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Monday, August 02, 2010

August 1, 2010-Deciding Not to Continue

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Sailing back from Sumatra, contemplating the future

We arrived back at Telaga Harbor on Langkawi Island at noon on Sunday, August 1. It was a benign 2 ½ day passage crossing from Sumatra, Indonesia and should have been a joyous occasion, but it was not. For unlike our forced return from the western Solomon Islands to Australia in 2003 to fix an engine problem, when we went on to continue our cruise to Hong Kong, this time we will not continue with our cruising plans.

Returning to Langkawi and deciding not to continue represents the end of a dream.

It’s the dream Fred and I have had and lived for the last 24 years; the dream of living aboard our boat, sailing the oceans, experiencing the geography of lands, people and culture that we have only read about in books. Stopping now is the end of all of that.

We never said we had a goal of ‘sailing around the world’. We just wanted to keep heading west. And our dream was to continue.

But plans change: Sometimes due to situations beyond one’s control; sometimes because one consciously chooses a different direction. In our case it is a combination of both: I chose because of things I feel that are beyond my control; Fred chooses because he chooses me; both of us do so with a heavy heart at giving up a goal we have held on to for so long. The good thing about this is that there is only one heavy heart because over the years the two of us have truly melded into one.

Why end the dream?

The passage from Thailand to Sumatra was very tough on both my body and my psyche. Fred gave an accurate description of the passage in the previous post. We had expectations of head winds in the mid-20’s, but we can handle that and I did not object as we set sail out from Thailand. After all, we have sailed in those conditions more times than I can count. (For an accurate account I would have to go though the 25 years of logs books we still carry aboard.) I sort of looked at it as a ‘shakedown cruise’ for testing my physical stamina after good results from a back surgery in February. In reality, it was a ‘shakedown’ of my psyche and it was an exposure of my fear of bad weather.

Over the years people have asked me, “Aren’t you afraid?” Usually they are referring to ocean sailing. I answer them, “Yes, I am afraid, but I want to sail on my boat to different lands and to do that means confronting those fears and trying to be as prepared as possible.” We’ve sailed over 26,000 miles since leaving Seattle in 1998 and we have encountered storms which have frightened me. Each of those experiences I was able to concentrate on what I could and would do during the duration of bad weather, and after the fact was able to join with my husband with a toast “We made it through that one, no problems.”

This time was different: I couldn’t concentrate on what I could and would do to solve problems. This time I felt incapacitated. This time, in addition to suffering a bit from seasickness (a normal occurrence during the first two days of a passage), I felt a lack of confidence in my physical abilities. Mainly, however, I felt overwhelmed with the fear that, “If it is this rough here, what the heck is the passage from Reunion to Richards Bay, South Africa going to be like?” “If something happens to Fred how am I going to deal with this?” And the anxiety built from there.

I was not only fighting my fear of the storm at hand, but my anticipation of the bigger one in November.

When we arrived in Sumatra we didn’t toast with, “We made it safe and sound, no problems.” We knew we were safe, but we also knew that I was still obsessing about the passage to South Africa and other passages; all of them. I am no longer prepared and able to face the oceans and the fear.

So I chose not to continue. Fred chose to be with me. Here we are in Langkawi. Where to next? What will the next dream be? We are working on it.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Facing a new future, together

Click here for more photos from our trip back from Sumatra.

Click here to see the log book pages of our passage back back from Sumatra.

Judy and Fred, SV Wings, Langkawi, Malaysia

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Blogger RichC said...

Great perspective. I trouble with wanting to cruise and "to just to head west" as you put it. Others seem to want to hear of a more grandiose goal, as if anything short of circling the globe isn't worth doing. Silly.

Enjoy the moment and appreciate the years you've had cruising. It's a big world.

03 August, 2010 15:18  
Anonymous Trish Wareing said...

And "new adventures" is exactly the right outlook. The level of honesty between the two of you is admirable and touching, and I would expect no less after all the passages you've already made together. I know you're both feeling some level of disappointment and that hollow-stomach limbo of wondering "what next" - but ultimately, you'll probably look back on that tough passage to Sumatra as the best thing that could have happened. All the best for the new chapter(s). The world is still your oyster.

06 August, 2010 19:17  
Blogger jan roswold brown said...

The truth....this entry made me cry, not because of the loss of the dream as much as knowing the fear and helplessness that Judy expressed so well.
Of course you will have more adventures, they will just be of a different kind.
Of course there will be other times you are pushed past a limit you don't even know you have yet.
That is why life is both so interesting and daunting, will the package reveal a scary pop up clown that nearly jumps out of the box and makes us recoil, or will it be that old bottle of wine we will drink with pleasure? We just don't know till we open the box.
Pull the ribbon. 50- 50 it will be the wine.

10 August, 2010 10:13  

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