2001 Sept 20: In the post 9/11 world, how do cruisers cope with fear?

Blue water cruisers may or may not be braver than the ordinary landlubber, but they might be better prepared to cope with the unspecified fear that now grips Americans. Understanding a cruiserπs attitude and strategies in the face of uncertainty and danger could possibly be of help to non-cruisers. Expectations and preparations are key to these strategies.

The lifestyle changes, training and preparations most cruisers make for living independently result in good coping mechanisms, even in the in harsh light of recent events. These strategies are not unique to us. We have learned them from many of the cruisers whom we have met and whose books we have read. Several of these fine sailors have become our mentors.

Our expectations and assumptions about life and living are different now from when we were land-based. Helen Keller said, Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. We have chosen the daring adventure and have done our best to prepare for a positive outcome.

Our Tassie circumnavigator friends speak of ≥coming to terms with your own mortality before setting out across the Southern Ocean≤. The cruising life is full of unknowns and it is realistic to expect that there will be uncertainties and dangers such as severe weather, contrary government officials, navigation hazards, dangerous sea creatures, submerged containers, illness, and more. To counter fear, we take a positive, pro-active approach by playing imaginative ≥What if…?≤ games. We then decide which dangers we are most likely to encounter, and develop and practice procedures for facing these eventualities. We have also prepared the boat to survive dangerous situations. Then we stop worrying about those events least likely to occur. We have tried to prepare ourselves with skills, physical fitness, tools and common sense, giving us a kind of psychological resiliency, toughness and calm.

Good preparations have given us peace of mind and self-reliance. With a reliable source of diesel fuel, which we are able to filter and polish to a high quality, we make our own electricity, heat and water. We have built redundancy into most of our systems, and have several means for communicating with the outside world. We always maintain several months of food supplies, and our medical kit just happens to already contain a supply of Cipro as well as other antibiotics, plus pain killers, oxygen, and medications and supplies for many types of medical emergencies. We have received advanced emergency medical training.

By installing solar panels and wind generators, many cruisers are less dependent than we are on diesel fuel. We have an adequate supply of spare parts at the present time, but by keeping their boats simple, other cruisers may be less dependent than we are on access to suppliers of spare parts.

The generosity and good will of cruisers towards each other and the people of the countries they visit is legendary. Being members of such a world-wide support network is comforting. Cruisers exchange a great deal of information, about possible hazards, about survival techniques and they even share their supplies and equipment. The people who live in the places where we travel provide us with invaluable knowledge about local uncertainties and hazards.

We feel fortunate and grateful to be living the cruising life which brings unexpected benefits each day. We would be interested in hearing from other cruisers and how their lives and plans have been affected by recent events.

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