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Old 23-07-2018, 12:45   #1
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Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

Hi all,

Quick question that I hope some of you experienced cruisers can give me some insights on...

I'm very new to sailing/cruising but really interested in getting a boat to be able to cruise from Florida to the Bahamas and around the Caribbean.

Did any of you initially have anxiety or minor fear when you first started boating and went offshore? (i.e. couldn't see land anymore).

If so, how did you get over it? Does it just get easier the more you do it and the more confident you feel in your vessel and in your abilities?

I would assume that for many people, the bigger the boat the more the anxiety eases a bit. I haven't been offshore much yet but it does give me a little anxiety of realizing "wow, we're way out here and if this boat sank we'd be in deep trouble."

I would sincerely appreciate any feedback on this and if you once dealt with this type of anxiety/fear and then got over it so you could totally enjoy the boating experience and just take it all in (including not being able to see land).

Thanks!
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Old 23-07-2018, 12:54   #2
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

I have a fair number of offshore miles and still have anxiety before taking off on a long passage. We settled in nicely after a day or two.
Best thing you can do is crew on some offshore passages with an experienced skipper. It's mostly mundane out there, occasionally interrupted with moments of shear terror.
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Old 23-07-2018, 12:56   #3
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

Sailing is relying on yourself first, your boat second, outside support last. A few I know have launched into the big, wide sea right off, or far enough into it to get out of sight of land. Some of them have got themselves into trouble with that. Almost everyone does some coastal cruising first, gains experience with sailing as an art and with his boat in particular, moves along the learning curve to a point of confidence that he can handle anything he's likely to encounter on a short sea voyage. Most people take a year or two of frequent close shore cruises, then do an island trip. I don't know I'd call it fear or anxiety, just being sensible.

If you're scared of trying it now pay attention. A voice is telling you you're not yet ready.
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Old 23-07-2018, 13:20   #4
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

Use the anxiety as a way to make you and the boat better.

Do everything you can to make sure you're not taking unnecessary risks..practice, learn, prep the boat..and then take larger and larger steps with the understanding and quiet confidence that you've done everything in your power to mitigate the risks.

There are those with a lot experience than I, but ill say that if you have zero anxiety before setting off on a passage you've probably gotten too complacent. Take stock of every square inch of your boat so when something goes wrong you're not caught flat footed. There's a humble confidence that builds when you feel you've paid your dues and are ready to put thing to the test.

For any adventurous pursuit, i would expect the anxiety to never fully disappear.
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Old 23-07-2018, 13:23   #5
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

It is easier nowadays, you have GPS and lots of gadgets that keeps you oriented and informed where you are, where you are going to and how long it will probably take to get there, whatvweather to expect and to ask for help or advice under way using VHF, SSB and satellite communication.

The only fear is dying ot there, but this is similar on land in the desert or in a remote place in the forrest...

before all the electronics you have to guess where you are and if you still are on track, using the sun, the stars, a compas a watch and a sextant with some more or less reliable papercharts and tables, no information about the weather except the clouds on the horizon and the wind and waves for weeks, no contact to anybody...
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Old 23-07-2018, 13:27   #6
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

I am worrying every time before I go out. There are so many things that can go wrong. And do go wrong. Once on passage, the worries just disappear.

I think the anxiety keeps you focused and is mostly helpful.
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Old 23-07-2018, 13:45   #7
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

Thanks for all the great feedback everyone! Really appreciate it.

Does one become more used to the "not seeing shore" feeling after doing it more often?
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Old 23-07-2018, 13:53   #8
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

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Originally Posted by boatingnewbie View Post
Thanks for all the great feedback everyone! Really appreciate it.

Does one become more used to the "not seeing shore" feeling after doing it more often?
Get used to it? I crave it , and have felt claustrophobic ashore after a long passage.
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Old 23-07-2018, 13:53   #9
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

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Does one become more used to the "not seeing shore" feeling after doing it more often?
This feeling should go away fairly quickly.
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Old 23-07-2018, 13:54   #10
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

Yes, definitely. I worry more when I am close to shore. Out at sea I can relax, no risk of grounding, less risk of colliding with other boats.
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Old 23-07-2018, 14:00   #11
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

Boatingnewbie,

It has never bothered me, the idea of not seeing land. From an average sailboat, it is not far to the horizon, roughly 4 miles. Of course, you will be able to see high mountains from a way off, but the coastal fringe gets invisible pretty soon.

By analogy, you might have been afraid that you'd sink in the deep water in a swimming pool, and some people's bodies are so physically dense that they do, but most people can learn to float, by learning skills to distribute their mass in the water. Once you have learned that you can float, the depth of the water doesn't matter to you. You swim across that lake or pond without concern because you can float. In a similar way, you learn that the boat rises to the waves, she is a safe haven on the water, and you look after each other. Just as the physically dense one is a non-floater, there are some people who flat out refuse to sail out of sight of land. The one I knew was okay on the bay (SF), did not want ever to go in the ocean.

I am not sure about them, but perhaps, for those ones, it is better to not push it. It is that sometimes we just know something isn't right for us at a particular time, and the cause can be hard to nail down, but the inner voice should be heeded.

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Old 23-07-2018, 14:13   #12
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

It's a fear, I find, that people feel beforehand, but not during--that is, you're afraid you'll be afraid, but once you're out there and the land is dropping away, you'll realize it's not scary at all. It is a fear that prevents, rather than striking during the event.
Unlike the fear of heights, which only hits some people when they actually get up somewhere and look down, though no doubt there are some who fear the idea of heights as well.
Like most fears, it's pretty irrational, and what I try to do is bury my fears deep down inside where no one will ever find them, just like my emotions.
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Old 23-07-2018, 15:30   #13
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

Just as in flying, where it is air, not water, it’s the edges that get you, not the middle. Mostly.
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Old 23-07-2018, 20:09   #14
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

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It's a fear, I find, that people feel beforehand, but not during--that is, you're afraid you'll be afraid, but once you're out there and the land is dropping away, you'll realize it's not scary at all. It is a fear that prevents, rather than striking during the event.
Great point.

I think it also has to do with the size of the boat and just getting used to being offshore.

For example, I've crossed the Adriatic Sea (rough conditions too) in an overnight ferry, and have also been on many cruise ships... never once was I afraid of the fact that we were far from shore. On the other hand... I was recently on a jetski in the Bahamas quite a distance from shore (could easily still see it) but had an 'eerie' feeling when focusing on the deep, dark water below me... and was afraid to fall off into the water.

Thanks for all the great insights, everyone!!
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Old 23-07-2018, 20:34   #15
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Re: Anxiety from Offshore Cruising

Either crew offshore for someone or pick up trusted crew with experience to assist you. Good crew can help you make sure the boat is ready as well.
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