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Old 22-09-2011, 18:48   #46
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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Torre, I was always ready to go sailing on a new adventure until in 2004 I went on a delivery from Melbourne, FL to Lancaster, VA. on a Tayana 42. We ended up sailing through the eye of Hurricane Alex in the Gulf Stream. After surviving this trip I could not go sailing offshore until a friend asked me to help deliver his new boat from Puetro Rico to VA. I knew that if I was ever going to take my boat offshore I would have to do this trip. Was I scared, HELL YES, but sometimes you have to put yourself at risk to make your life better. I was glad I made both of these trips for different reasons, but I will be leaving VA for the Bahamas on my boat in three weeks. Ron
Wow! Now that's what you call getting back on the horse. Please tell me what it looks like inside the eye of a hurricane.
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Old 22-09-2011, 19:08   #47
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

I find that fear cannot co-exist with faith. When I'm scared I ask God to do His will thru me. If I try to align my actions with His will, I can face the difficulty and come thru it.
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Old 23-09-2011, 05:11   #48
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

The sea is fairly claim. The eye wall looks like a concrete wall as high as you can see. GPS went totally bonkers - off by 180 degrees.
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Old 23-09-2011, 07:11   #49
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

I have... err.. had a fear of depths and that made beginnings of the sailing trip quite difficult. I finally overcame it (mostly) by first identifying that it was the fear of the unknown: there's 7000+ metres underneath you and you don't know what's there.
Then I started reading everything and anything I could find about the ocean floor and water columns - who lives there, what are their behavioural patterns, what's the makeup of the bottom is like, etc. Now I'm mostly [depths] fear-free, just cautious when swimming behind the boat on an offshore passage.

Pretty much at the same time as the fear of depths I developed fear of sailing - it wasn't a healthy dose of fear when you are worried that something might go wrong, but an almost paralizing, turning my guts out type of fear. At the end it was the same - fear of the unknown. I started reading, learning, taking responsibility on passages, and now it's a healthy dose of fear when warranted by conditions.

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Old 23-09-2011, 07:20   #50
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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I have... err.. had a fear of depths and that made beginnings of the sailing trip quite difficult. I finally overcame it (mostly) by first identifying that it was the fear of the unknown: there's 7000+ metres underneath you and you don't know what's there.
Then I started reading everything and anything I could find about the ocean floor and water columns - who lives there, what are their behavioural patterns, what's the makeup of the bottom is like, etc. Now I'm mostly [depths] fear-free, just cautious when swimming behind the boat on an offshore passage.

Pretty much at the same time as the fear of depths I developed fear of sailing - it wasn't a healthy dose of fear when you are worried that something might go wrong, but an almost paralizing, turning my guts out type of fear. At the end it was the same - fear of the unknown. I started reading, learning, taking responsibility on passages, and now it's a healthy dose of fear when warranted by conditions.

This is the kind of fear I had too: paralyzing, irrational, unhealthy. Reading, learning and taking responsibility seems like the best way to deal with it. Also, for me, I benefit a lot from Zen-ing out about it and reminding myself that one day, I'll die anyway.
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Old 23-09-2011, 07:50   #51
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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This is the kind of fear I had too: paralyzing, irrational, unhealthy. Reading, learning and taking responsibility seems like the best way to deal with it. Also, for me, I benefit a lot from Zen-ing out about it and reminding myself that one day, I'll die anyway.
Actually Zen-ing about "I'll die some day anyway" helps to get through any fear for me. It takes the paralizing responsibility for ALL of my own life off my mind and gives me a chance to deal with details that actually matter: "I'll just do my best now and we'll see how it turns out".

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Old 23-09-2011, 07:56   #52
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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I find that fear and floating anxiety (pun intended) is often linked to fatigue. If you can control fatigue levels, then you are a long way towards controlling fear.
Interesting comment. Hadn't really thought of it like this before, but now that I do I realize that the two times I have really felt fear (at least that I can recall in the last 15 years or so) were both times that I was fatigued.

First was when I was out elk hunting in the mountains of Colorado by myself. Took me longer to hike back to camp at the end of the day than I expected. Didn't get there until it was getting really dark. It was late and I was tired. Knew I was close, but could not find my camp. Several moments of panic. Take a deep breath. Get myself oriented. Pull out my GPS and check my current position versus where I had marked the camp. 0.02 miles ENE. Turned that direction and walked slowly right to my camp. WHEW!

By the way, the above happened on 9/11/2001. It was two days later, as I was coming down the mountain and got to where there was radio reception, that I heard about what had happened that day. It was another day later that I found out that a good friend had been in the World Trade Center on that fateful day, and did not make it out.

Second time was when me and three buddies were snowshoeing into one of the back-country huts in Colorado. This was one of the more remote huts. One of the guys was not feeling well that day and going much slower than usual. Again, it was getting dark. Again, it was late and we were tired. I started wondering if we were going to find the hut before dark. We were on a trail, but it was not well marked and losing our way in the dark would be really easy.

Again, a few moments of panic. Again, took a deep breath and cleared my head. We talked about it. Checked the map. Concluded that we were less than 1/4th mile from the hut and that it was NNW from where we were. Checked the compass and headed out. Trail was steep uphill, deep snow, we were all tired, and the altitude was about 11,000', so progress was slow and marked by lots of stops to catch our breath and rest. Eventually we made it to the hut. Again, WHEW!

The really good news in this case was that there was already another group at the hut (most all of these huts are shared), so the fire was going, the hut was warm, and they had just finished a big chili dinner and had LOTS of left-overs. As such, we didn't even have to cook. We just collapsed onto the benches and tucked into their left-overs. In the end it turned out to be one of the best hut trips we ever had.

Now, the other interesting point here is that in both of these situations I/we were prepared. That is, if I had not found camp, or if we had not found the hut, it probably would have been a REALLY uncomfortable night, but not life threatening. I have good survival training, and carry the gear needed for these situations. Yet I still went through a few moments of panic that required a conscious effort to stop, breathe, relax, think.
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Old 23-09-2011, 07:57   #53
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pirate Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

Hell... its not just sailing... seems I've been scared my whole life...
but.... I Whistle a Happy Tune from The King and I Movie Cast - YouTube
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Old 23-09-2011, 08:05   #54
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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One thing that ALWAYS freaked me out was the thought of something going wrong on the outside of the boat while on a long passage, and one of us having to swim under the hull mid-ocean and fix it. *Shiver*
See, now, I don't "get" this. Maybe it's just that I'm a good swimmer and have always been comfortable in the water. Nothing I enjoy more than hopping over the side on a nice, calm day. I mean, if the water is over your head, then what difference does it make if it is 10 ft. deep or 10,000 ft. deep?

But that's just me being rational, and I realize that fear is not usually a rational thing.

Not, at least, the way I would define the word. And I think that's an issue here, too. Some people seem to use "fear" to describe the normal caution that we should all exercise in a dangerous situation. Some seem to use it only to describe a totally paralyzing, muddy-you-pants kind of panic. And lots of people seem to have some definition in mind that is between those two extremes.
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Old 23-09-2011, 08:24   #55
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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I spent two years sailing the Pacific with a fear of deep water (7,000 nautical miles, including the Puddle Jump). I'm wondering if any other sailors suffer from fear, or if anyone has let fear stop them?

I run a blog called Fearful Adventurer and I'm putting together a post on coping techniques for fear. I'd love to receive any tips on how to manage fear. Do you get scared on the ocean? Do you have a partner who suffers from fear or anxiety at sea? How to you manage fear when it creeps in? I think it'll make an interesting article and it may be helpful to other adventurers who suffer from fear. If you have a tip to include, I'd love to feature it in the post.

Thanks!
Torre
I'm sure that this is not the popular answer and a psychologist can't earn a living if it gets out but; like all other wasteful emotions, I suppress it. I simply refuse to let it occupy my mind. I choose to be happy in life and fear, hate, anger and the like have no place in my thoughts. That's not to say that I haven't experienced them, but I've taught myself to look at the situation that causes them, think of what I can do to resolve it, then either act or forget about it and move on.

It works for me... Most of the time.


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Old 23-09-2011, 08:58   #56
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

I have a hard time with heights. Maybe that's why I like the ocean so much. It's weird too because I used to jump out the back of planes for fun and as part of my job. I even qualified HALO jumping. Figure the odds on me climbing a mast though or speeding over the Mississippi river bridge in Memphis. NOT going to happen. Other than climbing the mast I just am not scared of boats. I guess 5 years on a knox class Frigate made sure that would never be the case. We rode out hurricanes in the Pacific, had volvanoes explode real close to us and snuff out the boilers, major flooding several times, hooked a russian submarine with the towed sonar once even and darn near ripped our fantail off. We lost several people over the side over the time I was onboard. 3 of them one night got washed off the flight deck while they were putting extra chains on the helo. It was a major hurricane we were running from and the troughs were already deeper than we were tall but our captain turned to get them. We were knocked down twice with all hands on deck hanging on to lifelines and whatever else they could find in the middle of the night. We found two bodies and lost one but the point is the ship survived and it survived because of the crew and our training.
TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN! It can make the difference between getting home or sinking.
My wife has zero experience on boats but both of us are going to do some serious training before we go out to the gulf. Just like in the navy, she will be able to find everything onboard blindfolded, know where all the through hulls are, sea valves, fire extinguishers, life boat.... everything. She understands. She's had to sit by the phone before after getting word we were in trouble at sea or lost someone and wondered if it was me. But she trusts my abilities and seamanship. It's for good reason. She'll be just as good as me real soon.
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Old 23-09-2011, 09:25   #57
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

I teach adventure programming and one of the things I strongly encourage is following the principles of Simon Priest's Adventure Paradigm.

Basically, match people's experience and confidence with the proper challenge. It's called the adventure paradigm, because if you are constantly pushing people's comfort zone, but not too far, the experience should be an adventure.

Too far one way and there is no adventure and an activity may be boring. Too far the other way and an activity can be terrifying or even potentially dangerous.

Reduce your fear by continually pushing your comfort zone in a progressive way so that you have the confidence to handle what ever you feel may come your way. Training and drills may be a part of that progression.
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Old 24-09-2011, 10:02   #58
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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See, now, I don't "get" this. Maybe it's just that I'm a good swimmer and have always been comfortable in the water. Nothing I enjoy more than hopping over the side on a nice, calm day. I mean, if the water is over your head, then what difference does it make if it is 10 ft. deep or 10,000 ft. deep?
I find it thrilling to swim in deep water but I can see where one could be bothered by having hundreds or thousands of feet of water under them and no land in sight.

For one, there is the irrational looming threat of something coming up to swallow you (a shark, a giant squid, a sea monster). We know that is unlikely but it is a concern that can be there in the back of our mind.

However, I really think it is the darkness down there, the fact that if you drowned you would be pulled into that darkness for ever, never to be seen again. Shallow water is not as dark and does not have the same prospect of you disappearing without a trace. In shallow water, there is always the hope you can swim or even wade to shore but in deep open water, that is not possible...
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Old 24-09-2011, 10:49   #59
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

One of my scariest experiences in my life was one in which I, and no one in my family was in danger and one which ultimately turned out okay.

It was the first day of our second season of sailing and we were heading out to rendez vous with some people from our sailing club. I was running late, trying to make sure that everything was ship shape before we left. We had about 10-15 miles to cover on a day with variable wind so we sailed when we could and motored the remaining time.

At one point, the wind picked up and we turned off our motor. My son, who was 8 at the time, heard a sound which he said was like a whistle so we thought it was a bird. My old ears could not hear it and we didn't see the source. We discussed if we should try to make our appointment or investigate. I did a mental flipping of the coin: "investigate", "keep on", "investigate", "keep on, or... ultimately, we decided to investigate and moved in the direction of the sound, which I soon heard.

It turns out it was a person in the water who was crying out: "... help me, help me, help me..". We maneuvered up to the person and with a struggle and some confusion got him into the boat. He said there are two other people in the water and intitially did not see them but then found them close by. Again, with a struggle we pulled them up on our boat. They had been in the 10C/50F water for at least 20 minutes and were suffering from hypothermia. Their boat had sank.

I did a mayday call but did not get a response. We flagged down a power boat by shooting off a flare but he was unwilling to take the people to shore. Luckily, my mayday call did get through and the police found us and rescued the men. It turns out that one of them was minutes away form dying.

Initially, all I felt was shock. And then three days later I spoke with the men on the phone and it all became real. I woke up in the middle of the night full of fear what what could have happened. I was in a panic. We almost kept on sailing. In fact, we were going continue but then that flipping of the coin ended with "investigate". Once we got there, we had communication problems that resulted in losing our life ring, and lines dragging in the water so we couldn't start the motor. And there was the difficulty of getting the men on board.

If we had been on time for our schedule, or hadn't turned off the engine to sail, or chose not to investigate, they would have died. The lives of three men were unexpectedly put into my hands and I feared I wasn't up to the task (which is ironic because apparently I was).

Ultimately, they survived and we continued to sail but ten years later I still recall the feeling of panic that I felt that day. Fear can come in many forms.
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Old 24-09-2011, 10:57   #60
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN! It can make the difference between getting home or sinking.
That is so true, but it can be hard to do on sunny afternoons when everyone is feeling lazy. This year we tried to implement a couple days of COB practice but everyone always groans: "...do we have to..."

I dramatically replied, "lives are at stake" but I understood their reticence.
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