Before You Leave
We have met plenty of solo sailors or sailors with crew who haven’t convinced their significant other, that life on the sea is worthy. It doesn’t have to be this way but there are a few rules you need to consider before you buy and set sail.
- Your partner needs a good reason to go. Mine was I loved my husband and this had been his dream for as long as I have know him. I know a life without trying to fulfill dreams can be a life wasted. I knew if he went alone he may not come back and I loved being married to this crazy man of mine. It was worth the risk for the risk of love – for me anyhow.
Make It Worth It To Leave
- You need to be on the same page for the kind of boat you want to buy. My husband wanted to buy a monohull. I remembered my experience on the catamaran years ago and said the monohull could be saved for the second wife. I used a tiny bit of bargaining power I had right from the get-go. On this matter we argued for countless hours until I put my foot down and said “mono or me.” Agree On The Boat (multihull I suggest)
- You will need an agreed length of time for you to test the experience. I gave a hand on my heart promise to give this sailing adventure a red-hot go for 12 months. If I hated it after trying my best to be a sailor, there would be no recrimination, we would sell the boat, take the financial hit and try and move back to our lives on land. We had enough finance for maximum 3 years, we would come back with no money in our kitty and a need to sell the boat quickly to recover from the experience. I then pushed us out the door early as I didn’t want to wait too long, I knew things can change in a heartbeat and life is short.
Set A Timeframe
- Saying goodbye is far harder than you think it will be, it’s particularly hard if you have a significant person in your life aka my mother, telling you not to go and stop being stupid and selfish. Leaving children, friends, home and comfortable lives are not as easy as you may think. Be Supportive Of One Another
- Risk is not all bad. Sometimes you have to jump to learn how to swim. I think jumping in the deep end and going all out worked for us, though the strategy may not work for you. Talk about it. Do you get a boat that is close to home and work your way up from there or do you do as we did – go big or go home.
Life Is Short So Live It
7 Ways To Make The Sailor Transition Successful
- Common story told at anchorage, Captains get stressed and start shouting at their partners. Biggest advice to guys taking their novice wives out there is DON’T SHOUT ARSEHOLE it upsets us greatly. Then when we are upset we ask questions like WTF am I doing here on the other side of the world on a sailing boat anyhow – and you don’t want your unsure wife/partner asking that question too often. If you need to shout bite your own hand instead. Keep Your Tone Low & In Control
- Do things in small steps once you start the sailing. Do everything within your power to make sure the first experiences are good ones. Good does not mean fast or proof of your sailing prowess, good means sunshine, comfortable sailing with little or no waves, no wet patches in or outside. Good means enjoyable days with friends, good food and a nice chilled chardonnay on the beach perhaps. Make sure your partner will trust you to keep them safe and see the joys to be attained by living on a yacht.
Show The Dream
- Keep your language simple. Nothing bothers me as much as what I call inappropriate language when I am trying to reef, raise or drop a sail or do some other job on the boat that involves two. Swear words like luff, leech, vectors do my head in. Keep your language simple. What’s wrong with letting me make a cup of tea in the kitchen, a wee in the toilet and the rope that is at the front of the sail. The new language will come – give your partner time. The learning curve is steep and it takes time, having the right language of sailing is not as important as you think.
Speak Simple & Be Clear
- Accept that for much of the time your partner is operating from a totally different platform as you. My platform was terror. No one had told me that boats can be seriously noisy, particularly boats with two hulls in (50 knot winds). Boats move a great deal in certain sailing conditions (like fast in 50 knots), it’s not all-downwind sailing and that night sailing is scary if you haven’t done it before. Do you ever shut your eyes tight when driving your car at night? No I didn’t think so. Remember that your partner is often 100% out of their comfort zone. Yes I have had more than one occasion of white knuckle, dry mouth terror. Yes I thought I could die, worse Gaz could die and then I would be responsible for getting the boat back to my old life somehow.
Acknowledge Our Fear As Real
- Seasickness is real, just because you haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean its just in your partners head. Symptoms range from needing to sleep on the couch doing as little as possible or throwing up overboard. WARNING this is a time to be extra nice, being a demanding captain at this point in your sailing lives is just stupid. If it means some jobs are not done, like dishes or food cooked, it’s better than opening a can of beans every night on your own, while your partner is back at home cooking for the grandchildren. Be Thoughtful
- The biggest fear for many partners moving onto a boat is waking up to find the other partner is not aboard. You have to agree on matters of safety and stick with them. On our boat it took weeks of negotiation to agree that when the weather is over 30 knots, anytime either of us has to go upfront in the night, never be alone and always wear life jackets that are hooked in. Sounds reasonable but Gaz and I didn’t agree on these simple arrangements. Play Safety First
- Have fun. I know sailing can be a serious business but you need to make the experience fun, especially in down times. If that involves making sure your partner has additional treats like the odd hotel room night away (I’m still waiting), a glass of wine at lunchtime and maybe even crew on your first long passage make it fun. This can be one of the greatest times of your lives together but only if you work at it. I have spoken with partners who say they don’t know where their fun happy husband went, what they got in return was a stressed shouting swearing captain.
Don’t Be A Dick – Lighten Up
- Remember the rules for both of you have changed. For me I came from a place of knowing what I did well, where I belonged and others needed me. Moving to a floating vessel I knew nothing about and I had to trust the boat and my husband without question. The first few weeks and months will be particularly tough for any couple. Best piece of advice accept no visitors in the first 4 to 6 months. None unless perhaps children as a trade off for homesickness. If you are sailing close to home and your visitor can go home at night even better. Keep It Simple
No doubt there are different ways that other sailors have found to help their significant other in their transition from land to sea.
If so let me know in the comments, I’d be keen to add to the list.
the Miss x
PS Just enjoy this wonderful, exciting voyage.