ANXIETIES and NAKED FLYING FISH


There’s a zombie crowd of anxieties that anyone can take on as sailing crew. Docking, picking up a mooring, flying a spinnaker, installing a head, fixing a head, wrapping a prop, losing a prop, falling overboard, being attacked by sharks once you’ve fallen overboard, getting back on-board while being chased by sharks, running your boat into a dock hard enough that it ends up on the dock.


You get the idea. If you’re like me, you live the idea. If you’re like me you’ve wondered; is there a coffee table book about this?


Something arty? Nice photos? Something to make it all that much more civilized?

And then there are a handful of worries I’ve been asked about a few times.


Shipping containers.


Should we worry about containers? Did you worry about containers?


Here we have to imagine Pana-Max ships vomiting high-cube shipping containers into the ocean to float, partially submerged until the day your sailboat runs into them.


Robert Redford starred in a movie about just exactly that. It does happen. It’s not impossible.


Do you worry about it? I mean, sure. It’s a thing. But how about your hose clamps? Why not worry about those?


When was the last time you checked them? Do you know what they’re made out of?


The point here is that, yes, partially submerged shipping containers are next level scary but, you’ve a better chance being sunk by a stainless clamp that has a non-stainless nut.


It’s one of those- focus your anxiety on what you can control- sort of things.


Pirates.

Did you worry about pirates? Were there pirates?


I have been asked that question more times than I care to think about. Enough that I wondered if I should have spent more time worrying about pirates. Enough that I wondered if people really understood where I’d gone.


Piracy is another next level scary thing but this next level scary thing? This one comes down to homework and how much of it you do before you sail off into the horizon.

Know where you’re planning on sailing, know what the local economy is like, know if you’re planning on cruising through a place beset by war, famine, poverty or disease.


Know what people in places beset by war, famine, poverty or disease are apt to do for relief from war, famine, poverty or disease. Know what you look like on your sailboat in a place beset by war, famine, poverty or disease.


The better thing to worry about is your own fear. Are you afraid enough that you won’t feel safe, that you won’t trust, that you won’t enjoy? Are you swallowed up by a fear that may have you pointing a weapon at a stranger because of that fear?


Weather.


Well, as they say; forecasts are what you expect, weather is what you get. And from that catchy bit of verbiage, we can go either way with worry.


The problem with weather is just that- it’s weather. It’s predictably unpredictable even when you can afford all the gadgetry and expertise available.


Hours spent pulling forecasts out of the air and squeezing your face up against a computer screen trying to magic your way through the perfect amount of weather to manage the point A to B notion of sailing? Reading the sky? Reading the water? Pulling out a cloud book and holding it up as a contrast and compare to see what you’ve got going overhead? Squeezing your face together as you listen to the weather channel on your VHF because maybe bunching up your eyes will make it sound like you want it to sound?


Do whatever you can.


In the end you’ll need the weather and you’ll hate the weather and the day you’re becalmed in the flat glass of an insurmountable high be careful what you wish for.


What you wish for is likely to happen. Or not. Just like worrying about it is likely to help. Or not.


That sound the engine is making.


Yep.


Worry about that one.


Definitely. I think we can agree about that one without too many words.


Also- check your hose clamps.


Naked Sailing. (full honesty- no one has ever asked me about this one)


Stop.


You do not know where I’m going with this.


In the pantheon of anxieties this is my special one. Prancing about the boat without a stitch of fabric on? The thing my sailing night terrors are made of.


Sure- you can be anxious about naked sailing because of body image issues. You can be anxious because of melanoma issues.


This is neither one of those.


This is about flying fish.


That’s right. Those fish with wings. Those fish that hurl themselves aboard in their effervescent flight from predators.


This is about taking that stance above the winch to crank in the headsail, that power stance, that- here’s my ass-stance.


It’s that position and being naked and that one ambitious flying fish.


That one, overachieving, winged torpedo of scales and fins. That one; smacking me right in the keister.


That is my naked sailing anxiety.


Let me know when you’re done laughing. I’ll be right here, fully clothed, waiting.


I’ll be right here saying- yes- I know- not likely.


Not likely at all, but that would be the special talent of anxiety. That one moment of thought that worms its way in and then flowers like the mother of all night terror imaginings.


Because- really?


Seriously? Who wants to be hit in the naked ass, or naked anything, by a flying fish? Who is willing to risk that?


Not me.


Now, go check those hose clamps.

Kathleen Tison spends her time in the wilds of Maine watching her husband collect trees to turn into a junk-rig mast for a 22’ sailboat that will never be a sloop again. Between that, two cats and decades spent hawking all sorts of boat products at West Marine and now Hamilton Marine she enjoys running, hiking and trying to come up with the ideal craft to use in the R2AK. Because someday she hopes to bring her sailing awkwardness to bear on that race.

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