“How Are You OK With This?”

On Valentine’s Day, Joanna Bloor, my wife and Chief Belief Officer for the Figure 8 Voyage, presented me with the following, inaugural guest post, this by way of answering the question posed in the title.

Joanna writes:

It’s probably the most common question I get. “How are you OK with ‘letting’ your husband go to sea? Without you? Alone?” I now laugh when I hear it, as does Randall, for whom the reverse question–“Your wife is OK with this?”– is also usual. And we’re getting good at the answers, too. Randall just looks at the puzzled face and says, “I have the best wife in the world.”

My answer is a little more complicated.

The conversation started on our second date back in late 2000. We were at dinner on Polk Street, San Francisco, and were reminiscing about our first date and how much fun we’d had sailing Surprise, Randall’s old, 24 foot Columbia sloop. Yes, a boat and going for a sail was what initially brought us together.

It was one of those wonderfully hopeful conversations you have when you’re first getting to know someone. Over glasses of wine we shared our histories and our wishes for the future. I remember Randall talking about how much he wanted to do blue water cruising. Like the tides, the world’s oceans were pulling him out to sea.  He was passionate, poetic, hopeful. It was unbelievably romantic. I was smitten immediately.

To me Randall’s dreams were big and quite unusual. I thought they sounded nuts, but I was equally energized by this person who wanted to do something brave. Be brave: it’s the first rule, I believe, to a wonderful life. What Randall didn’t entirely know at the time was that I too had a history with boats. I was a bit of a water baby.


Joanna posing aboard family boat, Barcarole, becalmed on the Deben River, circa 1975.

I spent much of my childhood sailing with my family on the rivers of South East England and have vivid memories of spending summer weekends with salty spray in my face. At night my sisters and I were tucked in the v-berth together, and here we had those wild dreams you can only have when sleeping on a rocking boat. The smell of salt, mud and diesel was the smell of laughter and summertime fun.

And tales of sailing adventure were common in our house. Stories of sand bar groundings, capsizing, terrible storms were normal dinner table fare. And anecdotes of invigorating distress didn’t only come from my parents. My grandparents, god-parents, honorary aunts and uncles were all sailors. This meant countless retellings of navigating around dangerous river entrances and battening down the hatches against a gale.

I even had my own stories, many embarrassing. I once ended up alone, cold and scared after falling out of my little sailing dinghy in the middle of a fairly major shipping channel. Maybe one of these days I’ll share that story. Not one of my finer moments.

So do you believe that two people are supposed to meet? Do you believe in fate?

There I was a young woman whose glorious memories of childhood had been wrapped up with images of leaping off a dock onto the salty, slippery deck of some boat. And here was Randall, sitting across from me telling me he wanted to have a big adventure at sea. Fate? Maybe.

I’ve believed in Randall’s dream since the first time I heard it. The idea of discouraging him seemed unfathomable to me, then and now. And in return I get an exciting and interesting partner in life. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

I am proud of what Randall is doing. There are moments when it scares me, but we can’t hold ourselves back just because we’re scared, right?

Be brave, be curious and I promise you, amazing things will happen.

I’m sure you’re now wondering why I’m not going with Randall. That’s question number two – you’ll have to wait for the next installment to find out.


5 Comments on ““How Are You OK With This?”

  1. When you put it this way “Be brave, be curious and I promise you, amazing things will happen.” I know everything will be fabulous…

    • Likely you heard Joanna roaring with laughter when I read your line. “Awesome, Arthur Ransome!” said she; then lectured me for being ignorant of same. I countered that I had read WINNIE THE POOH, but this added naught to my credibility.

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