Last fall, I spent hours collecting input from our sailing instructors and creating a list of replacement items and equipment needed to continue to run our Sailing School safely in 2022. The total was quite high, and I was seriously worried about how we would pay for these items. Then, surprise! In December, I learned our dedicated HRMM Boat School Volunteer Zef Fessenden pledged a targeted donation for The Sailing School equal to the amount on our list! Serendipity! We are so grateful for his support.
I asked Zef what motivated him to make this pledge. He told me that he learned to sail as a child on the North Shore of Long Island, and it changed his life. As an adult, he and his wife sailed many miles offshore and had amazing experiences and adventures. Even more important, Zef shared that sailing taught him so much about life. Zef’s lessons include:
1) We are not in control. Many of us think if we just work hard or we’re just lucky, we can control the outcome of our efforts, but sailors learn early in life, that is simply not true. Unexpected stuff happens often. Successful people understand that truth on land as well as on the water, and they develop their ability to cope with the unexpected.
2) The important thing is how we respond to life’s challenges. We can’t always predict a sudden squall, but we can handle it well or poorly. Similarly, in life, we often can’t control things like our health, income or difficult family members, but we can control how we react. If we take charge of what we can control and improve our lifestyle, we can regain our quality of life.
3) Preparation, knowledge and skill help us succeed. Though we don’t know in advance when we’re going to have a problem with equipment or weather, successful sailors build a tool chest full of practice, information, and techniques, which they dip into as needed in cases of unexpected challenges and emergencies. Preparation, knowledge and skill can be literally life-saving in sailing and in life in general.
4) Teamwork is a necessity. Whether your crew consists of two people or a full complement of eight or twelve people on a big racing keel boat, cooperation, communication, and trust in each other ensure that people aboard have a safe and positive experience. Sailing teaches us we need to depend on others and be dependable for others in order to survive and thrive in life.
Zef wants other people, youth and adults, from various, diverse communities, to benefit from sailing as he did, so he is helping to make that happen. If you feel like Zef does, that learning to sail gifts people with a lifetime of self-confidence, skills, mental and physical fitness, leadership and cooperation, perhaps you would like to join him and make a targeted donation to the HRMM Sailing School or to one of the many other wonderful programs at HRMM.
For 2022, we especially need support for scholarships to welcome new youth sailors from communities who have not had the opportunity to get out on the water before. If you are so moved, please support our youth sailing scholarships or other HRMM programs. Thank you!
The author is Jody Sterling, Sailing School Director, HRMM
Staff and volunteers of the Hudson River Maritime Museum's Wooden Boat School and Sailing & Rowing School.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries.
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