10 Essential Questions: Mark Cole

Meet Mark Cole, a 9-year member from Kentucky who has always been drawn to the salty waters of the Salish Sea.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
September 29, 2017
10 Essential Questions: Mark Cole
Photo courtesy of Mark.

Each week we bring you a personal story from one of our members. For our member profile this week we talked to....

Name: Mark Cole
Hometown: Louisville, KY
Member Since: January 2009
Occupation: Retired and loving it!
Favorite Activities: Sailing, sea kayaking, backpacking, hiking, road biking, snowshoeing. The list goes on and on, but you said "favorite"...

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

I would have to describe myself as a "non-mountaineer Mountaineer". I first joined to take the Basic Sea Kayaking course and now stay active teaching the Basic Sailing course plus a Coastal Navigation for Sailors course. I have done some rock climbing and mountaineering, but I'm always drawn to the salt water. I sorta feel sorry for Mountaineers and other outdoor folks that don't get a chance to sail or somehow enjoy the waters of the Salish Sea. Granted, the mountains of this region are spectacular but that is only half of the beauty of living in the Pacific NW. Get out on the water!

Editor's Note: Mark has a point. Hundreds of people get outside with us every year through our Sailing and Kayaking Courses, but more people could take advantage of our vast water playgrounds. CHECK OUT THE COURSES.


What motivates you to get outside with us?

The main reason I enjoy sharing adventures with Mountaineers members is that I can count on their training and safe, level-headed approach to trip planning and enjoyment. It is also great to share activities, both water and land based, with folks that share the same passion for the outdoors as I do.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

I can't nail it down to a single memory, but I keep being struck by the excitement some of the graduates of the Basic Sailing course develop for sailing. Each year I have been involved with the course, so many of the students stay involved with the local sailing scene and a handful even get a boat of their own. One past student has even gone all the way to get her Coast Guard Master's License. For most of them, our class was their first real exposure to sailing and now they are hooked!

Who/What inspires you?

A fellow Mountaineers sailor that inspires me is Tom Davis. Tom has put his heart and energy into teaching the sailing course long before I got involved and shows no signs of slowing down.


What does adventure mean to you?

For a long time, I chuckled at the idea of "going on an adventure" as a bit of hyperbole. I grew up outdoors, in the Boy Scouts, going on long hikes, backpacking trips, canoeing, rock climbing. Heck, that is just what we did. A real adventure was paddling a sea kayak solo from Alaska to Tacoma. Something that required serious training, planning, and preparation, and even then tested your mental and physical toughness and exposed you to real danger. I realize now that "adventure" is more a state of mind that excites you, focuses your senses, and puts a big smile on your face. The mental and physical challenge is still there, but scaled more to the participants experience and ability.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise.
Smile or game face? Smile.
What's your happy place? At the helm of a sailboat, close hauled in 15 knots of wind with the water streaming by.
Post-adventure meal of choice? Fresh-caught crabs, clams, corn on the cob and a cold beer, sitting in the cockpit of my sailboat, enjoying the sunset.
If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Skipper on an America's Cup catamaran.

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    Marko Pavela
    Marko Pavela says:
    Sep 29, 2017 08:59 AM

    I'm a graduate of the Sailing Course and want to add that Mark is doing a FANTASTIC job with the program.

    Chris Reed
    Chris Reed says:
    Oct 04, 2017 01:57 PM

    Thanks for all your help learning points of the sail. Keep up your relaxed teaching style. It helps alot. I had a blast on your sails, even though every time I touched the wheel, the wind stopped, completely!
    You got a great 1st mate too.