Expert Coaching. Practical Resources.

October 9, 2018


Eric Phinney

Living on a Small Boat – Preparation Matters

Three weeks ago my wife Val and I set out to sail down the eastern seaboard to the Bahamas for the winter.  I have just retired after 30 years as a pastor in the Anglican Church.  There was much planning for this epic voyage.  It began in 2011 when I first purchased “Tevah.”  It was a boat well suited to coastal cruising and also cruising the West Indies.  As a matter of fact, it was designed for that very purpose.  Designed and built by the famed Charlie Morgan, it was branded as a WestIndies 36.

I introduce the blog this way because many of you have been part of conceiving and implementing enterprises and have had wonderful insight and help in getting off the ground. I am sure that your work has begun with focus, passion and the right DNA to get you there.  However, as time passes, little things become important, and little things can really throw you for a loop!

All was well as we set off, but all is not the same as when we first left.  There is a difference between the plan and the actual execution.  Plans look great on paper but when you actually venture out you will come across the realities – in my case, of small boat coastal cruising – and attention to detail becomes important.  Preparing for the unforeseen is certainly part of it, but another part is paying attention to the fine details of day to day life.

Having a clear routine to monitor all the systems is essential.  When cruising on a sailboat, this is important because you may not always be near a port to access what you might need.  Knowing beforehand what you need is key.  Everything on a boat has a life cycle and a regular maintenance requirement.

Sometimes, there are components actually missing. “Where is that backpack?”  “I thought you had it.”  “No, I thought youhad it.”  When going on shore runs to get supplies, our modes of transportation are going to be our dinghy, our feet and possible public transportation.  There are two things that we need to make a shopping trip do-able.  One is a sturdy backpack and the other is a wheeled cart that can fold up.  Once we were a few days down the coast, we arrived in North East harbor on Mt. Desert Island in the State of Maine.  After a dinghy ride, some research, a bus ride to Bar Harbor and another longer bus ride to Ellsworth we found the items we needed.   It took an entire day to get these two things, but we will use them at least once a week for the rest of our trip.

I have been helped so much by reading sailing blogs and talking to people who have already done this successfully.  Being a board director puts you in a very similar position.  You can and should use the help that is available. Governing well is very much like going on a complex journey on a small boat.   As a matter of fact, the word “govern” actually is derived from a Latin word that means “to steer.”  Of course, there is much more involved in steering then simply holding a wheel!

At The Governance Coach™ we have given careful attention to all the processes, systems and situations that you might encounter as you embark on the task of governing your organization.  I would encourage you to consider a review of your governing process by contacting us. The work you do as board directors is important and complex.  Investing some time obtaining solid information and tools early on will make your whole governance journey go more smoothly.

If you want to know more about being a more effective board, check out our Services & Solutions.

(If you want to know more about my sailing adventure you can find it at




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