I had only seen the boat for 5 minutes in the dark before Pope signed a contract to buy it. It had features he was searching for: a shallow keel for avoiding Bahamas sandbars; a stable beam to avoid heeling when sailing, which was important for minimizing my fear of tipping over; and a self-steering wind vane. When I next saw the boat, in daylight, I suggested we ask for a refund. The boat was full of mold, torn cushions and curtains, bad odors, uncomfortable sleeping and seating areas, dirt, gunk, and general degradation. I suspected the operating systems had also been neglected, which turned out to be true. We had agreed to buy a boat that was ready to live on and didn’t need much work. This was not it.
I never grew to love the boat like Pope did. (And even he had some qualms after the engine breakdown and electrical problems.) However, I got used to it. We fixed the mechanical problems. The sitting areas were comfortable and attractive. We worked hard to seal leaks and keep things mildew-free. I sewed mosquito nets to keep out no-see-ums. I relied on cleanliness and organization to stay sane. Pope tends to lay things around and lose them; I put them away and find them. It's our M.O. at home.
So I moved aboard and served as First Mate, housekeeper, part-time cook, tour guide, and chief finder-of-lost-things. Pope served as primary driver, navigator, mechanic, and handyman. When I cried, he tried to address the source of my fears. When I screwed up or got hurt, he came to my rescue--such as when my fingers got jammed between the anchor chain and cleat, or when I got knocked down by a car on my bike.
- Resets. A technique we learned from another couple: when we can’t agree, and the conversation deteriorates into acrimony, we agree to start over.
- Third-party mediators, i.e., cruisers we met and friends we made. They would listen to both sides of the story, laugh, and suggest another beer or rum cocktail—restoring a proper perspective.
Enlisting the ears --and shoulders--of third-party mediators
All's well that ends well. We are home, more or less in one piece, and still committed to making a life together.
Restoring harmony after a long, hard day on the boat