The Sea-Shore Relationship: Tips for Making it Work

22 May 2009 By Louisa Cowan

How often do you hear crew complaining that it’s impossible to have a conventional relationship with a spouse or significant other who lives ashore whilst they’re sailing on the high seas?

Having recently met a mate who had been rejected for a job after the captain found out he was married – “This boat just won’t be right for married crew” – I can understand why people are skeptical about how these relationships work in the industry.

However, another captain, who is settled and happy with his shore-based wife, says, “I am really encouraged when I interview married crew for senior positions. It usually means they take their jobs seriously and are in it for the long haul; they are much more likely to be looking for longevity.”

Being an onshore wife myself, I am the first to admit that it isn’t all plain sailing (excuse the pun), but with a bit of compromise and flexibility, the pros of having a spouse working in the superyacht industry far outweigh the cons.

Here are a few of my tips to ensure the best chance of making a sea/shore relationship work.

Stay connected: Most people have a good laptop nowadays. If you don’t – get one. Not only do you have the option of emailing your loved one at any time, night or day, but the arrival of Skype is also a godsend for those enjoying a long-distance relationship. You can speak to your partner face to face and it’s totally free! Time zones can be pain, but you’ll soon get used to finding the best times to get hold of each other so you can have a reasonable, uninterrupted chat.

Be flexible: You both have to be prepared to keep your schedule flexible, and enjoying traveling is a must. I pretty quickly overcame my fear of flying when I realized that jetting around the world was essential if I wanted to be with my beau. As we all know, planning can be difficult in this industry, so having a partner who is able to pack a bag and jump on a plane to be with you at the drop of a hat is a definite advantage.

Know the industry: Although not essential, it helps if your partner has an understanding of the industry. Even if they haven’t worked on or around yachts, help them to understand your job, the environment and how it all works. Encourage your partner or spouse to get involved in your life. Knowing your crew and just being able to put faces to names is incredibly helpful while you’re away.

Have a life: It’s so important to make sure that the shore-based partner maintains their own life. Even when moving around a lot, the half of the couple left on land needs to make new friends, volunteer, work – just keep busy. The at-sea half then has the fun of getting to know the new people and on-shore-life that their partner has created. After all, believe it or not, there is more to life than yachting.

If you’re lucky, you really can have it all.

Do you have any tips for maintaining a successful sea/shore relationship?