Sailing. Hands down the most fun you can have with your friends and family.

We have been sailing with several couples, assorted friends, and carefully selected family members, and each trip was terrific. If you are considering learning to sail so you and your family can have unforgettable vacations or so that you and your high school friends will always have an amazing destination to reconnect, do it immediately!

That said, my favorite sailing trips have been those with just me and my husband. The two of us figuring things out and conquering the high seas sorting our way from line-of-sight island to island together.

Without question, learning to sail together has handed us some of our most tense moments and our most treasured memories. See sampling below:

  • Discovering that the mooring ball off Coco Plum Caye in Belize left our keel a mere 2 feet (NOT OK!!!) off the bottom of the ocean floor requiring a Plan B reroute that put us very late in the day at a safe destination? Pretty stressful.
  • Grabbing the rope while tying up to a mooring ball and slicing hand open on unexpected razor sharp barnacles? A not-fun lesson advocating for future glove use.
  • Sitting at the spectacular bar/home/restaurant built Robinson Caruso-style by the couple who owns Hideaway Caye in the Belize Pelican Islands and eating the most amazing home-cooked dinner served by our hosts? Priceless.
  • Safely anchored under the stars off Peter Island sitting on the bow of the boat with a bottle of wine, the love of my life, and a full moon? Simply extraordinary.

The range of experiences sailing offers up has made us a closer couple, a better team. Even if you plan to sail mostly with friends and family, here’s why you should consider a “just the two of you” excursion, especially when you are new to sailing.

  1. Tons of hands-on practice

When there are a lot of people on a boat, the tasks can be spread around, and if someone has not sailed before it is fun for them to be at the helm and to participate as much as possible. On those trips, you’ll find you are there to provide guidance but aren’t doing it yourself as much. When it is just the two of you, you get to truly immerse yourself in the sailing experience and your learning curve is accelerated.

  1. A great opportunity to work on communication skills

There is nothing like imminent disaster to see how well you and your partner communicate! To be clear, there is really not a lot of imminent disaster out there as long as you are paying attention, but it can sure feel like it sometimes, particularly if sailing is a new activity for you and you start out as a panicky freak show like I did.

I digress. After our first sailing experience (click here) we learned that my unreasonable exasperation and subsequent nonsensical direction giving didn’t help much. Here is the key: Slow down and talk about what you want to do next and who is going to do what. Make sure you are on the same page and then execute. There is rarely a need to rush. For us, after each day of sailing we talk about things that went well and things that didn’t go well, and how we can improve the next time. We share how changes in what the other person is doing or communicating can help us in our role.  I get that this sounds nauseatingly Dr. Phil-esque, but I’m telling you, it works, and it works best if you are both enjoying a post-sail “we are finally at our destination” cocktail. If you can fine-tune your communication sailing alone, that is going to make for smooth sailing when you have others aboard. That is going to make for smoother sailing in life! (queue Oprah transition-to-commercial music now)

  1. Working together as a team can bring you closer

When you sail together you quickly sort out who does what. When we put the sail up, I “drive” and my husband raises the sail. When we Mediterranean moor, my husband steers the boat and I grab and tie-off the line. I make lunch, he checks the oil. We each have our tasks that we’ve settled into and it works. Sure we trade off being at the helm, managing the jib sheets while tacking and that sort of thing, but at this point we have a good sense of who does what and we’re becoming a solid sailing duo. These experiences and working together to accomplish any goal will bring you closer together, and that goal might as well be going from one amazing island to another.

  1. Relax and connect

Many boats have wi-fi, and even if yours isn’t equipped, you most certainly will be able to connect with the outside world when venturing on land. This is fine, and often necessary, but if you unplug as much as possible, you have the opportunity for connection with your partner in a way that is hard to find at home and even on more traditional vacations. When it is just the two of you at night under the stars, sharing a bottle of wine, you have a perfect chance to revisit your hopes and dreams, to talk about the day, to reflect on your lives, and to plan for your future.

  1. Flexibility to explore on your own terms

When it is just the two of you the spontaneity of where to go and what to do is wide open! Want to head up the hill for a hike? Go for a morning snorkel? Grill tuna on the boat? Stay near Anegada one more night? Do it! Not that you don’t have those options when you are with a group, but the more people you’ve got on board and a tendency to make sure everyone is having a good time will always influence your itinerary.  Use your sail-alone-time together to make the exact memories you want to make.

Use your time on the boat to fall in love all over again.