Everyone knows that the first year of marriage is the hardest: you are unbelievably happy and in love and at the same time you are becoming intimately acquainted with all the cute quirks and irksome idiosyncrasies of your spouse. It didn’t matter that Jay and I had known each other for five years before we got married—there was still a period of giddiness followed by a reality check and then acceptance and finally a deeper and abiding happiness.

It’s been a year since we drove to Fort Lauderdale to look at Take Two, and as I look back over the whirlwind romance, I see that we’re having a bit of a newlywed experience with her as well as with each other.  We still have moments of complete and total silliness as we realize we are living the dream, and that we actually found the boat we always wanted, acquired her and are learning (little by little) to live with her. But reality is also setting in. Sometimes the project list is so daunting and it feels like we’re never going to make it. At other times, living half on land and half on the water makes me feel like I’m disintegrating. We recently met a couple who have lived aboard their boat with two kids the same age as our middle two for the last three years. It was at the same time inspiring and intimidating to hang out with them and see what life aboard is like. We’ve got a ways to go…

During our first out-of-the-backyard voyage we discovered that learning to sail together and live on the boat as a family is also a newlywed experience—at times exhilarating and others awkward as we feel our way through new, and sometimes frustrating, situations. Jay and I had the cliché anchoring argument (how embarrassing), and we had a day of sloppy seas and no wind which wasn’t a lot of fun, but wasn’t terrible, either, and we had a toilet malfunction which meant using a bucket until we could repair the head. There were other small misadventures, but there were also successes: Jay repaired the watermaker, I was able to do a week’s worth of laundry using very little water and a good wind, the kids behaved beautifully, and we docked successfully in a stiff breeze (thanks to a docking class with Captain Josie of Adventure Cruising and Sailing).

I find that I am still in love with Take Two, but I also see all the ways she needs to improve to be a good long-term home for us and a vehicle to take us further from the familiar. Sometimes I still feel the gripping fear of the unknown and want to run home to my hot, high-pressure shower to reassess my life’s goals. Mostly, I want to keep going and learning and working toward our life aboard, even if it is uncomfortable and difficult sometimes. I feel a new appreciation for Jay because he is so steady and realistic—he is the compass that points to true North when I am wobbling all over the map. We are still learning “the dance” on the boat, but because we have an established partnership based on good communication, the steps come quickly. Be it slow or quick, better or worse, we are in it for the long haul.