Lucy, you are approaching this matter with exactly the right mix of reasoned self-dialogue and systematic desensitization that will almost surely see you through. Bravo. What's tougher to analyze than the physical forces are the social forces in play. Some people are intimidated into silence when part of a group or lesson. Others complain loudly, overstating their discomfort to make sure it registers. Some find a leader who takes charge and radiates confidence a soothing or empowering thing; other retreat into passivity and helplessness. THAT'S a nasty dynamic, especially when spousal or filial entanglements are involved.
And what makes it harder, the same people can exhibit radically differing traits on one day versus another. A person normally at ease with heeling or helming a boat may, some Wednesday evening, decide they really don't feel up to it. Others may reason with them, say "It was windier than this Saturday, you were steering us straight into the breakers and laughing like a madwoman!" All the unhappy parson can do is shrug and say, "I just am not enjoying it right now."
Used to happen in rock climbing all the time, where partner dynamics are life-and-death. First rule: Never belittle another person's anxiety. It is real to them, and trying to minimize it will only make them guilty or defensive. Second: Maybe their fears are not groundless -- there's something about the swells that presages danger, or the boat is responding badly, or the whole top of the mountain you are climbing is fixing to fall on you; if you want them to trust your instincts, you ought to trust theirs. Third: Someday, you will be the one having a bad day, or feeling put-upon or shouted-at, or seasick, or overcome with forebodings. Respect the qualms of others because we all have our breaking points.
Finding the right boat, sailing grounds, cruising style, and partner(s) takes time and broad experience, some of it likely unpleasant. Fortunately sailing offers plenty of avenues you can try out. Luck and peace.
Albin Ballad 30, Fionn
Last edited by bobmcgov; 06-16-2008 at 10:03 PM.