“We clear the harbor and the wind catches her sails and my beautiful ship leans over ever so gracefully, and her elegant bow cuts cleanly into the increasing chop of the waves. I take a deep breath and my chest expands and my heart starts thumping so strongly I fear the others might see it beat through the cloth of my jacket. I face the wind and my lips peel back from my teeth in a grin of pure joy.”
― L.A. Meyer
The professor has become the student. Last weekend I started taking classes to get my captain’s certification. The Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel or O.U.P.V. license otherwise known as the six-pack. When I’m done, I’ll be able to sail commercially and carry up to six passengers on a vessel up to 100 tons (figure a 100′ boat). After that, I’ll start working my way up to certification for farther off-shore and the masters endorsement in order to operate vessels designed for more passengers. What in means in a practical sense for now is that I be able to legally take people on paid cruises on my boat.
Basically, it’s like a CDL for boats.
All that aside, the class I’m taking is a whole lot of information crammed into sixty hours of class time that’s compressed into three weekends. In college terms, that’s the equivalent of taking a semester long class plus, another half of semester and cramming it into nine days. So I’m having to study. A LOT. But, it’s good. I’m learning super useful information that I didn’t know before like all the variances in right-of-way for boats, and what those ships are saying when they’re blowing their horns. We’ll be diving deep into navigation next week and it’ll continue from there.
I’m telling you this for two reasons. The first is that I’m procrastinating from studying for my exam. The second is something that’s something to consider towards the horizon.
This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I am completely out of my comfort zone. I’m taking a class to gain knowledge rather than taking a class to get a grade. With knowledge comes freedom. I grew up eight to ten hours away from the nearest coast. I can tell you anything you want to know about mountains and cabins and communication. But living on a boat, and sailing on the coast where I share the water with ships and sharks. This is a place to pack up anything resembling pride and stow it somewhere out of my way. A lot of it’s hard for me simply because it’s so foreign. I didn’t grow up on these waters. I don’t know what kind of fish that is much less how to catch it.
But, that’s the point. I ignored the people who told me not to do this. More importantly, I got out of my own way and did something I wanted to do and I’m better because of it. I get to see things with fresh eyes and a childlike curiosity. Sometimes it’s incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes my brain hurts, but that’s when I know I’m learning. There is a value in doing something like this, learning new things and expanding skills. My guess is that there are psychological benefits that are far more biological in nature as well. I’m growing. I’m becoming more than I was and I’m becoming someone I want to be.
Now I can look across the waters at night and see a collection of lights in the distance and tell you what kind of boat it is and where it’s going. And, in the near future I’ll be able to plot my courses on a map with a better understanding of wind and currents and perhaps one day soon I’ll be able to navigate by the stars. The fact is, I can learn as much as I want and I plan to do exactly that.