Speak Up

A few weeks ago I snuck in a quick midweek kayak fishing session.

As I was coming in and taking gear off my yak near the Bahia Hotel there was a family setting up a little sailboat. The boat belonged to their teenage daughter, maybe 16-17, she had clearly never sailed before… or if she had, she wasn’t the skipper. Though equally green her dad was totally confident. The mom and the rest of their kids were all there, taking pictures. It was probably a birthday gift. It was probably her birthday.

They were very excited about this boat.

I slowly packed up my gear while they spent 10 minutes rigging the lines and all of that. They borrowed my Gerber and I offered them some paracord. While they were excited and the boat was indeed awesome, they clearly weren’t sea-ready. And I hoped they’d realize that and pack up to reboot at home. It was so obvious. They needed a class or at least a friend who could show them what to do.

It was windy so I joked with them, “Should I call 911 now or wait?” They were unashamed about not knowing what they were doing but totally determined to give it a try. They shrugged it off. What could go wrong?

I got all of my gear put away and my kayak mounted up on the roof of our van… but something just told me to hang around for a bit. I couldn’t stop them from going but maybe I could help them somehow?

I sat in the drivers seat of the van, warming up, and they finally got the sail rigged. The daughter sat on the side of the boat, texting and taking selfies.

And the dad pushed them off the beach… the family cheered, dad hopped over the side onto the boat… then boat swung wildly, the sail went the wrong way– literally into their faces, they nearly capsized, and less than 5 seconds later the sailboat slammed back on shore.

They failed hard. 

I laughed hard. 

Everyone laughed hard.

It was so obvious. Don’t sail today. 

I was 100% confident that even if they got out on the water they were going to capsize or hit another boat, etc. These weren’t newbie conditions. It was windy and cold and the tidal current was fierce.

They weren’t dissuaded. They were going to keep trying. And, frankly, I didn’t want to be the one to shatter their dreams. While they were likely to capsize or cause other boaters to evade their chaotic movements, who am I to tell someone not to do something? And hey, with the Coast Guard nearby as well as fellow boaters chances were pretty good everything would be fine.

But the bigger and more immediate thing was that their lifejackets were on shore.

The law requires that each boater have a lifejacket. And frankly, these two were going to end up in the water and they needed to be wearing them.

So there I was, in my toasty car, enjoying the sideshow of Gilligan and his mates trying to sail… and left with a choice.

Culture says, “Mind your own business. Leave people alone. There’s no need to say anything to someone you don’t know.

Culture says, “Just drive away.

Culture says, “If you say something they’ll probably get pissed.”

But I know culture lies. 

Culture costs lives everyday. 

You aren’t on this planet to be silent.

You don’t possess knowledge for yourself.

That feeling, that little twinge that says you ought to do something, it’s not just for you.

Your silence is kills.

That voice?

Listen to it. 

Act on it. 

Photo credit: Andrea Bowman via Flickr (Creative Commons)

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.


  1. Yes, you’ve left us hanging and wanting more (good job, I’m sure it was intentional), but I’m posting so hoping I get a chance to read the update.

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