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A Smile


If you want to make God smile, just tell him what your plans are. I found that out this summer on my sailing adventure. We would travel from Kingston, Ontario, through the Welland Canal into Lake Erie, up the Detroit and St. Claire rivers into Lake Huron. Then we would continue north along the west coast of the lake into Georgian Bay and the North Channel. Almost three months of adventure and exploration! I spent many hours planning the trip, right down to what date I would be in a specific town. It was a wonderful master plan and very strategic. Those who wanted to join us knew when and where they could hop on board.

I don’t think I ever planned in such great detail in the time I worked. The detail of the plan even included bad-weather days and stops just because we liked the town or area we were in. The friends who planned to join us picked the part of the trip they wanted, and we confirmed time and place to meet.

Off we went with great enthusiasm and anticipation. I hid my fears of the unknown – what if the winds were too strong, if there were no winds, if the motor failed? – and many more doubts. There was no wind on most of Lake Erie on the way out and more wind than we wanted on the way back. We motored a lot more than I’d expected. I wanted to sail, to see the sails working, driving the boat. This was not my dream or fantasy.

I should have expected something would go wrong with the motor after all the use it got. Sure enough, the fuel pump sprang a leak. On a diesel engine, this is not a good thing. But it was not a big leak so I thought I would nurse it back to Kingston and get it fixed there. I picked up some friends in Windsor, and off we went on time and according to our plan. In fact we were a couple of days ahead of schedule since we didn’t hit any bad weather that would have kept us in port.

Ask anyone who lives and sails on Lake Erie how very rare it is to have an east wind. An east wind was the only wind I did not want. It would mean I would have to motor, driving directly into the wind. I thought about tacking back and forth across the lake, but that would mean added time. We would not be able to keep to our schedule. I couldn’t have that – I had to follow my plan.

The more stress I put on the motor, the bigger the leak got. I nursed it as far as Port Stanley and put in for repairs. It was late Friday and no one was available until Monday. I had a few days in the bank so we could wait. The four of us explored the wonderful port town and had a great time waiting for Monday.

The diesel repairman looked at the problem and announced it would have to come off and go to London for repairs, an hour up the road. He took off the pump and went to London. He came back and stated it was only a gasket and easy to replace but the diesel shop wouldn’t be able to look at it until Friday. Then they would let him know when it would be ready. One week and four days later we left for Port Colbourne and the Welland Canal. Who would have thought the remnants of hurricane Ernesto would bring high winds, and you guessed it, out of the east? The first time we tried to leave, the wind and waves were overpowering. We left next morning, and Ernesto dealt us 45-knot winds again from the east. We ran to Port Dover for a safe harbour. Altogether, we lost two weeks and two days on Lake Erie.

You need to plan, but more than the plan, you need to be flexible. No matter how well you plan and time-line, no matter how great your strategic planners are, there is always the unknown. But I guess if you can make God smile, you have accomplished a great thing.

Submitted by:

Robert Boucher

Robert Boucher
President
Cirrus Management Training & Sailing
1286 Rockwood Dr.
Kingston, Ont. K7P 2M7
1 613 634-0696
robert@cirrusleadership.com





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