It is a common mistake to believe that sailing the oceans is a privilege to the rich and/or accomplished sailors.
You would be surprised of the vessels out there, and the people sailing them. We have encountered all ages, from toddlers to 80-year-old veterans. The boats varies from fancy kevlars with impressive satellite antennas towering on deck, to shabby wooden "projects", assembled by coincidental bits and pieces of varying materials. The sailors are sometimes geared in white suites and golden brim captain hats, but more often in weathered T-shirts and worn shorts. There are entire families living on the oceans, getting by on garlic, local fish and second hand parts. Their kids jump on bronzed legs between boats, chasing fellow peers, their hair sun bleached, flying in the wind.
There are leather-faced seniors, entering just another harbor after 20 years or more of random cruising and unimaginable freedom. In fact, one could sail for 50 years and still not cover all there is to do and see on our majestic oceans.
There are all kinds of folks out there, but you'll find them all leasurely enjoying simple, wonderfully smelling meals on their decks, quietly chatting away with their companions. Or worryingly revisiting the harbor office to check if some crucial spare part has arrived yet. Yet always happily waving at you from aboard their dinghies, their faces smiling in the slow pace of life, and a dream come true of enjoying life at it´s fullest, starting today…
Sailing tends to bring out good qualities in most people. Even charter-boat renters are at their ease, only occasionally perhaps disturbing a peaceful anchorage with a wild late night party and sing-along.
You´ll find that people are very sociable, you´ll get invited onboard everywhere and especially single-handers will be happy to find a fellow human to chat away with.
There will be all sorts of flags around you, the Americans, the French, the Australians, the Scandinavians, the Italians. You will be told the wildest tales, most unbelievable but often true. You will encounter lifestyles at which you will marvel, ponder or disapprove - but you will be touched more than countless times.
You will broaden your vision at life in ways that will stay with you forever. You will share a lobster, a fresh fish, a bottle of wine, or some incredible ingredient that someone has stored for special occasions. The air will be balmy, the night velvety and you will share with new or old friends the hazards of the latest passage, ending in pondering about relationships, lifestyles and the whole meaning of life itself. And just then, right there, you´ll feel like the luckiest person on earth.
After 20 years of continous ocean going and countless round-the world crossings, he now wanted to settle down in an apartment. She however, although still slightly limping from braking her hip in Australia the previous year, wanted "just one more round the world cruise, PLEASE". Men are WIMPS - she adviced the female part of us, while her husband, showingly madly in love with her, made himself ready for some more adventure.
Make it or break it. That is the cruel truism for many ocean-going spouses. Sailing the oceans puts every relationship to a test. The factors involved are often lack of funds, giving up a normal life, becoming ill and vulnerable on unfamiliar ground, terribly tired and stressed in a storm, afraid, hungry and wet to the bone.
While friends at home are having respectable careers, you guys travel in threaded clothing, bargaining for 5 dollars.
You´ll watch their comfortable, classy homes and lifestyles in every magazine, yourself patching another wet blanket aboard. What title do you put on your business card? Will your kids be unable to adapt to the normal upon their adulthood, turning into criminals or aimlessly wandering psychopaths and it will be all your fault? How come you never noticed back home that your husband is a loud beast, now yelling his lungs full at the first hard storm? And what happens when she decides that she has had enough - just as you´ve discovered that this is just the right thing for you?
It is not going to be easy, but you will definitely get to know the true eachother. Perhaps you´ll part with that, it does happen. At least you will have discovered the differences now instead of later. There can be hell in relationships onboard a boat just as in the routine life of home. At home, a bad marriage might carry on longer, disquised in the every day routines. He has his life, she hers. On a boat however, you´ll be together and differences will become obvious.
But you will also talk to each other, explore together, marvel at the stars, the oceans, the flowers and share dreams with each other and your children. Every moment will count, every day bring something unexpected, every harbour pose new friends. The sky will be your roof, a turqoise sea your fancy carpeting, vast white sands and sparkling reefs your garden. Every meal will be shared and freedom will be written in your book of days.
You could then bond into full trust and great love in each other, this from being seriously tried together and have made it. We have seen many couples on the oceans tied to each other by the golden love that movies are made of. Keep your fingers crossed that this fate will be yours.
We don´t know how ocean cruising affects kids, but we know what we have seen of them on the boats. They are wild, happy, open and intelligent. The parents teach them classes, preferably connected to the sailing and the foreign countries they encounter. As far as we can tell, ocean going is simply very good for kids.