A year into dating my very own sailor I have learned and spoken more about boats, keels, booms, jibs (yeah, right?), wood, knots, currents and cardinal points than I have throughout my entire life.
My sailor started swimming when he was a little boy, played water polo throughout his life and started sailing when he was a teenager. His dedication and passion for sailing and boat building is something I admire about him a lot. It's a big part of his life and something he holds dear to his heart. If you're dating a sailor and you'll stick it out as a team through occasional stormy skies and rough seas you'll most likely be living near the water for the rest of your life and I don't think there is anything more satisfying than that, so, congratulations!
I enjoy hearing him speak about the ocean, tides, the wind, sails, cardinal points, the history and actual art of building wooden boats. What a beautiful craft. His calmness and confidence in the water fascinate me. Opposites attract — I have never been quite comfortable in the water. I didn't grow up near the ocean, nor did I swim regularly or played water sports as a kid. Growing up my family and I went on numerous vacations by the ocean, something I enjoyed very much as a child.
The older I got the more and more I became frightened of the open water. I have trouble going into the ocean past my waistline. I am terribly afraid of whales, big waves, the unknown and depths of the ocean. Not knowing what's beneath me or seeing the ground makes me uncomfortable. When I was younger my uncle had a fatal accident on the water with his boat and drowned; I think that on a subconscious level I was, and most likely still am, in denial that swimming in the ocean and even lakes is something that can be enjoyable. It took me a long time to get back into the water after my uncle's accident and think that it still affects me. The ocean's breathtaking beauty comes at a price and for some this might be an extreme comparison but I perceive the ocean as a fine line between life and death.
Living close to the ocean is something I enjoy nonetheless. I love listening to the waves, the wind and birds. It has a meditative, calming and soothing effect on me. Just sitting by the beach and listening to its healing sounds is something I could do for hours on end. To me, watching the sun set over the horizon of the Pacific is a magical experience that never gets old. Being connected to nature is my peace of mind, my sanctuary, something that is important to me, recharges me and something I wouldn't trade for any money in the world.
Sailing is a sport that is highly dependent on the weather. If you're out on a boat with no wind to fuel your sails you might be stuck out there for hours, moving forward very slowly. I am an incredibly impatient person. My partner's high level of patience, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of mine — a positive trait I don't possess. His calmness in stressful or alarming situations that simultaneously require complete patience and attention to detail is something I admire him for. His patience can push my buttons occasionally but is something I look up to at the same time.
I have learned that moving quick and making rash decisions can sometimes cause more harm than staying calm and making a well-considered and deliberate decision; sometimes you can't control a situation and you have to sit it out and wait until it resolves itself.
Another perk of dating a sailor is getting private swim lessons. I know how to swim and with that I mean I know how to swim the breaststroke. Swimming fast and efficient at the same time were foreign to me. I am out of breath fairly quickly when I'm in the water, mainly because I don't know how to preserve energy while swimming, not breathing correctly. As soon as I am physically exposed to the water I can feel my muscles tense up and my breathing getting shallow. I become insecure pretty immediate. Something I can't really seem to get around. My sailor, on the other hand, is an incredible swimmer and taught me how to swim freestyle, the fastest and most efficient way to move from A to B. I know it will require a lot more practice and patience on my end but I hope to get there eventually.
My sailor knows his way around the water better than anyone I know. I don't think I will ever be as graceful in the water as he is, nor do I know if I will ever be completely comfortable in the water, but his knowledge he passes onto me is something that will help me in dangerous and alarming situations while walking off the beaten path, needing to cross a river and maybe being lost in the mountains or forests. He recently taught me how to behave in a rapid river with quite a strong current, simultaneously preserving energy swimming toward the riverside and floating downstream safely.
Sailing is a dangerous sport that requires knowledge, intuition, patience, experience, foresight and precision.
Again, opposites attract. My sense of direction is often non-existent. His intuitive sense of direction is incredible. In situations where I feel lost, am unsure if we're heading north, east, south or west I can trust that he knows exactly where we are. I often feel dependent on my navigation. He challenges me not to use it. I feel reluctant to changes at first but have actually seen improvements on my end — something I am proud of. He taught me that memorizing main roads and their relation to each other in places I'm not familiar with can help me figure out where I am, which direction I want to go. He taught me about cardinal points, which cardinal direction moss grows on trees, how to orient myself based on where the sun rises and sets. He widens my horizon and I thank him for that.
I used to be quite biased about sailing (and sailors). I saw it as a pretentious sport only those that are well-off could afford. I saw it as a "Members Only" society with people wearing white polo shirts, navy blue blazers and trousers with a fold line, white socks and shiny white shoes. A society I would feel everything else but comfortable in. What can I say? My sailor proved me wrong, entirely wrong. He is the complete opposite of what I thought a stereotypical sailor would embody. He is humble and genuine, he appreciates good companionship, sees beauty and potential in things other people would give up on and appreciates the simple and functional. His immediate circle of like-minded sailing friends are kind, welcoming and down to earth. For them sailing is about community, trust, teamwork, solitude and passion.
Sailing is a dangerous sport that requires knowledge, intuition, patience, experience, foresight and precision. Nature is unpredictable and often unexpected. Understanding the wind, ocean currents, knowing the boat you're on and their relation to each other is inevitable if you're out on the open water. Next month I will be sending mine off on a sailing race from Long Beach to Hawaii, also known as the Transpac Race. I'd lie if I'd say I'm not nervous about him being on a sailing boat in the middle of the Pacific ocean for almost two weeks, but I know it'll make him happy! So if you're dating a sailor; deal with it! I feel proud of my sailor, if you are dating sailor — congrats! — for all of the reasons above any many more.