Again, its a matter of control and TRUST. When I am with a captain who obviously knows his boat and controls it well, I have less anxiety about heeling, etc. When someone who is obviously NOT relaxed and in control of the boat is in charge (me or another person - my boat or another boat), then my anxiety and tension goes up.
I agree with this; and let me be the first to say that in the instance of our botched sea-trial I immediately decided that we would not be going out for the full daysail. Since I felt we were not sailing with much control in the entrance channel (tacking on close reaches, inattentive crew, no defined skipper); I decided that it was enough after 3 tacks and we motored back to the marina.
In regards to my GF's recent bout with sailing anxiety; it is more relative to her overall level of anxiety before she even sets foot on the boat. The stresses of her every-day life as a school teacher are carrying over and giving rise to other fears (like heeling) when there is no reason to be afraid. The two crossing situations I mentioned are in her mind "near collisions"; when really we were never in any danger of such. I have asked her if she is not confident with me as a skipper and she said that she is more confident when I am at the helm than with anyone else. When we sailed two weeks ago we sailed much closer to other boats and the owner(s) had less concern about the possibility of collision than I would have had. I think it showed her that you can sail in close proximity to other boats without getting into a dangerous situation. Again; if it were just her and me we would never be maneuvering so close to other boats unless it was required for some reason. I think her fear is more associated to the fact that other boats are "unknowns" in sailing ability and ability to control their craft and stay clear of running into us (not us running into them). SF bay is a hectic mess of pleasure craft, ferries, tugs, ships, and races; especially so on the weekends. We do fine in most cases staying clear of all of them; but that day ~2 months ago was a rare day when the foolhearty were in the majority.
The photo in my avatar is of us doublehanding; I know it's difficult to see but we were heeled to the rail touching the water in about 20kts of wind. This was before her recent bout with sailing anxiety.
More pictures of that day are here: Lyons Imaging :: Our Galleries- powered by SmugMug
If you look at the later photos in the series can see that she is at ease with our sailing heel; we spilled then reefed as we passed through the windy spot between Angel Island and Sausalito (lovingly known as Hurricane Gulch on SF Bay). We both felt good about the sail and were enjoying the robust wind and flat water.