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Old 17-12-2010, 07:14   #31
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sea story

I'm reminded of a trip in the 1970s leaving Galveston for Florida with a new old wooden boat and brand new non-sailing then-wife. I had her at the tiller right off the bat and popped my head up shortly from below and mentioned to her gently (really) that the little bird dead ahead either had very long legs or was standing on a sandbar and it might be wise to come about. She thought that was both clever and funny.

Next day we were becalmed all day drifting engineless among immobile oil rigs when the head packed it in and we used a bucket. She wasn't thrilled with that. There were a couple of more smallish issues of course, and that night in a squall, a wave went over my head as I was dousing the headsail. That scared her, she said, and she was greatly relieved to see me still aboard the boat afterwards. As was I, for the record. Although for about an hour I thought I may have broken my arm.

But fortunately not as just then we sprang a plank and were taking on water. It took me a very long time to find it mostly one-handed with a flashlight and jam a towel in it and bang some plywood over as a patch while she pumped and steered. When the water was uncomfortably high I told to her as calmly as I could muster that she might want to gather up anything she couldn't afford to lose in case we had to abandon ship.

I mentioned that we would not do that until the boat slipped from beneath our feet whereupon we'd row the dink or swim to the nearest oil rig as the case may require, so it wasn't like life or death. It was also a warm summer evening though raining and windy with water temps in the 80s. We had turned around by then and were struggling shoreward in the squall thru all those hundreds of oil platforms off Louisiana bound for the nearest haul out facility. We made it back. Made repairs, etc. Continued on with our lives. She soldiered through it all incredibly calmly.

Months later, after many an adult beverage one night, she confessed to being scared witless from leaving the dock and the only thing that kept her going was the fact that I had only managed to convey annoyance with the cascading events rather than appearing frightened. She commented that during it all she just figured she wasn't going to enjoy sailing right up to the abandon ship discussion.

Of course, being the manly man that I am, I shrugged it off to stuff happens, never owning up to my own spitless fear at the time. This is my confession. I have some sea miles since with a number of vessels and countless mishaps but except for a few daysails, that voyage more than anything else made me a solo sailor. I envy sailing couples sometimes but have few regrets about my own decision.
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Old 17-12-2010, 07:18   #32
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I hear you.. loud and clear...
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Old 17-12-2010, 07:42   #33
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I am thinking of putting a link on here of the original blog article that got me thinking about this. I think, so far, people have been discussing actual fear. Boat actually in trouble. For example, when I am motoring along listening to engine I scan gauges and temps. All Ok. I turn my head engine sound changes and I get a feeling in stomach, crap. Then I relize all is OK. I wish the thing would die so I can stop worrying. How can you enjoy yourself this way?

Here is the link. http://weatherhelmed.com/?page_id=869
I hope she does not mind but she is totally honest.
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Old 17-12-2010, 08:12   #34
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[QUOTE=S/V_Surya;579866] For example, when I am motoring along listening to engine I scan gauges and temps. All Ok. I turn my head engine sound changes and I get a feeling in stomach, crap. Then I relize all is OK. I wish the thing would die so I can stop worrying. How can you enjoy yourself this way?

Ipod with headphones....
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Old 17-12-2010, 09:55   #35
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I've been reading Moby Dick and came across this passage last night:

Quote:
"I will have no man in my boat," said Starbuck, "who is not afraid of a whale." By this, he seemed to mean, not only that the most reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril, but that an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.
And by the way, thumbs up to the Kindle for letting me have web access to all the sections I highlight so it's easy to use them for blogs, etc.
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Old 17-12-2010, 10:12   #36
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Fear does have its purpose in life. Still Surya's point is well made; at a certain point fear can be unhealthy at best and debilitating at worst. Some things, like excessively worrying about engine trouble may not help us much. On the other hand becoming more alert in difficult situations does. In some people fear becomes panic and panic means poor decisions. Surya my guess is your hypervigilance indicates you wouldn't react with panic, which is to say, you are more then capable of dealing with most situations that are going to arise but your hope is you will catch them before they do. It's unfortunate that you can't relax and enjoy the journey.
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Old 17-12-2010, 10:17   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Engineer View Post
False
Evidence
Appearing
Real
I've always heard it as;

Future
Events
Appear
Real
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Old 17-12-2010, 10:23   #38
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It's too easy to psyche yourself out while standing watch alone at night. The first time you stand a dog watch you'll learn that it's not a good time to start fixating on how if there's a shipping container floating around out there you're going to hit it before you see it. But after a few all-night watches where the dawn still breaks on schedule, I think most of us figure out that the psyche-outs are nothing more than psyche-outs.

Where I see fear most evident on this forum is when people talk about "bluewater" boats. Some folks are never going to feel safe cruising in anything less than a steel, double-hulled, full-keeled, fully armed lifeboat-with-a-stick carrying an anchor seven sizes larger than the one recommended by the manufacturer, backed up by a half-kilometer of 25mm chain. Of course, once they get this boat, these folks are going to flock to threads about sea anchors, anti-pirate tactics, weapons, and surviving the end of civilization as we know it.

Fear? Here? Nah.
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Old 17-12-2010, 11:26   #39
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Loved the story TGZZZ... very nice.

Reminds me of the cutter I was on up in the Bering Sea. During big storms when the air castles filled with green water and the windows on the bridge got nailed by water thrown up by the waves we were plunging into we all just held on and went about our business(nothing quite like cooking under these conditions!) occasionaly stopping to marvel at the storm.
Years later I ran into the skipper and in the course of talking about the big seas we got into he told me that the cutter we sailed on had an engineering flaw that caused serious problems with fuel delivery in rough seas and that everytime the foam started flying the engineers and he had a real struggle keeping the boat noving forward and not wallowing... The 210s had aluminum hulls with towering steel superstructures, the boats were nicknamed "beer cans" and he confessed that we'd had some very scary moments where to boat could have rolled.

Because of the way these guys handled the business and maintained a confident front the rest of us didn't have to think about it and could be confident in the ship.
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Old 17-12-2010, 11:42   #40
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Deep Survival

There is a book -- probably 5 years old now -- that tracks much of this discussion. It is called Deep Survival, the author is Gonzales (sp?). Its a good read and takes a multidisciplinary approach to the questions of fear and adventure and the internal confusion and risks caused by adrenaline seeking in modern society. It is worth a look.
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Old 17-12-2010, 11:58   #41
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Indulge me another fear related story...
Something I still regret these days, one of my big mistakes sailing was when I took a couple of small kids and their folks outside on a pretty fresh day. These kids from their earliest days had spent time with their folks doing all kinds of athletic outdoors stuff including being strapped onto kayaks for ocean trips and skiing since they could stand etc. etc. so dad wasn't to worried BUT it was most irresponsible on my part.

As we healed over and settled in for a romp through the cresting swell the tethered, life-jacketed 4 year old set her jaw and wrapped her arms around the uphill winch with this feirce look of determination on her face while the 3 yr old had a pretty hard time of it and went below with her mom.

I wish I had taken a picture of this brave kid stuck like a limpet to that winch... no fear apparent just a set mouth and these burning little eyes.

We stayed out for about 40 minutes and as the weather was starting to turn ugly jibed about for home. As soon as we got inside the breakwall, leveled out and started up the channel the 3 year old was back up in the cockpit wide eyed with a big smile and her sister was demanding to get ahold of the tiller and steer our 10 tonner back home. She did a great job with just a bit of coaching.
Since then the three year old, now 4 still hides behind her dads leg when she sees me but has become a skilled and fearless downhill skier and the 4 yr old now 5 has become the terror of her junior sailing program in her little Sabot. They almost didn't let her into the program because of her age but dad insistead and now she's the star of the program... he has a hard time getting her off the course after the race!

I will never forget the look on her face out there and am relieved that my irresponsibility did bring about a bad ending...
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Old 17-12-2010, 17:49   #42
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On the other hand, I was on a boat with someone who got a nasty concussion from a gybe. Not the boom; their head got caught in the main sheet on its way around. Yanked her head hard away from her body. A little more angle and it probably would have broken her neck.

I've seen a few dudes without fingers and thumbs from sailing accidents.

A guy I go sailing with had a friend get lost overboard a decade or so ago.

So yeah, no fear and all that, but I can't blame some people for having some nasty experiences and being spooked about it.
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Old 17-12-2010, 19:46   #43
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Perhaps it's because I'm not a boat owner yet, but I have never felt true fear while on a boat, ever. I'm very paranoid in a car. I'm thinking a "cigarette boat" ride would make me very afraid.
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Old 18-12-2010, 18:54   #44
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we were out in th egulf sailing on our near year cruise--- i went to bed thinking i8 needed to place preventopr on the boom. was flogging hard. i went to bed thinking i needed to place preventer on the boom. i didnt. i went to sleep. i woke at my turn to watch--went out onto deck and BANG POP and fly-- the traveller for the main broke with the the block flying past my head kinda near--i grabbed it with my left hand and tied to a cleat using winch. wow-- never put off that which talks to ye onboard. when it was light and i looked for damage-- the block managed to break a lil of the gelcoat off the deck and house. woulda done some damage--i dont fear this--it happens-= gotta be quick to grab the flying block before it kills ye and tie it down so it wont fly again. cant panic--have to respond with a meaningful action or get hurt.
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Old 18-12-2010, 19:22   #45
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The key is to, as others have said here, ask yourself "What's the worst that can happen in my situation?"... The problem is it takes years of ocean experience to know the true answer.

Fear comes from the unknown and fades with experience. Until you have the experience... well, it's a catch 22.
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