Bahamas Trip Fears

My wife and I have enjoyed several COPA trips. The announcement of the upcoming Bahamas trip, sounded fun, and I shared this with my wife…

Her initial reaction was NO WAY - not gonna fly over water…Then - she wrote this heart felt document - I asked her permission to share… so, enjoy.

Bahama Trip Fears - Patti Bassett

I sit at the breakfast table alone with my cold coffee
staring at the brochure that my husband had ever so casually left for me to
see. The brochure was touting a trip to
the Bahamas with deluxe accommodations at a resort on a pink sand beach. The pictures of the beach and the resort
property is appealing, of that there is no doubt.

When I said I was alone at the table, that wasn’t entirely
true. I was sitting with my near
constant companions - fear and anxiety.
They’d been with me for years and though I had been in therapy for years
(and I do mean that literally) there they sat.
They were burdens I carried with me day after day, heavy on my shoulders
and burrowed deep in my mind.

It’s not that I didn’t want to go to a fancy resort and
pretend that I was Bo Derek as I lounged near the ocean. It was the plane ride. My husband and I own a plane and before you
get all excited, it’s a small plane. It
has one little whirly-girly blade on the front and if it stops you’re screwed,
more or less.

Over the years I had become more willing and able to fly
over land, probably because it was just that - terra firma. If there was a problem, and there never had
been, at least you were still going to have dry feet. Flying over the ocean was a different deal
all together. The trip, in a small
plane, takes 90 minutes over the deep blue sea and that was the problem. A huge problem for me.

To be sure we’d be wearing life vests, have a raft on board
and be flying pretty much together with other pilots anxious to be rid of
winter, even if just for a few days.
There was just something about being over the ocean, which is way over
my head. I don’t swim and have a fear of
water if it’s above my knees.

While I contemplated my decision to go/not go, I grilled my husband
on proper disaster etiquette. When and
how did you get the raft out of the plane?
As a non-swimmer I wanted to be clear about how I was going to even be
able to get in the raft. Did he expect
me to jump? That hardly seemed
likely. The Nervous Nell in me wanted

I brooded over my decision for a day. The brochure remained in place on the
table. I knew three things for certain:
(1) I could delay my decision until there would be no room at “the inn” for
us. If that happened then I would be
absolved, in my mind, of denying my husband this wonderful trip; (2) declining,
no that’s not the right word, refusing to go altogether based on any number of made
up excuses; but, fear and anxiety not being among them; or (3) pull up my big
girl panties, and decide that I was going to go come hell or high water

I went on the web - whatever did we do before it was
invented? I know we didn’t just drop
everything and run to the library and consult with an encyclopedia. Remember those? I checked out the resort - pricey but
beautiful, read the reviews and knew without a doubt that I/we deserved these
few days in paradise. The cost of the
room was way out of my husband’s comfort zone, not to mention what it was going
to cost us in fuel for the plane, rental of life vests and rafts, etc. You get
the idea.

In the morning I still hadn’t been able to come up with a
decision. As I was leaving for work, I
penned a note on the brochure, “I’m thinking.”
On my way into the office that day I argued with myself. I knew, as did everyone around me, that we deserved this trip. Everybody needs something to look forward to
and unfortunately we usually only looked forward to work and more work (we work
full time and run two family businesses on the side - can you say drama). I argued about the “what if’s”. What was the worst, the absolute worst, thing
that could happen to us? You already
know the answer - we don’t come back.
And, if that were to happen I sure hoped it was on the return trip!

Once at the office, I polled my co-workers. Would you go? Even in a small plane over the
ocean? The answer was a resounding yes.
Apparently, my co-workers know me almost as well as I know myself. I showed them the website and several of them
said they would be happy to go in my place and would take their chances over
the ocean.

I talked to a close friend who doesn’t even like flying
commercially and he told me to go. He,
as well as my husband and I, have both suffered losses in our family that have
changed our lives and who we are forever.
He understood my fears and said “go for it. Everybody needs some happiness now and then.”

I was convinced. With
the picture of the ocean and the pink sand beach on my computer screen, I
called my husband. All I said was, “Book
it Dan-o before I change my mind.” He
took me at my word and made our reservation that day. As a condition for going, and he would have
done it anyway, I asked that the plane be checked from top to bottom - or
whirly gig to tail more appropriately.

I have nearly two months before it’s “wheels up” but I’m
already on Ebay, which is my all time favorite shopping site, looking for some
kind of lacey cover-up which will allow me to embrace my inner Bo Derek as I
walk along the beach.

For now, I have kicked fear and anxiety to the curb, at
least as far as this trip is concerned.
Will they return? Likely, but I’m
determined to go anyway. I’m going to
drink something that comes with an umbrella on the side and for just a few days
soak my body and soul in the Bahamas sun.


Jeff and Patti,

Nice opening post for your trip. I’m looking forward to updates.

Here are two unrelated thoughts, in no particular order.

  1. In considering these things, everyone uses a different mix of emotion and logic. Not much we can do about that. However, on the logic side of things, I would submit (a) we know that an emergency loss of power is an extremely rare event – that is why we are willing to fly over land and (b) an emergency loss of power over warm Caribbean waters is more likely to have a safe and happy outcome than having the same event over land. In other words, if you are emotionally able to fly over land – and I gather that you are – then with proper preparation you should feel safer, not less safe, over the Caribbean.

  2. This kind of trip has a significant “adventure” aspect to it. You will talk about it for years. You will see a slightly different person in the mirror each morning after you have experienced the adventure.

Nancy and I are looking forward to seeing y’all in Fort Pierce and on Harbour Island!

You could take the land (scenic) route. West Palm to Grand Bahama, across to Abaco, fly down the length of Abaco, and then hop over to Eleuthera. Fly high, land is always in sight (looking out the back window to the us in the beginning). This certainly might be the best non-swimmer route.


My wife Sandy and I did the trip with COPA a few years ago. It was one of the best things we have done. As you say; it is a 90 minute flight and there will be many of Cirrus with you. The flight is over before you even get settled.

The fact that you don’t swim is probably your major fear point. Fear is a hard thing to overcome, but the best way is to meet it head on. That is what you are doing. You might want to get some swim practice also with clothes on. Once you see that you can actually keep your head above the water and dog paddle and not take in water that will help. Do it with an instructor that knows how to help adults.

Enjoy the trip. If you want to talk to Sandy about the flight, Jeff knows my number.

As has been said, facts only help to a degree. But it still has to be said: Because of CAPS, you own the one kind of plane where that statement above is way, way more wrong than it is with any one-whirly-girly-only plane. And it’s quite wrong with those to begin with.


Thanks for a really good note.

You are not alone in this anxiety. This note, and the follow up notes, will be important to others as well as you. The fear is worth conquering. Small planes and the out islands go together like bread and butter. The Bahamas are spectacular, and the company can’t be beat- you’ll make friends for life. Life is too short to let anxiety win.

So bring a camera, and bring your notebook, 'cause I want to hear what happens next.

And I’m speaking strictly for Jim K here, because he’s very shy- post a couple of those Bo Derek shots when you get a minute.

Atta’girl, Patti!

I’m no psychiatrist but the only solution to this problem has already been found:

"… I have kicked fear and anxiety to the curb… ."

From the letter, it seems clear the airplane and the upcoming trip are only the current subjects of an attachment to fear and anxiety. I suspect that anxiety is a problem this bright lady has to deal with throughout her daily life. She is not alone.

Seeing that she has just decided to plow through this and make the trip might be one step in resolving what appears to be a general anxiety problem. Maybe trying to find help in resolving it more might make more things in life more enjoyable and less stressful.

But when fear is an instinct, trying to rationalize the “safety” of the flight to her is not going to motivate nor make her enjoy it any better.

Good for her to push through and Just Do It. But maybe some help with resolving the underlying general anxiety that is expressed will help a lot more overall in life!

I have been witness to the progression of Jeff’s flying career and the subsequent acceptance by Patti for a few years now. She was a real trooper making the trip to Dayton with Jeff 2 years ago and this is just the next chapter for someone who does not know how to swim.
Patti writes like a novelist and is a fabulous story teller. I give her a lot of credit for what she has done to date. The real problems for those with fears are doing nothing about them. That clearly is not her.

I agree with you 100% Brian, I see her determination as well as her anxiety. My comments were more directed towards reinforcing resolving the underlying anxiety than others well intentioned attempts to rationalize the “safety” of the equipment. The equipment is never enough if there is fear of sharks eating right through the raft, for example. (Ooops, sorry for the nightmares Patti [:#])