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PostLearning to Sail with Outward Bound (John Heelan, UK, 05/05/19 4:49 am)
JE (4 May) asked why naval officers are still trained in traditional sailing techniques.
As a graduate of the Outward Bound Sea School, we had to learn how to sail not only "dipping lug cutters" (for which every tack meant taking the sail down and rehoisting it the other side of the main mast.) but also sailing the school's three-master through the sometimes stormy Cardigan Bay. The value of Outward Bound training was to instill physical confidence in the trainees who had to abseil down cliffs and complete a 20-mile hike across mountains. Every morning was started with a cross-country run and a cold shower (and I mean COLD in November). The building physical courage succeeded: so much so that a couple of years later, I found my National Service basic training relatively easy despite it taking place in one of the worst UK winters.
Not that I was an aspiring naval officer at that time, but just a young bank clerk lucky enough to be selected for the OB training. I still look back on those days with affection and have revisited the mountains and estuaries with my young family, taking them sailing in dinghies. I wish I was agile enough to continue to enjoy sailing. North Wales became a favourite vacation choice.
JE comments: For his part, Eugenio Battaglia answered my question in more poetic terms: "Training men on sails makes them materially and spiritually stronger." (Let's include the women, too!) I still suspect tradition plays a bigger role here than necessity. Also, a three-master (such as the Italian Amerigo Vespucci) is a very cool thing to play with. "You are the most beautiful ship in the world":