The Awkward Dinghy Driver, Part II

Ever since I wrote my post about my embarrassing struggles to master the art of dinghy driving, I’ve been amazed by the number of people who’ve reached out to tell me that they, too, have endured embarrassing anxiety-inducing trials while learning to drive a dinghy. The most surprising part is that these are experienced, talented mariners, which is comforting. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has made a fool of myself in an inflatable.

That’s a nice thing about sharing your experiences on a blog: sometimes it helps you realize how many things you have in common with other people… But sometimes blogging can be, well, a little embarrassing.

Like when you find out that someone you know did indeed witness your worst dinghy debacle, and this person wouldn’t have mentioned it… but you wrote about it on your blog so they’re not afraid to bring it up. And it gets even more embarrassing when the person in question is a captain. And it continues to go downhill when said captain visits the boat you crew on and teases you for your poor dinghy performance in front of the captains who you crew for. And of course this person has also read your other blog posts, which has given him an arsenal of things to tease you about. (Cough cough– Yerba mate)

But I guess publishing my self-deprecating sense of humor on the internet does mean I’m asking for it.

As it turns out, Fede, the captain of Quijote, the first boat Rebecca and I were on in Argentina, watched my whole ridiculous dinghy ordeal in Ushuaia back in February. He told me he was about to come offer me help just when I got my act together and buzzed off. And there I was, thinking I had gotten away with an embarrassing situation unnoticed, but Fede has known all along!

Now that I think about it, I guess if I had to pick someone to know my secret embarrassing moments, Fede and his wife Laura would be a pretty good choice. Because after teasing me, they offered to teach me. And so it was that I found myself, on my last morning in South America, in the dinghy with Laura buzzing around the harbor in Ushuaia. We practiced starting the motor, maneuvering, landing the dinghy, and rescuing a “man overboard” buoy that I named Wilson. By the end of our practice session I was definitely driving better. I still have things to learn, but my main impediment to learning has been performance pressure, so it was a big help to practice in a comfortable environment where that pressure is removed.

Laura and I also practiced throwing dock lines… But I wouldn’t recommend doing that on a dock covered with ice. Let’s just say it made things interesting.


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