Part of me says this entire post can be shrunk down to one sentence “Respect the very real fear of the other person.” But too often we do not see the other’s persons fear as rational and therefore we downplay it. NOT a good idea. Because this is the thing:
Fear Is NOT Rational
If fear was rational I could explain keeling away very simply with physics. But sorry, it very much feels like flip over and die and that overrides everything else. I hit the blind panic button and become engulfed in, well er hmm, blind panic.
You can not explain it away. And if you can not explain it away then let me assure you, brushing my fears aside as not worthy will get you a punch in the head. At least once we are safely back on shore that is. Until then I will just alternate between rocking and moaning and screaming at you that you are an idiot for ever taking me out in a boat!
And by you I mean Patrick, and that was a pretty neat summary of our first attempts at sailing.
Patrick is nothing if not persistent. It is the only way he ever got me to step onto Falkor. Because our experience with the Pinguin was mostly of “flip over and die” as we rushed to sail in our limited time off. Patrick knew we were safe and so he would take us out in conditions that I quickly learned were not suitable for a newbie sailor terrified of the ocean. (We we;re also battling the number one enemy of any enjoyable trip: lack of time and a desire to see all the things rather than let it just unfold. Not good!)
In fairness, both of the above behaviors are not cool. Me yelling abuse at Patrick does not help any more than him ignoring my very real fears . So it matters not salty sailors if you know it is safe. If you want your reluctant sailor to become a more enthusiastic one then take them out only in fantastic conditions at first. Because chances are they will still be freaked out. Don’t let them associate your love of sailing with battling the elements.
The wind was howling and those waves were rocking the boat. Did it matter we were on a man made lake in the Netherlands and Falkor can handle much more? Absolutely not!
In our case, as I said, Patrick just walks through walls. It took him 4 years to get me to fully commit, and even then it was more of “let’s see how goes on the way to Amsterdam and I am pretty sure I can promise to Portugal.”
The big change is that now we almost always only sail in good weather, and since Amsterdam it is our hard and fast rule. (Before then we still had time constraints so we needed to sail even if the weather was less than stellar. Which for the first month it was not!)
The thing is, with time you do learn that the difference between fear and danger is real and you get a much better feel for what is actually worthy of your fear and not. But this takes time. No matter if it is writing and publishing a book, moving to a new country for the first time, or getting used to the movement of a boat. And patience is how you move along your fears.
And eventually, it just becomes nervous laughter.
And the other day we had crazy swell in our anchorage that didn’t bother me at all! Other than to have to sit in the cockpit for a bit. Watch our neighbour rock:
Now if we could just get Mango to feel the same way!