Let’s Go Sa-a-a-ling!


Dolphins! Live dolphins, cavorting in the water just a few feet away from me, in the open water! And, further behind us, dolphins splashing each other, leaping out of the water in graceful grey arcs. It was a memorable afternoon, indeed.

An afternoon that was four months in the making:

So, late, late, late one evening, I was shopping at Wal-Mart, trying to get the Easter Bunny supplies with which to surprise my kids, and I was talking to my (then) boyfriend on the phone while he was up waiting, watching a computer server to see if it had any problems during a specific time period. 

Now, he had been mentioning things like, “Well, when we are married…” or “I firmly see us being married in the future…” or “I’ll need to start thinking of taking four people on vacation instead of just me because when we are married, I’ll have the girls and you to think about…”

So, one day, I point-blank asked him, “Did I miss something? Some major life-status-changing question? Because I think I missed a question somewhere.”

To which he dodged, “No, you didn’t miss anything. It’s just that, although I haven’t asked yet, I believe that we will eventually be married, and sooner rather than later.”

Now this is just the kind of cocky attitude a girl can sort of like. Because, it really says I like you. I really, really like you. I think you’re so amazing that I’m beginning to frame the rest of my life, my future, around thoughts of you in it. I’m not ready to ask for that commitment yet, but I am visualizing it to get the mental taste of it; I’m talking it out to feel its flavor on my tongue, and I’m even saying it to you, exposing my tender underbelly to you to see if you’ll shoot me down or run with me.

And the thing was, even though I’d sworn vehemently up and down, side to side, zig-zag, diagonally, forwards and backwards that I was NOT going to ever get married again, EVER… The thing was… I hadn’t counted on him.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s not perfect. It’s just that… Well… He seemed to be really kind of perfect for me. And everything he said, everything he did, well, it only reinforced this idea that maybe here was a great guy, a really, really great guy… who liked me and would fit like that one funky-shaped puzzle piece – you know, the one that you think Okay, there is so NOT a puzzle piece made to fit here. I must’ve put this darn thing together wrong! OMG! There really IS a piece shaped like that, but it was hiding under all the normal pieces… 

So I really never corrected him. I really never told him that I would never marry again, that I liked him all well and all, but that he was barking up the wrong tree if he was looking for Commitment Woman ™.

And by not correcting him, he started to feel more and more comfortable tossing that “M” word around. And I started to get accustomed to the idea instead of reacting viscerally to it.

And then, that night, wandering around Wal-Mart in the dead of the night, I asked him what his idea of the perfect wedding would be.

And it was this: a small, intimate wedding on his friend’s sailboat, with twelve people maximum, married by the ship’s captain on the open water, sailing up to a restaurant where friends and family were waiting, having the reception there, and then sailing away to have our honeymoon, possibly with the first night spent onboard.

And that sounded wonderful.

A small wedding? Something that wouldn’t highlight the fact that I have no blood family I’d want at a wedding? Not being married in a church with all the hype, hysteria, and hoo-ha? Having the reception at a restaurant where there was no concern for decoration, food preparation, clean-up, or any of the other million and one considerations? Having a unique and memorable wedding? Sign me up. No, really, sign me up!

So then that became the mental image – a sailboat wedding.

And a few months later when he proposed to me while on vacation, I was already ready for him to talk about marriage. I was already prepared to contemplate taking the plunge again.

Then it became kind of humorous because he was so exuberant and euphoric over having proposed (and being accepted, naturally) that he started planning an exotic destination wedding with all the bells and whistles.

That’s when I stuck up my little paw and reminded him gently that hadn’t he wanted the sailboat wedding? Wouldn’t that be nicer? Close to home? Easier on family and friends? Cheaper and more memorable? And that brought him tenderly back to reality.

So one mission of his became to reconnect with his friend with the sailboat and see if we could all perhaps go out for a little cruise to see what the ship would be like and to iron out some details about what a shipboard wedding would entail.

This week, it came through. We were able to arrange to go out one afternoon in the middle of the week between his friend’s paying charters, just the girls, my fiancé, and me. We hightailed it down to the coast as soon as he could peel himself away from work, and we were greeted with a beautiful breezy balmy afternoon.

Jim and Elaine, the captain and first mate, gave us the quick safety speech, and then they cast off, motoring the short distance out of the harbor and into the bay where the sails were unfurled, the wind bit into them, and the ship danced across the water. 

And I fell in love – again.

It seems to be a year for that.

Here I fell in love with a guy, fell in love with scuba diving, fell in love with travel, and fell in love with sailing.

It wasn’t just seeing the dolphins plunging and leaping in the waves alongside us. It wasn’t just the beauty of the ship and the feel of the sea spray splashing up over the deck on my legs. It was the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, listening to nothing but the splash of the bow against the water and the whistle of the lines as I realized that the ship was under just the power of the wind. Seeing the joy and rejuvenation of spirit on my fiancé’s face when he trimmed the sails, seeing the excitement in my daughters as they navigated along the deck, and feeling my own spirit calm, I knew that this was right. 

The dolphins stayed with us for nearly half an hour, before us, behind us, beside us, beneath us. As we sailed back in to the harbor, the flying fish danced in the sunlight for us, windsurfers dodged around us, pelicans perched on pillars occasionally fanning their wings, and I reclined on the foredeck in a bean bag, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and my younger daughter curled up contentedly beside me.

On the way off the boat and to the car, my fiancé whispered to me, “I finally got Jim to name a price for the wedding. Remember how I’d been thinking it was going to cost upwards of two thousand dollars? Well, since we have been friends for so long, he said he would do it for under five hundred! And that barely compensates him for fuel and supplies, let alone wear and tear from having a group on the boat and missing out on the proceeds from a weekend charter in the summer.”

That basically means that we got the officiant, the venue, the supplies – everything, everything that you’d “need” to get married – for less than 1/6 the cost of any other wedding venue?

This afternoon, while browsing through Costco, my fiancé was kind of chortling to me, “You know, we’re going to have one of the most awesome weddings, and it’s on a shoestring budget! The most expensive thing we’re going to have is the party, and that’s not even going to set us back that much depending on where we have it and what we do.”

So you heard it here first, folks: the sailboat wedding is a go!


One response »

  1. Everything is better on a boat. It just IS. 🙂 Also: DOLPHINS.

    So my kids want to know if they are invited to the boat portion of the wedding. One wants on the boat (for the dolphins, if nothing else), one wants to see you get married, and one wants to be as far away as possible in case the kissing thing is contagious.

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