Caribbean bound and proud of it. You have gone before us, charted the course, steered the boat, became one with the seas and the wind, and we long to join you. Some may say we’re crazy, I mean who takes up sailing in their latter fifties? Sure, there’s the occasional retired guy who buys a boat and wants to circumnavigate the planet; we’ve heard rumors. My husband and I aren’t retired yet, and honestly prefer to work remotely from our boat. We’ve learned that some of you work remotely which tells us it can be done. Our yearning to be prepared for our future has led us to the sailing adventure of our lives but we’re starting from scratch. We are total newbs dreaming of floating amongst you Caribbeans and becoming part of a community of savvy sailors, sunset loving, snorkeling, diving, fresh fish, and fair winds connoisseurs each and every day.
This Vermont girl has coveted turquoise water for decades, but I’ve been afraid of what’s in the ocean all my life (lakes too). When I enlisted in the US Navy, I wanted to go SAR (Search And Rescue) until I figured out I had to actually get in the water. Fear has prevented me from experiencing challenging opportunities. I know I’m not the only one out there that has been hesitant to take up sailing and actually go out and sail somewhere. I get it, the boat slip is comfy, but if I remain on the slip, my Caribbean dream will sail away without me.
There’s truth in not being able to teach an old dog new tricks. Older people seem to be settled and happy to slow down after years of child rearing and being in the workforce. My husband and I are of a different ilk – we feel like we’ve just begun but learning something brand new is daunting. This isn’t a cooking class at the local culinary school or ballroom dancing lessons. The navigation alone is a foreign language needed to exist in a country that I’ve never seen on a map. Some days I wonder if I can do this. I walk to the kitchen to get something I forgot about while walking down the hallway and feel like I must have early onset dementia. Doing something this grand scares me, and I know I’m not alone; let’s face it, sailing is hard work. Maybe you were once like me. Maybe you still are, but you keep that deep down in the recesses of your soul because your significant other is having the sail of their lives and you don’t want to be a fun sucker. Then let me say, you are courageous! Courage isn’t the absence of fear (I read that somewhere), it’s moving forward even while afraid.
When I took the 2-day ASA 101 course this past August with my husband on a Pearson 39, I was anxious. I read the Sailing Made Easy book bow to stern. I highlighted, underlined, memorized, practiced knots, and packed my bags in preparation for what I thought would undo me. But it didn’t. I had the bruises to prove I worked hard. I’ve never navigated my way around a boat, and I was jibbing like nobody’s business. As a vertically challenged female, I seemed to bang my knees a lot and when I was on the main sheet, well, I needed to brace myself against the hard boat. But I did it afraid and conquered it (I’m standing on my tiptoes in the photo to the right).
You’re in the Caribbean; maybe you’ve lived there all your life or maybe you sailed there. Do you remember when you first started sailing? Do you remember the questions, concerns, fears, and unknowns? There’s so much to know and do and learn (and practice) and we’re excited beyond measure. Not the kind of excitement when Uncle Earl and Aunt Emma show up on Easter with chocolate eggs and little Peeps that rot the best of teeth. No, I’m talking about excitement that keeps us awake at night dreaming of what’s to come.