Call them gurus, mentors, or yodas, everyone that we meet on the ocean has one. A person that taught you the secret ways of sailing, that guided you, that helped you when it seemed like all hope was lost. A person that is filled with boat knowledge and seems to be a walking, talking, human encyclopedia full of the info that you lack.
We have three such people.
First and foremost we have Joaquin from s/v Mirador, our “Ocean Papa”. This man initially took Eben and Jordan under his wing when he realized that those two crazies had no idea what they were doing when they bought a sailboat. He invested a lot of time into his young “grasshoppers” and taught them what he knew of the sailing life (which is a lot). With his help these two young men survived their first sailing adventure, something I didn’t think was possible. Joaquin, and his family, have become a part of our family. Every time we had a connecting flight in the US we made sure we did it in Miami so that we could take a few extra days to visit. We watched each others kids grow up, and even spent a good portion of last season sailing with them. And even after 5 years of sailing, we still like to bounce ideas off of Joaquin to make sure we are making a smart decision. This man was with us to witness our biggest mistakes, such as during my maiden voyage, which went terribly wrong, or when we backed over our dinghy line, and always knew how to reassure us and guide us, step by step, on how to make things better.
Another one of our Miami teachers is Gerry, from The Incredible Hull. (For some reason I feel like everyone in the sailing community knows who Gerry is, or needs to!) He was our go-to guy whenever we were in West Marine or when we had technical questions about anything. He always knew the answers and had the best recommendations for us. Even this last week, when we started questioning in which direction we should be sailing, he had suggestions and put me in touch with good contacts. With miles between us he is still proving to be awesome.
Finally we have Dave, our 72 year old Yoda, from s/v Mist. A man who’s brain can recall specifics about every bay you will encounter from the Caribbean to Europe. I mean he can tell you depths, hazards, obstructions, where to/not to take your boat. And if you offer him an evening of Pastis and looking over charts, he is more than willing to share all of knowledge with you (now if you can remember it all after that bottle of Pastis is the question!)
These three men stand out in our minds, because they went above and beyond to make sure that our young family got the best out of our sailing experience and survived. I hope that every one of you have such mentors, teaching you the way of the life. If not, find one, they make for great sounding boards and emotional support when you are wondering “wtf”.