Catching Sight of the Shore from Bark Europa

Sails on Bark Europa

I failed. Attempts two and three at going aloft on tall ship Bark Europa were unsuccessful. So many others rose to the challenge yet I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I returned to my cabin teary-eyed and discouraged after every try. I was a failure; I had let myself down. Why was I making it so difficult? Why couldn’t I do it? I struggle with accepting defeat. I didn’t want to hear how I can try again or that I don’t have to do it or that it’s okay. I felt angry to even hear the words. I would rather others look me in the face and say, “Wow, you really blew that one” than to try and make me feel better. I’m angry at myself for being defeated and I’m angry at others for encouraging defeat. I need someone to say that it’s not ok to quit. I need someone to say that I’m not a coward so stop acting like one. I need to climb up those rungs with someone behind me that won’t let me down until I do it. I need to try until I can’t see through the tears or until I fall then I need to try more. Why do we say it’s okay when someone can’t conquer their fears? Why do we immediately default with accepting fear? Is it unhuman to expect greatness?

Climbing Aloft on a Tall Ship

So I climbed those rungs again with a different attitude this time. I was getting over the ledge or I would not come back down. I reached the top and it was time to suck it up and do it. Then, I looked around and saw the majestic beauty that surrounded me. I was in Antarctica on a ladder looking down over Europa. The cloud-dotted sky was reflected in the ocean and the sun beamed brightly on the crisp, white snow. The cliffs darted up into the sky and dropped off deep into the sea creating more shades of blue than I knew existed. The goal shouldn’t have been to climb over a ledge. Who cares? I had Antarctica below me within reach. I caught sight of the shore and what I had already accomplished was glorious.

Climbing the Rigging on Bark Europa

I was so caught up in the task that I forgot what I was doing up there in the first place. I stopped, took a deep breath, lived in the moment above Europa, took a few photos and a video, and climbed back down. I’ll save climbing over the ledge for another day and it is okay with me. I’m not defeated; I’m just getting started.

The View from the Rigging on Bark Europa

It was only the day after I accepted defeat that I was able to climb over the edge and sit on the platform above Europa. Something in me changed. It wasn’t a necessity anymore. I had nothing to prove. I had already proven that I can’t do everything the first time.

Aloft on Bark Europa

A sat on my lofty perch for over an hour looking out at the ocean and the watching the dolphins splash in the waves below.

I thought about the fear that had gripped me just minutes before and played it over and over in my head to understand it better. Where was it coming from? Was it mental or physical? What changed to make me put my hands on the higher rung and pull?

Can we truly understand fear? I think if I can, I can master it. Sometimes, like in this case, we have to shut off our brains and let our bodies do the work. All it was, in essence, was putting one foot in front of the other. The next time I fear something similar, I will reflect back to this moment and push forward.

“To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around.” Richie Norton

 

Without Bark Europa, Whitecaps Marine, and Pilotur, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity wouldn’t have been possible.

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39 thoughts on “Catching Sight of the Shore from Bark Europa

  1. I once asked a psychologist friend, “How do I deal with the fear I feel” when going through major life changes. She said, “You go through it.” After that it was easier to feel fear and to say, “I am going to do this regardless of how I feel.” And I did.

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  2. It seems to me Leslie, that conquering fear gets easier, but a little fear is always a good thing when doing something dangerous. I liked how you described your frustration, and then the smile afterwards. It was definitely a hundred watt smile. –Curt

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  3. “Something in me changed!”
    I love this line! What a great testimony and testament to your strength, faith and endurance! You ARE forever changed.

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  4. There are some things in your life you just need to achieve for you, not for anyone else, Lesley 🙂 Now doing a casual job in fire spotter towers, I have no option but to climb the ladders up and down (my fear of heights is impressive) and there is no one to judge or help. It is fantastic to see you got there in the end and took some fantastic shots. Putting one foot in front of another is the best way to do it. We all climb (trek) alone and one step at a time is the only way will get to out goals. Well done!

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  5. Thank you for sharing your fears. Not only did you beat your fear you wrote about it! And thank you for sharing the gorgeous photos! I’ll bet taking those made it extra worth while being up there so high!

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  6. I wondered at first why you felt you ‘had’ to climb it ( in battle mode that is!) When we take a course of action because we LOVE to – where’s the fear! If the love to do anything is not there why do it?
    So, if such a situation arises again Lesley One would suggest you asked yourself that question. Am I motivated by Love or just a ‘mental concept of conquest’ for the sake of conquest?

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  7. That is the process. Everyone has superstitions. They arise from childhood traumas, ineffable metaphors, and recurrent nightmares. Ultimately it is the triumph of reason over superstition.

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  8. More than once I have been at a point where i felt fear, but then some rational voiceover starts talking and says “Really? How many people have truly died doing what you are trying to do?” and somehow that propels me over.

    I am VERY proud of you! I knew you’d do it, but better yet, you came terms with it on your on AND put it in perspective. Antarctica: Big deal. Climbing over stupid thing: Maybe not so much.

    Happy for you! and great pics!

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  9. When I was fourteen I went on the Malcolm Miller a sail training ship and always regret not having the courage to climb to the top of the main mast. Whilst you often forget the details of your achievements, your failures are deeply embedded and always come back to haunt you. Well done you:)

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  10. I KNEW it!

    “I struggle with accepting defeat. I didn’t want to hear how I can try again or that I don’t have to do it or that it’s okay. I felt angry to even hear the words. I would rather others look me in the face and say, “Wow, you really blew that one” than to try and make me feel better. I’m angry at myself for being defeated and I’m angry at others for encouraging defeat. I need someone to say that it’s not ok to quit. I need someone to say that I’m not a coward so stop acting like one.”

    I think what you needed was to be less hard on yourself and learn to forgive yourself for moments of failure.

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  11. Well done! Fear us fascinating because we often feel it for a reason and in those circumstances it can serve us well, but when the reason is imagined – we need to push through it. Despite the fact that your fear seemed very reasonable to me, I really doubt the sailing company would encourage their customers to do anything that was really dangerous.

    I love the images of Antarctica!

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  12. I am glad you finally overcame your obstacle and made it up and over. However I think you may have been looking at it with the wrong attitude. You were down on yourself because you could not put your fear aside. Without fear there are no heroes. Most heroes are on an adrenaline high when performing the heroic act and do not even remember most of what went on. You had a lot of time to think, you did not give up, but you did not want commiseration, rather you wanted to be told to get over it and get on with it. Whatever works! I myself am desperately afraid of heights. I have had to climb across a cliff face because there was no other way, I was terrified the whole time, do not remember much, just the terror! Did that make me brave, I think not! Do not live your life thinking there are things you must do because you are afraid of them. It does not diminish you. I am glad you conquered this particular fear as it made you happy, just do not let this set a precident of how you think, or control what you do. Ok, done preaching for today!

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  13. Pingback: My Tall Ship Adventures – Going aloft and overcoming fear | Spoons, Sailing, CRPS and Penguins

  14. Climbing that high on something, man made, it is quite normal to feel fear. It’d be more worrisome if you did not… No sense beating yourself up over it. Remember getting stuck on a climb one time, without a rope. When I finally got up there, tourists on the ground applauded. I was just glad I was still alive. Just sayin’

    “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” Helen Keller

    It’s just one of those things. They used to climb because they had to on board, now because we want to, more or less. So, it’s normal, besides other things, that your body feels fear. Why climb up there? To enjoy the view. To be ‘brave’. Doesn’t make sense to the body. So you feel fear, more than if you had to climb to survive.

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  15. “Why do we say it’s okay when someone can’t conquer their fears? Why do we immediately default with accepting fear? Is it unhuman to expect greatness?”

    These words really touched my core. It’s exactly the same reaction I would have. I certainly don’t have any answers for you, but I know where the questions come from. Because of your skill in writing, I shared your defeat and your moment of being able to look around you and take in the enormity of your journey that totally overwhelmed the small task you had in front of you. I am glad you made it to the platform, but I am more glad to find out how strong of a woman you are, in that the day before you found a new perspective. That is beautiful and powerful.

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  16. #PiloturBLP I like that the watch comes with an exclusive matt massive brushed steel bracelett in titanium look and a black water repellant leather starp. (strap) Loved reading about your trip too.

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  17. This is AWESOME Lesley! I read the post and did some more research on the Europa…. It has soooo many ties to Greek Mythology and the fact that you were on a ship that is over 100 years old is dope! I am digging this blog the more and more I read. #PiloturBLP

    Liked by 1 person

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