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The wildest, bravest, and most romantic thing I’ve ever done was to fully embrace my boyfriend’s dream of sailing around the world and make it my own.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why I married him.

I was already falling in love at this point and the thought of sailing around the world with him someday pushed me over the edge.

But there was more to the sailing dream than that. I’d always been fascinated by the ocean and as a girl I loved reading books about kids who grew up around boats. I loved films about high-sea adventures and swash-buckling sailors. I was wild about pirates.

In a Junior High Home Ec class, we had to put together an album about our future lives, and mine featured a long, elegant yacht. When I showed my mom she declared, “You’ll never be a sailor—you’re far too lazy.” (Yah for moms with dire predictions you can rebel against!)

But I can see why she said that. I was a dreamer, not a doer. I’d rather read than go swimming. I gave up trying to surf because it was too exhausting (and cold!) getting the board past the breakers. To be fair, it was just me and a girlfriend winging it. I had no wet suit, it was winter, and the board was ten feet long. (To be even fairer, she learned to surf.)

So when I met this handsome, adventurous man who was a doer and dreamed of sailing around the world, I fell hard, all the way.

Dale was already a man of the world at age 21, a Viet Nam vet. He’d enlisted because he wanted to go to sea. He tried joining the Navy but they wanted a 4-year commitment and he was a man in a hurry, so he went next door and joined the Marines. You know–Marines—the sea—right? Clearly he hadn’t thought this through, but risky behavior was in his blood. His dad was a bull rider before becoming a high steel worker, and later a mountain climber.

By the time we met, Dale was racing off-road vehicles in the Baja 500, and earning a living walking high steel beams like his dad. He drove a Porsche. He had a mustache and sideburns. He looked like a pirate.

I was still a senior in high school. I wore pigtails and sang in the choir. I drove my grandpa’s old Rambler.

He was the opposite of everything me. Exactly what I was looking for.

Twelve years passed before we sailed away together and saw our dream come true. But by then I was largely the driver of the dream. Dale had become the responsible adult. He thought we should put our dream on hold until our two kids were grown. I said no way. I’d waited long enough. I’d never had the chance to grow up around boats, but by golly our kids would.

Stay tuned for Sea Saga, Part II – First Sail, Bailing Seas

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