Dockwalk - The Essential Site For Captains And Crew - DockTalk Untitled Page

Welcome to the Forum


In order to post a comment in one of the forum topics, you must log in or sign up. Your display name will appear next to your posts unless you check the Post Anonymously box. When writing a post, please follow our forum guidelines. If you come across a post that you would like us to review, use the Report Post button. Please note the opinions shared in the forums do not necessarily reflect the views of Dockwalk.

RSS Feed Print
A Captain Dad and stay-home Mom
Posted: Sunday, May 9, 2010 1:35 AM
Joined: 09/05/2010
Posts: 3

When I left yachting almost 8 years ago, I was married to the captain and 4 months pregnant. Fast forward to today and I have two wonderful boys (7 and 4) and a husband who is still a captain. Because my husband is gone for so much of the year, we decided that I would not work so our boys would always have at least one parent’s undivided attention. The boys are great and I love them, my husband is great and I love him. But I don’t know which is worse, when my husband is gone or when he comes home. Of course we have boys. And they are at an age where they really want to spend time with their dad and do boy things. I had a melt down last year when my son’s pre-school teacher called me and said my youngest one kept using the girl’s bathroom. He did that because when we are out in public, I always take him with me in the women’s restroom. He looked at the picture on the door and thought that was the restroom he was supposed to use. The boys always ask for their dad and of course they are ecstatic when he comes home. It is tough juggling two busy boys by myself, and when dad is away, we have a very orderly routine. But when dad comes home, the system goes out the window and the whole house falls into chaos. Dad is away so much that he never says no to the boys when he’s home. He lets them stay up late, eat whatever they want, skip bath time...etc. Then when he leaves again, the boys fall into a serious funk. Saturday my husband left after being home for a few weeks, and my mothers day weekend started off with my 7-year-old screaming at me, “I hate you. I wish you were the one who went away and Dad stayed home all the time.” I gave up my whole career to stay home and give the boys a stable home environment. I try to convince my husband that we need to parent the children the same. He does not get to act like a grandparent. He can’t walk in the door and spoil the kids and then leave me to be the bad guy who makes them brush their teeth and go to bed. I feel like I have sacrificed so much for all my boys and feel totally unappreciated. I wonder if there are other yacht moms out there who have this problem too and what they do to manage small children with a captain dad. I just don't know how to keep doing this. Being a parent makes a 3 week charter look like a day at the beach.
Posted: Sunday, May 9, 2010 8:21 AM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1024

Everyones situation is different and One fact is the same for everyone. You cant be a family man and an international sailor at the same time. All of the guys I know with families have gotten out of the big league and onto domestic yachts or entered the general marine industry.. When I hit a major yacht port and begin the search for long lost mates they always appear and its always the same story. Family men. The paradox of yachting is that the young, inexperienced guys run Mega yachts and the little 75 to 100 ft class domestic yachts carry the finest ,most experienced captains . Suggest to your husband that he follow the same path. Get him on a family friendly program that allows both you and your boys interaction with the yacht.
Posted: Sunday, May 9, 2010 7:02 PM
Joined: 25/06/2009
Posts: 277

Something to think about - Why is it necessary to pose the question in this forum? Just having to ask the question may mean that there is a communication issue that you both may need to address.


In any case, if Junior's suggestion is not doable in the short term, since you are not working, can you arrange for you and the boys to go on one or two week "vacations" to the yacht's location when it is between "assignments"? This would further their education and make for a different family "fun" time.


Good Luck,




Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010 6:50 PM

It's necessary to post this question in this forum because this mom needs some serious commiseration!

I'm a mom with a husband away a lot but I don't have it as bad as you as his schedule is more regular than a yacht captain's. And I agree, 18-hour days as charter crew were easier than this!!! It's simple though, you are right and your husband is wrong. By all means, let the kids do fun boy stuff all day with dad when he's home, but within the paarameters of your rules and your schedule. 

Do you skype to let the boys see their dad regularly? If so and they complain about mom, your husband should back you up.

My husband gets tired of me whining, "you don't understand..." when I'm complaining about juggling life as a single parent, but he doesn't get it and never will. Your husband doesn't get how hard it is and likely trying to communicate it probably comes across as nagging or whining. Can you get your inlaws on your side to help sway him to change his ways?

And you are unappreciated because young children just don't have the capacity to appreciate these things now. Maybe in 20 years they'll thank you for your sacrifices. In the meantime, hang in there. Good luck.

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:06 AM
Joined: 02/05/2008
Posts: 40

Yacht Mom, there are lots of us who have been there. (Evidently there are still pictures out there to prove it.) Certainly your husband isn’t helping an already difficult situation by messing with the system when he comes home, but try not to be too tough on your husband. He may not communicate it well –he is a man after all- but his actions seem to say that he is probably riddled with guilt about being away from his boys so much and he is just trying to compensate when he has time to spend with them. Unfortunately it’s a little confusing for your kids and your boys are at an age where they tend to use their emotions more effectively than words. Regardless of what your son may have said, it likely had nothing to do with you, that outburst was probably his way of expressing his frustration about his dad leaving. You know he doesn’t hate you, right? If your son falls and hurts himself on the playground or somebody at school hurts his feelings, the first person he is going to want is his mommy. I’m sure your family really appreciates all you do for them, even if they don’t always express it and you are not alone in knowing how hard it can sometimes be to keep doing it. Hang in there.
Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 2:11 AM
Thanks for the posting. I could have written YachtMom’s posting myself. It is 100% accurate. I have no advice, we are in the same quandary, only I use the term “friend” instead of “grandparent.” As in, you can’t be their friend! You have to be their Dad!
Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 6:32 PM
You could have been writing my story! I have two boys also although they are 6 & 4. My husband is a Yacht Captain also but thankfully is home right now doing a long yard period. Before this period though it was hard to be the single parent but I had my routine. Like you that routine got thrown out the window when he got home. As his visits were short it was hard not to give the boys as much time as they needed with Dad but it led for cranky and tired boys after he left. Because of where I live there is a large Yachting community and I do know alot of other mums in similar situation so we do tend to be able to help each other mentally and physically. It is hard and with the summer coming up and my eldest getting off school it would have been a serious challenge to keep them both busy and me sane! I do hope at least you do have a support system and I know it doesn't have to be family. As I not from where I live I understand the benefit of my friends.
Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 6:41 PM
Joined: 23/10/2008
Posts: 8

A word from the other side. As a part-time dad I decided I would not be the Grandparent style or spoil my son. I treated him as if it was every day, made him do the chores with me, his homework, all the usual stuff and then play time as allowed. He was 7 - 10 years old. He tells me now how much he hated me and the way I treated him. I was rarely there and did not be a 'dad' enough, too much being the father figure and leading by example. If I could go back, I would spoil him rotten. Its hard for us too, being away from our family and not having that day to day interaction and being there for our children. Watching them grow and learn, please look at both sides of the situation. Its tough on all of us, and no, there are not that many land based jobs available out there to just come back and roost. I have two kids in college now, I cant afford to be on land!
Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 6:57 PM
Joined: 17/07/2008
Posts: 26

I can feel your pain.  For me it is just an opposite case.  My wife spoils them when I am away or even when I am home and I have to be the disciplinarian.  My daughter(13) is well behaved but my son(10) with ADD has his times that he does not want to do what is told to him.  My wife, when I am away has a hard tome making him mind when I am gone.The last thing I want is to get a call from her to punish him over the phone or to be used as a threat against him.  I worked ashore for 4 years when they were little and then moved back to boats that did not travel much.  Now I travel away more but the kids understand more now that they are older.  It is important for both parents to try and be the same with rules and punishment.  Even when he has been gone for awhile.

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 9:41 PM
Many people in our industry feel the same, dealing with a LDR (Long Distance Relationship) is one of the main draw-backs of this or any seafarer profession.  In fact an ex-Chief Stew writes a blog about her relationship with her Engineer partner, who is still at sea, on this helpful website I found.  Check it out, you might find it of some use:
Good luck!

Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 1:10 PM
Thank god someone else feels this way! I read these posts and wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I always say that I have a multiple personality family. When it’s just me and the kids, there is some order and consistency, but then there’s the “dad’s coming home soon” personality, which is almost like Christmas is coming. Then when Dad gets home it’s like Christmas day for a whole week (for all of us). Then the ugly personalities come out. The kids get way over stimulated, a little sleep deprived, amped up on fast food, candy, and cartoons and they get cranky and difficult to manage. If I try to re-instill order while dad is home then the kids go into “play mom against dad” mode. This typically deteriorates into “Dad is cool and Mom sucks” mode. The personalities get uglier once we get to “Dad’s got to leave again soon” mode. What makes that one really hard is Dad starts acting like a captain again. He starts wanting the house to be perfect and meals to be gourmet. At least at that point, he’s kind-of back on board with setting boundaries for the kids. The absolute worst of my family’s multiple personalities is when Dad leaves. The kids are sad and angry for about a week. I’ve had the “I HATE YOU!” scream many times from this personality. Finally after about a week to ten days, a little consistency and order creeps back into the house and there are fair winds and following seas until the forecast calls for Dad to blow back into town again. It’s the life of a yacht mom. Having kids is a lot like a never ending charter, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! The money isn’t as good, but I love my guests so much I hope they never leave.
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 3:26 PM
Joined: 01/11/2009
Posts: 2

Hi Yachtmom, know exactly what your going through, I'm a Yacht Captain,home very little, have a georgous wife and the two great little ones.I learn't my lessons fast as far as the kids routine, I used to do the same as your husband,late night TV, too many bed time stories and the occasional lollypop.Used to drive my wife over the edge,now I standby her and follow her lead and back her up with every single issue.She has the occasional meltdown down and I carn't blame her and am always supportive, for my Job is the easiest in the world, she is the family glue and does it all, What we do often is have her and the kids meet me when I have some time off, we do road trips,inexpensive accomodation,sight seeing, the kids love it,we are all gypsies,the kids are outgoing and friends to everyone we meet, the only thing we don't do is have they see me leave the dock, it's brutal, trying to get off the dock with two wailing babies, now we have them meet me as I'm coming in.Bless ya,you deserve many hugs and kisses from you man.
Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 7:07 AM
Joined: 05/06/2009
Posts: 1

Hello YachtMom, I totally understand your feelings and frustrations. My husband is away at sea about 7 months a year and this is likely to be more from next year onwards. We have two children of 7 and 3 1/2. We live in Tahiti but are originally from France. Not to say that when something goes wrong, no need to call the family for help! However, my husband and I have agreed on some rules for the kids and he plays the game very well everytime he gets back.  Obviously, this helps a lot when he is away as I don't feel they are very different, they listen (most of the time) and behave. However, I find my own balance in having a job and a hobby. I am working from home, running a small business and working on a consultancy basis with the local yacht industry. This allows me to manage my time as I like  but still have plenty of time to devote to the children. I feel like I am not just a mom or a wife (nothing wrong with that though) but this is important to me. I also take dance classes twice a week. I am using the services of a wonderful nanny as and when necessary. The children love it as they can stay with some of their other school / kindergarten friends. In the end, it makes everybody happy and balanced and all this helps tremendously running our family life year round. No doubt you will find a way, make sure you communicate well with your husband and share with him your feelings. I know it is hard for mine when he comes home to get back to "normal life". He has been thinking of us for weeks, idealizing home but sometimes reality is not as rosy, the kids are naughty, I am tired... but we always manage to make the best out of it in the end! Best wishes from Tahiti!

Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 2:20 PM
I guess all us moms feel the same....But to be honest I have such a hard time going from a "single mom" to a couple. Just because someone comes home for a few days after being away for 4 months, then leaves again, hard to just pick up where you left off. Since when the captain is gone, I am on call 24/7 with no time off, not really in the mood or have the energy to be the "loving"wife, then just to have him leave in a few days. Hate to complain when we are so grateful that he has work now after looking for over 1 year. But really hate the lifestyle, no chance to ever make plans, since Captain jumps when owner says jump. Having to maintain a stable job- career since his is can change in a blink! Hard to explain to the kids, that we just make plans and if dad shows up then great but if not?? As another poster said, not the best career for a family man!
Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:55 PM
Joined: 12/12/2008
Posts: 22

My wife sat me down during a visit home a few years ago and said to me: How would you feel if I came back to the boat and started telling the crew they didn't have to wash the boat down and that they could take off when they felt like it?... It took a minute for it to sink in, but I got it! She's the captain of the kid. I now try to be a good first officer and follow where she leads. It is tough though. I miss my little girl so much and I want her to stay up late and do fun things with me as badly as she wants to do them. But I have total respect for my wife and how hard her job can be. She's our daughter's captain and what mommy says goes.
Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 1:52 PM
Joined: 09/05/2010
Posts: 3

Thank you very much for all the empathy and advice. It's so nice to know it's not just me.
Posted: Saturday, May 29, 2010 8:39 PM
Joined: 29/05/2010
Posts: 2

I want to extend an invitation to check out our local playgroup! My husband is a Captain and I spent a couple of years as a Stew. I formed this group over a year ago and we are now one of the most active in South Florida. You can read a little about us at: If you would like to feel a sense of community with other moms, by all means join us for a playdate!
 Average 5 out of 5