Travel is so much fun when you get to share it with your life partner. Making plans, deciding where to go and choosing where to stay can be an enjoyable part of the journey.

Now, imagine your life partner comes to you and says, “I think we should move aboard our sailboat, sell our cars, our house, take our child out of school and sail until we get tired of it.” Crazy, you say? Believe it or not, people around the world do it every day, and my husband and I are two that did just that.

At the age of 45 and 50 we each quit our jobs, sold our house and took our 10-year-old son out of school to pursue our dream of sailing. It meant we went from a large three-bedroom house to a 37-foot sailboat. Our only modes of transportation were the sailboat and a dinghy to get to shore. Once on shore we walked everywhere.

We traveled off and on for three years, and we lived in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cuba, Cayman Islands and Mexico on our sailboat. We used our savings, wrote for sailing magazines and made a million memories along the way.

So, how does a relationship survive in a relatively small space while living on the water? Sometimes it was a challenge and other times it was the closest we have ever been. We had to become a cohesive team. Many times our survival depended on clear, concise communication. Other times, such as when we were trying to secure the anchor, communication across the center of a boat with directions being shouted each way could become a rancorous no-win event.

As exotic and exciting as it sounds, it wasn’t all Jimmy Buffet and margaritas. We had to divide chores: standing watch when we were underway, shopping in each port, meal preparation on a moving boat, cleaning the boat and, of course, laundry. I had to become the Educator in Chief to Zach, and Gene took on the responsibility of the Captain, CEO and safety officer.

Gene and I shared the responsibility of raising a son, who was living a unique lifestyle. We wanted to be sure that he learned social skills while using every opportunity to teach him real-life skills and made sure he fully appreciating each culture he had the opportunity to live in. It was an amazing childhood filled with the wonder of travel and enjoying or enduring Mother Nature.

We learned to be creative about seeking opportunities for each of us to have “alone time.” Gene and Zach enjoyed diving and fishing. Zach played on the beach with other “boat kids.” I loved getting together with other women in an anchorage to have a “Girls Night Out” to watch a movie on someone’s boat. We each developed many friendships with people from all over the world.

Thankfully, Gene and I were able to maintain a close, loving, respectful relationship that embraced our amazing adventure while overcoming the challenges that we faced. As evident by the many boats that are for sale in the islands, some relationships and adventures don’t have a happy ending.

The lifestyle we chose isn’t for everyone, but for those who choose to throw the lines from shore and sail into the sunset, Jimmy Buffet and the margaritas might be just over the horizon.

 

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