What if Axel falls overboard!? What if he gets knocked unconscious by the boom, or a stray dolphin?
The worries started as soon as I arrived on board; so Axel taught me how to use the radio to call for help, and how to turn on the engine, and he promised he’s going to try not to fall off the boat any time soon…
But…what if someone gets appendicitis? What if one of us contracts some terrible illness – something painful, and long lasting, and horribly uncomfortable? What if there is an accident on board and someone breaks a rib, or looses a toe? Or perhaps we’ll get stung by jellyfish, or killer wasps, or poisonous centipedes?
So I read books. I read “Where there is no doctor” and “On-board Medical Emergencies.” And then I go to the pharmacy and buy pain killers, and bandages, and decongestants, and antihistamines, and anti-diarrheal tablets and ear drops and antibiotics (you don’t a prescription in Panama; that’s how they roll), and I’m feeling pretty good about myself, actually; but then I get to the part of “The Voyagers Handbook” where he starts talking about carrying a suture kit, so you can sew someone back together; or about how it’s good to have shots of morphine for when the pain gets really bad…
Shit, I don’t have any morphine! I don’t have a suture kit!? Maybe I should get some…What if Axel is lying there, bleeding profusely and in terrible pain, and all I can do is sit there and say “Wow, a suture kit would be really helpful right about now,” or “Gee, perhaps he wouldn’t be writhing around in agony if we had some morphine on board…”
Axel is a little more chill about the whole thing: “Don’t worry about it Liz. You can’t prepare for everything.”
And I guess he’s right. If it happens it happens. You can only do what you can do. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from hanging out with cruisers, it’s that life is risky, but you have to live it anyway.
But…but…what if we are attacked by killer whales!? And they breech the hull, and Gudrun starts to sink slowly, but surely to the bottom of the sea…
What if the water pump breaks? Or the engine dies? Or the water tanks burst? Or the rigging comes apart? Or…or…
I’m getting a sinking feeling in my gut, because there are so many things that could go wrong out at sea on our little boat…things I haven’t even thought of yet.
Gudrun is sitting in the La Playita anchorage at the moment. Tomorrow we will leave for the Galapagos, which is a 7-14 day trip. Axel spent the last 6 weeks working on the boat, fixing things that were broken, and ensuring that we have enough electricity (new solar panels) and water (desalinator) to be comfortable on our trip across the pacific.
I’ve been living a kind of a double life.
Part of me has been trying to learn about boats and cruising. Part of me has been preparing for the trip ahead – buying supplies, stowing things away, learning the basics of navigation and seamanship, etc.
At the same time I have been trying to write a “memoir”; which is a comedy, of course, because when I look back on my life and put down onto paper what I was (am?) thinking, the only thing I can do, really, is laugh…extremely hard. And it’s a strange life for me right now, because the entire excercise of trying to write down the past makes my head swirl with memories and thoughts.
And then we hop into the dinghy so we can go to the hardware store to buy containers for our fuel, or connectors for our water hoses, and I am jolted back into my current reality.
As we glide through the water, I worry that I will drop the bag carrying my computer (my writing) into the sea. I worry that our wake is disturbing the other boats. I worry that our anchor light is not bright enough, or that we don’t have the right navigation lights, or that I will panic in an emergency situation because I never like to be surprised. I worry that my pants are getting dirty from the side of the dinghy, and I notice how I’m feeling kind of smelly, because we got home late last night and the solar shower was already cold and I really hate cold showers…
And then, I worry that I’m worrying too much. That I’m missing the best time of my life. I worry that I should be spending less time learning about boats, or writing my book, and more time just chilling in the cock-pit with a beer.
And perhaps now and then I do go and sit in the cockpit with a beer and try to chill…but then my thoughts keep coming back to the trip ahead, and how I’m just so UNPREPARED.
So yeah, this is Liz in paradise. Eat your hearts out, suckers.