Branka ValcicLiving on Boat1 Comment


This summer, my husband was away on business for two weeks, which left me in charge of our boat – I was the captain, oh, what glory!

I have been sailing the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea with my husband for nineteen years. We’ve sailed in Scotland too. I attended and loved a skipper course off the West Coast of Scotland. Yet, before my husband left for his trip, I was terrified. For days my belly hurt as I envisioned all the stuff that could go wrong while I was in charge of the boat and my child and friend were on board.

Too soon I felt, my husband handed me the captain’s baton and was gone. My friend arrived, finding me in charge and bless her, she didn’t even flinch. There was nothing to do but to sail out of port and head off for our adventure.

The weight of responsibility came crushing down on me. Still, we sailed out well and through the coming days my stomachache eased as my confidence rose. Repeatedly, I discovered how much I knew and how vast my experience was. I thought back to many an argument my husband and I had while I was learning the ropes, proverbial and actual, then to the times when I thought I knew loads and was convinced he was squelching me. Those years we argued constantly. The same friend who was with me this summer was with us then and she came up with a title Nautical Domestics for a book my husband and I would write about all that arguing and what we’ve learned from it, if only we could agree what that was exactly.

Back then I felt my husband was not giving me the entitlement I deserved. I used to tell everyone who would listen that we were co-captains. I mean, we deliberated over decisions together, I woke up (as did he) when wind as much as puffed or changed direction. I was kept awake by the anchor chain swinging over rocky bottoms. I checked things around the boat. I knew what we were doing. I was at the wheel most of the time, giving orders to (and being exasperated by) “my crew”. My husband smiled at all this knowingly. He repeatedly acknowledged I knew loads and could take the boat out by myself. Yet, he insisted there could only be one captain on the boat. I smirked.

Then one day during the two weeks he was gone this summer, I started to get the boat ready to leave a bay we’ve been moored in and head to a village for re-stocking. I told my son and friend there was time for another swim. I almost went into the sea with them – something I would have done had my husband been there – but stopped myself in time. We needed to be in the village before the shop closed. There was so much still to do before we could leave and I was the one to do it.

While tiding up, checking ropes, making sure all was ready for departure, I watched the two of them frolic in the sea and thought how many times my husband did what I was doing now while I frolicked in the sea. In the evenings when my son and I were tucked into our bunks, my husband walked around the boat checking everything once more before he too could go to bed. When we anchored somewhere and conditions were such that the boat couldn’t be left alone on anchor, he remained on the boat while my son and I ran errands.

I sat on the boat, waiting for my friend and son to return from the village, worrying about being docked in someone else’s spot. If it weren’t for this, I would have worried about something else. And then it hit me! Who is the captain? It is the One Who Worries!

The captain takes care of the boat while others frolic in the sea or sleep at night. For two nights in a row we had a storm, and I was on watch. Sure, I could have woken my friend up to take over, but then both of us would have been awake since I wouldn’t have been able to sleep anyway. I was the one responsible for the security of the crew and boat. I have to admit that when my husband came back from his trip, I gladly handed him back the captain’s baton. It sure was nice not to be the One Who Worries … at least for the time being.

I envision the day though when I will be the captain, but not the One Who Worries. Instead, I will know in my heart whether or not something needs to be done and what that something is. Instead of being the One Who Worries I will be the One Who Listens With Her Heart And Knows.

One Comment on ““Captain”

  1. Nicola Cook

    Another great post, Branka :-)
    A truly descriptive one for any of us who are left in charge of anything, but expecially true of boats and children :-)
    Look forward to your next one…

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