March 28, 2016

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I live on water. My boat, which is my home, had some work done on it awhile back so it was turned around backwards in the marina slip facing the opposite direction it usually faces. Typically, our backyard (aft deck) faces the ocean and in this case it was facing the dock walkway. So basically this turned-around situation was jacking with our floating feng shui. That’s a thing.

So it’s 7am on a random Tuesday. I had planned to quickly take Lady Renegade out and turn her around. (Side note, when a female owns a boat do you name the boat a ‘him’ vs. a ‘her’? I’m seeking clarification on this.)

I pull in the power line, disconnect the internet line, yes the interwebs float too, and the moment I turn on the blower and start the engines Wizard of Oz winds blow in. Picture Dorothy in tornado alley Kansas but the winds in this case were so strong her dress would be flying up Marilyn Monroe style. Yep, it was that windy. It’s El Niño season. Or shall we say, El niñ-whoaaa!?

Given I’m a rookie captain, a friend who was going to help us with the lines from the dock shows up. He’s basically our Captain Ron guru. I give him that title because he has been sailing all his life and he could parallel park a boat like Captain Ron does in the movie.

The three of us have a quick team meeting to decide if we’re going to do this. Our boat is 42 feet long and pretty much just as tall with our enclosed helm that acts like a kite in the wind. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that tall but you get the picture I’m painting here. When I took captain lessons, our instructor told me I bought one of the most difficult boats to pull back into a slip. No bow thrusters is no bueno. I decide to look at my weather app and for the first time in pretty much ever, San Diego has a wind icon next to it. A big one – staring back at me with doubtful eyes.

We decide to go for it. I was focused on the prize: better boat feng shui. I can’t stress the importance of your home facing the right direction.

Richard, my badass first mate husband, is on the lines and Captain Ron is on the dock. I’m saying my Hail Mary’s at the helm.

I pull the boat out. Nobody else is on the water – because they’re smart. The wind is throwing us around the channel like we’re feather weights. It’s all fun and games until you have to get the heavyweight into the slip between another boat and the dock. Richard switches the fenders and ropes to the opposite side. I look back at land. We now have spectators. Yep. The logical, seasoned boaters who don’t take their boats around during wizard of Oz winds are watching from the dock. I call them the marina ‘good old boys skipper club’. Each (rare) time they see a ‘captain chick’ at the helm they bring out their lawn chairs, grab a beer and set up to enjoy the show.

For half a millisecond, I consider anchoring Renegade somewhere thinking I will wait the weather out. Then I look back at Coach Captain Ron and the judging skippers on the dock. I’ll be damned if I bail now. I’m going to do this like its my job. Take the bull by the horns and own it. Not sure what came over me but maybe this was fear disguised as a superhero captain.

I line up based on the current and get after it. I don’t like my first approach so I take another pass and … if I don’t say so myself, I nailed it. Floated Renegade in like a pro. The good old boys skipper club, who I had assumed were gathered around to judge me, gave me the “not too shabby” nod. They even said, ‘nice job’.

It’s been a few months since this happened. I’ve had time to reflect on the Wizard of Oz experience. Living on a boat offers many opportunities for life lessons and analogies. Hence all of Jimmy Buffet’s lyrics. So, I’ve been thinking …

I had it in my head that the ‘good old boys skipper club’ on the dock were there to judge me, ready for some Titanic occurrence. Would I have thought this if they were female? Turns out, they were just there cheering me on. Impressed. If I needed help they were there to help bring Renegade in safely. Maybe we just need to understand each other’s intentions a little more and get out of our own way sometimes.

You can’t fake it ‘till ya make it, or fake it ‘till you become it unless you believe in yourself first. When do we stop being a rookie at certain things? Who decides when I get to shed that status as a Rookie Captain? I do.

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