My Adventures in Sailing
Where to now? I had to go through the fear, again, to get to my happy place.
Good morning! I think that I’m going to start this newsletter off with the sentiment that a lot of my content for this newsletter so far has been a series of steps, a few windows into my experiences. I have lots of stories, art and projects in the works— taking up gobs of mental space—but right now I’m flushing out more of the feeling of “I’m HERE” on the emotional map.
In 2019 I thought I was moving to San Francisco for a few years, I was going to homeschool my kids until they were acclimated, I was going to get a full-time job in tech and go to the beach or a park or a vinyard every weekend. We did all that (well, minus the full-time job, I worked at the Glass Room instead), I loved it, covid happened, and due to many very important factors I’m back in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is city of contrasts for me - it’s where Mike and I solo-raised our babies for a few years and were completely alone, compared to now as my close family moved here. It’s a fantastically uplifting place in the spring and summer and then at the fall equinox we rapidly decend into mist, darkness and chill with a sprinkling of autumnal leaf color glory.
This is me from last week sailing in Puget Sound around Port Madison.
I look happy, maybe even at ease? This is almost 6 years after I went on my first sail with friends that took our whole family out on a C&C 27. That was back when my son was about 3 years old and I had him tethered to my belt buckles on my pants. I didn’t know anything except how to steer, so I was given control of the tiller most of the time when my little guy wasn’t napping.
Over the next few years I took a class, ASA 101. I got used to the feeling of the entire boat heeling in the wind and not being completely weirded out by it. But every time we rented a boat for the afternoon and it was sailing time with the family, I felt a bit of nausea. What am I doing I’d ask myself. I’m scared of one of the kids falling into the water. I’m scared of fog. I’m scared of big waves. I don’t have my rigging knife. All the fears piled on top of each other until I realized I was completely scared of not knowing. Of not knowing enough to challenge decisions on whether to go out on the water, where to go, creating a plan of action. After taking our friends for their first sail and giving them the safety talk, my friend joked “So how many ways can I die again?” I think that perfectly sums up the thought process when confronted with something new, potentially dangerous and when there is a learning curve.
A few months ago I finally took ASA 103, and learned more. I started reading books, watching lots of Youtube videos of sailing families and all the catastrophes that could occur. I learned about stability curves on a boat, buoyancy, calling for help. I made constant mistakes with the sail, directions and misunderstanding sailing vocabulary while under way. I learned from the mistakes. I stopped getting terrified of docking (but only after a lot of mistakes, too).
We own a boat now, which is part of why I’m taking the time to write this and say that sailing, like my experience with Seattle, is a series of contrasts. One moment I feel serene while listening to music and cruising at 3 knots, which is followed 20 minutes later by the repeated squats of taking down fenders and once again dreading docking. But the peace is worth the stress, the sun is worth the rain.
I’m also really excited about exploring.
Thanks to Frank Charlton for all the photos.