For Alice and I, sailing has been a central pillar of our life together. I feel very lucky that we share this same passion and we have shared this since the start. It helped form the bond in the beginning, fixed the cracks later and now is creating a new foundation.
When we were first married, Alice and I had spent relatively little time together. When we first fell in love there was a minor inconvenience. Alice lived in Houston and I lived in London. We had an on-and-off long distance relationship for a couple of years and then took the all-or-nothing plunge and got engaged. I made the move to Houston and for complicated visa reasons we had to get married within 90 days of my arrival in Texas. We never really talked about it but we didn't really know each other as well as most couples do when they tie the knot. We just hadn't lived together that long. It was a big risk in retrospect. Fortunately there was sailing.
Neither of us had sailed much when we first met. Alice had navigated a Sunfish at camp one summer. I had been on sailboats a few times and had loved it. I had rowed for years but had no clue how to sail.
A couple of weekends after my arrival in Houston, Alice suggested we rent a Sunfish on Lake Conroe, North of Houston. The guys at the dock asked if we knew what we were doing. I nodded assuredly (lying through my teeth) and Alice oversold her camp experience. We had to sail the the Sunfish out of the marina and into the lake. We clearly had no clue what we were doing and capsized three times in the marina including in the narrow channel leading into the lake. I was laughing my ass off. The guys on the dock were enjoying the show too. It was ridiculous. But...Alice had a sense of humor failure. Danger Will Robinson!
This worried me. If I found this situation funny but the soon to be Mrs T couldn't see anything to laugh at, we were going to be in trouble. This might not work. I took a risk and said that this was an important moment for us. If Alice couldn't laugh at this maybe this wasn't meant to be. A big statement for a minor incident on a little sailboat.
Fortunately, Alice relaxed and started to see the funny side. After that we had a blast and sailed for a couple of hours both laughing our asses off!
Shortly after we got married, we took sailing lessons with a kindly skipper who was also a preacher in training. Captain Tom took us under his wings and fixed us up with an old Cape Dory Typhoon. We called her Alad (you can work out why) and we sailed her almost every weekend, mostly just the two of us, sometimes with friends and even with our two dogs. Alad was the foundation of our early years.
When the son and heir came along we sold Alad. It just wasn't practical. When we later moved up to the Northeast, I kept up my sailing, mostly racing on other people's boats. Alice didn't have the time so I was sailing without her sadly. As often happens, we hit a rough patch. We worked things out and realized that what with one thing and another we had lost track of each other.
Alice had an inspired idea that would hit the reset button in our relationship. She signed us up for Offshore Sailing's Live-aboard course in the BVIs. This was life-changing for us. Being able to skipper a bareboat together vastly opened our horizons. Since then we have had amazing vacations either just the two of us, sometimes with the son & heir or with friends, sailing in the Caribbean, in Europe and the US. This sailing course resuscitated our marriage at a critical time.
We are now entering a new phase of life. The s&h will go off to college next year and most likely it will be far away. We are having a tough time getting used to it. Subconsciously we saw this coming and this is why we joined a sailing club last year, the awesome Raritan Yacht Club. We bought a 26' S2, Messing About that we sail most weekends in the season. In the future we hope to buy a bigger boat we can cruise a bit further. We have some ambitious plans. Once again sailing is helping us get through a tough situation together.
Who knows what the future holds for us but one thing I am sure of is that sailing will be part of it