Controlling Fear While Cruising
This article is a followup on my previous post about the virtues of logic and emotional control.
I believe that fear is an ever present companion for people that choose a life of cruising. “Did I set the anchor properly? What is the weather doing? What if the winds pick up overnight? Is my anchor alarm working properly?” These are just a few of the fear based questions that makes me hesistate to adopt a cruising lifestyle. They are questions that consistently keep me up at night when away from the dock.
There is both a short term and a long term way to deal with these fears. The short term solution is simply experience. If you’ve spent five days at anchor, you’re probably going to be fine for the sixth day. It sounds naive, but I’ve actually met cruisers who think this way. They don’t bother to consistently check weather reports. These people also tend to have great tales of times they barely escaped calamity. Luckily for them, the San Juan’s is a pretty forgiving place, weather wise.
The long term solution is to use a logical marine safety checklist. By consistently implementing a checklist of safe practices, you can trust your experience. I am very consistent in applying my own marine safety checklist, and as a result, have very few harrowing tails of escape.
When emergencies do arise (and they do arise), it’s even more important to exert emotional control and think logically about the situation. If you are consistent about implimenting a marine safety checklist, then you will be much better off assessing the situation and dealing with it quickly and efficiently.
Some people are naturally better at this than others. But with practice and accrued boating experience, everyone improves. Dave Martin speaks about his ability to ‘focus’ more sharply as situations get more dire in his book Into the Light. After a lifetime of safely navigating the worlds oceans, its safe to assume that he’s gotten very good at implementing logic and emotional control in a sticky situation.
The point is that fear can never be eliminated, it can only be controlled. Fear must be overcome in order to pursue a life of cruising. I have to constantly assuage my fears as my cruising date draws closer. By improving the safety systems on the Rock ‘n Row and consistently applying my marine safety checklist, I am applying logic to overcome my fear.