I went into full blown panic mode the other night about my upcoming tall ship adventure. I imagine it is only natural, with all the excitement and adrenaline, to suddenly hit rock bottom real hard and start doubting myself and the trip.
Having been tall ship sailing twice before, I have some idea of the conditions on board – it is no five star hotel – after all it is a working vessel and everyone on board is part of the crew that will get the ship from A to B (wherever A and B may be, in my case from B to A – Belfast to Alesund). Maybe I have spoiled myself over the last few years with a couple of nights stay in a 5 star hotel in Barcelona, a couple of nights in a beautiful B&B on the south coast of England, and a couple of nights in a lovely hotel in Hammersmith when I saw Kate Bush in concert. But then Lord Nelson isn’t a hotel – that is not what I am paying for, I am paying for the adventure of a lifetime, for a voyage on a tall ship, and that can’t be compared with anything else that is out there apart from another tall ship experience.
I don’t know whether my panic was coming from the fact that I am 11 years older than I was when I went on my last tall ship adventure, which was for three days and the ship was in port each night, and this is a 14 day trip with the majority of it being at sea; or from the fact that I now have a disability, and although I have done tall ship sailing before this is going to be a completely different experience. I guess my panic stems from both of these thoughts and from being concerned as to whether or not I am up for the task in hand. I am older, I am disabled, I am in constant pain and I fatigue easily. So I guess I am wondering whether I will be able to cope with the demands of the voyage. After all, tall ship sailing does challenge crew members both emotionally and physically.
Then I started thinking logically about my panic – I go to work and I am out of the house for nearly 11 hours, 4 days a week, with a one hour commute each end of the day – that’s 44 hours in 4 days that I have to battle through pain and fatigue – so this should be doddle with 26 hours in four days on watch. Yes I will be on watch for 4 hours then off for about 12 hours, 24/7 for 2 weeks, however there’s no commute and being on watch is all part of the adventure, after all I will be crewing a tall ship – something I never thought I would do again. If I am off watch and I want to go and have a nap in the middle of the day I can, I can’t do that at work – I have to do a straight 11 hours before I can properly rest (lunch breaks really don’t count, they are a necessity to be able to eat and get my head showered). I never used to think like this, in hours of activity to measure what I can and can’t do, and how much I will crash afterwards before recovering enough for the next activity. It truly is something that I took for granted before my accident – going to work, coming home, cooking dinner, doing a bit of pottering in the garden, walking the dog, going out with friends – all in the same day. Not now though, if I go to work I can’t cook when I get home, I certainly can’t potter in the garden, I definitely could not walk the dog, and I could possibly struggle to go out with friends but only if I did not go home first and hubby were to pick me up but I would pay for it the next day. My piece about
explains this in more detail.
Then on top of panicking about me managing the voyage I went into panic mode about the hubby – will he enjoy the voyage, will he be shocked by the routine on board or will he embrace it all as part of the big adventure, even down to worrying about whether he is he looking forward to going on the trip and whether or not he will be able to sleep. He does not say much about it, it seems to be me that is excited off the scale, then I guess he must be going through his own thought process of excitement and apprehension. After all this is his first trip on a tall ship. I am sure I must have had similar feelings 17 years ago in the run up to my voyage on Sir Winston Churchill. It is hard to think back all them years to remember how I must have felt, to be able to understand how hubby must be feeling now, plus he has the added bonus of me to think of too!
I certainly felt excited back then, however I think I must have been very apprehensive too with not knowing what to expect. I soon settled in though to the ships routine, and I must have got something out of that voyage that made me want to do it again in 2004! Then from both of those adventures there must be something that is drawing me back to sail a tall ship once again. So if I think of it logically, neither of those voyages was a bad experience – if they were then I wouldn’t be doing it again. Both voyages were enjoyable and challenging in their own unique ways, certainly not a bad experience. I guess this voyage will be the same – there will be parts that will be utterly challenging and others that will be exhilarating, then there will be moments of calm, followed by moments of frenetic activity. Being nearly 50 m in length, with a 9 m beam and around 47 people on board it will be a very sociable experience, which is good on the one hand because it throws a mix of people of all ages and experience together, yet on the other hand there is nowhere to hide when you want some alone time.
All of these things have been flying around in my head!
Then there was the panic about sea sickness. What if I am sea sick, how will I cope? I can’t exactly leg it to the bathroom or to the leeward side of the boat to feed the fishes!. Have you ever been sea sick? You literally do turn green, and once it sets in it is hard to shift. I was sea sick twice on Sir Winston Churchill – the first time was my first breakfast at sea – I was eating my breakfast down below, thought “oh, I don’t feel too good”, legged it up top and fed the fish my weetabix! See I can even remember what I was eating that morning! It was all part of the fun – part of the experience. The second was a little more “yak!” – after injuring my knee and being confined to my bunk in a force 9 or 10 storm for 16 hours… Let’s put it this way I was glad of the waste paper bin! I have felt queasy on a rough ferry crossing, but that was easy to manage as I knew I would be getting off within the hour! It isn’t just me I am worried about, it is my Hubby too – partly for selfish reasons as he is my buddy and my carer, but mainly because I don’t want him to be poorly and for it to spoil his holiday. As you see, I know sea sickness and I certainly remember how I kind of felt in that 16 hour storm (I don’t know if it was 16 hours but it certainly felt like it) so it is a genuine concern that I have.
Going off subject for a moment, I did the Writing 101 online course and one of the things it taught was to be able to have the confidence to free write – let all that you are thinking flow from your mind and out onto the page – whether that be through a pen or a keyboard, or any other recording means. To let your ideas flow, without thinking of grammar, spelling, punctuation, whether it sounds right, as these all interrupt the flow of your thoughts. If there was one thing I learnt from the course then this was that one thing. Everything I have written in this piece so far I just let my thoughts flow and threw it out there onto the computer screen. It was only just before I wrote this paragraph that I allowed myself time to go back over what I had written – I had a brain fog moment and lost my chain of thought. I am glad that I have learnt to free write because what I have written is a true account of what I was thinking and I needed this today to put my thoughts into logical order and eradicate the panic that has been building in me. The last couple of weeks it has been panic about whether my new trousers bought for the trip would fit, I haven’t had the energy due to being unwell to try them on until a couple of days ago, and guess what? I was panicking over nothing because they did fit, in fact better than when I bought them – go me for losing a couple of pounds. So I got rid of one panic and added another – the one I have been writing about here. My hubby often says I always have to have something to panic about, to put it correctly – flap about! That is after all how I got my nickname of The Penguin – all flap and no fly – in other words – worrying about stuff that I don’t need to worry about.
Getting back on track – what did I learn from free writing today –
There is absolutely nothing to panic about – nothing is insurmountable!
- I know it’s an adventure not a five star hotel
- Yes, I am 11 years older than my last tall ship adventure – but so what – 70 year old people go tall ship sailing and I am nowhere near that age
- Yes, I do have a painful disability, however it has not stopped me living life to the fullest that I can, I just need to know my limitations and know when to stop
- Lord Nelson is equipped for people with disabilities (I still find this really amazing), the permanent crew are used to taking people with disabilities to sea, so I can be me as I am now now, instead of trying to be the me that I was 11 years ago
- As long as I pace myself, I will manage my pain and exhaustion (oooh that was a very positive statement)
- If I can do an 11 hour day out at work, I can do a 4 hour watch on a tall ship!
- I can nap in the middle of the day if I want to (lovely lady, who I will call M explained all this to me when I booked back in October as I bombarded her with a list of questions – it’s amazing that I had forgotten about that conversation until just this moment.)
- I have sailed tall ships before so I have some idea what to expect, although I know the experience will be completely different, and will have different challenges – this is why I am doing it – to challenge myself further
- Hubby’s experience will be what hubby’s experience will be, I can’t make him like it or love it, all I can do is hope he does – if he doesn’t then we will go the boring old fart route and spend our holidays on a sunbed on a beach somewhere! (I can’t see that happening we have never been ones for lying by a pool, always up for adventure and seeing as much of where we are as we can)
- Hubby can sleep practically anywhere, and knock the Z’s out a long time before me
- I have a fantastic Hubby and I am grateful he is leaving his comfort zone to be with me on this voyage of a lifetime
- Sea sickness – I know a bit more than I did 17 years ago and know to be as prepared as possible to prevent rather than cure, plus I already have my special tablets prescribed by my pain consultant that won’t counteract my normal medication
- My pain will be what my pain will be – no matter whether I am sat at home, at work or on a tall ship adventure it will be my nemesis – so forget it (in the broadest sense as you can’t really forget you are in pain) and move on!
Is it bad luck to leave the list on 13, I only just realised as I was proof reading, I hadn’t been paying attention to the numbers when I was letting my thoughts flow. Most people probably think it would be, not me though, I go against the trend and think 13 can be a lucky number – my last house number added to 13 and it was a great little house and I passed my driving test on Friday 13th. So yes I think I will leave the list exactly as it is.
My final thought on the matter of my multitude of panics –