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View From The Marina: Helping Nautical Marriages Succeed (BLOG)

You could say I’m a bit like a marriage counselor when it comes to boats. As with all relationships, the true test comes after the honeymoon.
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Occasionally, couples attend a pre-marriage “encounter” a weekend before the big day. The purpose of this session is to really get to know each other with the help of a clergyman, a psychologist or some type of marriage counselor.

During the weekend the counselor asks each person the same questions, but separately. That way they can see if the couple is compatible or heading for disaster. For example, “what is your fiancée’s favorite color?"

When he answers “green,” she turns to him with eyes wide open saying, “Green? I hate green!” Good thing there is no pass or fail grade given at the end of the weekend.

You could say I’m a bit like those encounter counselors when it comes to boats. I talk with all of my boat-buying clients and ask them a series of questions about the size, type and price range of the vessel they want to purchase.

By the end of our time together, I usually know if this “marriage” will last. For example:

So, Mr. and Mrs. Trawler Buyer, what is your boating experience like? Oh, you have only paddled a canoe?

Ok now, have you thought about taking a trawler training course prior to buying a Grand Banks 42? What’s that you say? You don’t have the time and you can’t afford the class. Now you realize that you are looking at a $200,000 boat, right? You might actually save yourselves a lot of trouble and thousands of dollars if you get some hands-on training first.

Now, Mr. and Mrs. Motoryacht I see that you want a yacht with all the whistles and bells, the best of the best. What kind of mechanical or technology skills do you have? Oh, you just got a cell phone? I hope you have a large check book. You see, the more equipment you have on a boat, the more maintenance it will need. So if you aren’t qualified to do the work then you will have to pay someone else to do it.

Sure Mr. Sailor, I can assist you in finding a 40-foot sailboat to purchase. What do you and your wife prefer in the way of accommodations and equipment? She doesn’t like to sail. Really?

Well, then what are your long term plans? When you say, “She’ll come around,” what exactly does that mean? Is there another yacht that would suit both of your needs like a sailing catamaran? Perhaps a compromise would lead to many years of happy cruising – together.

As with all relationships, the true test comes after the honeymoon. We often hear people say, “We used to spend more time together. What happened?”

The same goes for your yacht. The longer you own your boat, the more care it will need while your time to enjoy boating dwindles due to the demands of family and work.

So my job as counselor doesn’t necessarily stop with the boat purchase. Like any marriage, it takes work to keep the relationship between you and your yacht happy and healthy.

When we bought our boats we didn't recite "until death do us part,” but there was an implied commitment to make the relationship work. If we're no longer able to make that commitment, then maybe a separation is in order.

But my advice is, keep the relationship going. Boating is good for you and your family’s mental, emotional and physical heath. Fresh air and sunshine are good for the soul. Watching sea birds, dolphins or manatees bring us closer to this beautiful world we live in.

Even working on your boat and making it shine gives you a good feeling. Show your yacht how much you love her. Oh, and tell your spouse, too.

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Barb can be reached at or by phone: 239-257-2788.