Instructor Interview: Mike Desilets
Mike Desilets joins the Narragansett Sailing School team of instructors. We asked Mike about some of his experiences sailing; here’s what he had to share:
1. How did you first get into sailing?
The first family boat was a Sea Snark our Dad acquired just to give us an opportunity to experience sailing. He had never sailed before, either. At 10 years old I came to enjoy learning something that was new to us both. We then enrolled in a Rules of the Road class and I was hooked.
2. Have you had any disaster scenarios, failures, or simple problems in your sailing career that have given you a valuable lesson as a result?
I once ran aground to a gentle stop in a sandy shoal. No jarring thump, just a transition from full sails and healthy headway, to full sails with zero hull speed. We calmly deployed an anchor off the stern, dropped sails, and had a leisurely lunch while the tide rolled in over the next hour.
Once buoyant, we close-hauled our sails, weighed anchor and got on our merry way. The lesson was that problems will arise, and are often self-inflicted. The key is to calmly and promptly recognize the issue and address it safely. Avoid compounding an error with panicked decision-making.
3. If there’s one thing you can tell new sailors when they are just introduced to the sport, what would you tell them?
Respect the power of nature and find joy in your ability to harness a bit of it when sailing.
4. What advice would you tell a new sailor to ignore? What are bad recommendations you hear about sailing?
You don’t need to have a destination. Being on the water is its own destination.
5. Who most influenced your life when it comes to sailing?
My teenaged friends who shared a common love of sailing.
6. Outside of sailing, what is something that you love to do; something that makes you feel alive?
I think downhill skiing is another means of communing with nature and her awesome powers. Getting on top of a snow-covered mountain in subzero temperatures has a way of humbling one to the elements of nature.