my husband discovered an option to charter a boat as part of a flotilla of other boats. With a charter flotilla you have a lead boat associated with the charter company, which has an available Captain to advise the other boats in the flotilla as needed and to come to their rescue, also as needed.

We knew immediately that this was what we needed in order to make our goal a reality. Knowing there were other boats in our group, as well as a lead boat whose purpose was to assist us if needed, was the push we needed to finally commit to a date and identify a crew to accompany us.

Sometimes to turn a goal into a reality, it just takes making that first step. Within a week of learning of the flotilla option, we had booked a boat, lined up a crew and had our airline tickets to St. Thomas. A ferry to Tortola BVI would be the final leg of the trip before boarding our 41' sailboat for our week long sailing adventure of island hopping, swimming, and snorkeling.

And also because of that first step, I suddenly found the motivation needed to take some additional on-line sailing classes, which I hadn't done since soon after we purchased our boat three years ago. The on-line sailing school we use (Nauticed) even had a course specifically about chartering in the BVI, which I immediately completed and which added to my confidence.


So, in addition to remembering that we can sometimes reach our goals more quickly by including other people, I am also aware of the increased motivation that comes from setting a goal in motion. This seems to be true whether it is planning a dinner party and suddenly being motivated to clean my house, or booking a charter and suddenly being motivated to increase my sailing skills.

My conclusion is that regardless of our age or what our specific goals are, the effort and the outcome can sometimes look the same. On a recent walk around the Hike and Bike trail in Austin, I noticed a little girl of around 5 or 6 coming toward me on her bike with her training wheels attached. I observed her Mother encouraging her, as the little girl's mouth showed the intent with which she was moving her bicycle forward. Soon after, two young girls flew past me gleefully pedaling their bikes without training wheels - with a look of pure joy on their faces.

It was as though I was watching the before and after picture, serving as a reminder of the possibility that awaits us of being able to move to that next step - whether it is a bicycle without training wheels or chartering a sailboat in a foreign country. And as long as it helps move us toward accomplishing our goals, who cares if it is a bold step or a baby step?

Vicki and husband, ceramic artist Stan Irvin, are both retired professors who have discovered the joys of Rockport and living part-time on their 33' sailboat, while exploring new sailing destinations and adventures.

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