Whenever we talk with people about our travels or give presentations about living aboard, we always talk about slaying dragons. It's definitely a recurring theme. We explain that we are not the Cornells, nor the Pardys, nor the Hiscocks. We weren't brought up sailing. We took sailing lessons in our 40s, read lots of books and did lots of charters. In 2000, we finally bought Nine of Cups, sold up and sailed off. Sounds easy when we think about it now, but it wasn't. There were lots of obstacles and challenges along the way to overcome … dragons. We've been meeting lots of folks recently who are thinking about sailing and living aboard or who have just made the plunge (pun intended), so we thought it might be worthwhile sharing this blog post from January 2013 again. A good reminder that on land or or at sea, there are always dragons with which to contend.
It's the Captain's birthday today, by the way. Not a milestone birthday, but another year older and hopefully wiser and certainly more loved than ever. We're out celebrating … no dragon slaying today.
“Do one thing everyday that scares you” said Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm not quite sure I agree. I need a break every once in awhile from things that scare me, but maybe once a week would be okay. Really what she means is to keep yourself challenged, not necessarily with life-threatening activities, just traveling into new and uncharted territory once in awhile. Don't be afraid to try new things.
Old nautical charts frequently used the expression “Here Be Dragons” for uncharted, unknown territories. When we first moved aboard, everything was new and uncharted … our lifestyle, the boat, living on the water instead of land. Heck, even the terminology was different. It wasn't the toilet any more; it was the head. Dreaming the dream of heading off into the sunset on a sailboat is one thing, but actually doing it ... well, that was downright daunting.
Enter the dragons. We define dragons as anything that causes angst. Fears and anticipation that get your heart pounding, adrenaline pumping and/or stomach churning. There were dragons lurking about the first time we took our new boat out into the Gulf of Mexico; the first time we were out of sight of land; the first time anchoring; the first time waiting for a bridge to open; the first overnight passage which included our first overnight watches alone. It was a world of firsts. Each day was a new dragon to face, a fear to overcome, a dragon to slay.
Dragons come in all sizes and shapes. It doesn't have to be a heart pounding experience. I'm not a seamstress, so when we determined in Ecuador that the cost of replacing the dodger and bimini was too expensive, we decided that I'd make new ones. The dread was palpable. I'd never done this type of a major sewing project before. What if I screwed it up? What if I wrecked all that expensive fabric? What if I failed? Take a deep breath. Think it through. Do some research. Talk out the plan with David. Start the project … then just a little further. Not right? Tear it out and do it again. Be patient. Just a little further. We ended up with a new dodger, bimini, sail cover, winch covers, hatch covers and more. Because once you slay a dragon, you get a new burst of energy and confidence.
Have we had any heart pounding experiences? Oh, sure. I can't imagine anyone living on a boat crossing an ocean that hasn't had at least one or two hairy times. Squalls come up unexpectedly and the first few times, you wonder what the hell you're doing out in this miserable weather with waves breaking over the bow. We've hit rocks and reefs, dragged at anchor, almost had a dragging ship hit us at anchor. The good thing about experiences like this is that they teach you.
We've been told “Oh, you're so brave. I could never do what you're doing.” Wrong! You could, if you wanted to. It might not be your cup of tea, but you could do it. I firmly believe, you can do most anything you want, if you want it enough and are willing to slay a few dragons along the way. Give it try. Do something that scares you today. Slay a dragon.