After the ups and downs of the last couple of weeks, I’ve been brilliantly happy for the last 5 days: slurping raw oysters, drinking bottles of crisp white wine, kayaking, a bit of yoga on the beach.
Am I that shallow that all it takes to change my outlook is a few days of beautiful weather and a gorgeous resort? Perhaps, but I can’t imagine who wouldn’t be happy here. The Tides Inn, in Irvington, Virginia is a special place for boaters on the Chesapeake, and off season, it is quite affordable (it cost us just $145 a night, though we did bring our own accommodations). These last few days have been, simply, some of the best in recent memory, filling me with warmth, security, great food, and peace of mind.
And yet (there is always the “and yet…”), there is a nagging feeling of terror which belies even my happiest moments. It’s there, under the surface, bubbling up almost as fast as I can push it down. I know what’s coming, and it’s coming soon. Every day of paradise brings me closer to potential hell. Soon after everyone else’s goblins have been put to bed, mine will emerge. Around November 2, will be leaving for our long passage from Hampton, Virginia to Antigua, at sea for 10-12 days.
I’m not scared of boredom, or being cold, or getting seasick, or lack of exercise, but I have 5 pretty overwhelming fears about this passage. Here they are:
- Dying. No one has to remind me of the dangers of an offshore passage. Just ask Mike if you think I don’t know. I speak of the dangers when I lieth down in my cabin at night and when I riseth up at dawn. I think of the dangers when we putteth down the anchor, and when we pulleth up. The dangers are written on my nail bitten hands, and they are like signs on the doorposts of my mind: Death from falling overboard and drowning, Death from heart attack, Death from choking, Death from swarms of killer bees or flying fish (this may be a bit dramatic). My fear of dying is not a generalized one, and it is so much more intense than at any time during my treatments for breast cancer. It’s specific, it’s here and it’s now. Perhaps it’s like how a bungee jumper must feel as she walks off the platform-knowing that she might die, but with any luck and the right equipment, she probably won’t. We are totally prepared for this ocean voyage. We have the most up to date equipment. We have the best weather forecasters on the planet to guide us. And yet, everyone I have talked to about this passage has said, “there will be long periods of boredom, punctuated by moments of terror, where you are pretty sure you are going to die… but you won’t.” Let me just say, this does not comfort me.
- Becoming Unhinged Because I am 100% Disconnected. No phone, no email, no text, no New York Times on line, no Twitter, No Instagram, no Words With Friends…for 10-12 days. I may go insane. Or I may really like it. But chances are, I’m gonna go insane.
- Being trapped on 49 feet with strangers I can’t stomach for even one more minute. We are bringing on two in crew that we don’t really know. When I say we don’t really know them, what I mean is we don’t know them at all, because we have not met. What if they don’t stop talking? What if they don’t talk at all? What if they smell (hell, I smell most of the time on the boat, so who could blame them?) What if they are Trump fans? What if they play crap music? What if they hear me fart? What if they plan a mutiny? (Again, perhaps I am being a tad dramatic.)
- Acting Like a Big Baby. I want to be tough. I want to be strong. I want to be a full member of the crew. My fear is I will crumble under my own anxiety.
- Forgetting. I am scared that my anxiety will erase all the wonderful things that have happened so far: Sailing down the East River, preparing dinner as the sun sets over the ocean, the sparkling of the water on a sunny day, the smell of low tide, the fragrance of the flowers on a morning walk, the chirp of the cicadas, the flapping of the American flag, a glass of cold white wine on the deck on a hot afternoon, and how nice people have been to us- cruisers and strangers alike, on the shores of this beautiful Chesapeake bay. I hope I will not forget what it is to feel secure, to be happy in nature, and what it is like to sleep without being tossed around.
If preparations and anxiety allow, I will be able to write one more time before I leave on this passage, and then if all goes as planned, I will report in after the passage is over. Be sure to stay tuned. I hope to talk to some other women who are doing this, and may have done this before, and see if they are as nuts as I am. And if you forgot why I am doing this in the first place, click here.