In the last couple of weeks we’ve experienced many firsts. We had our first visitors in Jon’s family, our first overnight guest and crew member in Jon’s brother, Luke, and a few trial by fire first attempts at skills we’ve only read about. Remarkably, some of our firsts have turned out quite well, such as our first time coming alongside and tying up to a stranger’s vessel when the dock was overcrowded (known as rafting up), and pumping out our holding tank which done improperly could result in a very, very foul mess.
Most importantly we ventured away from our comfortable and secure mooring with the help of our third crew member, and were able to take in the beauty of a few quiet anchorages. Anchoring being one of our new-found skills, we were pleased that we didn’t even drag in the middle of the night or get our lines caught in our own propeller.
Despite an overwhelming, slightly paranoid sense of ourselves as amateurs – is that boater smiling at me out of friendliness or mockery? – we got our first taste of the cruising life over the past week. Though we didn’t enter any foreign countries, we skipped approximately six showers, ate mussels Luke found in the only area we visited purportedly safe from red tide, and made landfall on the shores of three different islands, visiting parts unknown to most Maine tourists.
What we did not manage was to do it all gracefully and without bickering with each other. I liken the experience of sailing our boat to driving a car with the gas and brake on one side and the steering wheel on the other. While one person could do it alone, it’s easier with two. Except when the other person is your spouse. If you add in that you both live in that car with all of your possessions, you’ve only read about driving a car, and you’ve just moved to an unfamiliar city, it all but guarantees nerves and tension. Now we know why the most common response to hearing our plans after “Do it while you’re young,” was “You must really like each other.”
We’re trying to look at it as a very rare opportunity for us to learn to work well together as a team. It’s pretty much impossible and awkward for witnesses if we do otherwise and play for opposite sides. While it’s much less obvious on a daily basis, our negative patterns are rather pronounced under pressure. All things considered, I feel like we’re doing pretty well. We’re not screaming at each other like we’ve heard coming from other yachts, but there’s still room for improvement. It seems to me that if we had stayed at home we could be working on our communication issues for thirty years of slow progress, but out here we have to figure out how to work together now (or live in misery). Although of course it will take time to get right and will never be perfect, with what we’ve accomplished already I have no doubt we’ll soon feel more in harmony not only with our boat, but also with each other. After all, this is finally the fun part.