When I turned myself to the question I found it a difficult assignment too. I really don't have many of those "must do" sailing ambitions. Apparently my mind doesn't work that way. When thinking about what sailing dreams I would want to pursue, I found myself thinking in generalities rather than specifics; and I discovered that the ideas that came to me were more about what to include in every year in my sailing life. Stuff like: "Every year sail somewhere I've never sailed before."
At first I felt like I had failed at the challenge I had thrown out to others. But then I realized that a list of "Every year do ...." items might not be a bad "bucket list" after all. Because as my old buddy Marcus Aurelius said, "Live not one's life as though one had a thousand years, but live each day as the last." Not everyone (thankfully) is put in the position of the two main characters in the movie "Bucket List" of being told how long they had left to live. So the only sensible thing to do is to live every day -- and by extension every year -- as if it will be your last. Because one day it will be.
So with no more apologies here is my sailing bucket list.
- Every year sail somewhere new.
This is as specific as I want to be about the ideas I was bouncing around last week of whether I should set goals like "sail in all 50 states" or "sail a world championship on every continent". I find the 50 state thing to be way too artificial. On the other hand I do want to explore other parts of North America and other countries in the world that I haven't visited before. And sailing in those places is, for me, often the best excuse to make such trips. It would be fun to sail in California or in the southwestern US, to mention a couple of suggestions posted in the comments here during this project. I've never been to Africa and it would be cool to sail a major regatta as part of a trip there. Nearer to home I really do want to sail Laser regattas in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, beautiful states in which I've never Lasered before. Maybe those three (plus Nova Scotia) will be enough for 2009.
- Every year learn at least one new skill.
Contrary to the impressions I may sometimes give here I am not a totally fanatical blinkered rabid Laser sailor. I do enjoy other ways of having fun on the water. But I do need to push myself to explore new opportunities and learn new skills. I am going to learn to kayak one year soon. I'm tempted to take some coastal cruising courses. One day I am going to master sailing with a spinnaker and trapezing, maybe both at once. Celestial navigation sounds like a really cool subject. The possibilities are endless.
- Every year give something back to the sport.
In the first few years of my retirement I did a lot of things that supported the sailing of others (as well as sailing a lot myself). I was a class association regional coordinator, a sailing instructor, the organizer of a junior regatta series, a sailing club newsletter editor, a fleet captain, a race officer... all sorts of stuff. When we moved from New Jersey I gave up all those jobs and haven't yet picked up any similar responsibilities where I live now. That's not good enough. It's up to all of us who enjoy sailing to do something to support the sport. Especially retired folk like me with plenty of time on our hands.
- Every year introduce at least one new person to the sport. Same kind of rationale as number 3. Actually one of the most rewarding things you can do in sailing is pass on your enthusiasm and knowledge to newcomers to the sport. In my years as an instructor I'm sure I must have brought in more people to sailing than years I am old. I should keep up my average. I don't think I motivated one single person to sail this year. Not good enough again. On the other hand I did apparently inspire Polyphony to buy a Laser and I did go out with her for her first Laser sail.
- Introduce my grandchildren (born and as yet unborn) to the joys of having fun on the water. I'm looking forward to boating with my grandkids. I hope there's some sailing involved. And I hope they like it. But I also hope that I will have the wisdom to understand if they don't end up sharing my passion for sailing. After all, they have Tillerwoman's genes as well as mine, and sailing just ain't her thing.
- Every year scare myself sailing at least once.
- Sail with the most beautiful girl in the world.