Friday, February 19, 2016

Conquering Fear

The other day we traveled over the Caicos Bank. It's shallow. And it has coral heads. The guide books all say to take it seriously and then they show a sunken sailboat with just the mast sticking up out of the water to emphasize the importance of using your eyes instead of your electronics. Point made. I sat on the bow for a good portion of the trip while Deb was at the helm. By the way I think I ruined my ass. We need a seat up there. Deb was super alert and gripping the wheel tightly. This was her greatest fear on this trip. She was worried about sandbores, coral heads and not having enough Sun to see either. No worries as we had a nice sunny day with little or no wind so the water was clear enough to spot all the coral, or in most cases Turtle grass.

When you travel over this clear blue water you look for different shades which indicate what the sea bed is comprised of. A darkish patch is most likely grass. A really dark black patch could be coral. Coral is bad. Well actually coral is good unless you are going over it in a boat. Best to avoid it. Sometimes it looks like coral or grass but it's only a cloud passing by the Sun. We are pretty good at reading the difference now.

To be honest with you it was anti-climatic for me. Hardly any coral heads to deal with and plenty of water. Yes I know, eight feet is now plenty of water. For Deb it was a stressful time the whole way. Deb is not a talker unless she gets past three beers (rarely) but when she is stressed she pretty much clams up. You wouldn't think I would notice but I do. My reaction to this is to keep talking...a lot. I bet that is super annoying for Deb but I can't stand silence among people. It's weird to me. I remember my Dad telling everyone to just shut the hell up at the dinner table while he read the paper. We could not say anything. It was awkward. You could hear everyone chewing. Sometimes I would stick green beans up my nose and make faces. First one to laugh got in trouble. So now when it's quiet I make noise. Bad habit to have, depending on the noise. Having matured somewhat I no longer make fart noises but I still sing songs with messed up lyrics or pllaying the drums with my f
which Deb absolutely hates.

So Deb got us through the banks without a scratch. We stepped out into the Ocean for an hour and then pulled into Cockburn Harbour. Still do not like the name. We then scoped out a good place to drop the hook. Deb then turned to mush.

I remember as a kid I had a fear of the high board at the local public swimming pool. Yes, they had public swimming pools back then. There were life guards and nobody had those inflatable orange rings under their armpits. If you couldn't swim the lifeguard would haul your ass out of the water and boot you out of the park. It was a time when lawyers were still scarce. All my friends were at the pool one hot summer day and they were jumping from the high board. I was laying on a towel next to a girl I really liked and she asked if I was going to jump the high board with the rest of the guys. "Uh sure I am but I just had a sandwich and I have to wait another hour." I didn't actually use that line but I remember the look I got for not heading for the high board. Wuss. She's sitting with a wuss. So I marched over to get in line at the ladder.

The water was not clear all the way to the bottom. I recall that it was a really dark creepy shade of blue. Who paints a pool bottom dark blue? It looked terrifying. The boys were either diving or cannon balling off the board which looked like Mt Everest to me. The kid in front of me got halfway up the ladder and then started back down. He got scorched by everyone there for being a big pussy. They all chanted Pussy Pussy Pussy! Great. My turn. I climbed.

When I got to the top I was like, Holy shit! I'm going to fall off the side of the board and splatter on the concrete! It was like walking the plank to a sure death. I wanted so badly to go back but I would be called Pussy Paulie for the rest of my days in Buffalo. I would be in a bar in my 30's having a beer and someone from behind would yell, "Hey that's Pussy Paulie!" I would have to move. Move far away. So I get to the top and tried to look down to see if this Kathy girl I was with is even looking. Now I hear, "Jump you asshole!" People are yelling at me to get the hell off the board. Big kids are threatening me. Lifeguards are motioning me to jump. Some are now standing up with a whistle in their mouths. I looked down the board which seemed like it was a mile long and I ran. I ran right off and screamed all the way down as a 90 lb cannon ball. Barely made a splash. I popped up and they were still yelling at me. What? Apparently I was supposed to swim out of the way and n
float around waiting for people to cheer.

I pulled myself out of the pool and started to strut over to my blond almost girlfriend and I tripped and fell flat on my stomach and hands which were now ripped open and bleeding from the coarse concrete. Shit! I was really skinned up. It hurt real bad too. The girls were laughing. My face was beet red. I thought the best thing to do would be to get in the water and let the chlorine do it's germ killing thing but the lifeguard made me collect my things and get the hell out. What? "Kid, you are a bloody mess. Go home." I put my shirt over it but the shirt got blood soaked. I got the cold shoulder from my now not girlfriend and went home blood stained. Since that day I went back to the pool many times and still never did more than a cannonball but my fear of the highboard was subdued. I still got the willys being up there but I handled it.

Debra seemed lost looking for a spot to drop the hook. I made a few suggestions but it was like there was too much space for her and she couldn't decide. Never saw her like this and I think it's because of all the stress falling away so quickly. Debra was lost in the euphoria of putting the Banks behind her and she could not focus on the easy stuff. Like me strutting around after conquering my big fear and then not paying attention to where I was walking, Deb was so relieved at accomplishing this task that she found it tough to focus on the everyday routine of anchoring. She got it together quickly and waved me off to the bow and we dropped the anchor in good fashion. The hard part of Debra's journey is now complete. She conquered her fear of the Caicos Bank. I am very proud of my helmsman. Helmswoman or helmsperson doesn't sound right. Without her I would have to pilot and navigate. Who the hell wants to do that? What do I do? Glad you asked. I am the chief cook, sail trimme
Chief Engineer and Deb's sex slave. That's right. I'm pretty much here to satisfy her one way or another. (Because we have no wifi she can't see this for a while. Evil I am)

Now it's my turn. The Mona passage is my highboard. When we complete it I will not celebrate until the boat is secured in a slip. Then and only then will I strut my stuff, and probably stumble on a dockline and bloody myself.


I appologize for any spelling errors. I have no spell check on this Iridium app and bugs ate our dictionary.

I never won a spelling bee. "Highboard. h-i-g-h-b-o-r-e-d. Highboard."

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.


  1. I love reading your posts about anxiety because it makes me feel normal. I'm with Deb completely on the shallow water thing, except for me, it begins to get shallow (and thus the stress hormones begin pumping) when it's less than 50 feet deep. It's true. I'm always worried there is an uncharted rock right in front of us, or that the bottom has somehow changed and will suddenly zoom right up under the keel, because, hey, that has happened. This summer we when we motored into Clayoquot Sound there was a bank we had to cross that extended all the way into the sound and up quite a ways. It was basically a flat 20 feet all the way in. Mike chose that time to turn the wheel over to me. Sure, he gets to steer out on the open sea where there the depth is super deep and I have no anxiety at all. Then when the water gets shallow it's my turn. Thanks alot. I was so stressed out by the time we were getting close to anchoring I had to just turn it over to him. Stress hormones in the brain. They're the devil.

  2. Hilarious! Great Stories and writing.

  3. Good to have you back blogging. That Twitter crap posted on FB makes no sense and's not funny. We like funny. Keep on keeping on.