She is NOT a passenger, she is crew! There’s no magic secret to getting your wife (husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other) on board with cruising. She just needs to know the realities and infinite rewards of the lifestyle and want those. Share those basic philosophies with her first and cruising will become merely the means to your mutual end. Once she’s on board in principle, get her (comfortably and confidently) on board in practice with sailing lessons and continued training and teaching together. “Put her behind the helm!” says Linus Wilson. “Make her retrieve a cushion,” says Pam Wall. “Get over your fear of crossing an ocean!” says Lazy Gecko Brittany. And, most importantly: “Remember it is not about the boat or the destination, it is about your shared desires and the more fulfilling life you both want to live together,” says Nick O’Kelly, author of Get Her on Board.
I have worked hard to pull together lots of viewpoints, perspectives and advice from fellow cruisers and trusted sources for you all. If you are struggling to get your significant other on board with cruising, I hope you find this video as well as the resources and interview below helpful. Please let me know in a comment or email!
My complete interview with Nick O’Kelly: https://youtu.be/TI2EBLqVksc
Nick O’Kelly’s Get Her On Board: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008P4WR68/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#nav-subnav
Book Review: Get Her on Board by Women and Cruising’s Gwen Hamlin: http://www.womenandcruising.com/blog/2010/06/get-her-on-board-secrets-to-sharing-the-cruising-dream/
Nick O’Kelly’s “6 Mistakes Men Make in Sharing their Sailing Passion”: http://www.womenandcruising.com/blog/2010/07/6-mistakes-men-make-in-sharing-their-sailing-passion/
Debra Cantrell’s Changing Course: A Woman’s Guide to Choosing the Cruising Life: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0014DBEFC/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#nav-subnav
Many women have told me my first book, Salt of a Sailor, vocalized all of the stupid questions they wanted to ask when learning how to sail but didn’t. If there’s a chance it can do that for your significant other, pick up a copy on Amazon or email me for a free eCopy: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00T7YGKJU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00T7YGKJU&linkCode=as2&tag=havewcom-20&linkId=3UM4C3FFPWHIBTGM#nav-subnav
Pam Wall Sailing and Cruising Consultant: http://www.pamwall.com
Lazy Gecko Sailing: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwIThXjmw8eBlEfFZLgZ3-g
Women and Cruising: http://www.womenandcruising.com
Women Who Sail (Facebook Group): https://www.facebook.com/WomenWhoSail/
Beth Leonard’s Voyager’s Handbook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0072UO1VA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#nav-subnav
“How to Convince a Reluctant Partner to Go Cruising” (Catamaran Guru): http://catamaranguru.com/lifestyle/cruising-resources/300-how-to-convince-a-reluctant-partner-to-go-cruising
I also spoke with several women who are wives of some of my most long-time, die-hard male followers and I talked to them about their fears, excitement, hang-ups and worries about going cruising with their mate. Thank you Elizabeth, Hallie, Kathaleen and Shelly for sharing your thoughts with us:
Elizabeth (and Rob)
“Let’s start with what makes me nervous. My fear is that I don’t know a lot right now and something is going to happen to Rob and I will just shut down and not know what to do. I’m not afraid of the water at all. I actually enjoy sailing, even when it is a little bit of an uncomfortable ride. My biggest impediment is just feeling nervous leaving the dock. Once I am out there, I think I am fine. I sometimes just want to make sure I hold the lines when we leave the dock, and enter a new dock. I can throw the lines once we reach the marina, usually there are many people willing to help, but if no one is around, I need to feel confident, grabbing the line and getting onto the dock and I do not yet.
Rob handles the boat while we are sailing but I need to feel confident in setting the sail, looking at the wind direction, and knowing how those forces are working. I also want to feel secure that I am not going to fall off the boat if I have to remove a line that is tangled. I recently had to use the radio when entering the marina in order to learn our dock reservation location and whether the dock was starboard or port side. I felt very confident doing that and it was empowering. I think just “going” is what is going to get me over the hump.”
Hallie (and Joe)
“I think I fall into the rare group of women who were completely on board with and encourage their significant others to become full time live-aboard sailors. Once I saw Pam Wall’s presentation and understood that circumnavigation was a thing people did I was on board! I also feel Joe and I fall into another rare category of couples who truly get along and don’t fight … like ever! We have complete mutual respect for each other and I think that is why I am not hesitant in the least about sailing around the world with him. It is all the other stuff that worries me, i. e. weather, boat condition, my abilities, etc.
Joe and I have been sailing as a team in small races and regattas and I think that is key, that experience working together to successfully maneuver the boat in tight spaces or difficult situations. We are mostly a well oiled machine. I know what he is going to do and he knows what I am going to do. We know our roles and know how to do them well. We also really communicate with each other well and that I believe is key. We didn’t start out big on a big boat. We started sailing together on our small 16ft Hobie and on some other smaller sailing dinghy boats through Hoofer’s Sailing Club. Talking before hand and discussing what were possible scenarios and what we should do if those occur before we get out on the water is also something we do regularly. Having both of us on the same page for expectations is really important, especially on the Hobie.
My biggest impediment to cruising is definitely my own confidence in my ability to manage the boat if something were to happen to Joe while we are out there. This one keeps me up at night. Will I be able to manage the boat and situation if something happens to Joe? What if he falls off the boat, what if he is sick, what if he dies suddenly??? I have been focusing on these since I fell off our Hobie two years ago and watched Joe struggle in 25knot winds to get back to me. It felt like 20 minutes but in reality it was only 4. I then thought, “Oh crap, what if Joe fell off the boat?” We would have both died and the boat would have sunk. I had never been at the helm of the boat before because I was always too scared to “drive” the boat. This summer is when I have been taking the helm and learning about how to steer the boat. I think for all women who are new to sailing, this is by far the biggest impediment.
The best way, in my opinion, to get over the hump is to take sailing lessons and get out on keel boats as often as possible to get comfortable. These were the most important steps I can think of that have helped me this summer. I am still nervous about sailing our Hobie with me at the helm so I have not taken that step yet, but maybe in time. (It is a really fast sailboat!!)
I know The Voyager’s Handbook goes over some of how to get your mate(wife) on board. I hope these answers help you. Sailing for me is this freeing/flying experience. I love being out on the water and not hearing a motor (hopefully). It is peaceful and exhilarating all at the same time and I have only been out on small inland lakes where we have to tack all the time! I cannot wait until we can get out on larger water and set the auto-helm and go on the same tack for a day, heck even a few hours would be awesome!”
Kathaleen (and Joe)
“I think my biggest impediment to cruising with Joe is that I have no sailing knowledge or experience, just a passion to try. I am not worried about what it will take to learn (I’m actually excited to learn!), and I’m confident in our ability to find a way to afford to do it. The part that worries me is leaving my family (children and grand children) ashore while we travel to faraway places. What if something happens and I cannot return quickly? How will I get home? I also worry about leaving my business to another’s hands. I’ve scraped this into existence and it’s just barely taking off, what if it fails to thrive?”
Shelly (and Lance)
“Stepping out into the unknown makes me very nervous. Letting go of my comfort zone and trying something new makes me very hesitant. Land I am sure of, I know where I am going there are signs everywhere that tell me when to turn where to go. Ahhh…. but water is wide open you can sail for miles even days with no land in site. That makes me nervous.
My biggest impediment is that I have no sense of direction what so ever. Lance is very good with direction and he is a very logical thinker. I tend to be very emotional and unsure of myself. But I believe in myself enough to step out there and work together to make this happen. My biggest fear is getting sea sick to the point that I am unable to do this. Confidence in myself is going to be key to getting over the hump and making myself get out there and thrive while cruising. Believing that I can step of the land and let the sea carry me wherever it will.”
Our goal is to help more people realize their dream of cruising. Paramount to that is the ability to share that dream with your best friend and soul mate which is why Phillip and I worked hard to produce this video and help those of you out there who may be struggling to get your significant other “on board” with cruising. If you have found these tips and resources helpful, please help us help more people like you by supporting our efforts to share the cruising lifestyle on Patreon.