Climbing

Climbing higher and higher,
the weight of the world feeling lighter and lighter

With each pull I am hoisted up With each inch my heart skips a beat
With each missed beat I feel relief because nothing is as bad as my mind makes it seem

Taking in the stunning view, I held my breath Conquering my fears one moment of discomfort at a time

With each pull I feel stronger and stronger, the sickening pit of nerves in my stomach staying calm for longer and longer

When I got to the top the world stood still but my shaking hands still had a task to fulfill
I was up there for a reason but I couldn’t remember what
Overcome with emotions swirling in my gut

In the end I remembered to make sure the rigging looked good
And even though it was a fight to get me up there only memories of the beauty withstood

The Language of Sailing

Below is a list I compiled of basic sailing terminology that I quickly had to learn upon moving aboard ZV. A lot of these words I had never heard in my 26 years of life. I will continue to update this list as it grows.

  1. Port and Starboard: left and right. (Tip: remember left/port both have 4 letters right/starboard do not)
  1. Head sail: also referred to as the jib or Genoa. The sail on the bow of the boat.
  2. Mainsail: the sail connected to the mast of the vessel.
  3. Companion way: the stairs leading below deck
  4. Cabins: bedrooms
  5. Head: bathroom
  6. Lazarettes: storage lockers in the cockpit and on the swim platform used for storage
  7. Anchor snubber: a line attached to a cleat and hooked onto the anchor chain when it is dropped. It’s purpose is to reduce tension on the chain.
  8. Windlass: mechanical doodad that pulls in the anchor
  9. Cleat: stainless steel post used to tie off lines to
  10. Running lights:red and green lights located on the sides of a vessel, turned on while in motion to indicate leaving and returning
  11. Spreader lights: high power lights that illuminate the deck
  12. Bimini: cover above the steering wheel
  13. Dodger: cover above the companion way
  14. Hatch: glass windows that open and form a sealwhen closed
  15. Thru Hull: a pipe that goes out of the boat through the hull ex:sink and toilet
  16. Main Halyard: line that goes to the top of the mast. Raises mainsail. (Halyard lines can be located in different places on boat so always refer to it as “____” halyard)
  17. Jib/Genoa/Headsail: same thing
  18. Tack: pull the port side lines to bring headsail into the wind
  19. Jibe: pull starboard lines to bring head sail into the wind
Beneteau Oceanis 430

The Ugly Truth

This one is hard for me to write because it’s not a lesson I’m proud I needed to learn. When we first got Squid (our dinghy), ZV was on anchor at the outer edge of the mooring field, roughly a 15 minute ride from shore. I, having incredibly little experience, had only been in a boat with an outboard motor on a few other occasions in my lifetime. The first few times I watched the motor being started it looked easy enough. That being said, I had never even started a lawnmower before. So how could I really know? Well turns out I didn’t know. On my first attempt I sat there for 10 minutes yanking that cord, growing increasingly frustrated until I threw in the towel. Dramatically, I threw my hands in the air and exclaimed that I would “NEVER” get this stupid thing to work. And so it began.

Not being physically able to start that damn motor frustrated me beyond belief. If no one was around I could usually get it started after a handful of attempts. If we were leaving the boat ramp, or in another public location, my frustration would turn into embarrassment overs others seeing my failure. The overwhelming feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and inadequacy often pushed me to the point of tears and I would shut down. Not only was I giving up on myself, I was giving up (and often times getting angry at) Austin, who was working hard to teach me the necessary skills involved in boating.

Logically, I understand there is no shame in being a beginner and learning as I go. Logic stopped mattering when faced with a seemingly impossible task. I felt attacked and put on the spot. I’d get defensive and rude. It took me a few weeks to really look at my behavior and realize the outboard motor wasn’t the problem.. I was. This attitude I had been developing towards difficult tasks was stopping me from absorbing the knowledge I needed to know. To defeat this attitude, I had to identify the root cause of my mental block and  let go of my ego.

There are still a lot of times where I get combative when learning something new. It’s something I struggle with and I’m constantly working on. At least it’s a behavior I recognize now. Being put in such a high pressure situation forces me to work on aspects of myself I don’t put much thought into regularly. For that I’m incredibly grateful. I’m incredibly proud of the hard work I am putting in, not only on the boat, but in myself as well.

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed- I can now start that motor up, no problem!

Captain Austin proudly displaying his newly caught fish from The Squid