Negotiating the choppy waters of love
Eighty per cent of marriages end at sea, so they say. I never let this put me off when we decided to buy a boat. I’d always thought living on a boat would be romantic.
I imagined cute cuddles under the stars and escaping the ho-hum of boring relationship stuff. I definitely thought we wouldn’t bicker as much.
The best thing about being in a confined space with your partner 24/7 is there is no escape. You just can’t hide, so you have to deal with things.
At sea, you have to get your frustrations out really quickly and move on because there are more important things going on, like five-metre swells and auto pilot malfunction.
The worst thing is that there is no escape!
Back when life was normal, I’d escape to my world of girlfriends, theatre shows and runs along a river.
That just can’t happen when you’re stuck in a boat with someone for nine months at a time.
Even when I storm off to my own cabin, Dean is ten centimetres away behind a very thin door. I can hear him shift in his seat and it’s very annoying.
We’ve had to negotiate our sense of space.
When we lived in a house, I’d come home through the front door into a nice hall and have a few seconds to ‘land’. I’d put my bags down, hug the doggie, hug the Dean, then wonder off and ground myself in my own time.
Now when I come home there’s an explosion of doggie madness, stinky boat smells, a rocking boat and a man involved in his own thing who I have just gate crashed – all within one square metre.
Dean says we’ve got to know each other better by living on a boat. And he likes being able to calm me when I’m terrified. In our land-life I’d say ‘‘I’m fine’’ and huff off to deal with my demons in private.
You get to see each other looking really bad, too. Bed hair after a restless night shift is just not pretty. And you lose track of whether you’ve brushed your teeth. Showering is also not a priority (and sometimes downright dangerous).
But the amazing things are pretty exceptional.
I would trust Dean with my life because I already have.
When we sailed up the east coast to Auckland, the boat was bashing into a northerly. Our head sail had blown out and I’d been in fight or flight mode for days.
Dean and I were sitting across from each other in the cockpit. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle it any more he put his hand out on the table, palm up, and said, ‘‘It’s going to be OK’’. I put my hand in his and felt myself relax for the first time in days.
When we’re in Queen Charlotte Sounds or Pelorus Sounds, the magic of sharing such wonderful experiences is definitely bonding.
Time and anxiety drop away when you’re on the front of a boat, under the stars with a glass of wine and an arm around you.
When space gets tricky inside, there’s always the world outside. It’s liberating just to look up and out.
We’re on an adventure, together, and that wins out every time.
And Dean’s anecdote about the 80 per cent of marriages ending at sea thing – we’re not married!
If you can’t feel love in a situation like this, there’s something very wrong!