Sailing Promises More Than Just Adventure for Couples


Sailing Promise: Around the World on a Catamaran, by Alayne Main. paperback, 296 pp. 1999. ISBN 0-9684544-0-2. $17.95 USA, $24.95 Canada. 

     "Sailing around the world has very little to do with your ability to sail a boat. It's your ability to fix things that will determine your success." 

     These words by a fellow circumnavigator forewarned Alayne Main of the true trials she and Alec, her husband, were to go through on their quest to sail their 33 foot catamaran, Madeline, around the world. Little did she know then, however, that the things that constantly needed fixing included her relationship with Alec. When they had gotten married, Alayne had agreed to go sailing around the world with Alec one day, and when that day finally came, she thought she was prepared. But nothing could prepare her and Alec for the emotional and psychological trials she encountered while dealing with her doubts and fears. Sailing couples can identify common situations that Alec and Alayne experience on their journey and also learn from Alayne's insights on their relationship dynamic.

     Alayne and Alec left Ft. Lauderdale in 1993 and sailed their recently purchased Prout 33 down to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, to the Galapagos and across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, up the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic back to the Caribbean. Throughout the trip Alayne was overwhelmed by fears, both real and imagined, which often times paralyzed her. As a 28 year-old doctor, Alayne felt self-assured and in control in the emergency room of a hospital, yet on the deck of a boat, she couldn't get a hold of her fears. Bewildered and upset, Alec, an engineer, was left many times to deal with situations by himself, as Alayne was unable to even make logical decisions. 

     This book is a must read for any couple who is contemplating crossing an ocean or circumnavigating the globe. But although Sailing Promise focuses a lot on Alec and Alayne's relationship and their efforts to sustain it, there are other valuable aspects of this book. Alayne's descriptions of routes and anchorages, cultures and countries visited remind me of the reason why we all dream of cruising around the world. The camraderie with fellow cruisers, the excitement of discovering a new place, the peacefulness of having an anchorage all to themselves and the joy of finding and eating lobster frequently all made me want to leave town and go cruising with my husband. 

     We all have fears while sailing, and concerns about sailing around the world include the threat of pirates. Alec and Alayne were very lucky to never have been in a pirate attack, but their travels through Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore waters highlight the realities of pirate attacks and give good information about the actual threat. This brings me to the main lesson that Alayne kept learning in dealing with her fears: if you know what to expect and learn the facts about the situation, you can get rid of a lot of unnecessary worrying. And that's a lesson that I learned also, by reading this book. I have feared that if my husband and I go cruising that I too would become a basket case and wreck our marriage; many couples have separated after a long voyage. However, armed with the knowledge of what Alayne and Alec went through, and how they were able to overcome it, makes me feel more confident that we could deal with a circumnavigation and be successful too.