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Fighting Fears

Afraid of the Dark!

by Teresa Carey

Back to Fears

Sitting up on the bow, I could see the dolphins playing in the bow waves of Daphne. The sun was setting and the air was warm. Colors of red, orange, purple, and deep blue spread across the sky.

It was dusk, the most beautiful time of the day and yet when traveling offshore, I often had a hard time enjoying it.

With the setting sun, an uneasiness was also setting in on me.

Trailing behind the banner of beautiful colors, was the dark cloak of night time that would cover me with anxiety and nervousness.

I began solo sailing a few years ago when I purchased my Nor'Sea and moved aboard. For several years I lived aboard Daphne with only my cat, Dory, for company. I traveled along the eastern seaboard and to the Bahamas and took several extended offshore passages.

Even though I saw my fair share of bad weather, storms, and fog, there was only one thing that really scared me: sailing through the night.

Too busy to be frightened

I believe that many fears are irrational.

Fear of rollercoasters, fear of spiders, or fear of scary movies are things that have little threat, and little to be afraid of. Yet being afraid can be debilitating. It might stop you for trying something new or prevent you from achieving a goal.

While sailing, when the conditions were rough enough to be something of a real concern, I found that I was too busy to be frightened. I was too busy securing the boat, sailing, navigating, and keeping watch.

Yet, each night, whether it was windy or calm, rough seas or smooth, I watched the clock as it slowly ticked away the hours.

To take my mind off of the bumps and creaks that a boat makes which seem louder in the night, I would watch movies, or prepare delicious meals.

It was an irrational fear. The nighttime didn't really present greater dangers than the day, and in fact, the roughest conditions I encountered were in broad daylight. However, I still got nervous at every sunset.

I found that one of the best ways to overcome a fear, is to view it as an opportunity.

It's an opportunity to learn and grow. And so, I plan my routes based on where I want to go and when I want to be there, and not on how many nights I would have to sail through.

And each night, it gets easier and easier to continue sailing on.


About Teresa Carey

Teresa Carey is a USCG Captain, Oceanography educator, and writer. She has lived aboard many boats and has sailed coastal and offshore the entire coastal US, Bahamas, Caribbean, parts of Canada, St. Lawrence, and the Great Lakes.

In 2008, she gave up the lubberly life and moved aboard  DAPHNE , which she sailed solo for many years, chronicling her journey in her well-received blog “ SAILING, SIMPLICITY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS ” (  www.sailingsimplicity.com  ).

Teresa was honored for her inspired writing with an invitation to a TED conference, where she was a featured speaker ( http://sailingsimplicity.com/tedx-inspires-me/ ) She also received an invitation to speak at the 2012 Mystic Seaport Adventure Series. 

This summer Teresa teamed up with another sailor and Doctrine Creative, a movie production company on a journey that took her north to the arctic where she will film a documentary on icebergs and simple living called “ ONE SIMPLE QUESTION ” (  www.simplequestionmovie.com ).


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