East Coast Low
04 May 2015
A really crazy thing has been happening over the past little while – so crazy I can hardly believe I am experiencing this and almost afraid to say something about it in case I jinx myself – but here goes….. I am finding myself less and less afraid of the wind!
When we were first ‘left’, when the unthinkable first happened, I was terrified, I am not ashamed to say, of managing on the boat when faced with big wind. I mean there we were, on an unknown mooring with a cyclone bearing down on us, way too close for comfort – really it had the potential to be the worst weather we had ever encountered on the boat – so it wasn’t surprising to find myself somewhat trepidatious.
But the thing is, I have always had this fear - even when I lived in a house. When the wind would howl I would be afraid - afraid of storm damage, of what might happen, of trees falling on my house, of flooding, of how I would deal with it - and since beginning to cruise it has only gotten stronger - and why not? I know first hand what the wind is capable of - I know how ferocious it can be and of the power it can unleash - I don't consider it an unfounded fear but something tangible, based on reality.
I know that it's not unreasonable or unrealistic to have anxieties about something that actually does have huge potential to cause us harm and yet I am experiencing a shift. My levels of fear about the wind are actually reducing.
A real turning point came for me when I began to realise that even my male sailor friends were anxious about the wind. This was a huge lesson for me in not ascribing a gender-based reason for my fear and gave me a real sense that I was both not alone and not just being some sort of woosy female when forecasts of high winds would arouse anxious thoughts and unleash apprehensive and uneasy concerns!
A while ago a friend of mine made a picture that he shared on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/enchanting.minds?fref=ts) - a quote about a bird - it said that a bird on a branch is not afraid of the wind because her confidence isn’t in the branch but in her wings.
This was another turning point. I began to think about what my confidence was in and should be in.
I have really been very much a passenger so far in this cruising journey. In the beginning it was all about what someone else wanted to do and the freedom I wanted to give him to fulfill his dreams. I was really just coming along for the ride and hoping to find more time to write – hoping that this sailing life would allow me the opportunity to fulfill some of my own dreams while allowing him to fulfill his - and while I will never fully understand whatever happened to his dreams, I have been learning that there is a need now for me to elevate my position here - I have to be the driver in every respect! I can't just let someone else sail while I write - I have to do even that part myself!
I remember writing early on when we had just left the Boatworks and were anchoring near Stradbroke Island, that we seemed to have had more bad weather in the few weeks since we were on our own on the boat than for many, many months before.
It really felt so tough at the time – like we had really been thrown in at the deep end – it felt so hard and quite unfair! But now - after spending the last few days being pounded by one of the worst storms in Queensland for decades – a sudden and intensely developing East Coast Low - where we were confronted with hours and hours of 35 knot plus wind, gusting up to 45 knot, where 5 people lost their lives and days later the surrounding areas are still cleaning up - now I look back and view it somewhat differently.
Now I feel so thankful that in such a short time we have had to deal with so much - with so many and complex situations – and somehow managed.
This last storm was a real doozy – I mean a seriously bad storm and there we were just sitting at anchor – I would not have thought we (me and the kids) could remain anchored in such strong wind - and now I will always know we can and did. And not only that we did it but that it was okay – I wasn’t any more anxious than any of the other sailors around us.
I really have begun to feel quite differently about the wind.
This is a huge and completely unexpected shift!
I have noticed over the past few months how many sailors do not speak of wind at all, using the word breeze instead. There is something altogether more benign to my mind about a breeze - it doesn't sound nearly so scary and doesn't make me panic. Understanding how powerful language – just using one particular word over another - can impact on how we view that thing – and how our inner dialogue influences us massively - I have for some time tried to use this word instead – but it was a stretch! But now I have come to a place where I know that having endured the 45 knot ‘wind’ we know we can manage quite a bit of ‘breeze’ without undue anxiety! My language is beginning to change!
I can see that because of all this, my wings have been strengthened. My confidence grown.
I am sure there will still be very challenging moments – but the more of these we face and the more we get through, the more our confidence grows and the less worries we will have, of that I am sure.