The Mistress I Don’t Mind

“Bad news, honey,” my husband, Leif, told me, “We own a sailboat.” That’s how I found out about the Cape Dory Typhoon Weekender.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

“Bad news, honey,” my husband, Leif, told me, “We own a sailboat.” That’s how I found out about the Cape Dory Typhoon Weekender.

Leif had made a low-ball bid on an eBay auction, left town for Thanksgiving, and returned to learn he’d won. We now owned a 1974 sailboat, three states away, in the middle of winter. I couldn’t wait to see how he’d work his way out of this one.

This is not the first watercraft my husband has sprung on me. Five years ago, there was the secret kayak. It was delivered to his office and lay hidden in the basement for a few weeks before he was finally overcome with guilt and confessed. She was a pretty, taut, dark red folding kayak. I told him she was the kind of mistress I didn’t mind him keeping, and that one day I might even take her out for a spin myself.

The Cape Dory, on the other hand, posed an immediate logistical challenge. How could we get it home to Minnesota—in December no less—without a heavy towing vehicle?

Luckily, Jerry the eBay seller, motivated by his girlfriend’s ultimatum to thin out his fleet of seven sailboats, cheerfully offered to deliver the boat himself. He even brought along his cross-country skis so he could enjoy the snow while he was here, and he oversaw the inaugural rigging of the Cape Dory via the iPhone photos we emailed to him the following spring.

I’d been skeptical, and Leif had been lucky. We had the boat. We had it rigged. Now what?

“Floating family slumber party!” That’s how Leif sold the vision of taking our two daughters on an overnight trip and sleeping all four of us in the tiny V-berth in the Weekender’s cuddy cabin. The girls, who were only just short enough to make this plausible, were thrilled at the prospect of an adventure. But I found myself having flashbacks to when I was 10 and my father bought a pop-up camper. For years I’d had similar delusions of slumber parties, but he never once opened the thing up, and eventually ended up selling it off again. Would the Cape Dory be different?

While the girls and I mulled over the possibilities, Leif and his writer-friend Michael took the Cape Dory on her maiden voyage to a regatta on the Lake of the Woods up on the Canadian border. Ever the entertainer, Michael regaled a national audience with his stories of 45-knot squalls that came out of nowhere, a fur of mosquitoes that descended on them at nightfall, and the way Leif’s wife had hummed the theme song to “Gilligan’s Island” as they prepared for the trip.

Reading Michael’s stories from the comfort of home, I began warming up to the idea of the Cape Dory. Leif, on the other hand, returned from his weekend away brimming with a renewed sense of appreciation for me. After sharing the boat’s very small cabin with another human being for a long period of time, somehow all of my bad traits had vanished! He loved my sense of humor! He found me fun and easygoing! Perhaps this would become another mistress I didn’t mind.

A few years ago, when my husband took to reading books like Alone at Sea at family events, I might have worried our marriage was in trouble. But I have since come to see the escape of sailing as the perfect way to resolve a mid-life crisis. It’s a chance to get away, alone or together, and an opportunity to plan adventures and solve problems. And at the end of the day, what’s not to love about a pretty little Cape Dory skimming across a Minnesota lake on a sunny day? I’m already dreaming about cozying up in the belly of the Dory next summer, falling asleep to the lullaby of the loons and waves, surrounded by the people I love.

Family slumber parties, here we come.

Photo by Michael Tortorello

Related

Shelly-forward-last-day

Charter Advice for First-Timers

Never chartered? No worries. A vacation under sail can be the most memorable time of your life. That said, it also pays to be prepared by doing some reading, building your skills and listening to what the experts say. First and foremost, not all charter grounds are created ...read more

HugoBoss

Video: Vendeé Update

Last week Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) led the fleet across the equator. As one of the class' top sailors who's been on the Vendeé Podium twice, it seemed possible that Thomson was going to grab an early lead and hold on to it all the way around the world. But early on Saturday, he ...read more

AdobeStock_229409051

Chartering Again for the First Time

It’s been a rocky road of late for the charter industry, especially here in the Western Hemisphere. First came hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean followed by Dorian in the Bahamas. There has also, of course, been the coronavirus, which burst into global prominence ...read more

01 LEAD cedaryachtclub_onedesign18_hike

An Interview with Ayme Sinclair

In recent months, US Sailing, like many organizations, has been taking a closer look at diversity to ensure it’s doing the best job it can of introducing people from all backgrounds and ethnicities to the sport. As part of this effort, this past summer it organized an online ...read more

125768940_10222759720523627_5373654001582879638_n

US Sailing Presents Adaptive Sailing Panel

On Tuesday, November 24, US Sailing’s Leadership Forum will present the latest panel discussion in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion series. This event will focus on adaptive sailing and provide practical recommendations for organizations looking to expand their adaptive ...read more

02-IMG_5971

A Carbon Neutral Circumnav with Jimmy Cornell

Historic anniversaries have always held a special fascination for me, especially if they mark a significant nautical achievement. In 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ would-be voyage to India, I organized a transatlantic rally that followed the historic route of the ...read more

DJI_0068

SAIL Podcast: Jimmy Cornell’s Carbon-free Circumnav

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with bestselling author and pioneering bluewater sailor Jimmy Cornell, who set out November 19 on yet another circumnavigation aboard a newly designed, carbon-neutral Outremer 4Zero catamaran. The voyage, which ...read more

emirates-600x

Emirates Team New Zealand Splashes the last of the AC75s

Emirates Team New Zealand unveiled its second-generation AC75 yesterday, joining the other three America's Cup teams with boats in the water. In just over 100 days, this boat will attempt to defend the Cup for the Kiwis, but there's plenty of racing between now and then, with ...read more