SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
The odds of finding that perfect someone who makes you happy, compliments your personality, loves you as much as you love them, and is willing to overlook your faults are so overwhelmingly against us that half of us don't get it right. Just as difficult is the struggle to create the perfect chain of events that allows you to enjoy a life of adventure, requiring preparation, perseverance, and more than a little luck. So how do you ensure that your new desire to sail away doesn't adversely affect your relationship with that special someone? The best way is to stay on shore. That's not to say that you can't have a happy relationship onboard a traveling, floating home. Just don't fool yourself into thinking it's going to be easy.
Your first challenge is to get your partner to buy into the adventure with you. Not just agree to it, perhaps begrudgingly, but to be truly excited and prepared to join in the planning and execution of the land to boat transfer. Many couples don't get past this point. Dozens of times we've heard, "Oh, I'd love to do what you guys do, but my wife wouldn't go for it." I often wonder if that doesn't say more about the speaker, than his wife. Is there a reason she wouldn't want to live in a tiny space with you, with her life often dependent on your decisions, choices, and even maintenance schedule? Have you been sailing with your partner before? If you are the captain (and if it's your idea to take the plunge, chances are good that you are), how do you treat your crew?
If you're truly trying to convince your partner to share a life afloat with you, here's some advice from the once reluctant half of this floating couple. Don't force the issue. Moving onboard is hard enough on a relationship, but you don't want to set yourself up for the "I knew this was a bad idea" and "I told you so" that will be spouted when something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. Instead of trying to tell her how great it will be, show her. Buy (or better yet, borrow) a small boat, even a sailing dinghy, and take her sailing. If she doesn't already know how to sail let her learn from sailing with you in a small boat or from a friend who sails or through trial and error. Notice I didn't say "teach her." Only the best of partnerships do well when one half tries to teach the other half something that is more instinctual than methodical. Such things as "It's easy" and "NO, just do what feels right" do not generally endear you to anyone. Once she understands the basics of sailing, spends a few nights out on the water (even if it's camping-style) you may find that she starts to dream of sailing away, too. Some strategically placed books never hurt, either.
Now that she's a sailor at heart, there are some other tactics that may help your case. Assure her that you will share the duties onboard. Maybe even start doing your share of chores while you're still on land, to prove your point. You may think that anyone would want to be your galley slave. She may think differently. Discuss specifically how duties will be shared. Life on our boat is much like it was on land: Dave cooks, I do the dishes and (now that the kids are gone) we split pretty evenly the other duties, with a few exceptions. Dave performs all maintenance on our boats, but he's the yacht carpenter. I do the majority of the stowing of goods (and keeping track thereof) and the organization onboard, but then that has always been my forte. How you divide labor isn't as important as the fact that it IS divided as evenly as possible.
One habit of Dave's that has contributed to my continued enjoyment of the lifestyle is that he gives me options. I always have choices, leaving me with the (perhaps false) impression that I'm not being forced into anything; I am picking my poison. He offered the first major option that kept my sanity at least close at hand as we were preparing to make the initial move. "If we get out there and it sucks, we can always stop somewhere, get jobs again, sell the boat, buy a house and pretend this was just a vacation." Having that fall back plan helped me get through some of the more stressful times of our first few years.
You've taught your partner to love sailing, convinced her that living aboard a boat would be not too much work, and not only do-able but fun. Now your challenge is to find a boat she will agree to live on. Our daughter-in-law has agreed to entertain our youngest son's dream of sailing away. (Poor thing. Young love makes you do all sorts of stupid shit, doesn't it?) But she has made a request--which should be read as "demand" if this situation is to be successful. She wants a boat that has a bunk for their son with a door that they can close. Not a huge request, but one that shouldn't be taken lightly. Our grandson is a picky sleeper and a 1 year old who isn't getting enough sleep affects everyone's lives. I had a similar request all those years ago. Taking 5 of us on sailing trips on a 25-footer showed me things I would not be happy living with. I did not want a convertible table. I wanted a table that was always available for eating, working, rolling out pie crust, looking at charts, anything a large flat surface could be used for. I didn't want to have to give up my table every night for a kid to have a bunk.
That request was easily met with Eurisko, but my more philosophical demand is ongoing. I refuse to feel like I'm camping out. If this is going to be my life, my home, I want to be comfortable. I can put up with a lot of inconvenience for a long time (I spent the last 5 months living in a van, for crying out loud) but I will not feel like I'm camping out in my own home. Of course, my definition of camping out has evolved over the last decade and I'm now perfectly happy with situations I never would have tolerated straight out of the box...er...house. But the request still stands.
So you've convinced your partner to sail away, you've found the perfect boat that makes you both happy, you sell all your extraneous stuff and move onboard. Now the trick is to keep from wanting to kill each other, not always as easy as you may think. MONDAY we'll continue our discussion of relationships onboard with advice and examples of how to keep a happy home, even when heeled to 20 degrees.
The timing of this post is no accident. Dave and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this week, 12 of those years afloat.
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