Why You Need These Mysterious Marks (And What They Mean)

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1885 Tall Ship Wavertree Plimsoll Mark

1885 Tall Ship Wavertree Plimsoll Mark

Cargo ships carry mysterious markings on their hulls’ midship. Turns out the marks are called Plimsoll Lines and they’re used for safety of the ship and her crew.

You see, the Plimsoll lines declare at a glance whether the ship is carrying a safe amount of cargo through various conditions. Overloaded ships are good for owners’ wallets but horrible risk to crews’ lives.

If the lines are visible, there’s a good chance the ship is seaworthy. Otherwise, you don’t want to board that ship until they unload some cargo.

Mark Your Life

It’s mission critical that we install and honor Plimsoll Lines in our own lives. Some might call them boundaries, or not-to-do lists, or rumble strips.

The specifics could be different for everyone. For me, it’s how I respond to frustration, how I relate to Wonder Woman Grace and the littles, or how little sleep I’m getting, or if eczema breaks out.

They’re signs that enable us navigate life and provide early warning indicators when we’ve surpassed our load-bearing capacity. Whatever stuff, projects, work is in your cargo hold, it’s not worth sinking the entire ship.

We need courage and faith to only carry what we’re called to accomplish on this leg of the voyage. We have to make difficult decisions about when we need to jettison weight — preferably before the storm hits, before you’re in panic mode.

Clear conviction and priority help define our Plimsoll Lines. It may even mean you should take a break, put anchor down in harbor port and offload any stowaways to avoid stubbornly pushing on and ending up as wreckage.

There’s no greater value than ensuring the sea worthiness of your vessel and those you carry on toward distant shores.

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.

Benjamin Franklin, polymath, statesman, scientist, inventor circa 1750

Three quick action questions:

  1. What are your Plimsoll Lines?
  2. Where’s the water level on your Plimsoll Line today?
  3. What do you need to jettison to keep you (and your loved ones, your crew) above water?

(H/T South Street Seaport Museum)


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