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Team Gruender

Team Gruender

Twenty-one years ago when I met Gene, he had a dream of quitting his job and sailing to tropical destinations. Before long, it became my dream too. Gene was a self taught sailor and as our relationship progressed he taught me to sail his boat, Rainbow Chase. It became like a man teaching his wife to drive a car–lots of tense moments.

I decided that if we were going to be a sailing team I would have to find a different, let’s say less passionate, instructor. With some investigation, I found an all-women’s sailing school in the British Virgin Islands, which promised “Instruction with no screaming.”

After two weeks of rigorous of instruction, I returned not a well-seasoned sailor, but one who understood the mechanics of sailing, could change the oil in the engine and could do a man overboard rescue if needed. I felt confident that I could be part of a team. Being part of a sailing team is far more serious than being on most teams that husbands and wives share. It can literally be life and death.

When we actually threw the lines and sailed off to our adventure, we fell into the routine of teamwork. We found I was better suited to standing the night watch. Gene and Zach plotted our progress on the charts. I excelled at being creative in the galley. Gene was much better at engine maintenance. I was Zach’s homeschool teacher, and Gene was the mediator with lesson disputes. We became Team Gruender.

It’s been said that many marriages at sea have failed over one boat task: anchoring the boat. This seemingly simple task requires skill in finding the right anchoring spot, choosing the right anchorage and then communication in executing the task.

Communication means one person in the cockpit carefully listens to the person, who is on the bow of the boat over 32 feet away, yell instructions about how to maneuver the boat to secure the anchor. It can lead to contentious, over zealous and sometimes down right aggressive communication. Thankfully, our marriage didn’t fail because of anchoring, but I will admit it was almost always intense.

Over the last 20 years Gene and I, as Team Gruender, have logged well over 10,000 sailing miles. We’ve learned to play to each others strengths, we’ve learned persistence and have faced some pretty scary situations as a team. These lessons have been the foundation of our relationship both at sea and on land. As with most relationships, it’s not always perfect, but it has served us well.

From June 9th through June 14th, Gene and I are going to be sailing in the Texas 200,( a 200-mile cruise along the coast of  Texas with 70 other boats. Team Gruender will once again be working together. The only part I’m not looking forward to will be, yep you guessed it, anchoring.

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