Several months ago my wife and I were walking past the marina in downtown St Petersburg, Florida, when we saw a Catalina 25 for sale. My wife, being the wise and wonderful woman that she is, knew I wouldn’t take such a bold step. So the next day while I was at work, she bought it. We now enjoy sailing in the Tampa Bay on the weekends and life is good. But it gets better, or so they tell me.
A couple of weeks ago she said, “I think we should buy a bigger boat… AND LIVE ON IT.” Once again everyone told me, “You are a lucky man.” The guys in the marina said it. The guys at work said it. Hell, even my doctor said it. Not only did they tell me how lucky I am in my boating life, but they also told me that I’m married to every man’s dream woman. She’s smart, attractive, loving and most importantly, she wants to buy a bigger boat… AND LIVE ON IT.
So, there it is. It’s official. I am a lucky man. But with all that good fortune floating around, why don’t I feel so lucky? What could I possibly have to complain about? The answer is simple.
Yes, I know. Many of you can only dream of living on a 35 or 40-foot sailboat and can only imagine what it feels like to be skimming across the blue gulf waters with the sails full and the wind at your back. Maybe you even dream about a beautiful boat anchored a hundred yards off shore, near a white sand beach with palm trees swaying. And perhaps you imagine evenings with your significant other sitting across from you on the deck, eating dinner and sipping wine. You can probably picture the reddish orange sun setting on the horizon, and feel the light breeze blowing warm air as waves lap gently against the hull. And well… you know the rest. And hey, I can see all that, too.
You want to know what else I can see? I can see a pretty carefree guy (and women do not always think being a carefree guy is a good thing around the house), living on a 200 sq. ft. floating house that is frequently tossed around by both little and BIG waves. There will be constant drips of water leaking in from above, because that’s what sailboats do, and I will be expected to somehow, miraculously make the dripping go away. I am well aware that making a sailboat drip free is like catching Moby Dick. Accomplishing this feat would be an amazing, yet an illusive dream. Nonetheless, it will be expected of me.
So, I see myself on a small, rocking, dripping boat while living with a woman who is a very neat and tidy Queen of the Castle. I am not neat and tidy. She likes things in her house to be ‘just so.’ I am not organized. If I can find my stuff, I’m good. If I can find it where it belongs, even better, but that’s not likely to happen. To add insult to injury she will not have access to many of her nice things because most of the good stuff will be in a storage unit. On a good day she will not care, but on a bad day it will be my fault. We’ll be bumping into each other every time we try to walk around the cabin, and God please help me if I thoughtlessly burp or pass gas.
So there it is, summed up in a few paragraphs. The dream, dampened by reality.
There are quite a few couples living on their boats in the marina. Liveaboards is what they are called. All of them are considerably younger than us. I can only presume they would like to live in a house one day- probably when they’re in their fifties, like us. And I’ve tried to explain to my loving wife that many of the nice single men who live on their boats were not single when they moved onto them, but she’s not buying it. We’ve been married for 34 years and she does not see how this could end badly. To be honest, I don’t see how it could end badly… for her. It’s me I’m worried about. I could be living in a 10,000 square foot warehouse and still manage to find myself in trouble. I suspect it will be much easier, getting myself in trouble, in a 200 sq. ft. buoyant home. I do not relish the possibility of sitting topside in the rain because I’ve done something unwise and there is no other room for me to go sit into to find a little peace, (and quiet)
With all that said, I AM a lucky man and I know it. My wife is a wonderful woman who I am lucky to have spent most of my life with. Who knows, in a few months I may be living on a sailboat with a woman who is far better than I deserve. I hope I feel lucky then.
B.M. Simpson is the author of Island Dogs, A Caribbean Tale of Friendship and other short stories. He and his wife are also the owners of the sailboat Serenity and are currently keeping their eyes open for a bigger boat.