We successfully reached St. Thomas yesterday!! Hooray!  This feels like a huge accomplishment and somehow feels so appropriate to be in the place where we celebrated the start of our marriage on our honeymoon 31 years ago. We have now sailed approximately 1600 nautical miles on Meraviglia and we are almost at the one year mark of leaving our jobs and our home in Seguin. So you may be wondering how I am feeling about our choice to embark on this adventure, is it all that I expected it to be? Am I feeling like a confident, accomplished sailor???

The answer to that question varies day to day.  As most of you know, my sailing career started at the age of 54 with our first sail on my sister’s boat in Maine.  I had never sailed before and definitely would have never dreamed at that point that I would be living on a sailboat 3 years later, taking night watches on my own and sailing the ocean. As I believe my son eloquently stated in his guest blog post, https://sailingmeraviglia.com/chapter-28-when-your-parents-lose-their-minds/, I hate risk and that I should have a neck tattoo that says “be careful”.  He is not wrong,  I am a chronic worrier and always thinking ahead to the potential risks in everything.  This comes with a baseline of anxiety that is always present. I feel confident if you asked my sisters,  they would agree that there is some genetics involved (sorry kids), mom definitely passed this trait along to us.  And then I moved on a sailboat, with little experience, a baseline of anxiety, and not used to feeling dependent on Bob for so much. Up to now, we both had independent careers and our own areas of expertise. Then we moved on board and while A LOT is new for both of us,  Bob definitely had a good baseline knowledge while it has all been new to me. So that has had its challenges.  When anxious, it is easy to fall back on relying on the person with knowledge for doing things but that quickly becomes exhausting for the other person. Fortunately, even after living on a small boat together 24/7 now for 10 months, we find we can have difficult conversations with each other when needed and so Bob was able to say to me that he was feeling exhausted and give me the push I needed to continue learning and taking on more responsibilities rather than giving in to my anxiety.

So what new things have I learned?  Well I can now make water using our water maker and I can hook up the fittings for the washing machine independently to do the laundry without help.  These two things don’t sound like much but there are a surprising number of steps to doing both of these things successfully.  I was finally able to start the dinghy on my own in Culebra (once but I consider this an accomplishment as it is hard to start!) And I continue to work on my anxiety on being at the helm in more challenging conditions.  I typically am at the helm while Bob is on the bow while we raise the anchor.  It can be anxiety provoking (what isn’t?!?) for me if we are navigating out of an anchorage and the conditions are sloppy, the cut is small, or there are hazards to navigation, i.e. rocks, coral, reef, etc… Meraviglia is 47 feet long, 14 feet wide, and has a displacement of 32,000 pounds.  All that to say she is a big girl and it can feel like a lot to keep her and us safe. Previously, I have asked Bob to come take the helm if the conditions felt challenging.  But I also know logically that I have to build my experience to reduce my anxiety so I need to push myself a bit.  Yesterday when leaving Culebrita we had some spicy conditions with some big waves and I pushed myself to stay at the helm instead of handing her off to Bob.  And you know what? We successfully got off anchor, out of the anchorage, and got through the worst of the spicy conditions with me at the helm. 

I know we will have many other situations that will challenge me, raise my anxiety, and push me out of my comfort zone.  But I hope the more I stretch myself, the more confidence I will have and create a better balance for Bob and I.  Docking practice is definitely on the horizon with some great suggestions from sailingtotem.com on how to work on this in a less threatening way (for both the hull and me!) So I will continue working on being a confident sailing woman as we continue our journey through the Caribbean! #womenwhosail