When I was in college, I learned an entire year’s worth of world history in one night, took the final the next day and got a B on the test.
See, on the first day of class, the teacher said we would meet once a week to go over each chapter. Or, he said, we could skip class if we wanted and study each week on our own.
What do you think I did?
If you think I opted to skip class and study each week on my own, you are wrong.
If you think I opted to skip class and blow off studying until the night before the final, you are correct.
Sailing is not world history.
The world history test I took all those years ago was an essay test. You can, or at least I could fake an essay test.
They don’t give essay tests in sailing. In sailing, they pretty much have one basic question and that question is, “So can you sail this boat?”
If you can, you pass. If you can’t, you don’t. Sure, it sounds unfair, but it’s really not.
I know that now.
About a month ago, when my wife gave me the gift of sailing classes, she also gave me a sailing book and said that the two of us needed to study it before our sailing class.
We both vowed to study the book together every night. Then we put it on a shelf and forgot about it.
On Friday night, when we got to our cabin near Stockton Lake, my wife and I pulled out the sailing book and began to study. After studying for about five minutes we put the book down.
“Maybe it’ll rain tomorrow,” I said.
On Saturday morning we drove to the lake and met our sailing instructor.
“Did you study the book?” he asked us.
“Sort of,” we said, which technically was true.
“We’ll see,” he said, which definitely was true.
Because it was actually raining when we got to the lake, the sailing instructor, who was nice if just a tad bit intense, decided he would review a bunch of sailing stuff with us.
In case you wondering, “bunch of sailing stuff” is not an official sailing expression.
While the instructor talked, my wife and I listened intently and occasionally nodded our heads. I’m not sure about my wife, but while the instructor was talking, the following thought kept running through my mind: “I wonder if we’ll get home Sunday in time to see part of the Kansas City Chiefs game.”
The instructor talked to us for about three hours, and then we broke for lunch.
After lunch, the rain let up and we walked down the dock to the boat we were going to sail. When we got to the vessel, the instructor had us identify parts of the boat.
Here are some of the boat parts my wife and I identified: “the floor,” “that tall pole,” the “steerie thing” and the “arrrrgggh.”
I did mention that we didn’t study, didn’t I?
A few minutes later, we got on the boat and practiced the complicated sailing process known as “getting the
damn boat away from the damn dock.”
Two hours later, we finally got the damn boat off the damn dock, left the marina and started sailing.
For the next few hours, my wife and I took turns trying to sail the boat — in the rain — while our instructor yelled at us.
It wasn’t as fun as it sounds.
But, after two days of hard sailing work, I’m proud to say that my wife and I learned something.
That steerie thing is called the tiller.
As for the sailing test, we all agreed it would be good idea if we went home, studied some more and took the test later.
And we will. I promise.