sleeping beauty insomnia

I work myself into a bit of a coo-coo state whenever I have any big event or challenge coming up. I justify every little heart palpitation and sleepless night –because every worry is based in reality- and we all know that Shit Happens. The anticipation of this recent sailing passage from Grenada to Bonaire was no different: What if Mike has a heart attack? What if we get hit with a rogue wave? What if I accidentally pour hot coffee all over myself and I get third degree burns all over my body?

The reality is that none of the things one actually worries about really happen (so I try to worry about absolutely everything) and this passage was no exception. Nothing bad happened, other than I burned the left side of my upper lip when I drank my very hot coffee from a sippy cup. But I have done that in the car, so I am not sure that counts as a boating accident. Suffice it to say, I had more injuries and more messy cleanups closer to land.

In between some pretty nasty squalls, I watched Mike’s beard grow. We read our novels and we listened to many hours of the extremely long and scary Steven King Audible book,“It (this would be an amazing read for a super long car ride). I had interesting conversations with a feathery friend that kept us company as he hopped back and forth from foredeck to life line. We cleaned flying fish off the deck, enjoyed dolphins swimming alongside, and were frustrated by not even a nibble on the fishing line. We arrived in Bonaire (an amazing island) whole and in remarkably good spirits.

Once secure, I strutted around the dock like a drunken sailor, dizzy with land-sickness, or MdDS, for an hour or two, thinking we had really accomplished something. And then I met Sharon.

Sharon is a woman with a bad hip in her mid seventies. She is on a 41 foot Catamaran, which was docked across from Exodus. She sails only with Tom, her cat. She bought her boat when she was in her late 60’s, not really knowing how to sail, moved aboard, and headed out to sea. That was about 7 years ago. She has been sailing solo since.

Sharon limits her passages alone to three days, during which she takes catnaps of 10 minutes or so. Except for that one time when her autopilot broke, and she could take no breaks. She described in detail hallucinating Russian dancers at the entrance to the harbor. She was sure they were there, but they didn’t appear on her radar, so she plowed right through them (they parted for her like the Red Sea).

It’s seems that just when we are feeling like we have conquered the world, we meet someone who puts our own accomplishments into perspective. We got right off that high horse.

But most importantly, from this adventure I did learn the recipe for getting over 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which I am happy to share:


5 sleepless nights filled with anticipation anxiety (you can find this in most mid-life women)

3 nights of no more than two hours consecutive sleep

Hours of boredom interrupted by a frenzy of activity

1 glass of white wine

Slight dehydration (prevents the waking up to pee syndrome)

A soft pillow and a secure home


Lie down on that pillow at 7:00 PM.

Wake up at 5AM.

I can say without a doubt that the best part of this small passage was the coma-like sleep at the end. It’s been decades since I slept like that.

The journey was worth it for that alone (but Bonaire ain’t so bad either…).




How To Get 10 Hours of Uninterrupted Sleep (and other lessons from a 3-day passage) was last modified: by

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