Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Who's Dream is this, Anyway?

"Wow, that woman is a real trooper." A zodiac had just passed our stern as Scott and I were in the middle of the (rather laborious) process of off-loading our three girls from our dinghy and onto the boat. I heard his comment clear as day. My first reaction was a little chuckle; our current situation is quite the head-turner. But I quickly realized that his impression was probably a bit skewed: That instead of calling me a 'trooper' because I was unloading three toddlers from our dinghy (because wouldn't that make Scott a trooper as well?), maybe he was calling me a trooper because he thought that perhaps I had been convinced to live on a boat by my husband, and I was a good wife (or 'trooper') to have gone along for the ride. Either way, I took it as a compliment - but if he did think I was simply riding the coattails of Scott's dream, he would be very, very wrong.

It's true, however, that the vast majority of cruising couples we meet on the water over the past five years are often driven, literally and figuratively, by the man. I'm not sure why this is, but the woman in the pair is more often than not a willing (or, in some unfortunate cases, unwilling) participant in her husband's dream. Of course this is not always the case and we've met many, many couple's for whom the dream has evolved into a 'shared' one, and even a few where the woman is the driving force behind it.

So who's dream is this, anyway?

For Scott and I, it is very much a shared one. For me, the "traveler" of our duo, I'd been talking about 'sailing around the world' since I was a pre-teen. To me, sailing was a means to live differently and travel as a lifestyle. Scott, the true "sailor" in our duo, had also been dreaming and scheming about a life afloat just as long. For him, however, it was more about being at sea, exploring new islands and the simple art of harnessing the wind. When we met and learned of this shared dream, I believe it was the very fuel that kick-started our relationship into orbit. I mean, how many people living in Chicago really, truly want to do what it takes to live and travel by sailboat? It's not many. We felt like we hit the jackpot with each other, and in many ways, we did. What we wanted to get out of the lifestyle might have been different, but the vessel to get us there was the same. So from day one of our relationship, almost everything we did revolved around making this 'dream' come true. The two of us leaving on a boat to sail off into the sunset surprised exactly no one in our lives. For our wedding we registered for winches, offshore medical kits and windlasses; Egyptian cotton bed sheets and the white picket fence were never in our sites.

And here we are.

We obviously didn't get very far around the world, in fact some critics argue we've hardly gone anywhere at all (despite the fact that we sailed from Chicago to Trinidad, done the "thorny path" twice, and sailed up and down the windwards and leewards a couple times clocking in over 10K nautical miles), but it doesn't matter. Many have sailed more, and many have sailed less. It's not about needing anyone else's approval or accolades, and it's certainly not a competition. For us, the past five years has been a metamorphosis of sorts. What started as a plan to "sail around the world" has become a dream to live a life less ordinary, with the focus on raising three healthy, happy and (dare I say) bad-ass daughters who are free-thinking world citizens. It's become less about the sailing to far-flung places, and more about cultivating a life that we enjoy and can feel proud of. It's really as simple as that. And, to be honest, I feel that in some teeny-tiny way, we are pioneers in our own right. There aren't many people who, given our same circumstances, would have the stick-to-it that we have.

There are times when I am more the driving force behind our dream, and times when Scott takes the helm - but the roots are always the same. We've never followed the pack - not as individuals and not as a couple - and while the path might be one that evolves and unfolds before us as we go, it is ours. Together.

And, yeah, we're troopers. I'll give us that.


Alison said...

My husband and I met you briefly before a training passage with John Kretschmer out of Tortola last Feb. I was too awestruck to say much, the fact that I had been following your blog for a couple of years and then to run into you surreptitiously before heading out on a 1,000 mile passage... well, I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say. This post really hit home for me because on our passage with John I was the only female. The men joining us on this excursion were envious of my husband because none of them had significant others that would consider sailing across the ocean with them. People often assume that Dan is dragging me along for the ride. In reality, we met after a sailing race in New Bern, NC. Chatting at the bar that evening, revealing our sailing pasts, Dan mentioned his dream was to sail around the world. Very excitedly, I exclaimed, "Me too! Let's get married" So we did. Very soon it will be our turn to take to the water and sail around the world. We didn't have the gumption to raise our three children aboard a boat, but we certainly look forward the many adventures we will have. Thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration. All the best to you and your precious crew. I hope to run into you again someday, on our own boat, and have more intelligent things to say! Alison www.sailmates.org

Mary Facker said...

I can relate so much to this article! Especially before me and my husband got married, when we were just dating everyone assumed it was his boat, and I was so lucky to get to sail with him. Thankfully I have an amazing husband who will correct them every time. "No this is her boat". I can't blame anyone for assuming though, after all we are still the minority.

Jessie said...

This was among my favorite blogs, Brittany! We're at a different phase in our life (no babies aboard just yet), but your story shares many similarities with ours. I admire your parenting style and have no doubt that your bright-eyed baby girls will grow to be bad ass women. Thank you for being an inspiration as a sailor, wife, and mother. I sure do hope we find ourselves in the same anchorage one day. ~Jessie

desireexg said...

So we'll written and heart felt! Thanks for sharing! Those girls are lucky to experience the world through such a unique lense! I wonder what great feats they'll grow up to achieve!

S/V Gratitude said...

Brit and Scott, While I have the passion for sailing, Lauren has the passion for entertaining and "Being there". It was she who said "if we are going to do this, we had better get going." And that was 7 years ago! I am a lucky man, and we consider ourselves doubly blessed to be able to do this together. We love watching your girls grow. Thank you! Van and Lauren, S/V Gratitude

Mr_Mike said...

I enjoy reading the Windtraveler Blog immensely. This episode strikes a chord. Enjoy your time in Chicago, the time with family and friends, and maybe take a day or two just for you and Scott. Keep up the commentary, I love the stories.

And for having had twins so recently, you look fabulous.


Elizabeth Stephen said...

You are all totally bad ass and inspirational parents!

B.J. Porter said...

Nice perspective. We hear about a lot of couples where the guy drags his wife out...but the couples that stay cruising I think end up with buy-in from everyone. Of course no one ever writes a book called "We Went Cruising and it Destroyed Our Marriage" either, so there are so many anecdotes and so little actual data.

When I proposed the idea of going cruising to my wife years ago her first reaction was that it was utterly insane. It opposed everything she'd been taught about how to "do" life - seek a routine, a job, financial security and so on. We talked about it for years as she came around.

Before we left she was more eager than me even, and I think if I ever wanted to stop cruising I'd have to talk her into it.

I am sorry I missed meeting you guys in Grenada, I expect it will be many more years before we can cross paths with you and your little bad-ass girls again!

tedloveslisa said...

Is there a downside to renting out the family boat when we're ashore?

Windtraveler said...

Yes, there is a downside - boats are very personal and not as straightforward as, say, a home. Systems need maintenance and understanding, gear wears down and breaks, and we wouldn't trust really anyone living on our boat and taking care of her in the same way that we do. For example, if someone tried to use our water maker and did it wrong, we could be out a lot of money, not to mention the terrible headache of removing and replacing the ruined parts. And that's just one system. There are about thirty more that are used regularly. As I wrote to you in my email, we are just not interested in someone else living in our home. That's not to say it couldn't work for someone else, but for us - the cost/benefit/risk doesn't really make sense.

S/V Gratitude said...

Brit, we absolutely agree that we would not let others use our boat, even if they are good sailors and boaters. Each vessel is unique (even Asante is different from Gratitude) and too much damage could be done unintentionally in short order.

Lin Pardey said...

Very nice blog. One of the seminars I present at boatshows and sailing clubs is called, Sixteen ways to Ensure Your Lover shares your dream (it's based on a chapter from our book, The Capable Cruiser.) I ask couples to sit far enough apart that the woman's elbow can't make contact with the man's ribcage. Reason - as a I talk about points such as encouraging women to take over handling the boat by letting her own make mistakes and learn from them, or truly sharing housekeeping work, elbows often fly. I like to encourage women to be part of the wonderful world cruising provided for me, articles like yours definitely help. And, I am delighted to see ever more women taking the lead when it comes to cruising offshore.

Lattitude Adjustment said...

We love following your story, and think it's great that it's both your dreams to do what you're doing! My husband and I quit out jobs last week, and we will set sail as liveaboards in the Floride Keys two weeks from tomorrow! Thanks for the inspiration! -Dani

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