Fear is one of those emotions that everyone can relate to on some level. Some of us 'live in fear' and some are 'fearless' but all of us know what it means and how it feels. Travelling is a hobby that will confronts the majority of the most common fears, from flying to gross insects all the way through to the biggest fear of all - the unknown. I'm no stranger to this despite my travel addiction and whilst on the whole, I am pretty low on the fear scale for most things I encounter (totally cool with cockroaches now...I think) there is one thing that shakes me to my core and leaves me so frightened I have actual panic attacks.
OMG I HATE BOATS. I don't know why, or how this started.....because I've been on plenty (all those
booze cheese runs to France on the cross channel ferry as a child) but it actually seems to get worse, not better with age and quantity.
I love island hopping, but despite having been to Thailand almost 12 times - I have still only been to a grand total of 3 different islands! All chosen for their proximity to the mainland (Koh Samet) or an airport (Koh Samui) and Koh Tao? Well.....I figured I had to bite the bullet at some point, and whilst I am beyond happy that I did, the journey to and from the island was, for me, pretty traumatic.
This time around, I am planning to visit 6 different islands...and at least 8 white knuckle rides on an Asian boat. Lucky me.
In all seriousness, I know how ridiculous it is to be frightened of a safe form of transport and if I'm brutally honest, it is kinda specific to South East Asia. I have been on boats in Sri Lanka and Australia that were far longer a journey than the jaunts I take in Thailand, but the main difference is in my perception of safety.
I'm sure you will have heard of Indonesian boat sinkings? No? Well, they happen with alarming regularity (August 2014 saw and one of the travel bloggers who I regularly read was even shipwrecked on a Perama boat tour to Komodo a few years back. Adventurous Kate's post really made me think about safety and just how far below Western standards some boats can fall. On her boat, there weren't even enough life jackets for everyone and the life boats failed. Luckily, the boat wasn't full so everyone was able to wear one and got off the boat safely but it was a traumatic experience for sure.
I'm currently writing this post from Indonesia, which you probably know as the worlds biggest archipelago.....aka you need to get over your boat fear. We haven't actually got too much time here, and as our time has been cut from 5 to less than 2 months away we've been exclusively in Bali (which we LOVE) however we have made the, admittedly very short, boat ride over to Nusa Lembongan where we are currently sunning ourselves.
That boat ride was horrific.
We picked one of the most 'expensive' boats based on their fantastic trip advisor reviews and I'm glad we did because they truly were great (Rocky, if you are interested) however the sea was very rough and about half way through we were rocking the casbah in some seriously big waves. Up to that point, I'd had a serious word with myself a few times and remained, on the whole, calm (side note - calm, for me!) but with 10 mins to go (I told you, such a quick trip!) I started hyperventilating and clinging to poor Oli (he puts up with A LOT) convinced that we were almost certainly and in the very near future, going to meet a watery grave underneath the speed boat.
I'm sure you will be both surprised, and happy to note that we made it to dry land without incident. Well, without serious incident anyway. The small matter of my hands going numb from the lack of oxygen (an effect of hyperventilating) is in truth, a minor incident.....except to me, it's a pretty big deal.
Short of popping several valium every time I'm off dry land (which I definitely will be doing for the return trip next week) I don't know what to do. People afraid of flying, are usually met with a barrage of statistics on how aviation is the safest form of travel. I should know, I'm often the annoying mouthpiece doling this super helpful info out. But no one says that to me when they hear my phobia.....there's no "you are way more likely to be kicked to death by a donkey than die in a plane crash!", a fact I'm not entirely sure is even remotely comforting anyway.
So, are boats safe? Does anyone have any tips for me?! Readers - I need your help!