Get Currents In Your Inbox!

The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

Caution - Rough Emotional Seas Ahead!

Stefa Katamay

Tayana 37
November 24th, 2018

In April 2018 we left our boat Mazu in San Carlos, Mexico. Like many cruisers with no immediate plans to sail beyond Mexico, we de-commissioned Mazu and left her on the hard in advance of hurricane season, then headed back to Canada. With hurricane season now winding down, we are asked regularly when we are returning to the boat, and what are our plans? Our answer – “We are taking a break from Mazu.”

Four and a half years ago we bought Mazu with the intention of preparing her and ourselves to sail to places near and far. Although both of us are sailors, we did not have experience with large keel-boats or blue water sailing. The learning curve was steep. Besides the boat, navigation and weather, we had a lot to learn about one another and ourselves.

Choosing to moor the boat at a remote marina where we were the sole live-aboards provided a quiet, yet isolated, environment for daily living. This arrangement accelerated the rate at which we learned and got things done on the boat, yet we skipped over developing other vital parts of our lives in the process. We lacked a community in which we could get a break from one another and develop friendships to fill the emotional and intellectual gaps not filled by one another. Unlike some others preparing for offshore adventures, our floating home was not based in a community in which we had deep relationships with friends and family. The Bluewater Cruising Association provided a vital place in which we met people on a regular basis and formed friendships. Still, those meetings did not break us away from all things “boat”. Then, being away sailing, whether in the nearby Gulf Islands or as far afield as Mexico, did not help with community building. Of course we did meet people when anchored and at marinas and have made new friends as a result. Community, however, is something sustained and sustaining. People we would only see occasionally, if ever again, cannot provide much needed emotional grounding that is the hallmark of a healthy, well-rounded life.

Kurt Vonnegut has noted that when couples are getting on each other’s nerves, the problem is generally about loneliness – “Women want a whole lot of people to talk to … about everything. Men want a lot of pals – and they don’t want people to get mad at them.” So when people start getting annoyed with one another, really they are saying, “You’re not enough people.” And to become more people it is necessary to join groups, different kinds of groups, forming a synthetic extended family. (Vonnegut, K., 2013)

For now we are taking a much-needed break from Mazu. Creating a home and a community in downtown Victoria has helped us to take better care of our physical and emotional health. We’ve joined groups to feed our intellectual and spiritual needs; (thank you Kurt Vonnegut). In a year’s time we’ll reconsider what our plans are for Mazu. In the meantime we are rejuvenating and rediscovering who we are beyond our boat.



  1. mark & becky trantham says:

    Stefa & Jurgen
    we read ur last article , we to know what u mean re “the boat” and no sense of community / friends ..
    They say, whoever they are “ a friend in need is a friend indeed “ …. so we are long time BCA members who have given up everything and have been out in the big blue for the last several yrs… we left Tahiti to Hawaii stayed there for the last yr we left Hawaii bound for Sika, Alaska … we ran into a gale in the north pacific in the infamous Garbage Patch we hit something cracked our hull took on water and drowned and lost our engine… we bailed to Port Townson for repaires
    … while the boat is on the hard there we are staying in Port Angles w/ a ferry that runs to Victoria BC … sooooo our cell # 360-389-6966 …. email …boat name Forget-Me-Not … as i said friends in need is a friend in deed … i think a pint of beer in Victoria is in our near future … call if u want we can meet up and compare stories we dare u 😎🤙
    mark & becky
    s/v Forget-Me -Not

  2. Donna Sassaman says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and honest examination of relationship building: personal, domestic, community. Wishing you and Jurgen all the best as you let your plan evolve.

  3. Diane says:

    Wish we had connected with you here. We are having a steep learning curve as well despite years of planning. Things break and you get tired. There were many times on our trip down I thought I would head back if it were easier. For us I think its more a case of age making things just a bit harder. For now going to persevere. Afterall to come back to BC we gotta go way west and then northeast. Eh?? Best wishes for a great time in Victoria
    Diane Cherry

  4. Peter Christensen says:

    A Christmas Parable. The other evening we attended a “Christmas tree decorating” party. Guests began to arrive, after a while there were 11 single women and myself and Yvonne, my partner of 43 years. Then another woman arrived who said her spouse would arrive later. When he did arrive the topic soon turned to how long we married folks had been together. It turned out the other couple had been married 50 years! As the evening progressed we had a few glasses of wine. The other husband began to complain rather long-windedly about not having any social interaction. All kinds of suggestions were made but as it turned out it was not activities he wanted but entertainment. All his working life he had been a corporate VP and people had come to him with problems. Now that this was not happening he was bored. Then the conversation between him and his spouse turned to whether or not the toilet seat should be left up or down. He had definite ideas on this and it became apparent that this couple had argued about toilet positions and a lot of other things for way too long. There was a palpable chill in the air. I said to Yvonne later that I had heard of a couple who divorced after 61 years of marriage. I guessed that for some folks it’s just really hard to decide what you want.

    1. Diane says:

      I love this comment!! David and I have been married for 45 years. We ran a business together and after living so long in “.each others pockets” living aboard was not a challenge. Anchoring for a month in English Bay getting the washing machine treatment was a good prelude to cruising. Both my birth family and my inlaw families are totally awesome. What I needed was not a grounding to anything. I had and have that. What I needed was to see if I had what it takes to sail 100 miles offshore taking what is given for days on end. That part was not easy but I would say easier than what we have done so far in Mexico. I have made personal connections being in Nanaimo and cruising I will cherish forever. I think what we need from and get from the long trip as doers ( not a doner yet) is an individual thing.

  5. Heather A Bacon says:

    Stefa; You have told my story. Our article is in the same issue of CURRENTS…but we reflect upon the voyage which ended several years ago. We now go between a ski chalet in CALABOGIE outside Ottawa and a condo in SIDNEY ! Our articles contain my husband’s details of technical, nautical and cultural aspects…my occasional asides may hint at the emotions beneath the surface. The boxes of Personal Journals still in the closet are a diary of my reflections while far from the familiar. Lately I have been deeply pondering the importance of COMMUNITY…you hit the nail on the head! We have no children so lack the joys of grandchildren which so many cherish. We do not have the social ties shared by those who have spent decades in the same town or city. Like you we had a “moveable feast” sharing close friendships with the cruising community, but the special people we met and our “old friends” from the past are scattered all over the world. I go to Sidney to keep in touch with Book Clubs I joined in Newcomers and “lunch with ladies”…but the operative word there is BUSY…all seem involved in bridge, fitness, family etc. A friend recently gave me a book: LOVE WITH A CHANCE OF DROWNING (Torre De Roche): a young woman meets a handsome man who wants to sail around the world. She is afraid of water but love prevails ..Nevertheless she has crying spells, desire to hop on a plane and LONELINESS. You are gutsy to have put it in print. I used to meet Kindred spirits in laundromats…I am sure you would have been one.
    When I return to Sidney (not until Spring, Alas) let’s do lunch! Heather Bacon

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *