Oh Ship! There Goes The Engine (& Lessons In Anxiety)

Oh Ship! There Goes The Engine (& Lessons In Anxiety)

There’s nothing like a rough anchorage to move a sailor along.

Our beautiful paradise has turned on us and the weather predictions aren’t looking pretty for the days ahead.  So, we wipe the sand from our weary eyes and prepare to move from one tiny spec of land to another.

Tikehau to Rangiroa is only 45 nautical miles away. But, as the title gives away, our seemingly simple day of sailing doesn’t go as planned.

Another day lived and a couple more lessons learned:  1) Carry a spare starter if your engine is over ten years old, and 2) Anxiety is useless.  Don’t you know we have ten impellers, fuel filters, belts, seals, gaskets, fluids, wires, fuses and all sorts of hoses…but no spare starter.  Because the thing that fails will always be the spare you don’t have.

Anxiety is Useless

Now, about that anxiety.  I was crazy nervous about all these passes.  I had let all the cautionary tales of sailboats lost to the Tuamotus plant all kinds of doubt and fear in my mind.

Fear that I wasn’t capable of navigating these passes. Fear that I would screw it up and need to be rescued off a reef.  Fear that my lack of experience and stubborn drive had teamed up against me and now I would be the tragic news story everyone is picking away at on social media like a flock of starving vultures.  Ahhhh!  (grabs head to stop it from spinning)

sailboat washed up on reef in tuamotu

It’s important to understand what we’re up against.  But it’s also important to trust in ourselves.

It’s kind of like reading the labels for medication.  Something as simple as ibuprofen sounds awful.

Allergy alert:  Ibuprofen may cause a severe allergic reaction, especially in people allergic to aspirin.  Symptoms may include: shock, skin reddening, rash, blister, hives, facial swelling, asthma.

Stomach bleeding warning:  This product contains a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which may cause stomach bleeding.

And that’s just a tiny snippet of the FDA Drug Fact Label.  We know the risks and yet most of us still take the medication.  Because we know the chances of relief are high and the risk of complication is low.

Researching sailing destinations can feel a lot like reading the drug warning labels and then choosing to go for it anyway.

But here’s the thing, hundreds of sailors from around the world have made it safely in and out of these passes every year.  I know that and yet, I let anxiety creep in and make my day far more stressful than it needed to be.  Silly me.

Now that we have a couple of these Tuamotu passes behind us, I can say to myself and anyone else feeling a tad nervous…

Read the full label, head the warnings, then relax, plan accordingly and trust your abilities.


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Sailing Curiosity Tuamotu map
  • Nautical Miles Sailed:  45
  • Date:  March 2019