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Fighting Fears

Fear in the Way

by Meri Faulkner

Back to Fears

My parents named me “Meri”.

It's Finnish for "the sea". So, one might ascertain that my salty name makes me a natural on a sailboat, right? Wrong! And just because my Finnish ancestors were sea savvy sailors doesn't mean I have the genetic knack or even a smidgen of innate confidence when it comes to sailing.

It doesn't mean that the ocean doesn't scare the crap out of me!

When my husband announced that his life long dream was to sail on the bright blue sea with my two children and me I thought I might be nightmaring.

It was garish and terrifying.

  • Huge, black curls of angry hurling saltwater drag me and my children down into the briny deep!

  • Hungry sea monsters with ginormous, gnashing, dagger-like teeth open their massive jaws to consume us!

  • The eye of a storm winks seductively at me just before it thrashes our sailboat into tiny brittle splinters.

  • We're out in the big, fat ocean with no one else around - just us - total isolation – lonely – no friends.


My biggest fears were the old cliché - fears of the unknown.

Fear Monster- Photo from altirahusa.comIt dawned on me that Fear's power lies in his manipulations that intimidate us from doing things that might actually enhance our lives. Fear does not want us to be successful or try new things.

Once I realized that this sailing dream of my husband's was very real to him, I worked diligently to overcome the things that might keep me from keeping him from his dreams.

I wondered what Fear might look like as a person. I visualized standing face-to-face with Fear. I stood my ground and shook my fist at Fear. I gave him the stink eye. I did my best Clint Eastwood imitation and told Fear to go pester some other scaredy cat. I dared Fear to keep me from living a full life. And finally, I threatened to expose Fear for the bully he really is.

Safety gear: Harnesses for everyone
Tasty Sea Monsters - Carolyne and Tim with Humboldt Squid - Puerto Salina, Mexico

I armed myself with an arsenal of knowledge and surprisingly soon my fear was replaced by excitement!

  • First, I read books about sailing women – as many as I could get my hands on. Some of the anecdotes shared by the authors were fear related and helped prepare me for things I never could have expected.

    For example, one sailing woman wrote that she flew back home when her husband refused to harness himself onto the boat when doing night watches. Her anxiety of waking up to an empty cockpit was too overwhelming. She admits that her solution was extreme, but when he begged her to come back and agreed to change his ways she knew she had done the right thing for them.

  • Next, I studied and obtained a HAM radio license and actively participated in the Nets. This allowed us to get daily weather updates from Don Anderson on  Summer Passage  or Gary on the Sonrisa Net. It also kept us in touch with our cruising friends and we met many new cruisers through the Nets. Having the weather reports and communication with friends was very comforting to me.

  • Lastly, I actively participated with my husband researching and determining which safety gear was most important to us.

    Some of the things we did:

    - We added radar.
    - We added a chart plotter, had many different cruising guides on board, and paper charts for backup.
    - We added heavy ground tackle – large 55 lb. anchor and 300' of chain for our 35' boat.
    - We purchased the SPOT Messenger (personal GPS tracking device) so that we would not stress about our family back home stressing about us. They knew our whereabouts with the push of a button via Google Earth.
    - And - we had harnesses for everyone on board and the rule was (and still is) for everyone on deck to be harnessed to the jacklines from dusk until dawn – no exceptions!

We are full-time cruisers and have been cruising for almost 3 years.

  • I have done night passages in the pitch black.
  • I have outrun a hurricane that devastated one of my favorite towns.
  • I have eaten some of the tastiest sea monsters out there (and once we got them on deck they didn't look so mean).
  • And I have met some of the most wonderful human beings in my life.

And as for Fear, he visits me rarely anymore now that I view him as my worst nightmare.



About Meri Faulkner

Faulkner family and their first blue water sailboat - Long Beach, CA

We left Colorado in June 2008 and began our cruising adventure aboard Windfall, a 35' Cal Cruising sloop. As our two children grew, we felt it was time to upgrade to more comfortable living conditions.

We are currently cruising Mexico aboard Hotspur, our 41' Tartan TOCK. Cruising has become such an addiction that my husband, Jim, and I are committed to doing it as long as we can. After hurricane season, we hope to head to El Salvador for the beginning of our Central American tour.

We homeschool our two swabs, Tim (16) & Carolyne (11). Other scallywags include our 14 year old pound-puppy, Bailey, and Bad Kitty, a stray kitten that adopted us in Mazatlan.

Come visit Hotspur and follow our family cruising adventures at www.expaticus.com.


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