How couples cope

Holding onto that “lov'in feeling” can be hard when you are cooped up together for long periods. Rosemary Jilderts interviews cruisers for their tips.

Ron and Trish Steineck,Geraldton, WA.
Scuttlebug, 11.6m Jensen Coral Sea Catamaran

The Steineck family has spent four years cruising from WA to Australia's east coast. Soon, they will untie the lines in Cairns and head for Lizard Island before running south for the cyclone season. Offshore cruising is some time in the future. Ron and Trish tackle most boat chores together, but when in port for extended periods Trish works while Ron looks after the boat and the children.
When actively cruising they have “away” times when Ron goes fishing or diving and Trish entertains the children.
Trish has “girls' days” and enjoys some “retail therapy”.
She maintains privacy doesn't exist on a boat, especially with children, even in the one room with a lock, but she and Ron still don't get under each other's feet.
Their advice for coping is having good communication.
“If you can't tell your partner exactly what you're thinking, you're in trouble,” Trish says.

Carole and Kevin Hall, Cairns
Honey Hush, Stuart 47

Carole and Kevin have been on and off yachts for 30 years.
Honey Hush was their home for 12. They sailed from Melbourne to Broome and did a world circumnavigation.
After swallowing the anchor briefly they now plan to sail to Hong Kong in their new yacht.
After being married for 47 years, they seem to have it down pat and don't get in each other's way while they do their own thing.
“Kevin will beach-comb while I read, plan the next anchorage (I am the navigator) and get all the things done that I can do without us getting in each other's way,” Carole said.
“When ocean crossing (my preference) our watches are three hours on, three off and we pass each other in the companionway.
Our time together is from 1200hrs until 1800hrs, when I cook dinner. Then Kevin goes to bed for three hours. I still miss him even when he's asleep two metres away.”
When asked about annoying habits that drive each other crazy, Carole laughingly replied: “I'm probably so used to Kevin's that I don't notice them anymore.”
Kevin gave a cheeky grin but didn't comment further.
Their tip for coping is to keep a sense of humour at all times.
They both recall one particular occasion when things went pear-shaped.
They were sailing from Panama to the Marquesas (French Polynesia) when they ran out of wind.
“We were not going anywhere but eight miles backwards with the current,” Carole said. “It was 1994 and I had worked out that we would be back in Panama in the year 2028.
“We had spent much of the 17 windless days discussing all sorts of things to fill in time. One of them was our next project when we returned to Australia.
On the radio we heard a yacht 60 miles south of us had 50 knots of wind. This spurred me into insisting that Kevin put up the spinnaker as he had refused to do this, saying that it wouldn't work – there was no wind.
I insisted – we were both a bit stir-crazy – so to show me and shut me up he put it up. The whole spinnaker immediately wrapped itself around the mast, making it impossible to get down.
So he – now cranky – pulled it down, ripping large tears in it. He was losing it, and I said I knew what my next project would be – 'I'm going to get a divorce.'
He said, 'No wind is not grounds for divorce.'
I replied, 'I will just have to find a sailing judge!'
I now believe that too much wind is so much better than no wind at all!”

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