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Stay The Course

by Julia Charleston

When I was in high school I lived in Seminole, Florida, which was on the west coast just below Tampa. Seminole is located on the mainland, but if you go down the block and over the bridge, you could be at the Gulf of Mexico in 10 minutes. My friend, Cathy, lived just across that bridge on Redington Beach. Cathy’s dad owned a little Sunfish sailboat, which are small little canoe type boats with a tiny sail and rudder. Cathy invited me to go sailing one day. I knew absolutely nothing about sailing, and I’m not sure if Cathy did either.

So off we sailed, straight out into the open water. It was so beautiful; peaceful and serene. A pod of dolphins sailed with us, jumping in and out of the water. It was the coolest thing I had ever experienced. Unfortunately, that was short lived. We sailed back, headed straight for land, thinking we would hit our beach. We ended up way off course – down by the big fishing pier. We couldn’t catch the wind in our sail so we began drifting closer and closer to the pier, our boat interfering with several fishermen’s lines. Unhappy with us, they yelled down at our little boat to get out of the way. As we drifted, the waves sloshed us around so much we thought we might crash into the pier and capsize the boat. We were very scared and began yelling for help. A man finally swam out and climbed aboard, saving us! He told us we had to sail back out into open water to get back to the beach. Then, we were told, you can’t sail straight into land, you had to zig and zag in order to catch the wind to get back to shore. Thinking about that experience made me realize: the smallest mistake caused us to go way off course.

I did a little research, and found when sailing, your navigation plan must be absolutely 100% precise. If you travel just one degree off course:

  • You will miss your target by 92 feet.
  • For every 60 miles you sail, you will miss your target by one mile.
  • Sailing around the equator will land you almost 500 nautical miles off your intended target.

***Going off course just one degree will make a huge impact on where you end up.***

Many of us have our life plan in place, and we live our lives headed in that direction. But sometimes we make small compromises that don’t seem like a big deal, but over time, those concessions can throw us way off course, until we find ourselves in a place we never intended to be.

The captain of a ship spends time charting their course to precise measurements to make sure they meet their intended destination. While on the open waters, they evaluate their path to assure they haven’t gone off course even a tiny bit, and make the necessary corrections to get back on track if they do.

How are you doing on your life navigation plan? Are you staying the course? Do you need to re-evaluate where you are going? What corrections need to be made to get back on course?

“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT)

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