In the Time of COVID. Day 39
April 26, 2020
The Dream Boat and Our Fear of Drowning
I had reason to go down into the village yesterday. The weather has improved and that’s lured people to Cambria. Valley folk from Fresno and Bakersfield and Taft are drawn to the beach.
I’ve gotten used to nobody being around. I like having a choice of parking slots and empty sidewalks to walk. Now, there is the beginning of disregard for physical distancing, people without gloves and masks and standing too damn close, brushing by like it was any old Saturday. This makes me fearful. Weekends are bad times to be out.
I know I am going to have to deal with this fear. I hope that times will return to “normal” but 39 days in Home Isolation feels like the new normal. It was weird at first, but now it is comforting. Dealing with deep-rooted fear brings to mind The Dream Boat.
When we moved here from Spokane, we had a dream of buying a sailboat. Just a little one that would be easy to manage, that we could drop into the sheltered harbor at Morro Bay. We had absolutely no intention of sailing in open water. We found a deal on a Lido 14 and we bought it. We pulled into our front yard. And there it sat.
You see, both of us have a fear of drowning. I nearly drowned in Hayden Lake as a kid and but for my sister fishing me out, that would been it. Then a year later, I fell out of a row boat on Pudget Sound and again other kids saved my life. I got swimming lessons after that but I’ll never forget the sinking, the light shimmering on the surface above me, the absolute feeling of loss, and of water burning my nasal cavity and the choking in my throat. When I was twenty, I went tubing with friends on an irrigation canal off the Stanislaus River. As I poured over a drop of 3 or 4 feet, I lost my grip and was sucked into a whirlpool. By instinct I opened by arms and legs trying to find anything to grab onto. Eventually I grasped the canal wall and hauled myself out but it was another freak out underwater until I did.
We went white-water rafting with our kids on the Lower Kern River 25 years ago. We went with a professional outfit and it was an overnight. We came to a rough Class 3 rapid and April was spit out. She went under the raft and couldn’t get out. Just on the edge of drowning, she popped up and we hauled her in. After that, even kayaking in still water freaked her out.
So, In the front yard was our Lido 14. We were just to afraid to try it, to wrapped in our phobias to venture out, to unsure of our abilities to survive a mishap. Over the years we had rented different houses and always we pulled that sailboat onto the property where it mocked us. We laugh about it now. Finally, we sold the boat. We cut our losses. That didn’t mean we stopped dreaming of sailing.
By late June in 2014 we were both completely retired. We wanted to treat ourselves to a special adventure. We signed on to a sailing excursion on the Turquoise Coast of South Western Turkey. There was a skilled skipper who handled the 42 foot Catamaran by himself. There were 6 other travelers, the skipper and ourselves. For 10 days we sailed south and east from Bodrum to Feteya. We came upon the ruins of Persian settlements and amphitheaters from Roman towns, there were the ruins of the Greeks and the Phoenicians and the cliff tombs of the Lycian’s. The water was absolutely clear and blue, the coastline remote and ancient.
We face our fears by trusting in the skill of others. I have no “Old Man In The Sea”, Hemingway illusions. People think we are brave and fearless but we are very cautious. Trusting in others has not only saved out lives but it has offered us manageable adventures. Now when we think of a Dream Boat, its sailing the eastern Mediterranean.