The Cotter Ring: seemingly mundane, apparently important

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I didn’t waste any time putting my boat back in the water for the 2012 season. Even though I haven’t actually sailed her in the last month, getting her ship-shape is often just as therapeutic.

Among this year’s upgrades were replacing the halyards and sheets (we call them lines, never ropes), and purchasing a mint condition main sail from 1978.

As I was getting the rigging squared away over the weekend, I took extra care with one of tiniest items on my boat.

The Cotter Rings.

These little buggers are nothing more than an overlapping circle of stainless steel wire. They’re essentially weightless in your hand, which means they’re easy to drop, and once in the water – bye bye. They’re fairly inexpensive, and probably the last item anyone thinks of when generically thinking of sailing hardware.

And yet, they’re indispensable.

What so fascinates me is that my boat weighs as much as both of my vehicles put together. Her super structure endures thousands of pounds of pressure, harnessing potential energy within vacuums created through the Bernoulli principle, into kinetic energy that’s translated to a lead encased steel keel buried deep in the water producing directional momentum.

In the face of overwhelming natural forces that could literally break a person in two, enter the Cotter Ring.

They’re all over my boat.

They bear almost no critical weight, go almost completely unnoticed, and once I set them for the year, I never touch them again.

Yet without them, I can’t sail.

They hold the Cotter Pins in position at the fixture points of my main sheet blocks, without which I’d have an utterly functionless sail system.

They hold the Cotter Pins in place that anchor the massive aircraft-steel cables to the deck; those cables are called stays and they keep the 29′ aluminum mast aloft.

As I began to look around, I realized that these little rings – as mundane, inexpensive and unnoticed as they are – are just as essential to my sailing season as the glorious sails that get all the attention.

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As people it’s easy to compare ourselves to others, those that are seemingly more impressive, more impressionable. We look at what they have and then at what we have; we look at what they can do, and then at what we can do. But in my discovery of the Cotter Ring’s significance, I realized how endearing this little piece of metal was to me, the Captain of the ship.

The game was never for the sails to impress the mast, or the hull to impress the lines. The game has always been to serve the Captain. The Captain finds just as much pleasure with the seemingly mundane as he does with the apparently important. And keeping his perspective in mind is the key to not loosing our perspective.

To the Cotter Ring, the main sail is for more impressive; but to the Captain, both are equal in their value of accomplishing what He first set out to do: enjoy life.

ch:

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  • Billy Jepma

    That’s awesome. Needed to hear that this morning. Thank you Christopher. :) Maybe sometime this year I can get a ride on your baby?

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      Absolutely. I’m thinking we should host one of our writing classes out there.

    • Billy Jepma

      That would be amazing! :O

  • Taisia

    It’s funny how something so small can be so important!

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      Indeed it is! Humbling.

  • Kim

    I can identify!! Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      You’re most welcome, Kim. Got to hug your eldest daughter today. I know you’re proud of her; you’re a great mom.

  • Beth

    The little things are taken for granted too many times. :) Thanks, needed this today. Another inspirational post.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      Only happy to help.

  • Mary Trapasso-Ayers

    Very true and very timely… It’s funny (really it’s amazing) how God will confirm something to you, all around you, in various ways. My heart cries out for my life to be restored to me. Especially my health. When it seems that all I do is manage my illness and a few things around the house to keep my family going (because that is all I can physically handle most days), the last place I feel I have any significance or any power at all is in my witness and relationship with the Lord. Everyday seems mundane and like a loss. I question my purpose. I wonder how am I to do the things I feel I have foreseen and have received prophesy of when all I CAN do is barely manage myself, my home and my family. Most days I feel hopeless. Like there’ll never be more than this, what I’m living in now. I feel used up before I even got started. Some days I feel enveloped in total darkness. I fight for my life daily and I get weary. Yet somehow His light seeps through, even if only the size of a pinhole, and He shows me that He is still there with me. That even the smallest heart cry is heard and does not go unnoticed. That lives are still being touched even if I don’t realize it. He’s even revealed a prophetic picture of me as being restored physically and spiritually and as walking with a sense of purpose and in power. Most importantly He confirms to me that no matter what, even if I never emerge as anything more than where I am right now, I’m as important to Him as I ever was or will be and that my place now is as prevalent to the Kingdom as a whole as it will be in the days to come.

    Thanks Chris…

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      Thanks for your very candid and open comment, Mary.

      “…my place now is as prevalent to the Kingdom as a whole as it will be in the days to come.”

      This perspective should encourage us all; it is nothing but truth, and smells of the divine.

  • Megan Jackson

    All I can think of when I see it is a keychain. Think what would life be like without one of those!? Great way to give a different type of perspective! Now, I’m going to walk around looking at all the little things, and making sure I appreciate those as well as the big things.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      As well you should!

      Right on with the keychain.

  • Gabe

    So true. Sometimes the smallest things are the most important.

    • http://www.christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

      Indeed!

  • Taisia

    Do you know the day The Tide of Unmaking will be available on Amazon?

    • Gabe

      We don’t know the day it will be available anywhere. They said that it will probably be around the end of summer.

    • Taisia

      Thanks Gabe! I found that out from Wayne Thomas Batson’s blog after I posted my comment. I can’t wait!! :)