essays by shé


I did it: sailed around the Sea of Cortez for five days with four strangers and learned to helm a boat.


The hardest part was the four strangers. Several were loud and chatty. Distracting. But then Doubt is loud and chatty, so I had to deal with it anyway.

There were three written tests, and many physical and mental challenges. Can I raise and lower a heavy anchor by myself? Yes. Can I raise and lower a heavy sail by myself? Yes. Can I trim the sails alone? Yes. Can I steer in heavy wind? Yes.

It was fucking fabulous, after the terror wore off on Day Two.

On Day Four I awoke and all the dots were connecting, theory becoming practical knowledge. How to solve the problem of the too-heavy snubber on the anchor chain? Another classmate’s method of hauling it aboard was not feasible. In the quiet dawn light near Isla Partida the answer came: tie a line to a winch to hold it and then detach the snubber, freeing the chain. (A snubber keeps the weight and strain of the anchor chain off the windlass. A windlass is a winch that controls the chain, so you can raise and lower it.)

There is always a solution.

The best part? Passing my own test: sailing single-handed and living on a boat is not a delusional dream. Doubt is appeased, and Confidence reigns (for the time being).


Shé learning to sail on the Sea of Cortez, May 2023
Shé learning to sail on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, May 2023, photo by Captain Chuck Hashbarger

2 responses to “Certified”

  1. k Avatar

    Damn, you’re really gett’n it–this is awesome! So glad sailing speaks to you–it’s a universal language–and you speak it’s language in writing beautifully.

    1. Shé Avatar

      You are so kind. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: