How I became a sailing instructor

sailing instructor
When I started with intensive sailing last year, I didn’t even dream of being the one who will pass that ‘addiction’ to others.

Cover photo by: Dalibor Jovanović

It seems like I don’t exist in the ‘real’ world. My mobile phone is off, I don’t read emails, and I don’t check my facebook profile… But, indeed I exist. At the sea. It is absolute and requires the whole person and it accepts you in that way as well. Only when you succumb to it completely, it gives a lot. The chance to suck life from its very well. It is a powerful drug.

Only thing more powerful than that is an expression on people’s faces when all the beauty and simplicity of sailing reveals itself to them after few days of mismanagement and fear. Almost instinctively, without too much thinking, they start to steer a boat properly. As if they break the cocoon and swing with their wings for the first time.

That doesn’t exist in sailing theory nor can I explain it to them in spite of all my effort to do so. They simply have to feel that. And my privilege is to help them to achieve that and to see it when it happens. But, everyone is different and has his own rhythm. So I have to adjust my approach to each and every one of them.

For now, I’m doing great. And that’s why I adore being sailing instructor in ANA sailing school.

When I started with intensive sailing last year, I didn’t even dream of being the one who will pass that ‘addiction’ to others. I went on numerous sailing courses and read all the books I could find, but somehow it seemed to me that I always need more knowledge, more skill and more experience.

Now, after I ‘survived’ few courses as an instructor, I realized that that is true. I don’t mean that I wasn’t ready or that I made some big mistake. Not at all. It was a great experience and participants were satisfied. True was the fact that I will learn sailing the whole life and I will always lack more knowledge, more skill and more experience. And many times, I’ve heard from more experienced sailors that you learn the most when you start on your own. That showed to be true as well. I needed a chance to break the ice.

Since I wasn’t quite sure in my ability to do so, there were my mentor, alpha and omega of ANA’s base in Jezera on the island of Murter, Živko Matutinović, and the director of ANA sailing school, Gordan Smadilo, who was giving the fair wind to my sails from the beginning. They were sure that I’m able to take the responsibility for the crew and the boat and to conduct the schools programme properly.

It was the point of no return. I realized that I will soon find out am I on the right path in my life or not. I was terrified. In sailing there is no room for big emotions, or outbursts. One participant concluded correctly that sailing is digital – either it is one or null. I would add to that that sometimes even that narrow room for choosing can be too much. Because, no matter how hard it is for you in a situation, you have to make a decision, most often very quickly. Of course, it better be the right decision.

I would be lying if I would say that there weren’t some mismanagement and stress, but the decisions were right and real acknowledgment came on the third day of my first course. One participant said: “I’m so calm in every situation because you’re here. And you are always so calm”. I barely held myself from yelling out loud: “Yes!”.

But, as I said before in sailing there’s no room for emotional outbursts. I would like to add that that didn’t raise my ego but gave me the right dose of self esteem and respect to the sea and the elements. Every new day confirmed that, decisions were more secure and quick, and my insight was deeper and deeper. Since I’m ‘yellow’ I had the need to talk to somebody more experienced about that but there were no time or chance to do so.

And then, the day after my first course I had a chance to talk to Živko who said: “It was good and the people were satisfied”. That brief sentence contained everything I wanted to talk about in past few weeks. And I realized why Živko isn’t a man ‘of many words’. Although I’m trying as hell here, it cannot be described. You have to try it.


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