This past weekend hubby and I took a sailing refresher course.

One of the modules was on Effective Communication While Sailing.

If you miscommunicate while sailing you could:

  • Not execute the maneuver you wanted.
  • Accidentally cause someone to fall overboard
  • Hit another boat
  • Die

The day after our refresher course …

We almost hit another boat …

In their slip at our marina


It was scary.

We were heading into our slip.

There are boats in the slips to our left and right.

There is a row of boats in slips behind us.

This is a maneuver we have executed thousands of times.

Everything was lining up perfectly.

Then suddenly we were hit with a strong gust of wind.

It pushed our boat hard directly towards the boat on our right.

I slammed the tiller hard to make the turn sharper.

But the wind strengthened.

The stern of the other boat was a few feet away …

And we were closing fast.

I yelled: “We’re going to hit! Reverse, reverse!”

There was the noise of:

  • The wind
  • The sailboat halyards banging on the masts
  • Powerboats passing out on the lake

Thank goodness Chuck and I practice our communication.

He said “Reverse.”

He threw the boat into reverse.

But now we were closing in on all the boats behind us.

Our boat is 27’ long and it weighs 3 tons.

So there was still the possibility of the bow hitting something in front of us.

I had to focus on our bow (front).

Chuck had to focus on our stern (back).

There was LOTS of communication going back and forth between us.

The boat backed up.

We tried again … but …

There was that gusting wind.

I saw another sailor on the dock.

I yelled one word:


To an experienced sailor watching a boat come into a slip,

No other communication was needed.

He came running.

He grabbed our bow as we head into our slip …

And secured it with a dock line.

Crisis averted.

But with one small misunderstanding …

It could have gone terribly wrong.

Clear communication is so important.

It reminds me to take a page from our sailing training by:

  • Not saying ok.
  • Instead, repeat back what was said.

Repeating back is why everything worked that day.

It is so important because there are 4 parts of communication:

  • What you said.
  • What you meant by what you said.
  • What the other person heard.
  • What the other person made what they heard mean.

Miss on any of those and you have a problem.

You avoid this by:

  • Asking the person to clarify what you said.
  • When others tell you something, repeat or clarify it.

It’s that simple.

If you are struggling with communication issue, just click: Schedule My Consultation With Cindy

I will help you!