Notes from Mom

If you’ve been reading the blog since the start of the sailing season, you know that last June my parents joined us for a three week cruise around western Fiji. Here, my mom shares her notes about life on the boat, a daughter living at sea, and getting the most out of 40 years of marriage...

For our first purchase as a married couple, my husband Charles and I bought a Columbia 26 sailboat. We then spent every possible day for more than 30 years sailing San Francisco Bay. We have been day sailors, chartering occasionally in the Virgin Islands, Florida Keys and Mexico. We eventually moved up to a Formosa 41, continuing to enjoy San Francisco Bay. Going to the South Pacific to spend three weeks sailing around Fiji with Corinne and Dominic was a grand adventure to celebrate our 40th anniversary and Charles’ retirement. The breathtaking beauty of Fiji was impressive, sky, land and sea. We snorkeled daily, relaxed, read, ate wonderful food and watched Downton Abbey.

A few thoughts from a mother’s perspective on Helios:

  1. Oh my! It’s the trip of a lifetime and three weeks of paradise for me—it’s their life!!

  2. Loneliness:  My concerns about isolation in this sailing life have been alleviated. Corinne and Dominic have an active social life - there are quite a few boats sailing the same waters - all subject to the same wind and weather conditions, so anchoring near a familiar boat is fairly common and gives opportunities for human interaction.

  3. Technology:  Computer technology and weather tracking are priceless tools in avoiding bad conditions. We checked the weather every morning before setting out - or staying in!  New cameras make a photographic record possible, breakthroughs in recreational gear and clothing make life easier and more fun. And let’s here it for sat phones and the internet making communication with those at home possible!

  4. Organization: Corinne and Dominic have amazed me with their color coded spreadsheets regarding storage. Boats have some strange nooks and crannies in which to put gear and food! Corinne even had food organized and stored, each package intended for a week’s worth of food. The snorkeling gear was all kept together and everything was kept in its proper place. 

  5. Provisioning/Meal Planning: Obtaining provisions whenever on land is an adventure and a requirement. Meals are planned around what is available, how to make supplies last and when to use them up. Nothing is wasted because the fresh provisions are hard to come by and there is limited storage and refrigeration. Corinne makes bread dough in large batches, using it for everything from rolls, pizza dough, pita bread and more. For someone who showed little interest in home economics, she has mastered it!

  6. Minimalism: Living on a 40 foot sailboat means paring belongings down to the bare essentials- I never thought I’d see Corinne down to a mere three pairs of shoes. She has challenged me to minimize my existence. Ha!

  7. Safety: People often ask how I feel about my “baby” living on a sail boat with all the risks of a life at sea. My pat response is that life is risky - getting into a car is risky… It was gratifying to see though that no expense has been spared in equipping Helios with safety equipment. From the weather tracking computer programs to harnesses and a grab bag and much more. Hallelujah!

  8. What do they do all day? Corinne and Dominic are two of the most goal oriented people I know - how do they cope with all this “free time”? Well the activities of daily life shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. are much more challenging and time consuming. That plus snorkeling, hiking, and enjoying the amazing surroundings does make for a satisfying life.

  9. Compatibility - Wow! Needless to say living in such a confined space, and being constant companions requires the couple be happy together.  Corinne and Dominic still seem to enjoy each others company after nearly two years of this sailing life! Dominic is a loving, caring captain always concerned about Corinne’s safety and happiness - What more could a mother ask for?

It’s impossible, I think, for anyone to be be married for 40 years and raise three children without at some point wondering whether or not all the craziness is worth it. This breathtaking vacation, shared with my spouse, on a boat with my daughter and son-in-law, was the kind of experience that made me know, yes, it has all been worth it.