Who is the Lucky One?

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Now that Dante and I are back home after two years sailing halfway around the world, we have to wait for our captain to join us. It will take him approximately 6 months to sail Benevento home.

When I met Darold in college, he told me he was going to sail around the world someday. I believed he meant it, but I don’t know if I believed it would actually happen. As I got to know him more over the years, I realized that Darold is the type of guy who makes things happen. Never one to say, “Someday I’d like to…” he’s more the type to say, “What do you have to add to this spreadsheet of things to do before we shove off?”

At first, the plan was to go “around the world” for an “indefinite” period of time. But when I found out that I could take a two year unpaid leave of absence from Cisco, Darold took what he could get. Now here we are at the end of two years with a little more experience under our belt.

Here are a few stats:
• 15,778 nm or 18,144 statute miles
• 12 countries
• 13 U.S. States and territories
• 4 country capitals
• 100 overnight passages
• 147 anchorages
• Numerous long non-stop passages over 3 days including 1) Cape Cod to the Azores (1,853 nautical miles); 2) Puerto Madero Mexico to Panama City (1,000 nautical miles); and 3) Azores to Lisbon (951 nautical miles)
• One lunar eclipse and one solar eclipse
• 33 marinas and 3 mooring balls
• 2 grades of homeschooling
• 30 laundromats
• 9 languages in which we learned to say “hello,” “thank you,” and “goodbye”

Dante and I are now home and Darold will sail across the Atlantic (with friends and his uncle Roger) and through the Lesser Antilles (which we missed earlier in the trip). He’ll get to see the beautiful islands of Barbados, St. Lucia, and many others. He will swim in the crystal clear, warm water filled with abundant sea life. He’ll get to provision the boat with cheap and delicious fruits and have fresh nutmeg sprinkled on top of his tropical drinks.

But before you start to feel sorry for me and think that Darold is abusing his poor wife who is back at work, there are a few things to consider. That’s because there is another side to the cruising lifestyle beyond tranquil waters and sunny skies. Consider also what I do NOT have to do.

While I’m sitting safely and comfortably in my climate-controlled desk working my fingers furiously on a keyboard, I will not have to stay up half the night on night watch, worry about a falling barometer or stressed about an approaching weather system. I don’t have to wonder whether I’ll be able to sleep due to a rolly anchorage or wonder if my house is going to drag in the middle of the night. I don’t have to figure out where to do laundry or wear the same clothes more times in a row than I care to admit. I don’t have to grit my teeth and endure any gales or spend days beating to weather wondering if my life will ever be “still” again. I don’t have to put all the loose electronics in the oven and microwave when a lightning storm approaches. I can use a car instead of carting grocery bags by foot. I don’t have to take seasickness medicine before I go on a trip. I can go 280 miles to my sister’s house in 4 1/2 hours instead of 3 days!

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the adventure, but make no mistake about it …. cruising is not a vacation it is hard work, rewarding, but hard nonetheless. Our cruising life may seem exotic and glamorous but as you can see there is more to it than that. We earn every drink we’ve had in our cockpit and then some. At the rate we were cruising, which was significantly faster that the average cruiser (which we don’t recommend), there was an ongoing learning curve and a sense of constant vigilance. Nothing like a thunderstorm off of Cape Fear, with 35 knots of wind and 8-foot seas from three directions and no autopilot, to make you realize that working in an office (even with all its stress and politics) might seem kinda nice in comparison.

So don’t feel too sorry for me. Darold may get the reward of seeing some beautiful places, but believe me when I tell you he is going to earn every beautiful location where he drops anchor. People ask me if I’m worried about him. I’m not; he’s an excellent captain. I will just miss him.

So here’s to my amazing husband Darold. For about the next 6 months, all of us will get to share in his continuing adventures — but without the night watch!

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