Tuesday, 30 April 2013

More Sailing

Scott and I had a satisfying week.  After endless shopping (typically a 15 mile round trip) to secure the often minor but essential items to complete a job, Friday saw a coming together of endeavour.  It also saw the last minute “crisis” when the engineer appeared with a water intake pipe in his hand with a broken fitting.  Fortunately the seacock closed and the vessel was not about to sink.  At a minor level it produced an inconvenience of no generator whilst also bringing into sharp focus some rather more critical issues.

Fortunately all came together in time for a weekend of staff training.  Unfortunately the weather Gods hadn’t read the script and contrived to foil the intention of a weekend away.  The result was another very enjoyable day sail followed by a good force 8 overnight blow from the west and then for some a day alongside for more training. 
The main starts to draw

The volunteer sea staff come from an eclectic background and bring a wide array of relevant skills and experiences.  Some have spent a life time at sea, although not necessarily under sail; it might be fishing or in the merchant navy, perhaps with local coastal experience or vast ocean voyaging.  Others have relevant shore based experience, perhaps with the coastguard or similar.  A few are experienced yachtsman, including one who has sailed his own boat to The Antarctic Peninsula, but they are the minority.  Others are at various stages of gaining RYA qualifications (as required by MCA regulations) but Swan is not a yacht or even like one.  It makes for a diverse range of crew experiences and sometimes debate which reinforces the importance of learning from each other.  It also poses a few challenges for me.  The most daunting is that as skipper, I have a responsibility to “decide” and lead.  Take a very simple issue; how to tie off a cleat.  There are a host of ways; too many to list here, all have their advocates and advantages.  Again it’s a “small issue” but the ship is fundamentally safer if everyone is using the same system, it makes it far easier to see if something is wrong and at 0300 “on a dark and stormy night” it might be very important that when you go forward to adjust a line tied by someone else who is now off watch, you know exactly what you are going to find.  No escaping my responsibility to define the method but far harder to achieve consensus to enact.

One of our projects this week had been getting the inflatable tender ready for work.  Its included splicing lifting strops (a lesson learned from Fred’s boating excursion) , testing the outboard, making up a tender pack including spares, flares, tools, first aid and the like) this gave us a first class opportunity to sail out of the harbour with Nat (who is a photographer) and Scott in hot pursuit for the photo opportunity of Swan under sail.  It also gave me something to think about whilst sailing in close quarter.  (I admit to leaving the engine running but point out that given my “baby skipper” status that is prudent rather than cowardice.) 

Recovering the inflatable was not as smooth as I had hoped.  I’d miscalculated on a fundamental issue and forgotten how much harder this would be underway.  I’d also planned the recovery in such a way that we couldn’t easily use the winch to assist.  Both were valuable lessons but I also had the distinct impression that my mistakes were the subject of close scrutiny by the more experienced members of the crew, particularly if I hadn’t supported their particular preference in how to tie off a cleat!!

Close scrutiny of Google maps does not allow for easy access to our route but heading north up the coast from Scalloway you will find Stromness Voe (named).  The voe to the east (unnamed on the map) is Whitness Voe.  For a better feel switch to the satellite image.  Half way up its length you will notice Kirk Skerry a rock that presents what is sometimes euphemistically called “ a hazard to navigation”.  Relax – we missed it!!  It did however provide a worthwhile mark to round and some sharp tacking practice to get back down the Voe into a rising wind before returning to Scalloway and doubling the mooring lines!!  That evening there was a good blow outside and a good blowout below.

Ruins at the entrance to WhitnessVoe.  this beach was a salting where fish were landed, salted and dried

Following the Bowsprit up Whitness Voe

looking up the mast  hoops, a traditional way of climbing aloft 

The decision not to sail on Sunday might be regarded as over cautious but on balance I think it was the right call.  Two of my previously articulated maxims are “always have contingency” and “listen to your doubts”.  Successful risk management is in part about weighing risks and benefits.  Swan and I are still in our work up phase for the season and I know that not everything is yet as it should be, that includes my state of preparedness and hers; better to conduct alongside training then court an epic . . . .!!

So on Sunday we focused on some rope and knot work as well as some deck work and sequencing of bowsprit and jib drills.

It was an interesting weekend, I made some mistakes but learned much more – and not just about sailing and weather. 

Heading for home on Saturday evening ahead of the closing gale



Friday, 26 April 2013


I have been forced into action.  On Saturday we went for a day sail, and it ought to be easy to write an account of it but I am suffering from writers block.  Until a month ago I was a recreational sailor.  I sailed for pleasure and I suited myself, my decisions, my choices.  And whilst I believe I am a responsible sailor, I was responsible to no one but myself and my crew.  I could simply write about the pleasures of sailing.   Not so now.  As a commercial seafarer, I am subject to and must comply with a statutory regulatory framework.  (E-mail me for a full list of the appropriate documents!)  Fundamentally there is little change, if you have been making responsible decisions at sea, then recreational or commercial should make no difference.  However it is different; Saturday’s sail was about volunteer sea staff training.

Sea staff are volunteers and give off their time and experience for a variety of reasons.  A common one is that like me they enjoy sailing.   However their volunteering must encompass more than recreational sailing.  Avoiding a detailed discussion on the legal framework, and cutting to the chase, as well as enjoying themselves, they also need to be trained.  A great deal of discretion exists with regard to the latter but there are some red lines, which I am required to comply with.  I don’t know that anyone was expecting to enjoy a lazy day sail, but if they were, then they would have been disappointed.  Of course the holy grail is to keep it fun, thus encouraging them to return, whilst at the same time delivering the “documented and structured” training required by the MCA.   I hope I got the balance right; proof will be as to how many turn up next weekend.

Alongside we did four separate exercises or lessons.  Firstly, we looked at the anchor and windless.  The windless is a manual hand turned one and although not normally thought of as a safety system, it can be and in any case needs to be handled safely as heavy chain, cogs and fingers can be an undesirable mixture.  Going below for coffee, we embarked on the first part of a lesson on mainmast running rigging which included how the various halyards and hardners interact and tie off.  Then it was back on deck for a practical familiarisation, including identification of ropes, overhauling tackles and by way of confirmation “teaching” the same to each other.  Bythen it was time for a warm up, so down to the engine room to run through engine checks and starting.  The engine is not normally thought of a s a safety system but it is not hard to imagine a scenario when it is precisely that!  We now came to the infamous MOB or man over board.

MOB is an interesting example of how we manage or mismanage perceptions of risk and safety.  I have developed some firm and contentious views on the same.  The Trust has an unambiguous policy of always wearing life jackets.  As an employee, I comply and as skipper, I set an example.  My views on life jackets are not always understood and sometimes I sense that people perceive me as being “pig (or big) headed” on the subject.  Last year I was on a boat were the skipper insisted on us all wearing life jackets but had no pump or bailer.  Frankly on that particular occasion, I’d have swapped a lifejacket for a bailer or pump, or even some engine tools.  Any of the last three, would have made for far greater safety.  When challenged, the skipper insisted that because we wearing life jackets we would be safe even if the boat flooded or the engine failed.  It was a classic example of feeling or looking safe but actually having utterly misunderstood the balance of risk.  We would have had to try very hard to accidently fall overboard, but an open boat without a means of shifting water is an accident waiting to happen.  The engine was our only means of propulsion and we would have been literally “up the creek without a paddle” if it had failed.  So my point is that an over emphasis on safety being achieved by wearing a life jacket can be a barrier to a balanced risk analysis and paradoxically life jackets detract from rather than enhance safety.   An example being those whose thinking runs "if I wear a life jacket then I am safe because  have adopted a safe practice"  In fact they have completely misunderstood the reality of MOB. 

Meet Fred. . . . .  

Fred is Scalloway harbour authority’s man sizes/weight floating dummy. Even if a real life Fred was conscious when I managed to successfully bring the 65 ton Swan to a halt next to him, the chances are that he would be incapable of scrambling up a boarding ladder or net let alone grabbing a rope and securing it to himself so that we could haul him aboard. So with Fred lying in the inflatable to simulate him floating on his back, we considered how exactly we could attempt to get him back on board over Swan’s four foot freeboard. There are many aspects of my former career that I cannot unequivocally defend or justify but one area in which the Army typically excel is realistic training that emphasises bridging a theoretical or classroom skill with the reality of practical application and rehearsal in a near realistic environment.   Using this technique, we spent a most interesting and informative hour discussing and enacting ways of getting to Fred and lifting him to the deck. I for one learnd a lot and it has allowed me to develop some ideas and also to make some recommendations to the operating committee on additional equipment and adaption of current equipment. 
After a bowl of reviving soup, it was finally off for a sail and a chance to put those mainmast running rigging ropes to work!!  I’m now becoming more comfortable with Scalloway harbour entrance and the channels that lead out past rocks and fish farms.   Having cleared the entrance we hoisted the foresail, and tensioned the luff with the hardner.   Still under engine we ran on a broad reach for a few miles before gybing and hoisting the main. 
The foresail drawing
The main is an impressive sail and her gear is heavy and over gauge but its all good for the “full upper body work out” as teams sweat the peak and throat to raise the gaff and sail.  It’s a far cry from the convenience of winches on modern yachts and whilst it can be viewed as crude and backbreaking work, it is also a tribute to a forbearers’ ingenuity that they devised a system that allowed a few men to hoist aloft over a ton of gear.   Now because this post is meant to be about sailing I shall desist on elaborating on two thoughts about “frames of reference” and sea shanties.  . . . but watch this space! 

A small part of the Main Showing Swan's fishing registration
With the main hoisted we were final able to kill the “iron topsail” as the engine is sometimes called and enjoy some quiet.  Most of the crew had the opportunity to helm and we spent an all too short time tacking and gybing. 

The helm committee
 I enjoyed this but as a new skipper and very conscious of my inexperience and responsibility it was not relaxing.  I’m still learning about the Swan and navigation takes a goodly proportion of my time.  All too soon it was time to drop sail and return to the quayside.  The wind ensured it was my most difficult “park” if you are not nautical or “lay alongside” if you are.  It actually involved dropping a crewman ashore on an easier (leeward) berth and as he walked around to our berth, I came off and onto our windward berth.  Scott both assisted me greatly and then congratulated me.  I’m reminded of an old army adage that you can conceal your incompetence from your superiors far more easily than from your subordinates.  Scott’s praise is high praise indeed.  Not that it is one way.  He is stepping up fantastically and his ability to instruct and organise novice crew is growing rapidly.

Sail Handling.  Note Nat, one of his roles is to make me look like a wimp
I really hope (and believe) that people will return next weekend.  I sensed that everyone learnt something and felt that their time had been spent beneficially.  There is no reason that learning should be restricted to an activity for the young and an important lesson in seamanship and life is to recognise who little you know and to do something about it. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Sometimes it's the little things . . .

I know I concluded my last blog with the promise that the next would be about sailing and that this one isn’t but please look on it as an extra?
I think that there are some top level issues to be evolved in conjunction with the Trustees and operations committee but one of my more unpopular decisions to date has been to change the cutlery storage drawer.  I’m told such apparently minor decisions can in different circumstances be a prelude to divorce. 

What was originally the fish hold is the principle enclosure below decks.  It’s been converted into a multifunctional area.  It houses the dining table (see below left), which doubles as a recreational and briefing area, it’s a dormitory for up to eight people it’s a through way to the galley and forepeak.  All of which are vital functions which add to the efficiency of the ship and comfort of the crew.  The same area also houses safety equipment and the navigation chart table, along with a host of electronic aids (see below right) that I am starting to understand (and helpfully are now working and contributing to my understanding of what they are meant to do!!)  So a lot going on in a relatively small space and all competing for their requirements and priority. 
The table has a central, top accessed stowage drawer.  This used to house charts but suffered from the obvious disadvantage that every time someone spilt their coffee or tomato ketchup – a not infrequent occurrence - the charts suffered.  My predecessor improved the situation by a drawer under the chart table to house the charts; a major improvement.  The cutlery lived in the drawer adjacent to the chart table (the chart drawer is the right hand one and the cutlery the one to its left).  This is undoubtedly convenient for table laying or grabbing the forgotten spoon needed to serve the meal. 
My decision to reinvigorate such things as a fault and damage log, an accident and near miss register and other, as I would contend, priority documentation has yet to be fully enacted but I do need an easily accessible place to house them.  So I have decided to rehouse the cutlery in the table stowage and freed up the drawer by the chart table for this purpose.   Of course I understand that none of this is a priority if you are not overly concerned with record keeping, but need to grab a teaspoon when you need it.
Steven Covey urges us to “put first things first”; it’s the third of his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.  I think it was Rudolph Giuliani who advocates “organise around a purpose” (and as an side made an early decision as mayor of New York to find money from the City budget to buy filing cabinets for the department of child protection so that they could file their case work and start to deliver their core responsibility of protecting children.)   So whilst I understand why others might have a different perspective; I am also clear where the skipper’s priority and prime responsibility lies.  Where the cutlery lives is not my priority, what I really care about is ease of access to the higher priority documentation and record keeping log books and I am lucky that by long established tradition, the skipper has the last word!!

In my former career I was luck enough when a young captain commanding the mortar platoon to have as my second in command an outstanding man and Regimental character, WO2 Pete “Lofty” Woodcock.  I learnt a lot from Lofty (and regret having lost touch); he made a life-long impression on me.  When faced with an unpopular decision, I would sometimes be (over)concerned about the impact on my soldiers, Lofty used to laugh and say “Sir, sod the blokes, they don’t write our annual reports”.  (Just to avoid misunderstanding Lofty was an outstanding soldier and leader who cared deeply for his soldiers.  He went on to become a Regimental Sergeant Major and was awarded an MBE.)  What Lofty meant was that sometimes as a commander you aren’t there to be popular but you are there to provide leadership and sometimes that is a lonely place where you can’t please everyone or court popularity, you have to do the right thing not the easy thing and if that makes you unpopular that’s unfortunate, try to take people with you; explain your decision as necessary but do the right thing.  Now if you are wondering about my views on the fridge that sits on the navigation table, then we probably share the same paradigm but evolution not revolution and one step at a time with some easy wins before moving on to bigger battles!!!
So we now have a small block and tackle to raise the admittedly inconveniently heavy table drawer.  It will ease the chore of reaching for a tea spoon and act as a teaching aid and demonstration for the younger children when we start our education programme with the schools.

In case that’s all a bit too philosophical, here is a photographic record of Scott and me painting the anchor chain and then Stockholm tarring the locker.  I was horrified to discover that we didn’t have a chipping hammer on board to prepare the metal work around the locker.  Now you might not know that the first present my father bought my mother was her own chipping hammer so that she could work on his houseboat!!  Scott, you just don’t know how special you are to me!!
Scott Paainting the anchor chain
Chipping hammer at work in the anchor locker
Ah Stockholm Tar

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Settling in

Firstly an apology, I don’t have unlimited access to the “net” and posting is often difficult – I hope it will improve but if you are following, I hope service will improve. I am now settling in and getting used to Shetland Life. I am still getting use to the local dialect and the locals do sometimes have to fall back on sign language.

Communication 1: Shetland for two

Communication 2: Shetland for happy

Which might be a good moment to introduce Scott. Fortunately I have landed on my feet with the bosun. Like me he is newly appointed but unlike me he has sailed on swan before and he is a Shetlander. I was spoilt by my first bosun, Si “Bosun”or Holman who taught me so much and with whom I sailed over 10000 miles. My new bosun, Scott has a hard act to follow but has an appetite for learning and a work ethic that bodes well. If I can pass on half of what Si Bosun taught me then I hope I will have given Scott as good a start as anyone could have done. I ought also to add that I am learning lots from him. The nonchalant way in which he brings Swan along side compares very favourably with my efforts. It’s a very good example of one of Kurt Hahn’s contentions; that more effective learning happens when “staff” and “students” embrace the opportunity to learn from each other, rather than the oft seen practise that staff teach students. Scott and I have started work and are already learning from each other as we start to gain understanding of each other and the task ahead. At times it all seems rather daunting but little by little we are making progress.

I’m also experiencing the adage of all four seasons in a day.

It's hard to get a photograph of the wind but after doubling up the lines, Force 8 has rocked me gently to sleep!

On the work front we have been rigging the boat and working through the seemingly never ending job list. Not only are these preparing the Swan but they are also preparing me.

All boats are living things. My little boat Hope is simplicity as compared to Swan's complexity. On deck she is much like Hope. I understand gaff rigged boat and Swan is a scaled up version. Sailing Swan is relatively straight forward, understanding everything else is mind boggling complex. Her Boom is a telegraph pole and perhaps 5 times the diameter of Hope’s. Hope’s toping lift is a simple whip with a sheave through the mast.(The toping lift is one of the ropes -part of the running rigging.  It’s the one that lifts and supports the aft end of the boom (that’s the long spar (pole) at the foot of the mainsail.)  Even with a 4:1 tackle, raising Swan’s boom is the hardest lift aboard but, it is just a toping lift.  The same can be said of almost any other part of the rigging or sails.  On Hope the most complicated electrical circuitry is a torch.  Swan has a 9.5 KW generator and a complexity of electronics that leaves me feeling hopelessly inadequate.   It is not helped by the absence of a systems book that describes this complexity, not just the power generation and distribution, but the array of systems that then run from it.  And then there is the plumbing, fresh water, sea water, heads, showers, cooling systems, bilge pumps to empty water from the ship, firefighting systems to put water into the ship.  There are safety systems from gas alarms to automatically launching and inflating life rafts, and much, much more.  I still don’t yet understand how these all work, let alone how to get the best from them or even maintain them. Sailing Swan is the easy part.  Preparing to take command and run her safely is the hard part.  I am reminded of the truth of the adage that “failure to prepare is preparing to fail”.
I have now enjoyed a few short sails on Swan. I had to pinch myself repeatedly particularly during the first. As well as being fantastic, there was a sense of unreality and nervous apprehension. I started with an apology and I will finish with one. Next time we sail, I’ll get my camera out!!! And next time I post, I'll tell you about sailing!!


Monday, 8 April 2013

Arrival – The same or Different

The overnight ferry from Aberdeen is the last stage of the journey north.  Despite the fact that I am travelling from one part of the UK to another, there is a distinctly different feel – a sense of finality - to boarding a ferry and heading to a group of Islands some 100 miles north of the UK mainland.  Mainland has a specific meaning here in Shetland – it refers to the main Island of Shetland and has nothing to do with GB or even Scotland.

A Fellow Traveller
Bagage for six months
There is a palpable sense of identity in Shetland.  For a start there is the very strong Viking (and earlier) heritage but even today there are strong cultural links with Norway and the Nordic countries.  Last year the Scalloway museum was opened by the Prime Minister – the Norwegian Prime Minister.  No part of Shetland is further than 3 miles from the sea and the sea affects everyone’s life.   Islands and islanders develop distinctive attitudes defined by the sea as their boundary.  Within which there is a curious mix of the same as the rest of the UK and yet there are pronounced differences. 

Whenever we view something as being the same or different its important to understand “as compared to what”.  Often we don’t make this specific and thus the implied comparison often leaves ambiguity as to what we are comparing with what.  Its back to perspectives and whether we chose to see similarities or differences as compared to what . . .  It is sometimes helpful to make our comparisons more useful by introducing a specific frame of reference.   So it is as meaningless to describe yourself as financially rich as it is poor.  Describing yourself as financially poor as compared to say Richard Branson is as valid as describing yourself as financially rich as compared to an unemployed homeless person.  Both are true but both engender different feelings and attitudes.  If you aspiration is to make money then the former might spur you on but if you want to count your blessings then the later might make you grateful for what you have.  Sometimes people say to me what bad luck it was to need hip replacements but I usually retort how fortunate I am to live in a time when, and a place where, something can be done about it.  I vividly remember struggling to do a group exercise at Headley Court and was on the point of giving up in frustration until I noticed the soldier 2 ranks in front of me completing the exercise on artificial legs.  I gave myself a severe talking to!

Lerwick Waterfront
I have never arrived in Port Stanley by sea but the sea front and feel of Lerwick is akin to Port Stanley.  (A description of minimal use to most people!)  There is the frontier feeling of an isolated community; there is the dominance of the waterfront and port, with ships and docks being the life blood of the islands, not just in immediate employment and wealth but also in the gateway for all that enters or leaves.  Lerwick combines an old town under the guns of Fort Charlotte with a modern and sprawling dock where fish are landed and processed, oils support vessels recoup and reequip and ferries come and go.  Soon it will be my home but for now it’s Scalloway where I have taken up residence on board Swan.  so here she is:
Swan LK243 my new home. . .
The view from the front door (main hatch)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Slaget på Reden

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Copenhagen. That's the one where Nelson having been ordered by the Commander in Chief, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, to break off the action, is reputed to have raised his telescope to his blind eye and said "I see no signal". Like all good stories it has suffered from some myth making and probably didn't happen quite like that. But this is not a history lesson so let's stick with this popular version.

It does raise some interesting questions which I am not going to delve into to deeply today but here are two to be going on with:

·Who is and where is the best place to make decisions?

·When is it right to break a rule or disobey an instruction?

I find these questions and ones that flow from them a very interesting area. It leads to considerations of delegation, accountability, responsibility, risk taking, training and development and much more. I fully expect to return these maters over the summer.

Now back to Hyde Parker. It’s interesting to note how his problem differed from yours in interpreting the "old woman/young girl" illusion. (blog 1) You had all the facts.

Hyde Parker had a different problem. He had an incomplete picture and was missing essential facts.  Nelson had deliberately chosen to sail through a shallow, narrow unbuoyed channel in order to create surprise. Parker could see that 3 (out of 12) British capital ships had run aground. Beyond that was the "fog of war". Its not perhaps surprising that with a quarter of the British ships effectively out of action, he should be concerned about what was happening. From his perspective, withdrawing might be a very reasonable or even best course of action. Nelson had a different perspective, he also knew that a quarter of his ships had run aground but he was able to do something else that Parker couldn't. Parker had to rely on visual information (backed up with some audio information). Nelson had both these but critically he was also able to "feel" the battle. Because he was there, he could sense things that Parker simply couldn't. It’s surprising but undeniable how a "sense" for what is happening around you can effect judgement and decision making. The ability to "feel” what is going on relies on at least two things; firstly being in the right place and secondly experienced practiced judgement.

"The fog of war" is often taken to refer to the obscured vision and noise of battle and thus a unique condition of the battlefield. In my view it runs deeper and has a much broader significance that stretches into everyday experience. The fog includes the stress, the incomplete or garbled messages, the half truths, the misinterpreted information, the delay in accurate timely information and much more. These conditions often abound in everyday life, for example the tired parent with a screaming child or the businessman with insufficient hours in the day.

So to be an effective decision maker we often need to accustom ourselves to working with incomplete, and at times inaccurate information in physically and mentally uncomfortable situations when time is short, tension high and perhaps the consequences very real. And the only way to gain mastery of such a demanding but often critical function, is through practice backed up with some clear guidelines and methodology.

I've sailed around Denmark and visited many times and you have probably already guessed "Slaget på Reden" is the Danish name for the battle. I am a great admirer of The Danes and Denmark; both hold some powerful memories and influences for me. Not only are the Vikings a visible and verbal influence on our own culture, language and history but Danes and Denmark are a continuing one. As a soldier I worked with and for Danes on many occasions. My former Regiment stood shoulder to shoulder with Danish Soldiers in Afghanistan. My brother has a longstanding interest in the Danish philosopher, theologian and social critic Søren Kierkegaard.  

So I hope that all my Danish friends will forgive my example and discourse on this anniversary.



A New Beginning or The Continuation of a Journey?

Moving to Shetland for 6 months. A new job, my first as a professional seafarer let alone commercial skipper. My first civilian job. Easy to see why this is a new beginning.

A life time in developing people, in running Outdoor education and leading adventure based projects. An opportunity to develop my previous experiences, thoughts, learning and perspectives. Easy to see why this is a continuation.

There is an element of truth in both these views, indeed neither of these contradictory perspectives is wrong.

You might have seen this optical illusion before, what is this a picture of?

Now can you see the "other" picture?

The drawing hasn't changed. Your perception has and you have interpreted the same information to arrive at a different meaning. 

Initially you unconsciously interpreted the facts (the first image you saw), you then consciously looked for an alternative interpretation, put probably only because you knew the trick or were challenged to look again. How often in life are we just satisfied with our first interpretation of events or facts? And then absolutely satisfied with our “rightness”?

How we perceive things drives how we think and therefore how we act. For example suppose you ask Pete to wash the car. If 3 hours later when you come back the car is unwashed then depending on whether you believe Pete to be lazy or conscientious significantly effects the way you at least initially react to the fact that the car is unwashed and might make you more or less inclined to believe the reasons. The facts that the car is unwashed hasn't changed and typically we massage our perception and interpretation to reinforce our beliefs and model of the world.

It’s a small step to one of Steve Covey's 7 habits - seek first to understand and then be understood. To understand often requires us to take a new perspective and challenge our own predisposition. I recently got this very badly wrong. (There might also have been some bad judgement with poor communication but that's another story)

Of course there is another possibility. So far I have portrayed a new beginning and a continuation as mutually exclusive opposites, but are they? Any physicist reading this will know how the argument raged between rival protagonists as to whether light was a wave or a particle. It wasn't until the start of the last century that evidence emerged to show that neither idea was sufficient to explain the observed behaviour of light. The dual nature of light behaving as a wave and a particle led to the birth of quantum theory, which you might regard is irrelevant to you, until the next time you turn on a TV or CD player and much much more.

So let’s finish with sailing. Consider letting go the mooring buoy or casting off the last mooring warp or jumping aboard as you push off the hard. As you head out of the harbour, creek or anchorage you are at a new beginning, it might be the start of a day sail or an ocean crossing but what you have around you be it physical, aspirational or experience is the beginning of your passage, but it’s also a continuation of the preparation from the day, or months before.