Saturday, September 11, 2010

Follow the Leader

Today we took a good group from Third Beach in Newport across the river to Little Compton to paddle along the rocky coast. The trip was pleasant and relaxing. It also offered a good lesson in giving directions that are too specific.
TM gave the group a compass bearing to follow when we crossed the river. He then promptly decided not to stick with the bearing. Conditions were different enough to require adjustments.
The result was that the group drifted apart. Half the group followed TM. The other half followed TM's directions.
Once I realized what was happening, I started corralling the direction followers. Each one said the same thing: "TM said to following a bearing of 340." I couldn't argue the point, he had given the directions. So, I made some joke about TM being too old to read the tiny compass numbers and got them to slide in with the rest of the group.
It is a classic question when reality and directions don't match. Do you follow the directions or the reality? When it comes to kayaking in a group, I usually default to following the leader and not the leader's directions. Plans change for reasons that are not always obvious and on the water communication is imperfect at best.
Of course, I'm not much for following directions at the best of times. (Not even the ones I write myself.)
So, when in doubt stick with the leader unless the rest of the group has also abandoned the leader. Then stick with safety in numbers.

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