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Plan A

An American general whose name I have long forgotten had a mantra that “Plans are useless, but planning is essential”. A parallel quote runs along the lines of “I’ve never seen a battle plan that has survived contact with the enemy unscathed”. Sailing with the Europa reminds me of these philosophies.
Every evening at eight o’clock we have the daily update and plans for the following day. These updates follow a predictable pattern. The Captain appears by the bar, and puts up the relevant chart. A ripple of excitement rolls around the deckhouse if it is different to yesterday’s chart, for this indicates progress. Then dessert is served. Eric the Pragmatist realises that given the choice between listening to his summary of the situation or stuffing our faces with the delights of the galley - well, there really is no choice, is there?
Once the clinking of spoons subsides we get the Captain’s summary, explaining exactly how adverse the forecast conditions are and how inaccurate the forecasts have been recently, before he signs off with the regulation “We’ll see”. The Captain then returns to the serious business of keeping the ship afloat, or getting some sleep and hoping the Mate won’t accidentally sink the ship on the other watch. The Guides take over. At sea they focus on the lecture schedule for tomorrow. Whether these lectures actually take place depends on who is rostered on bread-making duties, because given the choice between having freshly baked bread or a well-prepared lecture to feed the mind - well, there really is no choice, is there? At the islands the Guides focus on the landings plan for the following 
day, or what is confidently described as Plan A. This usually involves something similar to raising the anchor at stupid o’clock to help the 
forward bunk dwellers to find the motivation to get out of the suddenly noisy cabins and enjoy the early morning crispness, travelling to our first landing through a cross sea to remind people sailing isn’t meant to be flat, then a description of whether it will be a wet or very wet landing, and what we may see if we survive the surf. We listen attentively, and nod approvingly, even though we have come to 
understand that Plan A is purely an ambit claim. It may last as far as arriving at the landing, it may get changed before the galley starts to get breakfast organised, it may even last as far as the first scouting with the Zodiacs. But it is Plans B, C, or maybe D which are what we will end up doing, and without Plan A these would be left hanging in Limbo, beyond our ability to access. The next day dawns and before the Captain is awake, we motor past Plan A without stopping following a cursory long distance recce with a pair of binoculars, and eventually brave the homicidal fur seals of Plan C a couple of bays further round the island. It is spectacular, and we are thankful it was not jinxed by being written in the whiteboard last night as Plan A. Planning is essential, but Plan A rarely escapes contact with the elements of the Southern Latitudes unscathed...

Geschreven door:
Ghostwriter | Voyage crew

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