Have you ever had to try to comfort a terrified pet? Maybe they were terrified of being in the car? Or of thunder? Going to the vet? It’s not a situation of safety nor even of any risk, the fear is totally unjustified with the reality. But you know that no amount of words can really help.
But it still hurts you anyway because you know you are powerless to do anything to stop this unfounded terror. The only cure will be some minutes or hours later when whatever caused this is past and your cat or dog realized they have survived.
I’m not talking about “voicing annoyance” for example when you pack the cats into the car for the drive from New York to Los Angeles in roughly four days. Four days of a penetrating meow, that is anything but a “meow” even after the poor thing became hoarse.
To this day, I’m convinced that cat still thinks the only reason the trip ended was because he continually expressed his displeasure.
I’m not talking about that. I’m talking that paralyzing fear when the dog is hiding under the table because of thunder or something like that. No amount of talk is going to change his mind that he is actually safe.
And that’s the kind of fear I saw in Tee on our first trip on Dauntless.
Knowing they were new to boats, having just arrived in America from Vietnam only a couple of days earlier, I planned what I thought was a short trip out of Ketchikan to Prince of Wales Island. A little orientation trip. It was only 15 miles across Clarence Strait, but the winds were a little stronger than anticipated, which produced seas of 1-2 feet. Not terrible, in fact, having beat up the west coast, I hardly noticed these waves.
Not Tee. She was terrified in a way the was beyond words and reason. She wouldn’t leave my side in the pilot house, admittedly the worse ride location in the entire boat, but she sat on the bench and just whimpered (literally).
Luckily, Thien, her 16 yo son, knew his mother well and knew when best to just ignore her. I just felt sick for her, not being able to comfort her.
When we anchored, she was fine, though like me the first days/months anchoring, slept poorly.
The next day, I decided to cut our return trip in half, just going to the next fjord to the north on Prince of Wales Island. This worked well, until our windlass stopped working with 80 feet of chain out in 30 feet of water.
For weeks when Tee wanted a laugh, she would mimic the three of us heaving on the anchor chain pulling it up by hand and saying, “my dream, my dream”.
As time went on and she saw that we didn’t die each time we left the dock, her fears subsided. It helped that Thien explained to her one evening how the roll of the boat is a natural process, as it allows the boat the go with the seas and not fight it. That we, being inside the boat (like two hands cupped together) are safe.
Tee was also eager to learn how to drive the boat and she was at the helm for the entire Rocky Pass transit as we came south from Juneau in August.
There have been dozens of friends/familiy who have been at the help of Dauntless over the last 7 years. Tee has shown an exceptionally sharp attentiveness while at the helm. She looks and sees everything. No inadvertent running aground (like yours truly) on her watch.
She has made a video of her running the boat in the past weeks. It called Sailor Woman and is up on YouTube. She has asked me to share the link.
Keep in mind that it’s made for her Vietnamese audience. Also, I did some of the English captions not really knowing what she was saying, but making it fit what she was showing.
Now on our most recent trip (not the one in the video which was a week before) the winds were coming right up Zimovia Strait which separates Wrangell and Woronofski islands, at 18 knots producing a sea of 1 to 3 feet and Tee didn’t even notice.
3 thoughts on “Sailor Woman”
“When you show fear like this, I take it personally. It means you don’t trust me as the captain of this vessel. You know I love you and wouldn’t ever do anything to put you at risk. To me, all the movement is close to what we get when we pay for rides at the amusement park…”
Maybe this is a way at the issue. Might not work with all cultures, but worth a try?
regards bill domb
In the cold light of day, that’s right. But I can’t say that, even after the fact.
Fear like that is totally irrational. If it was rational, they would be able to talk themselves down.
Richard, Tee, and Thien;
I certainly enjoy reading about your adventures. Thanks for taking the effort to share. I hope that the years bring you many pleasant miles under the keel, and a very successful integration into your new lives. I’m sure that things are different than they used to be. I happen to love different…I think that different helps us to grow.
You are on an adventure that many dream about but that only a few can actually achieve.