6/27/20 Saturday

I had a dream the other night. I was slowly driving onto an old wooden bridge, spanning a large ravine. The bridge used to be stable, but was old now and beginning to rot away. As it took the weight of my vehicle, the wood slowly began to buckle. I backed up, got out of the truck, and waited for the inevitable. Suddenly Sara appeared out of nowhere and jumped onto the bridge. She knelt down and held firm to a plank as the bridge began to crumble. She looked into my eyes and I could see the intention. As the bridge began to fall, she let go with one hand and reached out to me. I couldn’t help it, I jumped to take her outstretched hand.

Yesterday in real life I jumped off the dock onto my boat, and headed out to get a taste of single-handing in 20+ knot winds. From the spray on my face I can say it tastes salty, and from my motor quitting as I headed out of the channel I can say that at least for me it was frightening. I learned that when the boat heels over past 15 degrees, everything not secured in the cabin will crash to the floor, and that it would be better to get my reefing lines ready before I hoist the mainsail. I learned that in those conditions I should probably clip in to something secure in the cockpit, but the fact is I just can’t stand being tethered to anything, a fact which would probably be interesting to my therapist.

Eventually it was time to go in, so I pointed to the wind and raced forward to drop the sails before the bow could blow back around which could cause the sails to fill again which would buck me off like Fu Man Chu the rodeo bull. Then it was troubleshooting the motor while drifting toward a lee shore for extra excitement. Fortunately it was an easy fix, because the problem was with the boat heeled over, the gas in the gas can sloshed away from the fuel intake, which is something I had never thought of. With my tail between my legs I headed back to the marina and surprised myself by easing into my tiny slip without hitting the dock (this time) or the new $100k power boat parked next to me.

Jumping off, letting go, expanding my comfort zone, and change in general is difficult for me. But I know the best way to address fear is to look it in the eye and confront it, embrace it, and watch it disappear. Looking forward through life with optimism and confidence is the only way to keep growing, but I know it takes practice. So I fully expect to get my ass handed to me as my own fears are confronted, be it sailing or surfing large waves or relationships or removing the occasional spider from the bathtub. Holding tight to what matters, jumping off from the illusion of security, letting go of expectation.

after-the-rain.org / Resting in the cockpit

Author: Rainey

after-the-rain.org What started out as chicken scratch notes on the back pages of my boat’s logbook has now grown into a blog. These words and images help me cope with a loved one struggling with mental illness, and they help guide me through divorce, and the process of moving on. Thanks for reading along as I learn about life the hard way, do the best I can for my son in my new role as a single dad, and find weird similarities between restoring an old blue water sailboat and putting the pieces of my own life back together. Come check out my story and feel free to say hi!

7 thoughts on “Jumper”

  1. This post reminds me of a sailing holiday we did to the Greek Islands. That was my very first time ever sailing when I was about 35. I went with my husband and two very young kids. What was I thinking? My husband loves the water and has been sailing many times, so he had been nagging me for years to have a go with him. I eventually caved in and thought, yeah I’d give it a go at least, even though every bone in my body said ‘Don’t do it’. I trusted that as my husband was very experienced, even though I wasn’t, we should be ok plus we envisaged tranquil waters and sunny horizons in the Aegean sea. We couldn’t have been more wrong! We traveled in October, low season, and were part of a flotilla with several boats led by a guy employed by the sailing holiday company. Little did we also know the guy who was supposedly leading the way, spent half the time high on pot and when we really needed his expertise and help, he was nowhere to be seen. The long and the short of the story is that we went from a beautifully sunny day and serene waters to very strong wind and pretty big waves. At one point we thought the boat’s mast would touch the water as it kept being tossed sideways and this was a relatively decent size sailing boat. As soon as the weather turned, we harnessed ourselves to a fixed element of the boat. I truly believe that it is thanks to that, that one of us didn’t end up in the rough seas, which would have been the end, specially if the one falling had been my husband, as I had no idea how to manage the boat on my own. My kids miraculously fell asleep throughout the whole terrifying episode and were below deck. Just as well because I don’t think I would have been able to cope with looking after them on top of the absolute chaos taking place on deck. It’s interesting, because as I said, my husband is very experienced, but perhaps because he had me and the kids on board for the first time, his confidence just disappeared and he hesitated under pressure, which meant things got more difficult than perhaps they needed to be. Anyway, as the leader of the flotilla was nowhere to be seen and his last advice was for us to head back to the port we had set off from that morning, we had to make a rushed decision against his advice, because our flight to UK was departing the very next morning, so we needed to just brave it and make the very treacherous crossing knowing it was going to be hell. I can only imagine an angel was watching over us that day because to this day I don’t know how we made it back in one piece. Needless to say, when we finally managed to bring the boat back in to the marina safely, I went below deck and screamed and screamed in frustration followed by floods of tears releasing all that anx and fear I had just experienced. Soon after that, we and some of the friends we made during that holiday who also made it safely back to the marina, got completely drunk in the resort’s bar. It had to be done! Nothing else would have helped me recover from the shock of what I had just experienced. I swore to my husband I would never sail again after that, but two years ago now, we hired a catamaran and my husband, my brother and my brother-in-law with their wives and myself sailed round Menorca. I only agreed to go if the captains took 100% charge and I was guaranteed to not be put under any responsibility in assisting with sailing the boat. I have to say that I managed to conquer my fear from that previous experience in Greece, but I don’t think I will ever be able to enjoy fully being on a boat in the open sea ever again. Sorry for the long comment. I should have written a blogpost about this. Moral of the story! When things start to look tricky, tether yourself for sure, specially if you are on your own. Great to see your eyes at last!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a story! Funny how freaking out at sea especially with family aboard doesn’t seem to make it into the travel brochures or magazine covers. One of the worst arguments I ever saw between a man and a woman was when he was having a lot of trouble docking the boat and she was giving him non stop advice. Oh well fortunately there are good times too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know better than to give advice on something I lack any competence in but let’s just say there were a lot of expletives at sea that day! I hated myself for trusting someone else’s judgement and not my own. I knew from the onset it was a bad idea but still, sometimes one caves in in order to move forward. I seem to do a lot of that actually, for better or for worse 😩

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We are all learning life lessons, especially now so this is such a great post because you’re right on track. I’m just glad that you made it! Good for you! As scary as these experiences are, they help us to grow, to emerge from the cocoon and to heal! Sending a hug!

    Liked by 1 person

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