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Old 11-05-2010, 15:26   #1
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Help! I'm Chickening-Out on My Husband's Dream...

My husbands dream has been to do an extended sailing trip. He sailed as a young man but has had limited experience since with larger boats. We were just on a trip in BVI and all went very well. Recently a number of life events triggered a decision on our part to get a boat (cat for safety/livability reasons) and spend a year sailing in the Caribbean. We have an 11year old daughter and the idea is to home school. We are selling our home to facilitate this and are intending to relocate on our return to a location I have wanted to move to. However, now that the house is listed, and the reality of what we are doing is setting in, I am having an uncharacteristic panic attack and I don't know if I really want to go through with this. I am nervous on boats and possibly slightly claustrophobic (another reason for the cat). I've started to worry about all that can go wrong and I'm afraid that I'm going to back out on my husbands dream. I feel terrible because he has never been happier..planning, reading everything imaginable, and learning about boats and their parts. We are both competent people and logically I know we can handle this, but I guess I just don't feel like adventuring anymore. I am close to 50 and my husband is in his 60's, so I think its now or never to get started with this and at the moment, I'm happy with never. Any advice, insight, comments???
Thanks!
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Old 11-05-2010, 15:44   #2
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I think what you are going through is normal anxiety. Remember that selling and moving home is considered by many to be as stressful as a divorce. Add to that the fact that you are moving (quite literally) out of your comfort zone into an unknown lifestyle.

I think that it is unsurprising that you have concerns. I don't know what to advise about it, but discovering that you have concerns and acknowledging that such are normal is probably the first step in coming to a resolution.

If it was in my relationship, I'd like my wife to tell me before I buy the boat and not afterwards. You've mentioned that you are nervous of boats, so let's start there. Exactly what worries you most about the boat?
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Old 11-05-2010, 15:58   #3
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just to mention a few...

I guess because we will have our young daughter with us, I worry about getting caught in a storm, her falling overboard, meeting up with pirates or some of the other 'aggressives' I've been reading about in the 'Sailors Confessional' forum, hitting rocks, losing sight of shore, sinking, did I say getting caught in a storm? We are all very good swimmers, but I've been on a sail boat in heavy raining winds and I won't forget my feeling of panic.
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:03   #4
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Hi FreeWilly,

First of all, I have been there twice now in that panic space, although this time I feel a little bit better equiped since I have gotten through it once before when I took off in a 27 foot RV with my husband to Florida. At the time, we were not married and we had some work to do which was in the Marine Industry and we decided to take an adventure. Of course we were much less established in the world, no children, no house, just us and the wide-open road.

One week before we left I had a total meltdown. We were sitting in this restaurant and I began to hyperventilate...it was scary and horrible and didn't really feel like it was directly caused by anxiety of going on this adventure but it was. We were in Baltimore that day and my husband suggested we go to the zoo, so we did and had the most incredible time at 2 p.m. on a weekday. There was hardly anyone there and I got to come face to face with a giraffe when he leaned down and looked me in the eye. I was able to come back down to ground and felt better.

We ended up going and it was the best four months of our lives in many ways. My husband was doing what he loved business-wise, photography, and we were living near his Mom and Sister so we got to spend quality time with each other and them. There were adventures like when his back went out on the way to Key West and I got to drive the RV for the first time down Alligator Alley and the refridge door swung open deposited a jumbo glass jar of relish above his head which smashed, and I had to get off the road, we were at an angle going about 45 miles per hour with no shoulder, just a drop off...thought we were going to flip, but we didn't. ;0)

Flash forward to now...my husband started down the road of potentially cruising three years ago in his mind. It has been one long process to today...I have had my moments where I have really questioned if what we are doing at this time in our lives is the best thing...we are in our early 40s...My emotions have run the gammet of anticipation and excitement - to anger and resentment. I have had some scary health problems which I think I have kicked to the curb...but there is that nagging 'what if'..., I have had the pressures of society and people around me judge (although that really doesn't bother or influence me), I have the fear of being out in the big, big Ocean and worry that I may not be self-sufficient enough. I have 'What If' myself to the point of nauseum...

Did I mention I have been sailing since I was five years old and when I was 21 I wrote in my journal that I dreamed of sailing across the Atlantic?!?

The big joke in the last few weeks as I have been hitting it into high gear and organizing for a yard sale and giving away three quarters of my wardrobe has been, "When are we going to the Zoo????"

So I have decided to do this thing....but it was not without reservation, and being a wash in an identity crisis as to 'Who am I, and What do I want???" without the influence of my very persuasive, but loving husband who is all but obsessed with cruising.

I am not a Cruiser yet...I was a racer...but I do love being on the water...I especially love falling asleep to the water lapping on the hull, and the morning sunrise with my coffee in hand...nothing better...and I do Love my husband dearly, and I have a feeling this is going to be another 'Banner Experience' (our RV was a 'Banner')

I guess all I can say FreeWilly is that there are a lot of pressures and push-pulls at work here and amidst other's dreams, and the anxiety of selling a house, you need to ask yourself some hard questions...Is this your Dream? If it isn't at the moment, do you think it could be one day? Are your feelings of anxiety and panic a product of Fear, and if you decide not to go will there be regrets? Will you always wonder 'If'? What would your life look like if you didn't go? What goals do you have for yourself in the coming years?, Would cruising complement your goals, or detract, or simply just delay them?

A suggestion someone gave to me when I was talking about my fears was to get a notebook and write them down and then research how to put that fear to rest, how to find solutions that would empower me to then no longer be fearful...I haven't started but it sounds like a good plan...

I started packing boxes today on my own of the things that I can't part with. I haven't had to pack myself for a move since 1994 and well it is getting very real. An agent is coming over to our house next Monday, and well, lets just say I will probably be ready for a trip to the Zoo by Wednesday morning ;0)

I guess the two things I think are most important is to not do this simply because it is another's dream, because if it isn't yours and you are out there changing your entire lifestyle and resenting it - well, it won't be fun for either of you...Fear though is a huge De-motivator...and well it is normal to be fearful. I have sailed on fifty footers in fourty knots of wind when I raced and when I was twenty I thought that was Fun! However get me out on the Ocean at the moment and well, I get a bit freaked...but I have decided it was my dream at one point, and while my husband was seemingly pushing me in the cruising direction, at some point I started hearing the Ocean calling my name...

So listen real carefully and maybe you will hear her call your name too, and if not that is alright too...but don't forget about yourself, your dreams, and your needs...

Good luck and keep me posted on your decision....
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:05   #5
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Talk to him and explain your anxiety. Are you also spending some time learning or are you sitting back worrying. I would suggest you get more involved with all the technical such as navigating, weather study etc you may find you start to enjoy this side of it and the anxiety will lessen. Do short distances first with lots of anchor on shore time. Your only fifty that is not old these days get out and enjoy life you will live longer in the end.
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:13   #6
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FreeWilly, I hope other cruisers with children see your post and reply. I have thought about how I would feel if we did have children and how that would color my decision to go cruising...I can understand your caution of possibly finding yourself in a compromising situation onboard and feeling responsible for your child's life.

What Meyermm suggests is great advice...and maybe you could find some blogs of cruisers with children and read about their lives aboard and even contact them privately and ask how they have dealt with safety issues, and concerns they have had through the process...
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:16   #7
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Easy solution...

The easiest way to avoid the things that you are worrying about is not to move. Find a nice marina and stay there until the weather's good, the Russians have "set all the pirates free", you've found and marked all the rocks on your chart, you know how to work the plotter, you've become religious about seacocks and hoses, you know how to read between the lines of a weather report and your daughter has been trained and practiced in safety procedures.

For me I'd buy a prescratched boat to remove the worry of that first scratch. Factor it into the price and maybe have the boat repainted just before selling it. A very thorough survey by an experienced surveyor with a good reputation (not from marinas, slipways or brokers) would also help with the nerves.

You could also listen more carefully to friends and relatives. Some are masters of creating anxiety and it may be important to know who's saying what.

Then if you do go take it real easy. Short trips, carefully planned. There's no rush.
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:19   #8
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I was just thinking how much I wish that my parents had done what you are doing, back when I was 11.

Our parallel experience, to some smaller extent, was selling the house and everything we could ( my motorcycle! my little airplane!! my Jetta!) the Expedition!!) and giving away what we couldn't sell, and finally taking perfectly good stuff to the dump. And we moved to a small island in a foreign country, bought land, and built a house. We had our youngest, at 12, with us, and he got all this experience, plus a year in a totally foreign school. It broadened his horizons, and that is an understatement. He will be attending a high school in Colorado next year, living in his own apartment. The kid picked up a few things, that he would never have experienced as the sixth pupil in the eighth row at his previous school.

And we wish we had done this twenty years ago.

You know, that old saying is true, that you can never go back in life. You have already sort of started this journey, by making it this far. You can't really go back to where you were before you started it. The fact of this planning and intention is there, now. It would be there whether you followed through or not. A little trepidation is normal, but like every other journey in life, you just put one foot in front of the other. And by the time you have made a few thousand steps....you will laugh at how you felt before you started. This is life. It's not a dress rehearsal.

We plan to buy our little catamaran around October, if the financial plan works out. And we fully expect it to. I am 59, my wife is 50. And once you make that first adventure, you feel sorry for everyone who only dreams.

If ever there were an appropriate time for a Mark Twain quote....
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:25   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeWilly View Post
I guess because we will have our young daughter with us,
In my experience (I have 2 kids) there is nothing more adaptable than kids.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeWilly View Post
I worry about getting caught in a storm, her falling overboard, meeting up with pirates or some of the other 'aggressives' I've been reading about in the 'Sailors Confessional' forum,
Most of those stories are not common, everyday events. People often worry about things that never happen. Are you planning to sail off eastern Africa? If not, then I would not worry about Somali pirates, if you see what I mean.

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Originally Posted by FreeWilly View Post
hitting rocks, losing sight of shore, sinking, did I say getting caught in a storm? We are all very good swimmers, but I've been on a sail boat in heavy raining winds and I won't forget my feeling of panic.
If a storm did not cause you some panic then I suspect that you would not be normal. As for the other items I would say this - nothing in life is risk free. Driving your car is a risk. Flying on holiday is a risk. Catching a train is a risk. Here in the UK in 2008, 11 people suffocated in bed, 253 accidentally hanged themselves, 22 died in their baths and 1400 accidentally poisoned themselves (more at How do we die? The latest death rates | News | guardian.co.uk ). The home is quite unsafe, contrary to most people's expectations.

So then obvious thing to do is to make sure that when you are at sea that you have answers to the hazards. Assume the worst can happen - what would you do? Hit a rock and sink? Have good life rafts and emergency beacons. Losing sight of shore? Learn about navigation and how to find out where you are so you *know* you can find your way. Worried about the kid falling overboard? Insist on lifelines and life jackets.

List your worries out. Each one will have a solution. Ask around here about each one. Just about everyone on here has more experience than me but even I know (from my existing "high risk" hobbies) that every danger and every risk can be minimised or even negated.

Keep asking questions. Keep posting here. There are answers and people here will help.
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:26   #10
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I remember reading on this forum somewhere that until you are actually ready to shove off you should tell 'no one' of your plans, because like Boracay said there will be anxiety provoking friends and relatives that will add to the anxiety in very passive aggressive ways and sometimes downright aggressive ways. A lot of times they are just operating out of fear, so not a good influence.

The other thing I have had to look at in myself through this process is my perceptions of inherent risk in activities that actually exists vs. my perception of what I feel is risky. Like the fact I am more comfortable barreling down the road at 70 mph most of the time than being out of site of land on the Ocean...been an interesting process, and I have learned that the 'self-sufficiency' issue is one that is a biggey for me...as I understand our boat more and have started brushing up on navigating and reading more I have been feeling better and better...
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:27   #11
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FreeWilly, (I hope that's not your real name...) Watch all these videos: YouTube - sethhynes's Channel See all the terrible horrible scary times this couple went thru on their cruise in their catamaran, visiting all those frightening locales and terrifying anchorages... it's no wonder you are getting cold feet! Seriously, watch the videos, it doesn't get any more real than this...
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:36   #12
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Driving your car is a risk. Flying on holiday is a risk. Catching a train is a risk. Here in the UK in 2008, 11 people suffocated in bed, 253 accidentally hanged themselves, 22 died in their baths and 1400 accidentally poisoned themselves (more at How do we die? The latest death rates | News | guardian.co.uk ). The home is quite unsafe, contrary to most people's expectations.
Mintyspilot Thanks for this link! Will help with my inherent risk research!
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:41   #13
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Every time I'm getting ready for a cruise, I look at my nice home and ask myself why I want to leave.

Every time I'm out cruising, I wish it would never end.
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Old 11-05-2010, 16:53   #14
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thanks everyone - lots of food for thought

Thanks all for the feedback. I feel like my fears are irrational and yes doing some of my own reading and planning would be a first step to addressing them. High heels, it is different, as far as I'm concerned anyway, with children. I do not ever want to do something stupid. I gather though from what some of you have said, that there is a way to address every potential 'danger'. Tell me this then, not to change the subject, but I'm curious: when we chartered this past winter, I often felt uneasy at night time thinking that it would be pretty easy for someone to swim to and board the boat. I didn't feel secure, unless it was a 2 bottles of wine night (At home I live with large dogs and the plan is to take only our small dog). Is this a rational fear? Does this ever happen? Maybe I've watched too many scary movies.
Christian, the utube video was enough to make me want to work this through!!
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Old 11-05-2010, 17:30   #15
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I often felt uneasy at night time thinking that it would be pretty easy for someone to swim to and board the boat.
I suppose it depends on the design of the boat, but next time you are near a boat, jump into the water and see how easy it is (or more likely isn't) to swim and board. There have been many tales of sailors who fell in and then could not actually reboard the boat. Try it and see and you'll soon know (have help at hand to fish you back out)

Your home is not secure either. How many burglaries occur with the occupier/home owner asleep in bed? Does that keep you awake at night?

Illegal boardings do happen, it would be foolish to deny it, but once again it is a matter of comparative risk. For every incident you see reported here or elsewhere there are tens of thousands of unreported events where nothing at all happened. As usual mitigate the risks. Start by not parking yourself in an area where such things happen. Find locations that have a reputation as "safe" and stop there. Ask other how to secure your type of boat. Mention to your husband and emphasise that it is a worry and that you will feel better if there is some way to reduce the risk.

Also remember that for every problem you have (or every worry that nags you) you are not the first to have that problem or worry. Others will have had the exact same concerns, so ask around and see how others solved the problem.

I'm still learning, but I've already learnt that if you don't know then ask. I ask all sorts of stuff and most of it is probably very elementary but the good people here have been patient with me and I have learned a lot.

In some ways it is easy for me as I'm in no rush. I'm not planning to sail over the horizon for another 5 years or so but I've started a gradual process so that I have time to sort everything out and so that I can approach this adventure in the right frame of mind. It's a long way off yet....
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