Long Distance Relationships
Yachting sees so many hook ups and break ups, often the best way to figure out who’s seeing whom is to have a quick squizz on Facebook (one of its positive uses) to avoid that cringe worthy “How’s Mike?” “We divorced last year… he ran off with his stew…” situations.
Often crew will hook up due to familiarity; we see it every season, a stew and deck will get together, think they’re head over heels then when it comes to find the next job and they’re forced to work on different yachts, the flame withers and dies and they’re onto the next relationship. Yachting veteran J says “I will never forget my first "relationship" in yachting...I was 18yrs old and just met a girl in Antigua. She was this amazing other worldly goddess of sultry accents and alluring smiles. She had me; a naive young South African, wrapped around her finger. Needless to say I was in serious lust! We were together a whole season!!! I thought this was me for life! But when the dust and sheets settled, our respective boats were headed in different directions. I was devastated, my goddess was leaving me. I was sullen at work and my crew knew it; we were only 7 onboard."
Ok big generalisation there … sometimes love’s young dream does last the mile! So how do we cope with working apart from our loved ones? Be it on separate yachts or when one is ashore?
New crew member Matt says about his partner ashore "When you find the person you see yourself spending the rest of your life with, you would pretty much do anything you can to keep that flame going. If you don't put in the right amount of effort and attention, someone else will. Small amounts of effort go a long way. I started with a small series of emails for my beautiful lady back home called - 10 Reasons why I love you. Each month I will sit down and put some serious effort into an email for her to read in the morning when she wakes up. I know when she smiles, I was the reason for that."
That’s romantic isn’t it? See, as Matt indicates, it’s about making an effort. Both people need to be utterly committed to being committed to each other. More “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and less “out of sight out of mind”.
With the joy of communications and wifi on most yachts these day, keeping in touch should not be a big issue; whatsapp, facebook, skype, facetime etc etc, there’s a method for every couple. It’s just finding the time for a quick chat here and there without neglecting your work; a bonus of being apart is that you can both focus on your careers and not worry about the other person’s needs if you’re working crazy hours as they’re doing the same anyway. Then when you’re together, you can shift all that focus onto each other. It’s important to keep your partner part of your everyday life even if you’re not together; be it photos, or just mentioning them in conversation (don’t do that to death or your crew mates may throw you in a bilge). It also lets people know you’re not available and therefore avoids any awkward flirty “uh sorry I’m taken” “yes that’s lovely but I just wanted to know where the chamois is” awkward exchanges.
A problem that often arises is when one person (let’s face it, usually the woman) moves ashore, perhaps to have children or to work land based. Let’s look at having kids. This is where the effort comes in – and the stress of missing your child’s first words, first steps… and let’s face it, new mum is not going to be sending selfies and little notes to you all day long as she’ll be up to her elbows in crap and puke wondering why the hell she agreed to do this without you. Then remembers someone has to pay the mortgage on this big house. Dammit. It’s a catch 22… and don’t forget, kids have no say in this, think about their needs growing up with a part time parent who’s often away. Can you do it? Can they do it? Do you want to? Sacrifice after sacrifice. Not to mention the pent up resentment that can occur when new mum thinks new dad is off galavanting like a single man whilst she’s running the household and doing her very best not to drink chardonnay out of a coffee cup before 11am.
Captain X told me, “I screwed my marriage up completely. My wife moved ashore and gave birth to our beautiful son, and I guess, ridiculously, I felt I wasn’t getting enough attention. I got horribly drunk and slept with a stewardess. It happened more than once. I thought I’d get away with it. My wife found out through one of her friends who was working on another yacht and then I realised just how pathetic I was. I lost everything and I regret it every single day.” A very sad story but it seems he’s not the only person in that position.
Purser Margot said “I had this great guy ashore, I was on rotation and back every few weeks so it was working really well. We both had our own lives and were busy and independent. Then I stupidly started hanging out with a deckhand onboard, I liked the attention and flirting… one thing led to another and I cheated on my boyfriend. He never found out but I couldn’t cope with the guilt and broke up with him. Worst part was I lost my job over it as it affected my work.”
Enough doom and gloom. Deck/Eng Cameron says he believes a relationship is comprised of the “three Cs”:
We’ve already talked about being committed, what about compromising? It’s a very important consideration; decisions can no longer be made in a purely selfish way as two people will be affected. Certain plans or trips might have to be postponed to accommodate your relationship or partner’s goals. Remember it’s a two-way street and you both need to do this; if it’s one way then the relationship is probably destined to fail miserably.
And of course communication. A quick “I’m just heading off the boat for a few hours, leaving my phone on charge, will message you later, love you xx” goes a long way when the other person is left hanging. It’s not cool. So many arguments could be avoided by just telling your partner you’re going to be late, or you won’t be able to talk. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or whipped, it means you respect your partner. If he/she left you hanging you’d be angry right? So don’t do it to your partner. Communication is arguably the most important C.
So much more to say but I’ve run out of page. So in conclusion – let’s all pay attention to Cameron’s 3 Cs and live happily ever after. If it’s not working, then hey there are plenty more fish in the sea.