How do you react to problems? Can you come up with an immediate plan, but also be flexible? That’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.
Dave spent 20 days of last December in the hospital, the last stay being 12 days. (He says I shouldn’t talk about it so much, people read this for cruising tips. But it’s obviously taken over our lives . . . and has brought to mind many things I’ve learned cruising.) Eight units of red blood cells transfused. More than once, “fixing” one problem has created another.
Dave was discharged from the hospital on New Year’s Day, but we had to stay in Miami for at least a week for follow-up to ensure that he was stable before we headed back to the boat. And the medical team is still working out long-term solutions to a combination of heart problems and GI bleeding.
This experience reminded me of some of the lessons I’ve learned while cruising:
- When serious problems arise, you absolutely MUST prioritize.
- Communication is critical so that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
- Time shrinks. When the situation is rapidly changing, your world is reduced to the here and now. Yes, you must think where you’re headed – literally and figuratively. But the target may change numerous times before you reach a “safe place.”
- Don’t get so caught up in the immediate problem that you miss other issues that may develop. “Whack-A-Mole” is real: one solution often creates another, unforeseen, problem.
- There may not be a perfect solution. Do the best you can based on what you know at the time.
- It’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
That’s where the flexibility comes in. Constant reassessment of the situation. The need to pivot when new information comes in or something new happens.
We all hope never to have a major problem with the boat, such as a dismasting, knockdown, water intrusion, life-threatening medical emergency, fire, or other serious issue. You can think ahead to these types of situations, but the truth is that you can’t totally prepare. The reality is a lot messier than the scenario you envision. All you can do is stay flexible, keep a sharp eye out, and keep altering the plan as things change.
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