Friday, July 1, 2011

Courage, the Other Side of Fear

It has been 10 years since we bought our sailboat. We were so excited at the time, it's hard to believe we are actually thinking about selling it. Looking back through some files, it's easy to see just how excited we were.

“We have our entire lives to become wise and jaded. Let’s be excited about the newness of it. So what if we don’t know anything. It’s fun to have something new to learn. Later we can be the sages and the experts. Let’s enjoy the ride.”

Those were some of my husband's words on driving down to California to pick up our new
Montgomery 15. He was right of course. Not knowing how to sail or what was in store for us was all part of the adventure, and indeed it has been just that - right from the start. 

We had an interesting solo outing on the Snake River that still gives me the giggles. To begin with, it took us well over an hour to attach the rigging in the parking lot (this boat can be rigged in less than an hour, 30 min with experience). That done, we backed 'Duet' down the loading ramp--so far--so good--we thought with pride. The wind was gusting a bit, so we decided we’d pull the sails up after we motored out a bit. But for some reason the engine kept dying, so our confidence level was failing fast by the time we got out to the middle of the river.

Still, we did find the courage to finally hoist the sails. Whomp! Yikes! The wind almost knocked us flat on the port side. Fortunately, our friend who'd given us some sailing lessons in advance, had told us to just deflate the main sail if that ever happened and let the boat right itself. Boing! Duet popped back up like a cork. Of course, by then our nerves were pretty frazzled, but eventually we braved the wind again and before long we thought we looked pretty graceful out there.

After about 3 hours, it was time to dock. GULP—oh boy—were we ever dreading that one. With our motor trouble, we couldn’t begin to imagine what would happen if it died again. Well, of course it did and with the sails down at that point--we started drifting ashore--straight for the rocks!! I jumped out and kept the boat from taking any damage, while my husband cussed the engine. It was then he noticed that the bow line had wrapped around the motor shaft!! Long story short… Never, Never, Never have a bow line longer than the length of your boat.

After this one experience, we had a number of nice camp outs with friends, including one to the San Juan Islands. We may think we're too busy to sail right now, but I do miss the ripple of the water and that whispering wind against the sails. It's slow getting there, yes, but that slow pace is what drew us to sailing to begin with, and there's something else. Sailing takes a certain amount of courage that for me involved overcoming some fears. Learning to guide the rudder in a steady wind was scary, but also empowering, not to mention a lot of fun. At least that's how it turned out for me.

Courage on the other side of fear is also something I'm exploring in the novel I'm writing. I love how life connects with what we write.   


Copyright 2011 © Sharon Himsl


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