desolation sound, solo sailor girl, single handed sailor

“It’s just a boat,” I mutter to myself. “I can always sell it.”

I’m drowning in self doubt.

It’s the eve of day before I haul all my shit six hours north to where she sits on dry dock. Perched on the land like a forgotten treehouse that needs renovating.

The car is packed with all of my gear–an anchor, life jackets, blankets, galley supplies, an assortment of lines, batteries, bungie chords and buckets. I keep clicking away from the page to order my harness. As if typing in my card number and hitting the submit button somehow solidifies that fact that I’m doing this all by myself.

solo sailor girl, sailing desolation sound, sailing alone

A friend unexpectedly expressed interest in joining me onboard this summer, and I’ve tried to push it out of my head. Tried not to have any expectations. Tried not to pressure her. Tried not to need anyone else.

Tried to remember I bought this boat with every intention of doing it alone, and even though I’m in over my head, I can learn how to swim.

solo sailor girl

My knee jerk reaction is to text a bunch of my friends. Tell them how scared and lonely I feel at this very moment, and anticipate the validation I’m bound to receive. But I don’t, I just think of all the people who have helped me get this far, who believe in me. A community of support has been built around me. The foundation laid, now all I have to do is go live my dream. Take this insane idea and turn it into the unforgiving reality that is a life at sea. Believe in myself.

I place my order. Here goes nothing everything…


    As a young foreman in heavy construction all those years ago, many the day, my crew and I stood, paralyized by the enormity of the task at hand. Be it standing knee deep in the raw sewage emanating from a broken sewer main, or in the freezing cold with icicles forming in our beards as the water shot 30 feet in the air, before freezing on contact with the ground. At those times, standing there with men of varying experience and work ethic, I would shout the rallying cry, “This is the life we choose” and take the lead into the abyss, trying to lead and inspire by example. I was fairly certain even then, in my youthful exuberance, that the crew fantasized about killing me, and burying my along side the repaired pipe, silenced at last. Now with 37 years in the business, I am certain they want to kill me, as I now shout it from inside an SUV with the window cracked just enough to get the message out, and keep me warm and dry.

    Anyway, point being, this IS the life you choose, and as the challenges rise like a swell on the ocean from a far off storm, you will too, rise to the occasion. Be safe, good luck and stay in touch. Much love, and no worries, the urge to want to kill me will wear off, it always does.

  2. Self doubt is healthy as long as it doesn’t swallow you. This will be better than home ownership because you can change the scenery at will. The world needs people who accomplish their dreams so others can be inspired to do great things. I don’t know you but I’m excited to be along for your ride!!

    • It’s true! An old farmer once told me a little bit of paranoia will keep you alive, too much will kill you. Wise words. Thank you sincerely for being a part of this journey.

  3. Emily, we are two birds of a feather. I, too, am leaving everything behind and spending the summer (at least) living aboard. I can’t believe I’m doing it for a number of reasons, but a huge one is because I really can’t afford it. I am positive we share many of the same feelings.

    I have to out of my apartment and off the hard in 8 days and I haven’t been able to do a thing yet to get my old girl back in the water. That and the stress of moving out of the apartment and cleaning it are really making me question my sanity. (Between the two of us, I have no idea what I’m f—- doing) However, I remain steadfast (reads: stubborn) so here I go…..

    I will watch for updates from you as you wade through the self-doubt and ultimately realize true freedom and the resultant ear-to-ear grins!

    • DUDE!! Good luck!! I find I do my best work under the gun, and hope you too use the pressure to get ‘er done!!!! Envious you’ll be splashed so soon. Keep me posted.

  4. Nothing new in our life worth doing comes without trepidation or some knee knocking fear. That touch of anxiety helps us to get ready for that journey, to do it a little more safely, better prepared. Someone once said “He told us to run to the edge of the cliff, trust and jump, amazingly we flew.”
    Good luck kid, many are flying with you.

  5. We all die alone. No matter how many loved ones you’re surrounded with, on the day you die, you die. Not them.

    That’s a morbid way of saying that the only person you have to worry about letting down or impressing is yourself. You’ve worked hard. You served all those plates of food. You squirreled away those tips. You’re the one that’s been doing all the research. No one else.

    The version of you six months ago had nothing but a dream and gumption. But you took it day-by-day, one step at a time. Now you are where you are. What will the future you look back on?

    It’s OK to feel lonely. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed. It’s OK to feel frustrated. Ultimately, none of those emotions matter. They’re just noise. Take a deep breath, and chill. What matters is taking one step after another towards your goals. Focus on the the next step.

    You are only accountable to yourself. Not ‘them’.