I'm reminded of a trip in the 1970s leaving Galveston for Florida
with a new old wooden boat and brand new non-sailing then-wife. I had her at the tiller right off the bat and popped my head
up shortly from below and mentioned to her gently (really) that the little bird dead ahead either had very long legs or was standing on a sandbar and it might be wise to come about.
She thought that was both clever and funny
Next day we were becalmed all day drifting engineless among immobile oil
rigs when the head
packed it in and we used a bucket. She wasn't thrilled with that.
There were a couple of more smallish issues of course, and that night in a squall, a wave went over my head as I was dousing the headsail. That scared her, she said, and she was greatly relieved to see me still aboard the boat afterwards.
As was I, for the record
. Although for about an hour I thought I may have broken my arm.
But fortunately not as just then we sprang a plank and were taking on water
. It took me a very long time to find it mostly one-handed with a flashlight and jam a towel in it and bang some plywood
over as a patch while she pumped and steered.
When the water
was uncomfortably high I told to her as calmly as I could muster that she might want to gather up anything she couldn't afford to lose in case we had to abandon ship.
I mentioned that we would not do that until the boat slipped from beneath our feet whereupon we'd row the dink or swim to the nearest oil
rig as the case may require, so it wasn't like life or death. It was also a warm summer evening though raining and windy with water temps in the 80s.
We had turned around by then and were struggling shoreward in the squall thru all those hundreds of oil platforms off Louisiana bound for the nearest haul out
facility. We made it back. Made repairs
, etc. Continued on with our lives. She soldiered through it all incredibly calmly.
Months later, after many an adult beverage one night, she confessed to being scared witless from leaving the dock
and the only thing that kept her going was the fact that I had only managed to convey annoyance with the cascading events
rather than appearing frightened. She commented that during it all she just figured she wasn't going to enjoy sailing right up to the abandon ship discussion.
Of course, being the manly man that I am, I shrugged it off to stuff happens,
never owning up to my own spitless fear at the time. This is my confession. I have some sea miles since with a number of vessels and countless mishaps but except for a few daysails, that voyage more than anything else made me a solo sailor. I envy sailing couples sometimes but have few regrets about my own decision.