When was the last time you were actually shit-scared that you wouldn’t be able to do something? That you were going to stuff it up? Did you think, how the hell did I end up here?!
I love sailing. It is one of my absolute favourite ways to relax, and I’m lucky enough to have been doing it all my life, thanks to my exceptionally salty parents. But last summer I thought I may have bitten off more than I could chew when my Mum and I decided to take the boat out on our own – with two enthusiastic ‘crew’ in the form of my then 15 month old son, and our hairy little mongrel Scout.
The funny thing is, I wouldn’t have been too concerned if it had just been Mum and me, but because of the added responsibility of keeping said child safe (not to mention stopping the dog from barking at pirates) I really felt the pressure! And it’d been quite a while since I felt that tied up in knots inside. I kept telling myself it was ridiculous to feel this way, the Little One would be just fine in his infant lifejacket and tied to the cockpit table (yes really…on a long lead!) and Mum and I knew what we were doing.
But. I thought back to the time when we were racing once and the steering cable broke. With no steerage and full sail up we just kept rounding up into the wind and coming around in a circle, sheets flailing and sails cracking and whippeting. We narrowly avoided hitting any other boats and had to radio the coastguard to tow us back into port. What if?!
And in the past, I have also been on board two yachts that had dropped their rigs (ie, the mast fell down). “When was the last time we had the rig checked?” I asked Mum, clutching Little One a wee bit tighter.
Then there was the time the dog had eaten something truly foul on the beach, and then at 2am was scrabbling at the washboards, pacing the decks, and finally selecting the anchor locker up at the bow to release it all out of her backside. Never again?!
My husband always laughs at my ‘worst case scenarios’. I like to be prepared 😉
But there we were, manoeuvring out of the marina berth, toddler buoyant and restrained, dog sniffing the air, Mum at the helm, me dropping the lines…heart thudding, can we do this? ‘COURSE we can,’ bellowed Mum from the cockpit, ‘girls can do anything!’ ‘Yup!’ I replied, smiling weakly, fake-it-til-you-make-it. ‘Let’s get the main up!’
The thing was, I really WANTED to be able to do it. I was terrified. But I knew that once we got that first weekend out of the way, and got all our little systems in place for docking, anchoring, hoisting and dropping sails, launching the dinghy etc all with child kept safe and dog out of the way, we would be away for the summer. We wanted to be able to go sailing at short notice, and we didn’t want to have to rely on other crew to help us out. So I had to just swallow that big lump in my throat and try to be confident in both my sailing skills and my mothering ability. And we did it! I can’t tell you how empowering it was to get that boat back into the marina and know that we really could getaway on our own. We didn’t break anything! Little One had the time of his life! Girls CAN do anything! The rest of the summer stretched ahead, and I felt so proud of my Mum who was brave enough to take this on with me.
Spring is here and the boat has been neglected over the cold winter. But as the days get longer and warmer, I’m getting seriously excited about being afloat again. I think back to that weekend of being chucked into the deep end and now it makes me smile.
So, feel the fear and do it anyway. What are you going to throw yourself into?
Calling all outdoorsy mamas!
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