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How to Convince Your Wife to Live on a Sailboat

How about a blog on how that first conversation with your wife went. You know the one where you turn to her and say, “Love of my life, how about sailing away with me and our little one on our boat.”

My wonderful wife thinks I’m having a mid-life crisis at the suggestion. But, I think she may be coming around somewhat.

Any thoughts?

best of luck,

Incremental gains! That’s the key.

First, I have to admit that my wife has been around the water and boats her whole life. Not necessarily sailboats and not necessarily living on boats, but at least she has loves the water and boats.

I think in order for your beloved to agree to get rid of all her valuable ‘stuff’ and live in a smaller home than most people had when they were going to college is to build on experience.

Positive reinforcement, clear communication, incremental communal goals, and plenty of good experiences on sailboats are critical to building a positive belief system that will allow your significant other to be open to the idea that this is something she ‘can’ do and ‘will’ enjoy.

It also helps if your dead broke, already own the boat and the only better option is to move to the big city and work like a dog. But I digress…

We bareboated (I’m the captain and we have the boat to ourselves) in the beautiful British Virgin Islands a few times and had great experiences (not without a few tears, but that’s to be expected). We were members of a sailing club on a lake and went sailing with a cooler full of ‘coldies’ and snackies almost every weekend. We even got married in the BVI and invited almost 20 of our closest friends to join us and go sailing. So we like sailing. Owning the boat was another story.

Don’t buy a boat until you’re ready to throw off the bowlines and live aboard

A boat of this size (or any big enough to live on) is a nightmare unless you live on it. It’s just hard to keep up (forget about getting ahead) of the constant little maintenance items that are necessary to actually use the boat. Our mistake was buying too big a boat (a nice trailerable sailboat would have been good- weekender size) and not having the time to maintain it. I spent about as much time in the first three years we owned the boat just working on it as sailing it.

So don’t buy a boat until the spouse is ready to step aboard to live on it- owning a boat that rots at the slip will not encourage your wife to move aboard! Charter, rent, join a club to keep the dream live.

Your wife is going to have to participate. That’s just the facts, Jack! Anchoring is a good example. After 5 years of owning our boat, it still took another month of anchoring for her to feel pretty good about her skills. Find a womens sailing course. Make sure it’s not an offshore ‘scary stuff’ class. Your wife needs to know how to do a man overboard drill, raise the sail, drop the anchor- not how to triple reef in 35kn winds with 10ft waves.

Honey, Where would you like to sail?

Get her invested in the dream. Ask her where would she like to sail. Maybe the Keys? Maybe the Gulf? Start taking 2-3 day weekend sailing trips and try to hit some offshore days as often as you can. We would head out of the inlet at first light and sail north or south around one island off the coast of Georgia and come back inside to anchor for the night. The next day we might do that again or stay anchored and enjoy the being on the boat. The last day we motored the ICW back home to be home for dinner

Honey, What do you think about this boat?

Start looking at boats. Ask her if which boats she likes better and why. Now this is a critical part right here- LISTEN! My wife fell in love with the Salon and Galley on our CSY 33. All of the sudden she became an advocate because she pictured herself cooking in that galley and reading a good bunk snuggled up in the setee. But remember, don’t buy a boat until you’re ready to move aboard. I’m telling you, the hard realities of having two homes will kill the dream.

You Build on Experience. This should be your new mantra and you should repeat it often!

Always compliment her on how good she did. Your not looking for perfect, you want enthusiasm! You build on experience. One bad experience can sink your hopes of living aboard. You need to get through the growing pains of learning all the ‘icky’ stuff to be able to enjoy the beauties and benefits of living on a home that you can move if you don’t like the view or your neighbors.

Living aboard is not a race. Be sure to emphasize that you’ll spending the majority of your time at anchor not constant days of sailing. We spent three weeks in St. Augustine, three weeks in Stuart, and about 10 days in Key West. That way the fun parts of living aboard are highlighted not the physically demanding or scary parts.

One final thought. No matter how hard you might try to convince somebody, if they aren’t open to the idea of living on a boat- you can’t make them like it. It’s a physically demanding life filled with very real dangers. If your wife isn’t interested in participating- you’re cooked and stick to charters. You can’t do it alone and when (not if) something goes awry (running aground, dragging anchor, engine problems, sails rip, bad weather….) you’ll need her help and when it’s all said and done, she’ll want to jump ship.

Now all that being said, here’s how our actual conversation went,

Love of my life, we’re pretty broke. If we live on the sailboat we got a shot of actually being able to save some money, spend quality time together as a family, and be able to live in some pretty interesting places. It’s either that or we move back to the city and I find a job that will require me to spend 60 hours or more at work and I will not be able to spend the time with you or Emma James. We can try living on the boat and see how that goes? What do you think we should do?

Move aboard the Boat, she said.

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2 comments to How to Convince Your Wife to Live on a Sailboat

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  • bsmojoman

    Ive had a lot of problems with my wife on this idea. The big house to have our kids come visit and have room to stay, is something she struggles with. Her fellings are real and sincear. The concept of havinga mobile way of life is alien to my wife. Understandably so based on the common social argruments, often driven by bankers and relestate professionals looking to lock you into a lifetime mortgage. Our kids are members of this slavery system of debt, and therefore cannot aford to do anything but pay other people while they spend all their time working to pay for a cheap apartment and a car to get to work to pay for the cheap apartment. My wife and I have the hope that a mobile life will alow us to see and be a part of our grandchildrens life, and our adult kids lives. The house is our own prison keepingus from those we love. There is a way that seems right to man, but that way leads to death.