Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are we 100% comfortable with heading to sea?

Last night after dinner, Chris brought me out into the cockpit where we sat and enjoyed the moonlight. About a month, now, until we shove off and head to sea. For real.  He turned to me and asked with the most profound seriousness:

"I want to make sure that you are completely comfortable with what we are about to do. I promised your father I would take care of you, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I want to make sure that you are 100% sure that you feel safe."

I was sort of shocked. I thought long and hard about my response. First of all, I never feel completely safe, even living here in comfortable SoCal. Life is filled with risks, with dangers, with concerns.

I'm not stupid, however. I realize that sailing to Mexico and the South Pacific does increase our risk quotient. But when I'm anxious about something, I've learned that the best way to deal with my anxiety is with knowledge. Information. Facts.

Lately, I've been studying the blogs of families who are currently sailing the planet. There are thousands of them! My rationale is this: if I think I'm nervous about cruising Mexico and beyond, how does a mother feel doing it with her adorable little toehead children aboard? How do they even sleep at night?

What I've found, surprisingly, is that family after family says that, believe it or not, 99% of the time they do NOT feel vulnerable. They do not feel at risk.

On the contrary, they are having the time of their lives and experiencing a freedom and joy that they never thought possible.

Here are some photos from all over the world, and quotes from family sailing blogs:

Never too young to help Mom and Dad with lookout!

"The biggest challenge is the mental hurdle of getting past all the things that say “you can't do this!”- from family, to friends, to society in general."  -- cruising family

Kids just being kids in Fiji.

A young girl gets some sun and enjoys the best spot on the boat in the South Pacific!

"OK, kids, next time it'll be your turn to reel it in!"

 "At the risk of sounding trite - GO!
Everything, everyone, tells you that you can't… but as long as you have the means to put yourself in a safe boat, and can be patient and slow about a learning curve, anyone can go."  -- cruising family

"There are so many other boats with children out cruising right now, it's easy to find playmates." -- cruising family 

"GET OUT AND DO IT. It is important to realize your dream, and doing it with your kids is something really special. It can be for a year or for 10 years. The most important thing is to try, to face all the challenges, to be proud steering away, and to be out there as a close and united family.
Get out there and enjoy the open ocean and new faces." -- cruising family

Teaching Jr. how to fillet the day's catch.

Photo after photo I've seen shows happy families blending from all different cultures.

"Our biggest challenge was to cast off, at last, after all the preparation, after all the anticipation, after all the worry and commotion of leaving so much we knew and loved. BUT, once our sails filled as we sailed out the breakwater, after our waving goodbye to loved ones on the pier, and the first green water covered the bow, the cobwebs were blown away, the only thing to think about was the next landfall, the next meal, the navigation and the weather!
Our dreams were alive, our fears left behind, and our adventure had begun for all of us!" -- cruising family

These kids are clearly having a terrible time and are fraught with fear in Tonga (NOT).

Never too tiny to don that cute toddler foul-weather gear.

Photo after photo of the cruising community shows that cruising is truly a family affair. There seem to be happy sailing kids all over the planet swimming, building sandcastles and forts with the local kids.

"I truly think after many years of sailing with our children that this was the very BEST thing in the whole world we could do as a family! There is no doubt that both Sammy and Jamie want to do this with their families when they have them. And if that isn’t a testament to the lifestyle, nothing is!" -- cruising family

"At anchor our nights always ended with everyone in the cockpit and Andy teaching all of us about the stars, the planets, the comets, and the moon. The heavenly constellations became our friends and companions. " -- cruising family

  Halloween is clearly as big a deal for the kids in the  cruising world as it is stateside.

 "If you're thinking about doing it in any serious way, then just do it.
Don't dwell overmuch on the fears, what the family back home thinks, what neighbors say. You can never anticipate or plan for every eventuality. At some point you just have to make the decision to plunge in and keep going. Take that scary leap and go.  And trust that you will be joining the world of people/families who've dared to pursue this worthy dream for all the good reasons you will eventually learn for yourself. " -- cruising family

 "Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through us all the time. This is not a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God, forget ourselves, we see it." -- Thomas Merton

Clearly this is a recurring issue with little landlubber me: (see: "How Safe IS Mexico?"
So. Am I ready? Oh, yes. Ready as I'll ever be, baby! :-)

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