The Minimalist Sailor

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Fairy tales and banana cake

Most of us have been in relationships. Most of us have been, or have thought we were, in love once or twice. Most of us have been around, traveled and had our adventures. But I am starting to think that having a relationship on a boat in the middle of the sea is the most beautiful adventure of all. It’s love in its most tangible form. It’s the ultimate proof that men and women have been made to look, think, act and feel differently for a very specific reason: we complement each other in wonderful ways.  Life gets a lot easier when we get together with the right one.

On a boat there is no room for any other thing other than real, brave, honest love. And it only works for water and freedom lovers. Everything else will fall apart. Because it is a 24/7 intense self-exploring and sharing experience, with nearly no distractions, that many times begins on day one. It either is the right person and the right lifestyle for you or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, it is clear from the start. You can ignore the signs but time will still prove it to you no matter how long or how hard you try to make it work. Don’t waste your time, just move on with your life, all people are different and good things come to us only when we are ready for them. All relationships are hard at times of course because humans are complex beings. But when it works it just does and it will fit you like a glove. You’ll be ready and glad to do what it takes and it will be the easiest, smartest choice you’ve ever made.

I’ve been wanting to write about my experience on Splendid and was wondering which of the million things I learn and realize every day might be interesting or helpful for others. Since Alex has been writing about the lifestyle for so long, and so thoroughly, I believe the only point of me using this space would be to bring in the view of the woman, the wife, the female traveler who joins in, with all that entails. Or what I learn from other women I meet; their dreams, hopes, stories and opinions. Things Alex might not see, hear about or be interested in. I’m usually long-winded but it is because I like to explore ideas as deeply as I can when I get inspired by them and that is why I don’t write very often. There will be really long ones I think, but only once in a while. Hope you don’t mind.

I do not intend to write solely about love, of course. But it’s striking to see how many stories there are of heartbreak and loneliness in the sailing community and how one can also see, in similar numbers, the most beautiful, amazing, committed, fun, healthiest couples (mind, body and soul).

On the other hand -elephant in the room alert- I’m only writing this now because I’m Mr. Dorsey’s girlfriend so I feel relationships might be a logical topic to start with. I know there’s everything under the sun, but for obvious reasons (I’ve only been part of this lifestyle for a couple of months) I’m going to make a big generalization today and talk about the things I have actually experienced and discussed with people around me: what happens when a woman moves in with a man sailor. When I get to know more about women sailors or the gay community on the sea, of course I will be writing about them too.

Same as Alex, I believe that one can have a full happy life (and a dreadful horrible one for that matter) either alone or with a partner. I never bought the Cinderella conditioning premise. Free strong-willed women do not need to be rescued. They can be perfectly content on their own. But neither do they need to compete with men or try to become more like them. A strong woman will ask a man for help when she needs it in the same way a strong man will have no problem following a woman’s advice in the matters she is better suited for.

This is the type of connection a boat usually brings about, it’s like time-travel. You spend most of the time together, working as a team. The man goes spear-fishing while his woman swims and snorkels around. He is in charge of tightening the rigging or getting full of grease on the floor of the scorching engine room while the woman chooses clever ways to store things, does the dishes or cleans after her lover once the mechanical problem has been solved and the room seems to have been blown up by a grenade. What’s so wrong about that? Why would you get offended when he goes on the dinghy first and holds out his hand to help you step on it safely?

I guess it takes a strong woman, who knows she could fly a helicopter or play the tuba if she so wished, to happily be the one doing the dishes everyday, looking at the horizon or a dolphin swimming by, without feeling she is being exploited or underestimated. Would you really rather get your hands burnt and cut in the filthy engine room? Or work out and take steroids for some time so that you can actually tighten the rigging properly? Would you rather go out and get a job as a stock broker or a butcher? Men and women are not the same and thank goodness for that.

With no intention to offend anyone of course it seems to me that irate feminists got the whole Cinderella business wrong. Of course you don’t want to clean for your nasty step-mum and sisters waiting to be rescued by some dumb rich prick who will only look at you if you first spend a fortune on clothes and beauty treatments and rent a limo. But what’s so wrong about romance, about enjoying a man’s protection and becoming his most beautiful, cherished possession? Why would you want to be the one riding the horse with the cape, hunting animals and chopping down trees? What’s so wrong about secretly putting some eucalyptus oil in his t-shirt drawer, surprising him with a slice of warm and crunchy banana cake in bed or making his coffee every morning for one, two or five decades?

My first advice for sailors looking for a girlfriend to bring on board is this: do not try to rescue a Cinderella in distress, no matter how pretty and helpless she looks because fairy tales suck. After the honeymoon is over she will want expensive clothes and beauty treatments to feel loved and to hire a maid to feel respected as a woman. Unbalanced relationships very rarely change. This might sound silly and obvious but have the guts to choose a woman you actually admire and want to be around. Or else buy a real doll, you know in the end it will be cheaper and save you from a lot of stress.

All the happy couples I’ve met in the sea are made up of a strong skilled man and a strong self-confident woman. And I mean ALL OF THEM. The cocky arrogant self-admiring insecure men are on their own and the over-produced money or security seeking women do not stay happy for too long in these anchorages. If you’re looking for happiness, you can’t bring a woman to live on your boat because she is pretty, 40 years younger and still looks interested in you or because she looks vulnerable and you want to save her. The pretty young one will most probably soon become the most boring company you’ve ever had and expect to be paid for her services somehow and the weak one will soon feel lonely and want to go back to her old life on the land surrounded by people, noise and entertainment. If you treat women as beautiful objects, they will feel and behave as such. And if you treat them as a project you can fix, they will feel unappreciated and slowly drift away from you. Wanting to help somebody cannot be the reason why you choose a life partner. It is another form of love called compassion which is a very different thing.

It takes courage for anybody to have a real relationship, with someone your own size, who can learn from you as much as you can learn from them. It’s not easy to go for the strong one who can live happily without you and who can see your weaknesses beyond the stories of triumph you even tell yourself. Because first you have to be able to see these flaws you have and accept them. But this will be the only partner who will love you for who you really are and not try to change you. They will find the best way to put up with your weak traits because they have seen them all along and still chosen you, from all people, to spend their lives with.

I know there are sailors who say they are real loners and prefer to be on their own. But I think it is because of their bad experiences. They have stopped believing there is a woman out there for them, who might love them just the way they are and will not ask them to stop sailing, or buy land, or get a job. Read Alex’s last blog from January 9, three days before we met, it is pretty funny. He titled it “2012, I am who I am” and he just wrote about that among other New Year resolutions. He mentioned he had been stopped by the police with the motorcycle and would be taking the bus to the city. I arrived to Panama for the first time in my life the next day, January 10 and went for dinner with two friends. I just told them the same thing: “all I want to do is travel, I am 36 already, time goes by and I don’t want to stop. I still don’t want a house and a dog, it’s really hard for me to find a man that will like me the way I am. I think I’m too complicated to have a relationship. I’ve gotten used to being on my own and I’m OK with that”. My friend Nedelka, a couple of years older than me and still single as well, told me she did not agree. That it was a matter of finding the right person. It’s funny though Alex and I, nearly on the same day, publicly declared we had finally accepted ourselves for who we really were; that we were happy with the path we had chosen, even if it meant we had to be on our own. We met in Sabanitas two days later, on January 12, rode the chicken bus together and tossed the happy loner theory out the window, not without a few friends laughing in our face and making us eat our words. Be true to yourself and wait for the right one.

Have the courage to look for a woman who is similar to you, who looks happy and content, who has fun with you, who likes swimming, travelling, reading, cooking… Someone who will challenge some of the things you believe in and help you become a better man. If she decides to become part of your life, she will choose you and your boat with her eyes wide open. If she tells you she loves the sea, she does. There will be no surprises. She does not need to sell you anything. If she is not happy, she will swim to shore herself.

Now my advice for those women wondering whether you want to take the plunge and move into the boat is the following: you will have to accept that, no matter how much he loves you, a sailor cannot leave his boat for you. You either take both or none. It’s not an easy idea to accept at first and it will feel like an imposition. Don’t be silly and see the whole picture for what it is. He is not being pig-headed, he most probably just can’t live on land anymore without feeling sick or depressed. A sailor’s life has so much freedom and such close contact to nature that they really can’t survive without it.

You have to love the sea, you have to love travelling and having a simple life to even consider getting involved with one of these lovely, sensitive, skilled, free-thinking creatures. If you’re trying to be saved from what you don’t like about yourself or the life around you or if you’re not strong enough to step up to the plate, take a good look at your heart and see whether this is a choice and a man you could actually live with for the rest of your life just save you both the trouble and leave him alone. He won’t change for you. Let’s hope so, anyway.

But if you feel this life might actually be right for you, and you’ve met a man you are interested in, who sees you and loves you for who you are, who is not afraid to be sweet, kind and protective and invites you to try and live in the sea with him, don’t think twice and go for it. As long as you are honest with him and with yourself all the way there is no harm in trying. Who cares how long you last together? If you both put your heart and soul into it and give it a real chance, even if it doesn’t work out you can only grow from the experience and become better people, more aware of who you are and what you want.

I can assure you if it does work out you’ll discover a relaxed, healthy, safe, exciting wonderful life you did not even think was possible. The true, simple, happy ending fairy tales never told us about.



Note: I finished writing this very late last night while Alex was sleeping. Now’s 8.30 am the next day. He came in the room a minute ago and told me: “Good morning my love. I have just made you tea and apple pancakes and I want you to just stay in bed because I’m going to give you a leg massage before breakfast to show you how much I appreciate you living here with me. I want you to know you’re the best girlfriend in the world”.


I swear. Jackpot or what?

Published in Carla Dorsey
Updated: January 9, 2015 — 15:44


  1. Carla, kind of mushy :) Are you talking about me?

  2. Hey Sara so excited to read you! You’ve posted the first comment, I was so nervous, now I feel so much better thank you ; )

    I have just started my experience here, I’ve always been a land person too, love the sea and would visit every opportunity I got but I don’t know the first thing about sailing. I see myself more like a traveller, water or land. But I am really fascinated about the lifestyle. It really seems to be a very clever way to trick the system and live in an endless American Express commercial without having to make money other than to buy fruit and veggies.

    And couples do seem to be a lot healthier around here, it’s a much simpler structure. I’ve been a nomad for nearly 13 years now so what I can tell you about my last relationships is that they could only last for the time I stayed in that place. Nothing serious or permanent for many years. Alex and I are so happily surprised of how well we get along because it really is the first time we were confident enough to choose well, somebody right for us, challenging and nourishing.

    I haven’t met your acting teacher but I hear she’s a total sweetheart and a great laugh!

    Thanks again!!


  3. I’m so glad you’re blogging Carla!! I’ve had similar feelings about the fairy tale upbringing, you’ve just articulated it a lot better=) If you ever feel like writing about some of your past experiences here or there, I for one would love to hear them (I’m more of a land-based person). I’ve never actually met Alex, but his step-mom is my acting teacher, and I’ve been reading his blogs since she recommended his website. Glad you found one another and are so happy!

  4. Carla, after reading you blog, I feel Alex is truely a lucky man, but is there really a thing called luck? I tend to think there is a plan for us all, time is the element we all seem to forget. Without time, nothing can work. So luck needs to be thrown out the window. I loved your blog, I feel that my life was blessed almost to the same degree as your’s and Alex’s. That day came for me when I had admitted I was ok being alone. Then that next year Heather showed up and our paths crossed, it’s been 20 years together, and your right, I’ve never looked back. I also agree with you Carla, Thank God men and women are different, I love hearing my wife’s input. Heck, 80% i=of it is better than mine, hahah but the point is, I’d not trade it for the world. Water is our center piece as well, We just can’t live on it right now, but that is our goal. I want to say, from a man’s point of view, I simply love hearing the new tones, word, surprises, and just the why Alex’s life has changed sence you’ve came into his life. I truely feel, Man was not meant to be alone, or there never would have been an EVE.

    Thank you for your kind and honest words, Honesty is only way to be, what else is there… Live happy and Live free with mate that was meant for you, and put everything you have into it, and see what it gives back, you’ll be so surprised. Oh, and I’ll take one of those leg rubs before I goto work PLEASE….


    Thanks Carla:

    Great prospective. Sound like you guys are having fun and enjoying the rewards of loving each other. I is amazing how wonderful it is to have a great person in your life that helps take care of all you needs, wants and desires. Also at the same time can nurture your Spirit and help show you the way to be a better human. With that attention and knowledge you gain the wisdom that makes it so easy to return life’s lessons to that person.

    My wife Pat and are are best friends. We play, sail, touch and share our souls so we can be the best we can be and the best for each other. It’s great and sounds like you guys are getting the same treatment.

    Have fun with it. Don’t hurt each other and bath in the light!

    Capt. Paul
    s/v Panacea

  6. Hi there boys : )

    rguffey so it happened to you too! I used to get a bit frustrated when happy couples told me “you’ll find your soulmate when you least expect it, when you’re not looking anymore” and I felt “yeah, right, easy for you to say I should just be patient and relax”. But it is true, isn’t it? And they all told me “when you meet them you just know, it’s love at first sight”. Another phrase people say and it’s like from a romantic comedy. But it does happen like that! Things are easy for the first time and then you know you’ve met the one for you. So you and Heather have been together 20 years! How fortunate : ) Hope things work out and you can be surrounded by water again soon.

    Captain Paul, as always, thanks for always being there with your good vibes and encouragement. And happy to hear you’ve found your one too. That’s the way it’s supposed to be right? You should marry someone who is your best friend and makes things better for you, not easier but better.

    Thanks so much for your support! Love from Splendid!


  7. hi Carla…had to reregister to comment……i like your attitude, philosophy and the fact that you make alex happy. i read you journal and found it insightful. BUT (here it comes alex) i look foreward to your 1st posting after your first 48-72 hour crossing in 35 knots an 10-12′ seas.. if you don’t jump off the boat before its tied up, then you guys are on your way…….G

  8. Carlisssssssssssss amazing!! keep on enjoying my friend!!! & writting of course!! love u so much!

  9. Great writing Carla, glad you fell into the free spirited sailing life. I love it and crave it ever since i sailed north from southern Costa Rica up to La Paz Baja Mexico last winter. I just got back from 5 months in Patagonia and It was a pleasure to couchsurf with you in Bariloche near the start of my adventure. I had a great time, aprendi muchas espanol y es posible tener conversacions con cual quiera personas! and I will update my blog soon enough but I have a little story and some pics from my adventures when i was with you.
    you can click on sailing off the side panel of my blog to find out more about some of my sailing adventures.

    My problem is I like sea kayaking, mountaineering, and a whole whack load of other things and i keep getting distracted with including relationships. I am currently getting a sea kayaking guidebook published in Thunder Bay Ontario Canada that has been quite the process but it is coming along well. That and I am leading long kayak expeditions on the east and west coast of Canada and the north coast of Lake Superior this coming summer and thinking about returning to Patagonia to work down there leading sea kayak and mountaineering expeditions and maybe head to mexico or panama on the pacific side in search of a boat to sail across to nz/aus to work guiding kayak trips down there at some point and explore all the wonderful islands on route. Anything is posible so keep on living it up eh!


  10. My Dear Carla, I haven’t met you yet – but I love your thoughts and I love that Alex has found his Love. You two have been Blessed mightily, and Alex, my prayers for you have been answered. Carla, you too are a wonderfully talented writer, your words are at once honest, inciting and wise. I’m looking forward to reading more from you. Love, Momma D

  11. Wow! I just logged in and I got more lovely messages!! It feels like Christmas morning, it really does!

    CPT.G, thanks for the humour : ) I know sailing’s not easy many times, your whole house balancing like a pendulum, an alien in your stomach. But really, 4 days sick dragging like a zombie does not feel like a high price for being able to go anywhere in the world nearly for free, read in the hammock until you feel a bit hot and then jump off the foredeck into the deep blue ocean around you. And don’t get me started on not having to go to work anymore!! Alex and I are doing a great job I think, making it through the good and the bad. We both feel that if we cannot make it work this time, with all we have in common, it’s just not gonna work with anyone for the rest of our lives. So we really have no choice hahaaa I think we’re gonna be fine : )

    Dearest Maru! Come visit!!

    Momma D, I’ve heard so much about you. And I feel the same way, that Alex is blessed to have you in his life. Thanks for your kind words and the encouragement. I hope we can meet real soon.

    Zack, genius. I’ll read your adventures of course. And as soon as we get some money coming our way, Alex and I are planning to get a kayak too. They’re amazing things, aren’t they. I love rowing and it’s such an amazing feeling to be so close to the water. It’s like wearing floating plastic jeans hahaaa. Hope we catch you soon somewhere, we’ll be heading towards Australia too next year i think. And we’d love to explore colder areas too. Who knows? Keep in touch!!

    Thanks everybody again for all your feedback.

    Lots of love,


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