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Old 05-27-2023, 02:15 PM   #1
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Stress and boating

View boating as one of the few things in life where just about everything is logical. That being the case if you maintain the right attitude it can be a zen like activity. With the right preparation and an open mind to learning you can master the variables to a greater degree than in many other aspects of life. Itís satisfying to boat and self reinforcing. Even the bad cold wet bumpy days give a sense of accomplishment as does addressing things if it means a work around or a fix.

I also view boating as an activity where thereís always something more to learn. Sometimes you learn from an experienced hand but not infrequently a newbie shares a pearl.

In another thread it was implied thereís little stress to boating. I believe thatís not true. But if something stresses you (I didnít check so and so , whatís that new noise, better review lights as Iíve forgotten a bunch and find a good cheat sheet etc.) it motivates you to deal with it. Thatís a good thing. But in boating itís very rare a stressor canít be put to bed.

As in life the most difficult stressors in boating are the things you have little control of. Things like will that crew do what is asked? Did that yard do a good job? Is that new thing I put on the boat reliable, will the time to source that part make me lose my weather window?

As crew I do what the skipper asks unless it a manifest threat to life and limb or the boat. Even if I think thereís a better way I do it the skipperís way. Might discuss it after the fact if appropriate. As skipper before the evolution might ask for a discussion. Might not. But expect directions to be followed when given.

Iím curious do others have the same attitude as me? ďThereís nothing as much fun as messing around with boats ď . That the stress involved is a good thing. Makes you a better boater. Makes you pay attention. Makes you learn. Makes you strive to do more.
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Old 05-27-2023, 02:50 PM   #2
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If I was constantly worried or stressed, I would quit boating. Constantly questioning everything isn't healthy, especially for seniors.

I don't dutifully follow the captain, unless it's me . While I'm not going to nit pick, it's rare that a captain (who invited me) wouldn't know my experience level. If something bad happens, and the captain asks," why did you let me do that"? "Because your the captain", is a pretty lame excuse. Likewise, I don't feel an obligation as crew / passenger to go because the captain says were going (think weather).

I do this for fun! Constant stress isn't fun. When paranoia preoccupies an activity I've done for over 50 years, it's either time to reduce the level at which I play the game, or quit.

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Old 05-27-2023, 02:55 PM   #3
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Running my first "big" boat after thousands of hours in small boats is challenging for me. And I suppose the challenge, particularly navigating and maneuvering and docking in tight spots, is what makes it stressful.

I think I enjoy it because of the challenge, but the challenge makes it stressful. But I don't enjoy the stress just for the sake of stress. I suppose that makes sense.
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Old 05-27-2023, 03:27 PM   #4
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I didn't grow up in a boating family. Closest family member would be my grandparents who emigrated to Ellis Island from Sicily.

When I caught the boating bug 35+ years ago, I found docking super stressful. Had I not been able to overcome it, it would have killed the experience - certainly kept me from taking the boat out in the morning knowing I had to confront afternoon winds on return (I hired a captain to teach me, then practiced like hell).

My observation is when people get stressed, they do not communicate well. Can be incredibly hard on a spouse. Not a good thing.

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Old 05-27-2023, 03:30 PM   #5
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I didn't grow up in a boating family. Closest family member would be my grandparents who emigrated to Ellis Island from Sicily.

When I caught the boating bug 35+ years ago, I found docking super stressful. Had I not been able to overcome it, it would have killed the experience - certainly kept me from taking the boat out in the morning knowing I had to confront afternoon winds on return (I hired a captain to teach me, then practiced like hell).

My observation is when people get stressed, they do not communicate well. Can be incredibly hard on a spouse. Not a good thing.

Peter
This is what I learned in Aviation Safety. When the stress gets too much.... performance drops off dramatically....including the most basic skills like communicating.

Some boaters get to the point of never leaving the slip because of the stress of returning.
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Old 05-27-2023, 03:50 PM   #6
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It may not be Websterís meaning but to me stress is about shutting down.

There is obviously a sense of peace being on the water that cannot be replicated.

Also the sense of accomplishment. New places seen. New skills learned. It pushes you in a healthy way if you let it. It keeps you alive and vibrant.

Having said that, some have the ability to continue to think and act under pressure and others donít. Maybe those in the donít category have a different view.
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Old 05-27-2023, 04:09 PM   #7
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This is what I learned in Aviation Safety. When the stress gets too much.... performance drops off dramatically....including the most basic skills like communicating.

Some boaters get to the point of never leaving the slip because of the stress of returning.
Yep. Newbie docking a Uniflit 42 ACMY in a 25kt cross breeze (So San Francisco) is definitely on the right side of the panic line. It really sucked. It's why I went into teaching boat handling.

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Old 05-27-2023, 06:01 PM   #8
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According to World Health Organization, Stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way we respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to our overall well-being.

So, to me, every docking situation as we travel causes stress. I've never been here before...how are the winds...the currents...did I time slack tide right...etc. etc. etc. As soon as we're tied up I wonder how the heck I'm going to get out of here safely. Maybe there is good stress and bad stress or just how you handle it but I believe it's all about learning to handle it properly. I agree that if it's too much it stops being fun and becomes a safety issue.

Full disclosure, I was a firefighter in a former life. Maybe I "learned" to handle stress differently? My thoughts as we boat today are more like...if we crash, we crash but nobody's gonna die. My smart watch still says I had stress about the same time as being underway. Wouldn't change a thing.
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Old 05-27-2023, 06:30 PM   #9
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Interesting topic. For me I wouldn't say it's stressful, but I would say that it can be draining. Not always, but when there are times that require a lot of concentration. Also the constant evaluation of the weather, where's the next stop, can we anchor there, what's the backup plan if the anchorage is full, etc. I find I really need a down-day every few days to a week just to get a break from it. Maybe it's the same thing as being stressful? I don't know, but I think of stressful as involving a lot of worrying. I just see it as requiring a lot of focus on a lot of things, and it's nice to get a break from it peridically.
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Old 05-27-2023, 06:41 PM   #10
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Boating around the harbor for old timers shouldn't be stressful under normal circumstances.

Cruising familiars waters should be nearly stress free, but does require more " work" in terms of planning and concentration.

Cruising to unfamiliar but well charted, documented and travelled waters again takes on more planning and can start to induce more concern/stress.

Cruising to new places not well documented obviously will be stressful, but again, experience should turn a lot of that stress into anticipation excitement as a healthy diversion.

It can be summarized by the old philosophy of known unknowns and unknown unknowns and how they elevate stress levels.
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Old 05-27-2023, 07:57 PM   #11
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I love boats and boating. It satisfies my need for adventure as well as my need to tinker and fix things. There are many facets for operating and maintaining a trawler and some of those facets give me no stress at all, even pleasure, and others can be quite stressful. Obviously docking is the thing I find most stressful since there are many variables outside of our control. But one thing that I discover...over and over..is that as experience and frequency of those experiences increases that stress quickly diminishes. In other words...go do it..and go do it alot. After many repetitions many things become so smooth that you wonder why you where ever stressed.

I am about to be stressed this Wednesday. After buying a boat that needed refurb weeks before covid, then slowing down progress drastically for covid, then going right into taking care of our mother in law with dementia for a year in which hardly any progress was made, we are planning the shakedown cruise this Wednesday. Boat has a bunch of new wiring, repairs, fuel system, tank work etc and I am rusty in the operation of nearly any boat for a few years. Boat US card will be front and center..lol. stress time!
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Old 05-27-2023, 08:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocampus View Post
..................................

Iím curious do others have the same attitude as me? ďThereís nothing as much fun as messing around with boats ď . That the stress involved is a good thing. Makes you a better boater. Makes you pay attention. Makes you learn. Makes you strive to do more.
I still work. Trips on the boat are the work stress reliever, so if there is stress on the boat I have not noticed. Work follows me. Now with Starlink there is less work stress as I can be in touch.
When I leave the boat I always look back and then start counting the days for the next planned visit. In that sense there is little (less) stress on the boat.
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Old 05-27-2023, 08:05 PM   #13
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Taking the boat to be hauled and bottom painted on Tuesday. Our boat is 70' overall and the fairway to the lift is 78' wide and then a 90 degree turn into the lift. I've never been there before and yes, I'm sure I will have some level of stress.
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Old 05-27-2023, 08:08 PM   #14
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Taking the boat to be hauled and bottom painted on Tuesday. Our boat is 70' overall and the fairway to the lift is 78' wide and then a 90 degree turn into the lift. I've never been there before and yes, I'm sure I will have some level of stress.
With or without thrusters.
You can do it!
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Old 05-27-2023, 08:14 PM   #15
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Thanks Steve, I needed that! I have a hydraulic bow thruster but no stern thruster. The twin Cats should handle the stern just fine. It's that 90 degree turn with just 4' forward and 4' astern that is got me a bit concerned. Thinking I will try to get the bow a bit into the lift before I swing the stern all the way around.
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Old 05-27-2023, 08:24 PM   #16
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If I was worried about stress I wouldn't have bought a boat. I look at it as more of a challenge.

When I bought it I didn't even know how to start the engines. A great adventure ahead!

So far I've only banged the dock once. Lesson, wait for the high or the low, river current is a problem that can be avoided. One learns from experience eh?
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Old 05-27-2023, 08:31 PM   #17
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My stress involve finding a man to ‘take charge’ when I am away from the boat and bring a ‘team’ on board to correct definitives.
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Old 05-27-2023, 08:41 PM   #18
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I used boating, sailing racing, as a stress reliever from professional work which given the opportunity will take over your life. Racing on Sydney Harbour on Saturday is demanding, multiple Club racing fleets each with their own start and finish lines, plus the boats you are competing with, plus ferries with right of way, means that if you don`t concentrate you`ll likely hit something. And as skipper, working to get the best out of the boat. Allowing no opportunity to think about work or anything else, just what you are doing, there and then.
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Old 05-27-2023, 10:07 PM   #19
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Enjoying boating

Quote:
Originally Posted by FWT View Post
It may not be Websterís meaning but to me stress is about shutting down.

There is obviously a sense of peace being on the water that cannot be replicated.

Also the sense of accomplishment. New places seen. New skills learned. It pushes you in a healthy way if you let it. It keeps you alive and vibrant.

Having said that, some have the ability to continue to think and act under pressure and others donít. Maybe those in the donít category have a different view.
Totally agree FWT. A day on the water more than makes up for the 'stress' of departing, maintaining watch while under way, and docking at the destination. A tall cool drink in the cockpit afterwards always helps!!
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Old 05-27-2023, 11:21 PM   #20
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Lucky for me... I grew up on, around, pleasure cruising in, working aboard, repairing used boats in boat yards and building new boats in a factory. Stress did not enter my lexicon regarding boating.

Matter of fact: Stress [as an independent entity] represents a [basically meaningless] gestation of fear-filled energy expenditure. Fear [stress] ignites three effects - Flight ASAP, Freeze in place or Flight it through; of which each affect[s] decision[s] chosen.

Therefore... throughout life... my practice is to not let all three "fear" effects of "stress" enter into my feelings. But rather to rely on the "Fight it through" aspect with "Flight ASAP" always at the ready if required. To "Freeze in place" is in my opinion a wasteful aspect that might be needed for a second to assess needs apparent... but can be disastrous if maintained for but an instant.

Soooo - I recommend... Fight it through, Flight ASAP only if necessary and don't Freeze in place but for an instant. I've found by following that rule the need for "Stress" melts away. In the long run - everything - is eventually going to be as it will be. By limiting the energy drain of stress, I believe each of us can produce the best outcomes.
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