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By Dave and Jaja Martin


Romance at sea

I've always been fond of saying that the only real gear failure we've suffered during all our years of blue water sailing is birth control.

With three kids on the boat, a non-boating friend once asked: "How do you...uh...when do you...uh...isn't it...uh...don't they...uh..." Couples have no guilt trips about arguing and fighting in front of their children but they get squeamish about the sounds of love. Obviously, we do our best to wait until the kids are sound asleep. Most people, whether house bound or boat bound, have figured out this trick. It's in the Parenting Handbook. It follows the section on seduction and birth control.


Cruising without children in your twenties is different than cruising with children while in your thirties and forties.

Sailing naked in the tropics is different than sailing in the Arctic with 70 pounds of foul weather gear covering your body.

Hypothetical question: If Jaja and I had gone to the Arctic in our twenties, rather than to the tropics, what would the status of our family be?

(Answer: probably no difference.)


February 13, 1990. Bay of Islands, New Zealand: My friend Gordon and I spent a half hour free-diving in 25 feet of water for scallops. We found about ten each. It was a pathetic haul. The only thing that kept us from diving longer was eminent hypothermia. The next day, Valentine's Day, we anchored in a different spot. Jaja went for a swim in the shallow bay. Fifteen minutes later she returned with a couple dozen, very large scallops. She very proudly exhibited her prizes.

"Happy Valentine's Day! I guess it takes a female touch!"

"Scallop season closed yesterday."

"Oh," Jaja said. "That's OK. When the season opens next year I'll start one day late."


Our wedding took place on Barbados. The West Indian Magistrate was a tall gentleman, about 60 years old, very dignified in a three-piece suit, but full of that island jive. Although it was 1989, his office was straight out of the 40s. The furniture was solid oak. The breeze from a free standing, oscillating fan ruffled papers on the desk as the fan made its journey back and forth. Although the windows were covered by wide Venetian blinds, the strong tropical sun infiltrated through the cracks.

I was happy I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. Jaja wore a casual looking, light blue beach-dress thing. Sandals.

"Where yo witnesses?" The Magistrate said.

Jaja and I looked at each other. "Witnesses?"

Standing behind his desk, The Magistrate called his secretary. "Yo! Miss Trudy! Come here, Girl." Miss Trudy was about 20 years old. She had island jive built into her walk. The Magistrate shook his head. "Mmmm-mmm. Well, we need one more. Where's that boyfriend of yours? Yo! Dennis. You there, Boy?"

A security guard sauntered in. Island jive. They all had it. Although Jaja and I had just spent 6 months sailing to Barbados from England, and we were deeply tanned and sun bleached, we felt commonplace and unremarkable next to the locals (like we were just plucked out of an Iowa suburb). Jeez, these guys were hip.

"Shall we pro-cede?" The Magistrate asked simple questions that we had to repeat, concluded by "till death do us part". The urbaness of the situation was relived by our two witnesses. Dennis kept pinching Miss Trudy's butt and she was doing her darndest to look insulted. She would giggle and slap his hand. The Magistrate paid no mind. He just blazed on, recalling the words of sanctity by heart.

"I now pronounce you man and wife." He smiled a genuine smile. "Congratulations." After a moment's pause, he looked at our witnesses. "Now you two, get back to work."

The glare of the streets in Bridgetown blinded us. We angled toward a pub and ordered a pitcher of pina colada. Married. How cool.

cruising with infants  
First comes love...then comes marriage...

"When do you suppose we should call our families and tell them the news?" We had considered inviting our families down for the elopement but the one thing we did not want was a Production. We did not want to think about how much everyone was spending, and we did not want to feel responsible if they didn't like Barbados. We just wanted to get married. We knew our parents and siblings would be disappointed that they weren't included, but this whole White Wedding Thing with all the trimmings seemed such a farce. After all, we'd already been living together for a year.

Our parents took it well. They understood our position. They said they would throw us a party the next time we were all together. For wedding gifts they sent checks. Instead of staying a year in the Caribbean to work, we had enough to provision DIRECTION and sail to the Pacific. Fourteen months later Chris was born in Australia. The circumnavigation continued.


Sunsets are reddish,
And sunrises too.
There's no one I want
To sail with but you.


Bottom paint's red
Bottom paint's blue
The best thing to have
Is a husband like you....

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