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17 March 2017

Afraid Of Heights? Mud Dauber Wasps Are The Cure

Do you remember this picture of Indiantown Marina from the top of our mast I posted last week? Let me tell you a little more about this crazy adventure.


The top of our mast is about 46' above the water. Just think about that for a moment. If you fall, it's 46' to the water. That's a long, long way down. You're probably thinking that at least the water would cushion your fall, but remember, these are alligator infested swamps we're talking about. And the water isn't all that deep, so you'd probably smack into the bottom and then get eaten by the gators. Sounds like a fun way to go, doesn't it.

Chances are you'd probably land on top of the deck anyway, crunching a few bones in the process. A marginally better outcome.

You're probably asking yourself, "Why would anyone in their right mind go to the top of a mast? I can think of better ways to spend the day, like spending a peaceful afternoon planting petunias in the garden."

You'd be right. It's an incredibly insane thing to do. Unfortunately, sometimes it has to be done, either to install something (like an antenna), fix something (like an antenna) or check the rigging, which is why I went up.

Now you're probably asking yourself, "How'd you get drafted into this?"

Here's the answer:

"I didn't eat enough cookies!"

While I'm sure my doctor would be happy with that answer, I really wish I had had more cookies in the past few months and put on a lot of weight.

You see, you usually send the smallest person up the mast because someone down below has to crank you up by hand. Scott is 6' tall and I'm 5' tall, with a corresponding difference in weight. That meant I drew the short straw. Yipee.

Here's how it works (you know, just in case you want to try this yourself at home). You sit in a bosun's chair, which is basically a board which you strap yourself onto. It has rings through the front which you tie a line to. I also wore a harness which we tied a safety line to. The idea is that if the line attached to your bosun's chair breaks, your safety line will save you. Such a comforting thought.

Here's what it looks like in action. That's our boat neighbor, Dave, standing at the bow of the boat. Our friend Bruce helped out too (he's hidden behind the mast). And that's Scott on the right hand side. He's camera shy, hence the cute cat head superimposed on him.

Cute cat head via The Graphics Fairy.

Have I mentioned I'm afraid of heights? Fortunately, I found the perfect cure for my feelings of anxiety as I made my way up the mast - mud dauber wasps.

We had had a mud dauber nest on one of our spreaders, but Scott had knocked it down a while back. Turns out he didn't get them all. When I got up to the spreaders (the things that stick out halfway up the mast), I found two mud daubers eying me suspiciously. I think I may have screamed a little at that point.

Now, I know that some of you are going to say that mud daubers are sweet and gentle and wouldn't hurt a fly. But, they're wasps. Wasps! Things that sting and possibly make you have to go to the emergency room because you're allergic to them. Wasps!

 
No wonder I screamed. While I was screaming, I completely forgot about how high up I was. I tried to shoo them away, but they kept coming back. So, I got out my scissors from my pouch and knocked their nest off and then I screamed some more. This time, for Scott to hoist me further up in the air in case they came back for vengeance.

See, mud daubers totally cured me of my fear of heights. I actually demanded to go higher up the mast. Crazy.

Here I am at the very tippy-top.


While I was up there, I tried to take pictures with my phone, but it was all sweaty and I was afraid I was going to drop it. Here's one I managed to take. You can see our boat neighbors, Dave and Anne, along with my finger. We could have sold tickets and popcorn. We put on quite a show for everyone.

That's Scott down there taking pictures of me and having a cup of coffee. Sure is nice being able to chill out and relax while your wife is hanging out on top of the mast keeping an eye out for mud daubers.


And this is me coming back down. I look much happier. Going down is always a better feeling, especially when there aren't any more mud daubers to torment you.

I rarely have pictures of myself on the blog, but I figured my mom is probably beside herself now that she's just read about how I was 46' above the water so I thought I'd throw in a close-up to kind of make it up to her. 


Thanks heaps to Bruce and Michele from Sailing Wind Spirit for taking some of the pictures.

Are you afraid of heights? Have you ever been up a mast? Have you ever been stung by a wasp?

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35 comments:

  1. Eek! Is all I can say. Also nice to meet face to face as it were.

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    1. It was a definitely an experience which caused me to say "Eek!" more than once :-)

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  2. That is so high! Between the height and the wasps, I probably would've fainted. Now that would've been a picture! :)

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    1. I never thought about what would happen if you fainted up there. Now that's a scary thought!

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  3. I'm not afraid but I'm not crazy about heights either. And wasps of any variety would've kept me on the boat.
    It has consequences, but less cookies is better for you.

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    1. I'm really torn about the whole cookie thing - less is better, but more is sometimes better too :-)

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  4. I'm afraid of heights too, but my husband is more afraid of heights. I could do what you did, but I wouldn't have liked it. It has to be done and I'm glad you got rid of the wasps too. I've been stung by them and it hurts.

    Nice to meet you too. So that's what you look like. Awesome.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I've never been stung by a bee or wasp and hope to keep it that way :-)

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  5. Cookies!

    Heights make me sweaty as well, but I also strangely enjoy the thrill, the danger of them. Wasps on the other hand, I don't care for them at all. Yellow Jackets are my least favorite. Once, some nested in our eaves and found their way inside on a regular basis. Screaming was mandatory.

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    1. We used to have a mud dauber nest somewhere inside our boat. They would hatch - one a day - and come flying out into the cabin. There was a lot of screaming.

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  6. Good for you, so glad you got the job done and didn't splat into the water and get attached by the gators, or have to have Scott mop you up from the deck!

    Nice to finally put a face to the name. You looked good up there. Congratulations on a job well done. :-)

    www.travelwithkevinandruth.com

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    1. I'm very glad I got the job done too without any horrible consequences :-)

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  7. I'm not particularly fond of heights, but I'm not afraid of them either.


    www.ficklemillennial.com

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  8. What a great photo, sister! And much braver than I ever could be!

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    1. Was it bravery or stupidity? I figured mom would like seeing a photo.

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  9. At just a bit over 5 feet, I'd be the one going up, too. Despite the wasps though, I'd love it. Heights thrill me. (That's why I'm a roller coaster junkie.)

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    1. It's strange - I love roller coasters, but other things involving heights freak me out.

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  10. The perfect excuse to eat more cookies, I think! Fortunately, David always goes up the mast in some sort of act of chivalry (or it could be he knows me well enough to understand I'd probably panic and either end up stuck at the top or fall down somehow). But it's not something he relishes for all of the reasons you listed in your post!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

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    1. You're lucky that your arrangement involved hoisting David up and not the other way around.

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  11. You deserve double chocolate in your cookies for making that ascent. I have yet to do it. Our mast is 63 feet above the water. It makes me shudder just to think of it but how fair is it for Mike to be the one all the time? I could take a xanax and then do it, maybe. Good for you having two safety lines.

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    1. 63' above water - yikes! I would need more than just one xanax to do that.

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  12. No. Yes. Yes. On our first boat, I went up the mast. But, on the cat, Mark's fear of heights had improved and I hoisted him up. He has more boat knowledge, so I preferred him to asses the mast and rigging. And, despite being taller, he is lighter than me!! Interesting timing of this blog... Accidents (like the one with the 18-year-old on a tall ship in Jamaica on Tuesday) unfortunately do happen. :-( Safety lines, very important!

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    1. I saw what happened to that young woman in Jamaica. So tragic. I didn't realize that she didn't have a safety line. Very glad I had one.

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  13. Yes afraid, no never been, yes have been stung. I wouldn't know what to do, or what I was looking at even if I went up the mast. I'm going to keep it that way. Ignorance is bliss. You deserve as many cookies as you want for actually doing it.

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  14. Wasps I don't mind and try to ignore. Heights: I hate and avoid by not flying nor going on roller coasters, and I eat too many cookies. (We went by liner to US when moving - on the Queen Mary II.)

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    1. I love the fact that you took the Queen Mary II back to the States. What a fabulous way to travel.

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    2. Seven days of luxury - especially for the dogs with their Kennel Masters and 'poop' deck.

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  15. Replies
    1. It feels even higher once you're up there :-)

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  16. Very brave woman. Height is not so bad for me. Wasps are. I would have risked gator infested waters and taken a nose dive right from there!

    I have an even more awesome respect for you!

    - Lisa

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  17. Congrats on going wayyy up there! We haven't been up our mast yet .. Part of me wants to get it behind me and part of me wants to avoid it at all costs! The recent tragedy doesn't help, but I'd definitely have a safety backup. You've earned chocolate chip cookies for a month!

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  18. Well done Ellen. That's a tough thing to do. Good for you getting over the fears. Treat yourself to a few cookies.

    Mark and Cindy
    sv Cream Puff

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