We’re sitting on our boat in Ketchikan, Alaska, waiting for the waters to calm down so we can ‘take’ Dixon Entrance, a wide spot in the ocean that can cause big trouble for our 45 foot boat, INTREPID. Now, you should know that our Kady-Krogen trawler is built to handle rough seas, even without stabilizers. It’s a trawler, built to circumnavigate the globe, and she’s done exactly that with former owners. But my husband and I are cautious about taking open seas. When we have to cross them, we watch the weather predictions carefully, preferring ‘light’ conditions, and at the most, 10-15 knot winds, looking for winds flowing with the tide. We’ve waited for a whole week in a port for the seas to subside. Luckily, we don’t have a schedule to keep so we don’t need to grit our teeth and go when the weather report is less than ideal. What’s more, our boat is slow, so some of the large expanses of water take two days to cross. Not easy to cobble two calm days in a row, let me tell you.
Yes, I can ride the gigantic waves coming at me as a writer and marketer of my novels, but let me have flat waters when I’m in my boat. I was a high school principal, for heaven’s sake, opening a brand new high school. Lots of rough seas in that job!
What’s the difference? Why can I take on huge challenges in life, yet look askance at six to eight foot waves? I think it’s the feeling of helplessness one gets in big seas. The waves keep coming and coming and despite what you might think, they AREN’T even. A six foot sea may turn into a ten foot sea in certain areas, where seas converge of where it’s shallow. Sometimes, for no reason at all, the waves grow ‘short’, meaning less space between waves. In such conditions, the boat actually bangs up and down. And the wind can change so that you might be cruising along with the wind kindly traveling with the current, and suddenly you’ve got white caps crashing into your bow because the wind turned against the current.
So it’s the helpless feeling, the inability to plan ahead, and the portent of physical danger make boating tricky. Believe me, when I was a high school principal, I felt helpless and surprised often, but worry about my physical well-being was rarely on my mind.