Self-doubt and the sexy sailing hook

I’ve heard that there are many boats for sale in Panama. Many of these boats are owned by would-be circumnavigators who, after arriving in Panama, decided they had had enough. It was time to stop. They simply didn’t enjoy cruising as much as they had thought.

Another source tells me that boats in Panama are not actually abandoned. Instead, the boats are seized because people cannot afford the levies requested by corrupt authorities.

Either way, it’s a grim story.

I wonder what happens to the blogs of these would-be sailors. Do the blogs abruptly end? Did they start off happily, determined to realize their dreams? Did they have fears? Did they write about them?

I’ve been reading the book “Kids in the Cockpit“, and am facing my own Panama moment. Frankly I have to wonder where the fun begins. I have just finished the section on life jackets and safety. Author Jill Schinas details at length how children’s’ life jackets might fair in rough seas. To me, the section reads like a horror novel.

Yet, to counterbalance my own reaction, Amazon reviewer, Timothy Downs, writes:

An excellent resource for the sailing/cruising family. This book address’ all my questions and concerns regarding a safe, happy, and enriched family life at sea.

Another Amazon reviewer writes:

The author makes concrete suggestions on caring for youngsters aboard, not just for their physical well-being but also for their mental well-being. I really appreciated the discussions regarding harnesses v. life jackets, and suggestions for manufacturers of children’s safety equipment.

I’m assuming that the reviewers have some experience as sailors. Given that I have no sailing experience, I don’t think I’d be taking this trip seriously if I didn’t have concerns and doubts.

Having doubts while pursuing a dream is discomforting. But, revealing doubts is almost taboo. Blogger, mommy sailor and would-be circumnavigator, Charlotte Kaufman exposed her fears in her blog, “Rebel Heart” when she wrote:

I think this may be the stupidest thing we have ever done….It is a difficult self-imposed isolation that is completely worth it.

Ouch. Later, she was skewered by the press, other sailors, and I’m not kidding – a fishermen from Oceanside, CA who owned a bait shop – after she had requested emergency medical treatment for one of her children. The story entitled “Rescued mother had doubts about sailing adventure” was published in The Seattle Times in 2014. The story exposes that she had doubts. Naughty.

In 2010, in the originally named story, “Australian round-the-world teen sailor had doubts”  the Seattle Times notes that then sixteen-year-old sailor, Jessica Watson, acknowledged that she had doubted her abilities before her solo circumnavigation. She had said:

I knew I could do it, but there was just that niggling doubt … but yeah, it was fine in the end, obviously.

In this case, the hero with the flawed sense of self makes for good reading material. But, in both cases, it was the element of self-doubt that created the hook that drew the reader in.

To this end, I hope my own narrative does not disappoint.

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