By Kim Fernandez, CAE

After two since-preschool lifetimes of power boating and with the prospect of a newly empty nest, my husband and I bought an old Flying Scot sailboat this year. We christened her “Wait Up,” to set expectations and after he did a bit of fiberglass repair, had her plopped on a lake mooring, apologized profusely for the summer that was about to happen, and began learning to make her go.

Unbeknownst to me were two things: Seasoned sailors love sharing their knowledge with newbies, and they speak a completely different language than I knew to this point. Ropes on boats have always been “lines,” but now some of them are “sheets.” Some in sets are “vangs” and/or “Cunninghams,” and then there are others I don’t remember this second. The new language carries completely from bow to stern and the prospect of learning it all is daunting to say the least. Which meant well-meaning advice didn’t always compute.

One of the sailors kind enough to share her knowledge with us is a world-ranked racer and well-known sailing teacher and coach, and when she offered to hop aboard and give Wait Up a once-over, I hesitated, fearing she’d lose her patience and declare my ignorance hopeless. But she kicked off her shoes, jumped into the cockpit, and, in a stroke of kind genius, started both explaining and labeling all the new-to-me things with a black Sharpie. It’s like having real-life captions and it is wonderful.

Where I knew I had a friend, though, was when she grabbed the rope with the giant knot you’re supposed to hold onto to stay aboard when you “hike,” which is throwing most of your weight over the side of the boat when it threatens to capsize in high winds and waves (which, by the way, I will not be doing). “This has a name,” she said, “But I just call it the hangy-outey rope.” And that was it—she was among my favorite people in the world.

The last almost-two years in parking and mobility—and in just living our lives—have felt a little bit like being tossed into a sailboat after a lifetime on engines. Everything feels different, the language is foreign, and we’re not really sure what to practice next. It’s good to find a friendly, wise person to help navigate the waters. It’s great to find one who gets you and tries to make it easier. And it’s outstanding—truly—to find something as simple as the hangy-outey rope that can keep you in the race when things whip up too much.

I wish us all a smooth sail, gentle breezes, and a happy, successful 2022, and I hope it has much less drama than the last two new years. Here’s to new starts and friends who get us.

Kim Fernandez, CAE, is IPMI’s director of publications. This first appeared in the December issue of Parking & Mobility magazine.