The Scariest Things About Sailing

The Scariest Things About Sailing, The Scariest Things About Sailing

This weekend, I’m presenting a womens’ seminar about sailing in Annapolis at the World Cruising Club Bluewater Open Day. They’re all about safety – and so am I. My nickname is even “The Prudent Mariner!” This January, I presented to the American Sailing Association webinar about Safety at Sea. While a lot of topics were discussed, the fact that some situations are scary was not mentioned. I think it was because I was teaching exactly how to train for a variety of circumstances when there’s no time for emotion.

All this got me thinking about what is the scariest situation on a boat, because I’m trying to predict what the women in this weekend’s sessions will ask. Here are what I would say, and what I think you will say. If there’s something that worries you; please put it in the comments below. I’d like to hear what keeps you up at night.

  1. Fire.
  2. Something makes a big hole in the hull.
  3. Big waves. (that may cause #4 and #5)
  4. Seasick or injury.
  5. Equipment failure.
  6. Lightening, storms, hurricanes.
  7. Sailing at night.
  8. Making up the V-berth.

Anxiety is proven to disproportionately affect women; we are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men. My husband is great about categorizing situations for ease of mind – those you can do something about, and those you cannot. An example of something you can do something about is training for rough weather. An example of something you can’t do much about is bad weather.

So, on a sailing vessel, I firmly believe you will be less concerned if you have done something about the potential trouble. That means training for rough weather, having a plan for fighting fire, and practicing what each person will do in every potential situation. Once you have a plan for one situation; many aspects of that plan will naturally be useful for other tricky situations.

For more ideas on how to slowly increase the intensity of your practice, head over to my YouTube channel for any of the “Prudent Mariner” series where I show what to practice and how to practice.

Here are my top tips:

Determine what gives you anxiety, and train for that.

Remember what situations you have successfully overcome. Apply the same determination to new ones.

Get rest, eat food, drink water.

Communicate your needs and your concerns. Share the mental load of those worries.

Physical training – add in yoga, running, walking, lifting weights; anything to make you stronger and more able.

Mental training – educate yourself so you will know what to do, then you will be less fearful.

Exposure to situations – heavier winds, larger seas, slowly and under control.

Practice worst-case scenarios on a gradually increasing level of intensity. At the dock, then on the water.

Knowledge of your boat and gear gives you options to improvise based on the need(s) of a situation.

Listen to the little voice in your head, because remember; the ocean will find all your mistakes.

Want to Learn to Sail? Already know? After 50 years of sailing, I still had some things to learn from these two highly recommended books:

The Complete Sailor by David Seidman

The Craft of Sail: A Primer of Sailing by Jan Adkins

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The Scariest Things About Sailing, The Scariest Things About Sailing

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