I was determined to take out my boat today. Due to weather, travel, other responsibilities, a weekend when I was sick, etc. etc., the StardelaMar had not been off the lift for several weeks. Lack of use is not good for the boat, nor for her captain.
I checked the tide charts to see when the water would be high enough to float the boat off of the lift and saw that a late-afternoon trip was doable. Off and on throughout the day I kept an eye on the weather, hoping no sudden increase in wind or unexpected storm front would cancel my plans.
Around an hour or two before by ETD, I started feeling nervous. This was completely unexpected. I've had the boat for almost two years now and have taken her out by myself at least a dozen times. I know I can handle her. So why the nerves? Little worms of insecurity tried to squirm into my conscious and undermine my confidence.
The time drew closer. I started worrying about the breeze. Was it a little too much? Would I have a problem steering the boat back onto the lift? I wondered whether I should wait until the following weekend and line up someone to go with me while I reacquainted myself with the skills I needed to safely captain.
There are times when having a stubborn streak is a damned good thing. Before I could talk myself out of the boat trip I'd been eagerly anticipating, I put my foot down and crushed the insecurity under my heel. I grabbed my keys, hat and water, told the dogs that I'd be back in awhile and left the house.
I won't say that every last nerve was immediately satisfied, but at least I could look at them and know that being nervous about something didn't mean I should give up the attempt. Instead of giving into the fear, I processed it by taking my time with every step in my preparation. I reviewed procedures in my mind and then got on with the business of boating.
Even an hour on the water is good for the heart and the soul. As soon as I smoothly backed off of the lift and guided the boat through the pilings into the open harbor, I felt my confidence flow back into my spirit. Off I went, motoring smoothly through the harbor. I love the ride out the pretty "creek" because it takes me past some lovely houses and then past the beach out to the open Atlantic. As soon as I passed the last channel marker, I pushed up the throttles to increase the speed. Within seconds the boat was up on plane, moving swiftly and smoothly over the waves.
Before long, my hair was blowing back in the breeze, I'd turned up the stereo, and I was grinning! Gone were the nerves and, for the life of me, I couldn't imagine why I'd considered cancelling the trip.
I cruised toward Sombrero Light, enjoying all the different jewel-like colors of the water. I spotted some regal frigate birds circling in the sky and wondered if they were searching for dinner in the ocean below. After awhile, I began a slow turn toward the Seven Mile Bridge and headed for the channel markers to enter the harbor. Slowing down gave me the chance to appreciate a few of the larger boats that are still docked at some of the marinas in town. A few months ago, one that I swear was larger than my house, took up residence. Beautiful on the outside, I can only imagine how luxurious it was inside.
After a slow cruise past marinas, a restaurant, and dozens of moored boats, I was close to home. The wind had come up a bit, but I just knew I could handle the docking. I glided between the pilings, turned parallel with the sea wall and motored right up onto the lift. It was one of my smoothest dockings ever. I wish there had been people around to watch!
After shutting everything down, pulling on the console cover and making sure everything was in order, I leaned against the gunwale for a few minutes before leaving. I relished the feeling of reconnecting with something I love to do. Running my own boat is a source of empowerment for me, and I'd almost let insecurity rob me of the moment. After thinking it through, I realize that I wouldn't have felt this way if so much time hadn't passed between trips. I felt out of practice and had lost trust in my captaining skills. Confidence hungers for fuel.
I learned more than one lesson today. Empowerment needs to be cared for and fed on a regular basis. I definitely need to get out on the water whenever possible!
Episode 3: Take Me To Your Pilot - Ken Levine has been through his fair share of pilot seasons, and if you're not in Hollywood you might not know about the madness that it is. So today, buc...