You can’t sail in a vacuum

In my last post, I said that the afternoon’s sail took me away from the generally depressing news.

Sailing is an excellent way to clear the mind, but I don’t think I can ignore the current situation. It is easy to be blinkered but there is a responsibility to, at the very least, acknowledge what is going on around us.


Last winter, I produced an e-book for my children, nephews and nieces about the what, the why and the how of Blue Mistress.

It had occurred to me that, although they have their own lives to lead now, one day, one of them might ask ‘what was Dad/Uncle Bill thinking when he bought the boat?’ – and I won’t be there to tell them.

The exercise was good because it focussed my attention and made me answer some questions I might otherwise have ignored. ‘Just for the sake of it,’ is a good answer, but is not always the whole answer.

The first part deals with the what and the how, the second half is more about the why.

I produced it in PowerPoint because I was interested in how text and images might be placed together to hold the attention when viewed on a monitor screen. It has worked well on most pages. The problem now is that by the time the next generation become really interested in the past, the software will be well out-of-date. I want to convert it into a more suitable format but that appears easier said than done at the moment.

It is essentially a personal record which might be of passing interest to another Folksong owner.


What has this got to do with the current financial crisis?

Back in January, I was writing something I hoped would be picked up by my children – (accepting how much children appreciate what their parents tell them:-)):

“So technology has opened possibilities for all of us that were merely dreams only a few years ago.

But there is a downside. In the excitement of the new and the rush to embrace the next generation of a particular technology – whatever that may be, there is a danger of us getting used to living in a virtual world – one in which men and women take second place, and in which, if we are not careful, we may lose the natural human skills that make the technology worth having in the first place. (“You can’t behave this or that way, because the technology won’t allow it.”)

I believe that there is a danger of losing the physical, hands-on learning of ‘craft’.

Using your hands in actual practice teaches you to understand the tools, the materials, the tasks, the situations in a way that virtual reality can mimic but not touch. It’s about developing a deeper understanding of your own competence and how you fit into the dynamics of the situation. It’s about recognising from first-hand experience all the other skills you need to possess in order to deliver the current one. It’s about making mistakes and learning from them.

My point is that technology should be used in the service of humanity, and we should not allow humanity to become the subject of technology. The border between the two is becoming particularly elusive in the first decade of the twenty first century.”

I didn’t know then how soon, or spectacularly, that danger would be realised. It’s not the technology, it’s the way people use it.

In the financial world, the speed with which information can be spread through that world got out of synch with the ‘human touch’ that was needed to evaluate and control the information. The problem grew exponentially.

The consequence is not just a crisis in financial markets and a subsequent recession, but may well be an over-reaction of regulatory bodies in areas far removed from the financial world – encouraged by these events to come out of the woodwork and make hay. Consider the knock-on effects from 9/11. I hope I’m wrong.


So now I’ve acknowledged the crisis, what can I do about it. Well, I can’t solve it, but I can retrench and concentrate on what I’m good at.

I will keep this blog going, and, as we face the recession together, notice, and where appropriate highlight, the situation of those working in maritime industries where we coincide, and continue to highlight what I see, enjoy and learn – ( and fail to learn), from the viewpoint of a Folksong owner.

The ‘For love of a boat’ series is already noting the reduction in the local fishing industry around Europe, shown in the loss of well-designed, carefully constructed boats that may never reappear in any form.