When a very gregarious plugged-in woman agrees to go cruising with her husband for an indefinite period of time — alone, just the two of them on a sailboat — it must be all about love. In her book, Harts at Sea – Sailing to Windward, Barbara says she knew he was a Sailor (with a capital “S”) when she married Stewart:
“When he finally proposed to me after a game of darts in a Portland (Maine) bar, he qualified this already unromantic moment by stating, ‘Before you reply you need to know that someday I will have a sailboat and will sail around the world.'”

I cried. These were not tears of joy.

Throughout this book, Barbara shares her experiences and the strong commitment to the cruising lifestyle she achieves within that first year of cruising … all with a great sense of humor. She talks about the lessons learned along the way, how a plugged-in woman stays plugged in even when “out there” (don’t miss the Networking in Paradise and Connections chapters) and about the cruising lifestyle itself (going aground, cruisers’ nets, haircuts, taxi and bus rides, dinghy docks, laundry, defrosting the freezer, boat security, hauling out, and staying happily married (from the first mate’s perspective, remember!).

Any woman with a sailing man and an iota of hesitation would do well to read Barbara’s book. Any would-be cruisers (gung-ho and otherwise) will find her lists — what works, what didn’t work, what we should have brought more of, things on the wish list, things I miss, and so forth — very helpful just before they take in the docklines for the final time. Barbara has some words of wisdom to share here. Listen up!

I chuckled with Barbara, enjoying her bubbly personality, love of life, and boundless extroverted enthusiasm. She has created nicknames for everything, for example. Stewart has become EW, because he spells his name with an “ew” rather than Stuart with a “u.” His son and her step-son, is referred to only as Favorite. NOAA’s automated voices (especially when in disfavor) are referred to simply as “Her” and “Him.” The engine, the autopilot, most likely everything else aboard is named and part of the family (some with higher rank than others).

Many of Barbara’s chapters were first published as a part of her ongoing blog. She types, she tweets, she blogs, she Facebooks. She must communicate. She can’t help herself. She has written an article for Good Old Boat (“The Boat Painter’s Apprentice” in our March 2012 issue) and has published with other sailing magazines. And now she has written a book.

Whether you do so on a tablet or in paperback, when you read this book you will become a member of the crew aboard La Luna, Barbara and Stewart’s 1985 David Pedrick-designed Cheoy Lee 47. You may enjoy reading about their first year aboard almost as much as they enjoyed living it. Their experiences may even entice your reluctant mate to come along.

Harts at Sea — Sailing To Windward by Barbara Hart (Hart Enterprises, 2012; 246 pages)