(Now that the book excitement has settled a bit I can finally get around to finishing the blog about our Tasman Bay trip)
Sometimes you can scare the pants off yourself over things. They build up as big bogies in your mind and you freak yourself out over them, regardless of how much logic tells you they aren’t an issue.
Other times you don’t bat an eyelid at something and it comes to bite you on the bum.
Both those things happened on the way to Nelson.
Scary thing number 1 was Cyclone Pam, which was due to pass near New Zealand. Despite the fact that I was repeatedly assured it would come nowhere near where we were I managed to wind myself up about it.
I call it ‘getting the flutteries’ – not to belittle the anxiety, but to give it a little less power. “I’m having a fluttery” sounds a lot friendlier than “My heart is trying to eat its way out through my throat” – and making it that little bit smaller, makes it a little easier to cope.
Sure enough, despite the flutteries, the worst thing that happened was we were held up for a few days in the Sounds – and that is something I am not going to complain about given what happened in Vanuatu.
The Ni-vans were some of the loveliest, most welcoming people we met in the islands and it was heartbreaking to see their homes and livelihoods destroyed. There are a lot of relief efforts and fundraising going on and I sincerely hope the support is getting to the people who need it most.
Scary thing number 2 was travelling through French Pass. French Pass (or Te Aumiti) is a narrow stretch of water with the dubious distinction of having the fastest tidal flows in New Zealand (up to 8 knots). Apparently when the tide changes the current can be strong enough to stun fish. Paddy tells a story about people dropping 44 gallon drums into the pass from D’Urville Island, just to watch them get sucked down and spat back out like sky rockets. If that’s not scary enough, it also has whirlpools. Yes, whirlpools.
This is why when travelling through the pass you have to get your timing absolutely perfect. You need to make sure you enter at slack tide when the current is at its weakest and that way you only get pushed about a little bit.
We’d done it before successfully, but that didn’t stop me freaking myself out over it. And, as with the cyclone, nothing happened. It was a little unnerving feeling 18 odd tonnes of steel being pushed about like a feather in the wind, but we crossed without incident.
The second part of this blog is brought to you (once again) by the Weather Forecasters Are Lying Bastards channel.
One thing I didn’t even think about freaking out over was the trip into Nelson. It would be a simple day sail and the weather forecast was for pretty much no wind at all.
At first that was exactly what happened. We got a bit of a headwind but it was still on an angle we could sail on. After a while the wind built up and we actually found ourselves sailing quite fast.
We were hooning about with our headsail until the headwind got a little too strong and eyeballing the water was making me a bit nervous.
We took the sail down only to get a mad case of the wobblies. What we hadn’t factored in before we left was that Nelson was a lot more tidal than Wellington. Tides can get up to four meters, so it was quite a bit of water we were pushing against.
Wildflower was rolling from side to side and I started to feel a little bit scared. Deep down I knew that we were safe and that we would get there eventually but it certainly wasn’t very much fun.
I tried to tell myself that people paid good money for this kind of experience at amusement parks, but it really wasn’t helping.
Paddy reminded me that we went through much worse on the way to Tonga and handled it – and that went on for days, not hours. That actually helped. I tried to remind myself I was a big brave lion and could handle this.
I did everything I needed to helping put the sails away and then – once we sussed out steering was going to be a one man job – braced myself at the bottom off the cockpit and tried not to spew.
It was a good chance to give my anxiety coping skills an airing. The problem with having any kind of disorder that flares up from time to time rather than being constant is that when you aren’t feeling awful, the last thing you want to do is think about feeling awful and so you tend to be a bit slack about practicing how to cope if the awful arises.
Before we went away on our trip I knew there was a chance of an attack of the flutteries so I sat down with the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (one of the best anxiety books I have come across) and gave myself a crash refresher on breathing exercises, self-talk and visualisation.
One of the tricks is to visualise a calm, safe scene. I have two – one for summer and one for winter. In the summer one I am swimming in a calm bay. The water is tropical temperature and I have gills, so I can dive under the water and mooch around with tropical fishies without having to worry about running out of breath. In the winter one I am sitting by a fireplace, it is warm and toasty, I am safe and sheltered, I have a good book and a cat snuggled up with me. At that stage I went with the fireplace one.
It sounds a bit silly, but it does actually work.
My calm scene was broken repeatedly however by things crashing and smashing.
Because we’re a bit out of practice and weren’t expecting weather, we hadn’t really stowed everything away properly – which meant books, plates and cooking products went flying across the boat.
It made a lot of scary noises but the only real casualty was a full bottle of sesame oil which emptied itself all through the boat.
We managed to put the culprit – and other condiments – in the sink but the smelly genie was out of the bottle at that point, and I spent the rest of the rolly trip trying not to vomit while inhaling very strong sesame fumes.
I think I may have developed a temporary allergy – I didn’t end up losing my lunch but even the thought of sesame makes me feel a little delicate now.
All’s well that ends well though – we got into Nelson marina, my fabulous knot tying skills secured the fenders (buoys that act as boat bumpers) and we managed to berth the boat with just the two of us.
We spend a few days in Nelson as enforced rest for my sprained ankle. In Paddy’s words we were “waiting for Big Foot to have two regular sized feet”.
We moved from there to Torrent Bay in the Abel Tasman which was absolutely lovely. Even Gus the SpokesMuppet got a day at the beach. He discovered Fraggle Rock and irritated Paddy. Here are some photos.