It’s getting real –  Tobin and I leave in ten days for the Islands. My basement apartment consists of piles of snacks, mounds of gear and a mishmash of sailing books and swimsuits. As I walk from around my pile surveying the stuff strewn about in a bewildered state, questions swirl in my brain.

What should I bring along to keep Tobin occupied when the wind is too strong to sail? Should I bring a lock to secure our dinghy from real pirates? I keep wondering if I have everything we’ll need and then start panicking that I don’t really even know what everything consists of, sending me on buying sprees.

How will I keep all this shit organized so that the other two crew members don’t mutiny?  There’s not much space on a mono-haul 35-footer. Another blogger put it best, “the hull is the sort which the United Nations would probably condemn as unfit for human habitation.” No need to add puzzle pieces and Lego bits to further clutter the tight space.

Someone told me, “we pack our fears.”  It’s true – solar-powered lanterns, back-up bug spray, redundant clothing (we’ll be wearing bikinis, hats, and sunglasses most of the time), GPS devices, and emergency blankets.  By this point, I’m hemorrhaging money and faced with the constraint of limited packing space. Then it dawns on me that all this stuff is a misplaced effort to make up for my lack of skill behind the helm. I’ve come face-to-face with my fear that I don’t have enough sailing experience to be in charge.

Sure I want to be prepared, but if I pack to deal with every bad situation my creative mind conjures, we’ll never leave the dock. While tempting to confuse more stuff with a better journey, I realize that comfort isn’t a commodity. Even if it were possible, I wouldn’t want to banish the lows because that’s all part of the adventure and makes for the best stories.

I’m devoting the rest of this rainy day to a proper shake down, preparing for the inevitable (lots of sun exposure and bouts of seasickness) and trust that I’ll be able to handle whatever else comes my way. 

I’m reminding myself of all the pickles I’ve found myself over the years. Thinking back on the worst travel mishaps, I remember the kindness of strangers and my ability to get myself out of bad situations. More often than not, the solution involved a quick smile, a creative mind, and a steady dose of humor, things that don’t take up any space in my duffel bag.