Friday, February 4, 2011

The wimp and I... Fear at sea

Saw a very interesting  blog on the excellent site Attainable Adventure Cruising. See here for the article. John mentions dealing with fear and nerves at sea. It got me to thinking and I even decided to reply, I think this is a key topic and I hope to add more later. Here is my reply (after abit of tweaking and spellcheck!), but I recommend reading johns piece first.
About to enter the pack ice for the first time..Me and my Father, I hope you can tell I'm the one on the right.. Photo Matt Tucker

Interesting, and thanks for being so frank about the wimp within.
I can be one of the wimpiest sailors I know, fretting and worrying over small and big things.
But then I have also managed to safely sail a small engineless 26 footer singlehanded across the Tasman in winter (Nelson to Sydney), Sail my 34 footer from Hobart to Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica and run a 60 foot charter boat in antarctic peninsula plus manage numerous dodgy deliveries.

Still the wimp within remains with me, nagging at me and keeping me up to scratch, and so far safe (touch wood).

I am a great believer in John Vigors Black Box theory, a kind of safety Karma thing, if you haven't already heard about it go and look at and click on the black box theory link at the top.
Thanks to all of you for making me feel not so unusual in my wimpyness. It does makes me wonder if maybe some of the great sailors of the past may also have a similar degree of wimpiness, and if in fact the very presence of Mr whimp is what somehow drives us to test our selfs.

When I first got my Ticket and became Third Mate on a 40000 tonne container ship I started having nightmares about running aground (the real wake up sweating type). When I mentioned this to the chief mate he just laughed and said they were normal “mates mares” and would soon pass as I got used to the responsibility.

By building up my skills and comfort level slowly I have gained an understanding and ability to analyse some of my feelings and know which ones are normal jitters and reactions and can be ignored and which ones signify some subconscious and important concerns that need to be actively dealt with.

However I still envy those happy go lucky sailors that seem to get by with not a care in the world, maybe there is 4 stages,

1 Ignorance is bliss, not even being aware of the dangers
2 Knowing the dangers and fearing them, or fear of the unknown
3 Confidence that you can deal with the dangers as they arise and any unknowns
4 Overconfidence and a fright can kick you back to stage 2

And those fearless sailors are at either at stages 1 or 3.5, or maybe they just lack any imagination.



If you have any comments to add, please consider chucking them up on Johns site, This post is really an extension of his.. Ohhh and a big hello to the three people who have been over here for a look at my amaturish efforts..



  1. It's good to read about the Mr Wimp .It's offen not talked about and the Mrs Wimps of world (and now the Mr Wimps ) may often be the reason that the very laid back ,no worries sailor lives to tell their tale !

    1. I have the utmost respect for all the Mrs Wimps out there, especially those that go to sea with Mr ego's. Most Mrs wimps seem to have an innate sense of seamanship sometimes lacking in their less fearful partners.