Sundowners in paradise? Check. Uncertainty? Check. Doubt? Check. Relationship drama? Check. Check. Check. Plunge is an apt title for this cruising narrative as the author doesn’t simply dribble hints at what the cruising life can really be like—no, she tosses you right into the deep end of the pool. It’s an account of the inner and outer turmoil a nomadic existence can bring. It’s refreshingly honest and real.

The author has been a full-time traveler for several decades, and this retelling of how she meets her (eventual) husband, ends up on a sailboat in the Caribbean, and eventually sails through the South Pacific is never dull. Naturally, there are hurricanes and storms, plan changes and arguments. There’s also trouble with border officials and sailing with dogs aboard, all told with the unique perspective of this Belgium author.

While the focus on the author’s relationship drama and internal uncertainty may not appeal to all readers, it sure did to me as I found these to be the most challenging aspects of cruising. Many voyage logs focus almost entirely on the sailing of the boat, when internal turbulence can be far more difficult to overcome than kicked-up waves. One useful takeaway is how important it is for families living in close quarters day after day to take some time apart, to create a bit of space to let the turmoil settle.

Even though reading about the couple’s entrepreneurial life at sea was a bit tedious at times – and how the author seemed to resent her husband’s work while reaping the benefits of the proceeds – I did enjoy the recount of how they made this work on the go. Making money while traveling is a dream that many nomads have, and this book has a few practical takeaways one might put into practice (along with a healthy dose of the reality that nomadic working means missing out on some of the pleasure of traveling).

The theme that rings out through the author’s recounts is that life continues to happen, even as you’re exploring paradise. So, what are you to do when life doesn’t go as you’ve planned? You keep on going, if only to see what happens next.

Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary, by Liesbet Collaert (Roaming About Press, 2020)