I let fear get in the way of a sailing adventure
If you want to experience owning a boat, go into a small, dark closet with a large, wet dog, and tear up 100-dollar bills. Ask any boat owner if this is true, and you will most likely receive a grim nod and a wry smile. However, if you are smart, you can experience the joys and trials of boating life without having to tear through your savings. It’s simple: sail on someone else’s boat. “Sailing around the world for free” by Julia Miller.
I was surfing online recently and found a sailboat looking for 2 crew members. Adventure always piques my interest, and learning to sail is on my bucket-list, so I sent off an email inquiring. A few days later, I got an email back, the boat was in Tahiti about to embark on a trip to Ecuador. The couple living on the boat is young (my age), and married. He is Australian, and the boat captain. She is Portuguese and the hostess/cook. The job is unpaid, but you get free passage to Ecuador, and sailing experience for 2 months, and free food/lodging in exchange for basic cleaning and keeping watch for 3 hour shifts.
This seemed like a good deal. Other experiences like this I had seen posted online were also unpaid, where you had to contribute to food and running costs. The boat was a good one too, a ’64 Ketch, I checked with my fearless sailing buddy
The only things bothering me were the length of the trip, the fact that it was against the weather, and with a married couple I hadn’t spoken to yet.
We emailed back-and-forth a few times, I let them know I had just arrived home, but was keen to get going again soon. I had to make my way to South America within the next few months anyway, so I checked out flights from Perth to Tahiti. $2000. A bit rich.
I did some more research, and managed to get the price down to $1200 with a 10-hour layover in Auckland. That’s the problem with last-minute tickets.
I came back to Australia as a surprise for my Dads 60th birthday, only to find out after booking the tickets that he went to New Zealand for his birthday. So, I’ve been back a week, and haven’t seen the old boy in a year. I checked the departure date with my possible new crew mates, and they wanted to leave Tahiti March 6. I talked them into March 10 to give me a few more days to explore Tahiti. You don’t want to say you flew to Tahiti to leave the very next morning. Right? They were pretty keen to set sail, and wouldn’t budge beyond March 10. Dads flight back to Australia is March 10. Maybe I could catch up with him in Auckland airport during my 10 hour layover?
I arranged to call the boat on a local number they gave me. I called yesterday at 8pm Tahiti time. The conversation was awkward, like they were surprised to hear from me. I told them I’d be calling soon. They should’ve been expecting me surely?
“Hello… it’s Ian”
“Hello, can you hear me?”
“Hello. Yes I can hear you.”
“Hello. is this The Lady of the Boat? It’s Ian. I’m calling about the crew job sailing from Tahiti to Ecuador. I’ve been emailing you about it.”
“Oh! Hello. We don’t have good reception here; give me a minute..”
*1 minute later, calls cost ticking up*
“Hello. Yes that’s better… Listen… now’s not a great time. It’s really late…”
*check the online time again. still 8pm*
“Oh OK. What time is it? I can call back if you like”
“It’s 8pm. Yes, if you could call back in the morning, that would be good. Call back at 9am”
*that’s 3am my time*
It just didn’t feel right. I mean, I don’t know the circumstances. But a minute pause. Conversation. It’s late? 8pm. Do I want to sail 2 months alone on a boat with people who think 8pm is late? Maybe because they are most-likely moored in Tahiti, 8pm is difficult to hold a conversation on a yacht? I have no idea. I’m not a sailor.
i managed to get a few hours sleep before 3am, where I dreamt about pirates. Seriously.
At 3am I booted up Skype to make the call (to her mobile), but chickened out.
I never called back. I do what most sane people do at 3am, I went back to sleep. Fear got the better of me.
If I want to make their March 10 leaving date, I’d have to get a flight out on March 7. The price was $1000 4 days ago, then $1200 yesterday, and $1400 today. Gah!
Plus, I don’t have anything packed, I don’t even have a new pack (going with a smaller backpack this trip), I don’t have a plan for South America, I haven’t seen my Dad.
As much as I want an adventure, to take a risk, and to have another trip of a lifetime, I don’t want to feel rushed. I don’t want to regret it after sitting bored on a boat with people I may not get along with for 2 months. Yes, fear. Excuses. It’s a bitch! All of those “what ifs” coming back into play.
The last time I took a crazy big risk based on an email or two in a foreign country resulted in one perfect day. Now all I can do is wonder what would have happened with this one?
Even experienced travellers face fears. Usually we just put up a bravado facade and charge ahead with the plan anyway thinking “whats the worst that could happen?” Try it, it really works. But in the middle of the ocean, with no land about, strangers for fellow crew-mates, the possibility of sharks and pirates… I let my “whats the worst that could happen?” fears get the better of me.
Will I regret it?
“what fears are you facing? what fears are holding you back from living your dream? what would you do if you were not afraid?”