My First Mate

Everyone told us there would be a fight on the honeymoon. Well, everyone was almost right.

Since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated with the ocean. In 5th grade, I wanted to be an oceanographer. In middle school, I read books about sailing and pirates. And in college, I discovered Hemingway’s writings on his love for the sea. And when I got my scuba certification and went diving in the Caribbean Sea a few years ago my list of lifelong desires became quite a bit shorter.

There are still a few items on the list, and until a few hours ago, one of them was to learn how to sail a small sailing craft. The resort has the small two-person catamarans, and from the moment we got here I had my mind set on sailing one. Lindsey was not as set on it, as her mind is much more set on the spa– but she’s a good sport.

After literally two minutes of instructions in which I paid close attention and asked the pertinent questions, we set sail into the sparkling, blue ocean. Things were going so well, and so smoothly. It was a good solid fifteen minutes until the first bit of trouble set in.

“Um, honey? We’re getting awfully close to those rocks,” Lindsey said.

“It’s fine, I know how to get us turned around.”


“Are you sure?”

“Yes baby, I’m sure.”

And there was the first crack in the edifice.

I turned the boat okay, and tried to head back to the beach, but there was not much wind this morning. The boat just drifted. I tried everything I had been instructed to do, and I did, my manhood was failing visibly.

“Umm… are we just floating?”

“No, there is only a little wind. We’re just not moving fast.”


I started going though the process again. Check the wind indicator. Turn the boat to 45 degrees into the wind. Check the tension on the main sail line. Hold the rudder steady. Pray for more wind.

Twenty minutes go by. We’re still drifting.

“I can’t wait to have that jerk pork when we get back.”

Great. She was hungry. And we were at least a few hundreds yards from shore. I started thinking desperately. I’ve read about sailing these things and I knew I had the answer in the dusty stacks of my mental library.

Fifteen more minutes go by with even less progress. Lindsey is clearly uncomfortable, as this is not a luxury yacht. She moves from one side to the other. I warn her to watch out for the sail, she shoots me a look. She moves back and tries to find a little bit of shade.

“I think I’m burning,” she says.

“Did you put sunscreen on before?”

“No. Someone was in a hurry to get on the boat.”

“We had a place in line, it was our turn.” Pause. “You could have said something.”

She levels her eyes at me and gives me a look that could melt me like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then… silence.

Several minutes later that icy silence is broken.

“I love you,” she said. But the frustration could not be more clear.

We set this funny little rule that on the honeymoon we could ask each other what they were thinking when they said those words, so I decided to use it then. I asked my wife what exactly she was thinking.

“It’s just a little hard to let you lead right now.”

There it was. Of course it was hard to be in her shoes. I brought her along on something I was not competent at yet. It was right before lunch, and we’d had specific plans for it. I understand where she is coming from and truth be told, I am frustrated too.

But I did not say anything else. And neither did she.

After a few minutes of playing with the sail, a gust came up and caught the sail right, I turned the boat a bit and it started taking off. In that motion I remembered what I had been searching for– the right way to tack the boat into the wind. I’d had the angle all wrong for the wind we had.

Once I figured this out we started moving. Her spirits rose and so did mine. Lindsey dipped her feet into the water and begins to splash playfully. I choose not to mention the fact that this is actually adding drag to the boat. She is happy– so I am happy. At the end we were both quite content and had tacked the boat back and forth and brought it into the beach at a good speed. We were gone only about an hour, and in the end it was a good trip.

But it was so close to something else. Out there, 300 yards offshore we could have had a knock-down drag-out on the boat with no place to go. Had either of us pushed the conversation after Lindsey expressed her frustration, it would have gone very differently. But we both showed restraint. Fight avoided, honeymoon still blissfully happy.

A NOTE FROM THE WIFE: I learned in our pre-marital counseling how important it is to allow our men to be the men God created them to be. When I ask Brian to stop and ask directions, I am expressing to him that I am not confident in his decision making– that I don’t trust him.

So, out there on the high seas today, I asked God to help me love my husband. He responded by reminding me that I married a hunter, a forager, an adventurer, and yes– a sailor. Brian has to have the opportunity to be that man. And he is that man. I have to learn to trust that man. After so many years as a single woman, taking care of myself and making my own decisions, this shift in thinking and action will take some time. I’m sure that there there will many more posts to come on this topic.

6 thoughts on “My First Mate

  1. Pingback: I don’t have to love my husband? | Our First Year

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