The First Thing to Do

First stumbling on the idea of going cruising can feel a bit like falling in love, or at least the way romance writers describe falling in love. The gut punch. The slightly sick feeling combined with a wild sense of euphoria. The immediate reaction of “No way.” Maybe a push back, a denial and deep disbelief.

What do you do then?

For many people I know, the idea of living on board a boat and heading off into the sunset (to borrow a phrase that seems particularly apt to us right now, as our plan is indeed to head west into that sunset . . .) came from a partner. This was me too.

“Hey, let’s buy a boat and go cruising.”

My initial reaction was, “Oooh awesome!”

This is not the initial reaction from many. It might not be yours. So then what? Your partner has floated this idea that has you paralyzed. You’re pretty happy with your life as it is, the house and the job and the car and the routine. How do you decide for real what might work for you?

Morning dew on the boom.

Morning dew on the boom.

Step one is to breathe. Really, just breathe. Sit with the thought, and your reactions, for a couple of days before doing anything else. Try hard not to blurt out your words (journal about them, maybe) or judge either your partner or yourself. If you’re able, try to look at the reaction from the outside, as if you were seeing it from 2 stories up. A dispassionate observer, as it were.

The idea of going cruising can be scary and wonderful and soul crushing and heart soaring, often all at the same time or at least in rapid succession. Allowing yourself to react without judging that reaction is a good thing. (Now is a good time to practice mindfulness. My favorite app is Headspace, and they offer 10 free days to try it out.)

As tempting as it is, I’d resist the temptation to talk to everyone and the kitchen sink about the idea. Venting to your best friend feels like a good plan. Screeching your delight to your favorite neighbor feels like a good plan. Throwing a pot at your partner feels like a good plan.

None of these is a good plan.

Breathing, sitting with the idea and letting it settle before you do anything else, allows you to prepare for the next steps with more ease. It allows questions to percolate and gives you the ability to ask those questions from a place of genuine curiosity.

My initial “ooh awesome” turned into rapid fire questions. I didn’t take the time to breathe and sit with the reaction, and I think I missed out on some good insight into my partner (now my husband) and even into myself. I didn’t think about the worries at all, and then when I let those come into my head we were pretty far down the “we’re leaving soon” commitment. (It could also have been that I was 22 when the idea was first floated; my early 20s wasn’t exactly a time of deep introspection.)

Communication with your partner when you’re out cruising is a surprisingly challenging aspect of life aboard. Starting it out on the right foot, when the idea is just a brand new one, has no downsides at all.

“Hey, let’s buy a boat and go cruising!”

“What an idea! Let’s both think about what that means and touch base again in a few days!”

Sunset. Because why not?

Sunset. Because why not?