hull gazing

June 21st, 2017 § 10 comments

If you already know that I live on a boat, it may surprise you to learn that I have a true phobia of deep water. Luckily (ha) I get a lot of opportunities to work on this particular irrational (or is it?!?  arrghhhh!) fear.

When I see from our charts or from our depth sounder that we are in very deep water, I get a chill in my blood as soon as the realization hits me.  It never fails. I imagine how small my boat is, and how we are just a speck in the infinite, and the infinite is full of sea monsters layered like taco dip for fathoms below.

This has happened enough times that the response has lessened, my blood more room temp, and now I just remember that we have done this before.  Our boat is so tough, and if we just let it carry us, we reach the next shore.

It is the repetition that retrains my brain.

Another aspect of this phobia is that I cannot  – CAN NOT! – look upon the underside of a boat while it is in the water.

During our courtship, F and I would go to boatyards and walk around looking at the wide array of boats, mostly up on boat stands and under repair.  I called this “hullgazing”. During the refit(s) of our own boat, I got up close and personal with our hull, scraping, sanding, glassing, and – at long last – painting.

That very same hull, floating in water, fills me with such horror that I had not looked upon it once in the 4 years we have owned her.  My reptile brain must see it as an orca.  (Was I orca food in a past life?)

Now that we made the jump over to the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas, I had to divulge this facet of the phobia to F, and sheepishly ask him to come watch me jump overboard for the first time.  So he was treated to the graceful sight of me flopping over the side, flailing my limbs around (one second of which he captured in a deceptively tranquil photograph that I immediately circulated on social media) and then scramble my way back up the boat ladder.  Step one complete.

Over the past few weeks I have returned to the water, first applying swim fins and mask, then circumnavigating the boat, and finally, looking briefly back at the boat from underwater.  Each step jettisoned me back to the cockpit, gasping and soggy.

Yesterday, I admired the hull of our boat for the first time, even inspecting the anchor for good measure.

Fear is worth examination.  With attention and time, it is possible to disassemble these bombs and move past them.  What do we gain access to when we have less fear? For me, this impacts my sense of safety, my ability to come and go as I please.

And I am sure that before long, F will realize that he can now ask me to help scrub the hull.

§ 10 Responses to hull gazing"

  • Doug Mansfield says:

    I have never mentioned this to anyone before but I too have a sense of dread and unease when I look at a boat from below. I wouldn’t put it in the category of phobia but it’s definitely there. Nice to know I’m not alone. It would be good to understand it, but I doubt I ever will.

  • Elliott says:

    These photos are gorgeous, and a little mysterious, too. I love being able to study the set of your anchor and chain. How many feet of chain before the rode is that,by the way? Good luck and hugs to you, Fabio, and Beta!

    • admin says:

      60 ft of chain, bc we don’t have a windlass…Thank you for reading Elliott! Once we got into this clear water, I had no more excuses. I learned that the movement of the boat makes interesting patterns in the sand as the chain swings around the hook.

  • Aunt Peggy says:

    Overcoming fear! Congratulations !! Proud of you. Lovely water hull and anchor!
    Aunt Peggt

  • Susan Bates says:

    one of my fears!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Nice commentary Kate. Phobias are hard to beat, and seems you’ve taken the first step. I’ve been working on a few myself for a long time and it’s not easy. I admire your courage. Stick with the program, and you’ll emerge successful. Love, Daddo

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