An old saying, there bold sailors, and there are old sailors, but there are no old bold sailors comes to mind as I read Rod Stephens excellent manuscipt kindly provided by S&S and posted on the Dashews site. The manuscript shows every bit as much commonsense and good seamanship as you would expect from someone with Rods depth of experience, spanning 75 years or so. The lessons contained are hard earned ones, and timeless, and clearly shows why Sparkman and Stephens has such a great reputation.
I am always amazed at the amount of stuff I can learn by listening to experienced older seamen (and seawomen...). Some of what they say might not be in current fashion, or may not conform to the latest scientific ideas, but it often confirms to the hard rules of seamanship and commonsense. And many time quotes from old timers have come back to me in the light of some situation and suddenly make perfect sense. Of course make sure of the credentials of the person you are listening to, there are always plenty of armchair experts...
Also local knowledge is fantastic, I always try to ask the locals about their area, even the newbie boat owner knows much more about the area they sails in than I will. And it is a great way to meet local people. I have had alot of luck talking to the local fishermen, many are often surprised when I ask them about the area (being more used to yachties snubbing them) and their knowledge of the local coast and weather is often incredible. I take a pen and paper for drawing mud maps, and writing stuff down.
Of course I need to be careful of blindly accepting everything at face value, sometimes it is wrong, or more frequently the info is right but I may have interpreted it wrong, but I usually get some really good useful info, and make some friends as well.