Monday, June 13, 2011

Into the Deep

Anyone who knows me really well will know that I have a slight obsession with water. I love rain. I love Seattle. I love gray weather when you bundle up and carry and umbrella and venture out into the world. I like traveling, snorkeling, swimming, beaches and the ocean. But the issue that has always scared me, just a little, ok a whole lot, is that of boats.

I have taken the ferry from the Cape to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket like any true Bostonian. I've been out on a few motor boats while friends water ski but I usually sit right up front, near the driver and love being a bit away from the water's edge. I have even been out in a canoe a time or two. But every time I get into the smaller boats, I start looking around for some kind of creature to jump out at me. Maybe I've watched Jaws too many times as a kid or read "Is There A Loch Ness Monster" a little too closely. It was honestly one of my favorite books growing up.

So for my 10th month, I have decided to tackle my fear of deep water. Since I plan to fulfill my lifelong dream (so far) of going whitewater rafting during one of my two remaining future months, I figured overcoming this obstacle would be a good place to start.

Since it has been almost 10 years since I last sat in a kayak, the last being one of my earliest dates with my husband back when we were young kids exploring Boston together, I decided it was time to return to the deep water. I did some asking around and came upon Jack's Boathouse in Georgetown on the waterfront in Washington, DC. A good friend came along to share in the experience of water deluge and take a few photos to prove my accomplishment (and survival).

We drove to the boathouse, got geared up in life vests and went off to pay for our excursion. Just as we finished filling out the paperwork, you know where you sign your life away if some sea creature eats you or you capsize and dont make it back to civilization and release the boat people from the responsibility of keeping you safe, we were told a storm was coming and they were no longer letting boats go out. These people had no idea how hard it was to find a Sunday when my husband was off from work and could watch the kids, find an hour when the kids were both sleeping to lessen the burden on him and find a friend to also have the same stars align, drive downtown, find nearby parking and get to the boathouse ready to go. Lucky for us, ten minutes later, they decided to allow folks to go out for one hour stints but we were instructed to return once the rain started to fall. No rain and no storm, we were finally on our way.

Next we boarded our double kayak, double since we decided it was more stable of a boat than a single and also because of the reality that neither of us really knew what we were doing so it was likely that we would quickly drift apart in the water should we have selected separate boats. I have to admit that I didnt expect a long instructional class, but being a newbie to kayaking or at least somewhat removed from my previous kayaking experiences, I was hoping for some reminders on how to row. Nope. Nothing. We were handed some oars, pushed off into the water and on our own.

I was calmer than I expected but still not totally relaxed. First, I was worried about turning over and falling in. Then I was scared we were going to get caught in the wake of the motor boats going by. I became more confident that the ducks sticking their heads out of the water weren't going to eat me and once I realized anything in the water would be too small to make a dent in the boat, I started to chill out a bit. I did get concerned that we'd forget our way back to the boathouse and no one would know where we were. I should fess up that I'm pretty technology obsessed, between facebook, twitter, blogs and email, I try to stay fairly in tune and awake to the world around me. And here was, in this tiny little boat, with another pal with NO CELL PHONE. I had a camera and my car keys, two very useful objects when lost at sea.

Needless to say, I survived. I have to be honest and say it wasn't the most relaxed I've been but then again this project isn't about finding my comfort zone. Its about pushing myself to own up to my fears, tracking down some of the minor goals I've had along the way and taking back my life in a way every motherless daughter should. I can't say I'm a pro but I am bit less worked up inside when the thought of a boat crosses my mind. Sort of makes my dream of living in a houseboat off the coast of Seattle a little more of a reality. Call me a hopeless romantic but its true my friend. Always been my dream. Just a little obstacle in the way but after today, I'd say that wall is coming down a bit. Know a good place to scuba? May be next on my list.

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