The Thing That Scares Me Most About Cruising

What do you think I’m going to say?  What would you say, those of you out there cruising?  I’m really curious, so please share.  For me, it’s docking.  Yes, dammit, still docking.  Granted, with practice I am getting better and I am intensely pushing myself to be brave and try and just say “It’s okay if you bump something, we can fix it.”  Those things are easy to say, but not so easy to act out in real life.  I hate that I get all jittery and panicked.  My hands and leg muscles shake.  My eyes become stupid huge saucers.  It’s like I’m having a mini-heart attack.  Why?!

I really am just venting here because it irritates me that I get myself all worked up into such a state of terror at the sight of pilings, piers and other boats.  A part of it is the thought of damaging our Niagara because that would royally suck.  But a bigger part (I believe) is damaging someone else’s boat.  Wrecking my dreams is one thing, but wrecking another’s by plowing a huge hole in their stern makes me sick to my stomach.

Then there’s the thought of disappointing Phillip.  I know this is all internal because he is immensely proud of me and I am a very lucky gal because he tells me this often, but that doesn’t mean a huge part of everything I do is still intended to impress him.  The thought of me turning to starboard when he says “Turn to port!” and crashing our bow into concrete makes me feel so embarrassed and sad for him.  What a crappy mate he has!  And, why would I turn to starboard when he says port?  Because I am literally in that moment an absolute nervous wreck.  Port is starboard.  Forward is reverse.  I’m panicked, remember?  A babbling idiot.  It really is quite embarrassing.  And almost inexplicable.  I’ve been in some pretty gnarly stuff out in the Gulf and the Atlantic—winds of 43 on the nose, 15-foot seas—but it has never made me feel like docking does.  This instant on-set, heart-pounding dread.

Many of you may have already seen this candid, unedited video we posted to Facebook of my first de-docking that—in my mind—didn’t go so well.  But, as Phillip says: “If we didn’t hit anything and nothing’s broke, it went well.”  But I had not yet published it on the blog, so I wanted to share it here, as well as a few other docking incidences we’ve racked up in the last couple of weeks while putting me more on the helm as I believe each one is a lesson and a confidence builder.

Here is my first (very scary, very harrowing, shockingly near-miss) de-docking out of Key West:

Undeterred, we continued to put Annie on the helm and let her try her hand at docking against the fuel dock in Venice in some rather calm conditions.  Thank goodness!  The winds were light and I had a moderate tide pushing against the boat and keeping my speed down along with some great instruction from Phillip about making sure to err away from the dock because the wind would easily and quickly push me toward it.  (Oh, and some fantastic dock hands that helped us as well.  I will never be ashamed to ask for hands on the dock to help grab lines.  “Save my baby!”):

So, Annie did good there.  We didn’t hit anything and nothing got broke.  Gold star.  But, our next docking opportunity was a very telling one.  A thankfully-successful, but rather-difficult docking by Phillip.  The winds were blowing about 15 kts with a very strong current pushing in the same direction.  Phillip still wanted me to try it because “You’re going to have to dock in these conditions someday.”  While that is most definitely true, I was a little reluctant but was willing to try because Phillip is right (and, remember, I still want to impress him).  After about a ten-minute discussion with the dock hand talking us through all of the dangers, the conditions to pay attention to, the best approach and how quickly the boat could get sideways in the slip if I “undershot it” (which I wasn’t quite sure what that even meant), I was—needless to say—more than nervous.  But, I was still going to do it right?  Right, let’s go.

You’ll see, however, in the video, that just backing off the fuel dock, I’m completely petrified, shaking hands and legs, not sure which way to even turn the wheel to control the stern in reverse.  I throw it all the way over hard to port then back to starboard, then back to port again.  I’m a mess.  Phillip was initially on deck, but when he made his way back to the helm, he could see the terror in my eyes and the lack of focus and confidence to truly handle this docking, so he took the wheel.  And nailed it!

Five thousand gold stars for Phillip.  Another successful docking!  We didn’t hit anything and nothing got broke.  Again!  So, I should now be all rainbows and sunshine, right?

I’m not.  I’m pissed.  Furious.  In a fuming cloud of funk.

Why?  The answer is embarrassingly stupid.  It’s not because I got too nervous to do it.  This was a very tricky docking situation with winds and current pushing in the same direction, up against the pier in a narrow, short finger-piered slip.  While I will have to handle those conditions someday, I know I am not yet experienced enough to handle that one confidently just yet.  Giving up the wheel wasn’t the issue.  I was totally comfortable with that.  I’m infuriated because we’re docked, everything’s fine, and I’m the only one who’s all Petrified Patty about it.  It is only my heart that is beating through the bones of my chest.  Only my hands that are shaking like a junkie in detox.  I’m the only one who’s freaked out.  Me.  Annie.  Everyone else is all: “Great, we’re here.”  “Good job Captain.”  “Where did you guys come in from?”  And I want to scream: “From the fuel dock just over there and we almost crashed!  Didn’t you see?!  I can’t just chit-chat with you right now!”  I hate that I’m a nervous, frustrated wreck and I’m so mad at myself about it.  But that is what I feel in the moment, when we have a hairy docking—even a successful one—and it takes me a while to calm down.

Perhaps this is just a personal venting, or perhaps many of you feel this way.  Do you?

All I can say is: It’s frustrating and embarrassing, but I’m working on it.  Annie Raw.  Out.

Posted in Docking Debacles | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Congratulations Annie!  Today is your day.

You fly to Key West on a plane.  Up and away.

 

Your gallant Niagara awaits.  She’s ecstatic for you to see

Jeweled-toned waters, lush shores, a million adventures to windward and lee.

Oh the spellbinding places you’ll go.  You she will carry.

And she’ll show you, the helm is really not that scary.

 

You have gumption in your soul and salt in your veins,

Courage to follow your path, this way or that, even change lanes.

 

And lucky you, lucky you.  Lucky heart, lucky brain

Because you’ve got a partner who you know will remain

Beside you, to help guide you when you’re choked in a fog.

When you’re slumped in a funk, a real bump on a log.

He’ll hold your hand, sopping wet, through the pain

When clouds sometimes find you, because they will, and it just has to rain.

 

Lucky you!  Lucky you!  You’ve got air in your lungs!

Your dreams are all achievable if you just climb the rungs.

Grateful you can, climb you must.  Soar you will!

Because you’ve decided to spend time, only time, and chase what is real.

 

Your life is your own, because you’ve made it so

And only you can decide which way you want to go.

Turn right.  Turn left.  Turn three-quarters and ninety degrees.

The great thing is it doesn’t matter, because wherever you go, there you will be.

 

You, lucky you, the open ocean ahead.

No fear, no regrets, no sense of dread.

In your future you see, challenges and victories,

Big belly laughs in the amount of 4,003.

 

Today is your day.  Launch your new adventure.

No GoPro.  No mic.  No video indenture.

Words, pure words, and the simplicity of pictures.

 

You, lucky YOU, just wait and see.

What lies ahead with this boat

This man and the wild, open sea.

This was mine and Phillip’s first photo together underway, bringing our Niagara home across the Gulf for the first time in April, 2013.  Here’s to many more firsts my love.  

Let’s go.  I’m in.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

I Believe in Words

I think we all reach a crossroads in our lives.  When somethings strikes you.  Bolts through your chest, lights your nerves on fire and smacks you right outside of your skin.  Then you’re standing there, completely exposed, wearing your true desires now on the outside rather than in, and you see your life with a new perspective.  “Am I really pursuing my dreams?” you ask yourself.  “Is this still making me the happiest I can be?”  Doubt puts a haunting hand on your cheek and turns your face to the left, then to the right and alternative paths begin to form in your field of vision.  They lead to big, frightening dreams, grand adventures, risks, rewards maybe even regrets and failures.  There is no right answer and there is no guarantee, but now—for the first time—you see an intersection and you don’t know which way yet to go.

Wow, that sounds pretty dramatic.  Sometimes it can feel that way.  That big and scary.  Some moments in your life are that powerful and the decisions you make afterward are the hardest you have ever faced.  I wrote about that moment in my life in my book Keys to the Kingdom and how it led me to quit something I had been very devoted to and to which I had given a great deal of my time and efforts (the practice of law) in order to pursue another path: cruising.  I recently had another mini-moment like that.  When something slapped the sense out of me and made me see my current situation in a new light, or perhaps I should say in a shadow.  A cave.

I was staying on our boat alone down in the Keys for a couple of weeks while Phillip was handling a trial and some other matters in Pensacola and we were gearing up to sail together to the Miami Boat Show on Libra.  Many of you know, offshore sailing is one of my most intense passions.  To me, there is nothing as beautiful as the sun sinking into a blaze of pink on the Gulf, nothing as soothing as the sway of a floating boat, nothing as entrancing as water cresting off the hull.

So, I love to sail offshore.  To reach foreign shores by boat.  But—over the last couple of years—in order to do it I have had to complete hours and hours of computer work before-hand so I could unplug and go off the grid, with most of them devoted to making our weekly HaveWindWillTravel YouTube videos and Patreon posts.  While I have several marketing clients I do work for—work that I enjoy and am very grateful I can do remotely—I spend about about 1/3 of my time working for them and the other 2/3 working for HaveWind, while also only making a mere fraction of my income.  And there is no search for sympathy here.  I set this all up myself.  I know that.  While a fun-loving, swearing sailor I am, a lazy underachiever I am not.  You can take the lawyer out of the practice, but …     I’m still Type A and I still push myself very hard at times.  Too hard sometimes.  And I might have continued down that path had I not had been slapped in the face with my own reality.  This was my moment:

I’m down in Key West, where the waters are crystal green, the wind is often blowing a perfect 10-15 kts out of the southeast and the sunshine, itself, is bright and warm enough to make you smile within.  I’m healthy, working for myself and living on a boat.  An amazing, great sailing, loves-to-have-water-moving-under-her-hull boat.  And I’m down in the shadowy bowels of her cabin, with probably eleven hours of video work ahead of me, that day, and griping to a very good friend about how much HaveWind work I have to do.  You know what he tells me? “That’s dumb.  You should take your boat out and go sailing.”  And you know what my answer was?

“I can’t!  I have to make a video.  And, I can’t single-hand the boat.”

You see?  SLAP!  Did you feel it?  I did.  My own words coming out of my own mouth sounded so stupid.  So unnecessarily defeatist.  I knew everything about what I had just said was wrong.  I knew my friend was right.  I knew a lot of things, but not what to do about it just yet.  So, I stayed.  In my cave.  Squinting at a glowing screen, for about three days straight, making videos.  It took some soul-searching, talking with friends—particularly my Phillip who has always guided and steered me to do things that make me happy, even if they seem big and scary and perhaps full of failures—but I finally got there.  And I knew which way I wanted to go.

Toward the water.  Into the sunshine.  Offshore on more adventures.  Sometimes with me behind the helm, learning to actually steer and sail and truly single-hand a boat so I would never have to again say “I can’t go sailing because I can’t sail alone.”

Ahhhh … that’s better.

After looking at how many hours I already have on the water and offshore, Phillip and I decided I should go for my Captain’s License.  What an amazing thing to pursue at such a young age in my sailing career.  I’m a little scared of all the studying and the big test I’ll have to take.  I’m a little scared of taking the helm of the boat and bumping into things.  And, I’m a little scared to say I’m not going to make weekly full-length YouTube videos anymore because I’m afraid to disappoint people and feel like a quitter.  But, I’m saying it anyway dammit!  And, I’ve quit something before when it wasn’t right to pursue what I felt was.

HaveWind is about inspiring you all to pursue your dreams too.  Whether they be cruising or writing or travel or whatever.  It is the pursuit of your passion and the courage to make the tough decisions that get you there.  It’s not about spending 15-20 hours a week making videos and other content to meet self-imposed deadlines.  I am incredibly proud of the videos I did make (I mean … a complete two-hour movie covering our Atlantic crossing!  Come the heck on!) and was glad Phillip and I were able to share Cuba with you in that way.  But, the filming does take me out of the moment.  The time needed to edit and create weekly high-quality videos takes its toll and takes away from our enjoyment of cruising.  Nothing about what I do here should ever do that.

And, to be honest—and those of you who have tried it may agree—YouTube can sometimes feel like a hamster wheel, making you chase harder and harder with each video to please people and grow more than you did yesterday.  It can be exhausting and frustrating.  I’m looking forward to my next voyage where I don’t have to worry about camera angles, lighting, one-sided audio or hard drive storage.  I can just sail and breath and read and write.  And Phillip and I are getting so much closer to our cruising goals and traveling more.  We will be flying down to Key West next week to spend a few weeks sailing our beautiful girl home where I will be taking the helm more, studying for my Captain’s license and accomplishing that and I’m so excited to devote my time to all of those amazing, fulfilling things.

I’m going to spend more time on the water, learning more, challenging myself, and seeing more suns melt into blue horizons over the bow of my boat than the square of my screen.

I also have a desire to challenge myself to write more and try to create scenes, characters and even more powerful emotions in each of you through words as opposed to GoPro footage.

I believe in words.  I hope you do too.

And I hope these convey to you the need, motives and excitement about this decision.  If you enjoy my writing, it will always be here and will continue to come in a heartfelt, relaxed rhythm when I find something that inspires me to share.  Not because it’s Wednesday and I have to get a post out.  I also have several articles coming out in the various sailing magazines soon and I can’t wait for you all to read them.  I have several more that a handful of editors requested from me while we were at the Miami Boat Show and I’m eager to devote this new-found free time to those as well.  Heck, maybe there’s another book in store in 2017 from Author Annie.  I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out.  Aren’t you?

As far as Patreon goes, we’re going out on top.  I know many folks signed up there because of the weekly videos and we would not feel right continuing that when we’re no longer producing full-length videos so we will be closing that chapter after our last giveaway.  I struggled with that platform on many levels because it did occasionally feel like begging.  And self-promotion is not something I have ever enjoyed. But, Phillip and I have been humbled and honored by the support and our hearts have always been invested in our Gift of Cruising campaign.  It’s been awesome watching people follow our footsteps and start cruising on their own.  For that reason, we have decided to use the last of our Patreon funds to give away our fourth and final Gift of Cruising: a free voyage on SailLibraLibra is making her final run of the season this coming May from Key West to Pensacola May 10th – 15th and we want to give that experience to one of our Patrons.

Patrons, if you are available to make that voyage and would like a chance to win free passage for the sail of your lives, email me.  We’ll throw your name in the pot and we will draw in one week, on April 14th.  Sound good?

Are you kidding me?  Sounds freaking awesome!  This could be you at the bow!

A big thanks as always to Captain Ryan for partnering with me on this.  Y’all need to join a sail on that boat.  I’m telling you.  It’s life-changing.  And, we hope, Patrons, that you all shuffle those weekly donations to a separate bank account of your own (mine is literally called “Cruising Kitty”) and put them toward your own goals and dreams.

While this decision was very hard for me to make and I had to muck through some very muddy emotions to get here, I’m very excited for what the future holds.  I hope you all see this as a positive transition and continue to find yourself inspired here and eagerly working toward your own goals.  I am incredibly proud of what I have shared in the past, the content I have created and the passion I will continue to share here.  I’ll just be doing it now more than filming and editing it.  That sounds awesome.  Let’s do it.

Do what?

“Take the boat out and go sailing!  Whoo hoo!” says In the Moment Annie.

“And I want to go there, and there, and there, and … ”  Ha.  Sail on friends!  I put a lot of heart into this farewell video.  I hope you enjoy it.  Get inspired.  Get on board.

Posted in Annie's Books, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Boat #15: 1939 John Alden Schooner

“When the war is over and if I return,” said General Patton.  This was his boat!  An immaculately-restored 1939 John Alden Schooner, with her very own Captain Seth giving us a tour and telling us his story and plans to sail When and If around the world.  They recently sailed When and If to Cuba (the video up on their website from this sail is stunning) and they are planning to sail her up to Boston for the Sail Boston tall ship show.  Thanks again Seth for the tour and awesome sunset sail on your beautiful boat.  Check out When and If’s sailing schedule and amazing videos at www.sailwhenandif.com.  Hope you all enjoy the tour!

Posted in Boat Tours, Videos | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Captain’s School: Conquering Fears

“I figured that was the best reason to do it.  Because I was afraid to.”

This was something a very good friend of mine told me years ago.  (Sonnie, if you’re reading this, thank you!)  She was talking, at first, about starting triathlon training because she was afraid to swim long distances, but she found the principle so inspiring she applied it to many other “obstacles” in her life—becoming a single parent, moving to another state, starting a new job—and she succeeded in all of them.  The theory always stuck with me.  So simple.  So true.  If you’re avoiding doing something you want to do because you are afraid, that is the very best reason to do it.  Conquer your fears!

That’s what I am doing this summer.  As many of you may have seen in the announcement at the end of my most recent YouTube video, I will be joining in the Pensacola a la Habana race this April with SailLibra in order to get more days on the water for a goal I have set for myself this summer.  While the big goal is to get my Captain’s License, the bigger accomplishment I seek to achieve is to get over one very big fear I have had for a while.  One I have had for too long.  It frustrates me, frightens me and makes me want to do just as Sonnie said: Do it because I’m sick of being afraid of it.

What am I afraid of?

Steering the boat.  Not so much when we’re out there in the big blue.  (There are many, hundreds, of reasons why I love offshore sailing, but one is … there’s not many things to run into out there.)  And not so much when we’re on a steady tack and just holding a heading.  But I am terrified of steering our boat in and out of the dock, through tight channels and around shoals and other obstacles.  I have a huge fear of crashing her into pilings, other boats, rocky bottoms, big concrete sea walls.  I’m seeing this all in my mind as I write this, just as I always do when I think about docking our boat.  And, that’s awful!  I want to travel the world by sailboat.  I want to go cruising!  While it’s great that Phillip is an excellent helmsman and I’m a pretty kick-ass First Mate, I shouldn’t let that fear get the best of me.  Something could happen to Phillip.  He could fall overboard.  Become incapacitated.  Or heck, maybe I will want or need to single-hand at some point.  Just to give him a break or because, whatever, life happens.  Some of my very best friends are single-handed female sailors because their husbands passed away immediately and unexpectedly and they inspire me to no end because they still get their boats out and go.  (Bridgette, Pam, I am so proud of you!)  All of that to say, you never know what the future holds and there is no excuse for living in fear.  This is the year I conquer my fears.

So, this summer Video Annie is going to sea school!  We’re focusing on education, training and, most importantly, sticking Annie behind the wheel.  Even when she’s scared.  Even when the boat is nearing the bock.  Even when it’s a difficult situation and she wants to throw her hands up and have someone else take the wheel.  Captains Randy and Ryan with SailLibra have been gracious enough to offer me time on their day charter boats (an Irwin 37 and Beneteau 35) while our Niagara is still down in the Keys.  Phillip and I are planning to bring her home in April and I’ll plan to take the helm the majority of that trip and our many trips this summer.  I am docking our boat dangit!  And then I’m de-docking it (Annie term) and docking it again.  I’m sick of getting this nervous knot in my stomach every time I take the wheel.  I want to look like this behind the wheel.  All kicked back and confident.

“Yeah buddy!” my Dad would say.

While the helm work is the pinnacle for me, Phillip and I also want to increase our training and education.  We have signed up for an STCW class (Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) in April and I will also begin Captain’s School in May.  After counting my days on the water (I can’t believe I have racked up so many in just over three years!), I only need a few dozen more to be able to apply for my license so I will be gathering Sea Service Forms and all of the other elements necessary to apply.  While I am excited and will be so proud to obtain my Captain’s License, it is all part of a bigger goal to become a more educated, knowledgable and a confident sailor.  I will be way more proud when I pull our beautiful Niagara into the slip and dock her all by myself.  Then de-dock and dock her ten more times in a row not because of luck but because I know how and can do it in all kinds of conditions, comfortably and confidently.  That is a day I will be incredibly proud.

So, my time has come.  I’m going to push myself and bring guys along for the ride.  Watch, learn and grow with us.

Step aside fear!  And give me that helm!

Posted in Sail Skills, Sea School | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

#95: Historic Havana: Sail There with Me!

Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio, walk the historic Cathedral Square, tour Hemingway’s house, Finca Viega, dance at the Floradita and see inside the Casa Particular we rented for $40 CUCs/night. We take you all through Havana in this video with some very exciting news at the end. I’m also going to sail to Cuba again very soon in the Pensacola a la Habana race on SailLibra and you can come too!  Book at www.saillibra.com/join-a-sail/! My need for more training and days on the water is all part of some very big news we have coming soon at HaveWindWillTravel. I can’t wait to see the guesses come in as to what I’m going to try to accomplish this summer. Let me have it!

Posted in Videos, Voyage to Cuba | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Patreon Gift of Cruising Winner Updates

Hello crew!  Some very exciting updates for you all here from our previous three Gift of Cruising winners.  Winner #1 has bought a boat!  And you’ll get to the see the make and model and learn why they chose the boat they did.  Winner #2 is getting ready for another round of ASA training.  Winner #3 is preparing to set sail on an offshore Andy Schell voyage.  WHOA.  And Winner #4 could be YOU on an offshore passage of your own on s/v Libra.  I hope you find these stories as inspiring and uplifting as we do.  It’s amazing to see real people, just like you and just like us really going for it.  Join the cause!  Get inspired and get on board by becoming a Patron and helping us create cruisers out of you at www.patreon.com/havewindwilltravel.  Thanks to all my Patrons who have made these gifts and stories possible.

Posted in Gift of Cruising, Videos | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments