I love skinny little books. They are usually thought-provoking and insightful, with the basic premise not lost and buried under a barge-load of non-informative words. Happily, this one is no exception. It’s well written, concise, and informative.

Debra Ann Cantrell met a challenge for change in her life. In this work, she explains how she and others accepted and embraced major changes in their lifestyles, made successful transitions from “lubbers to cruisers,” and grew on many levels as a result. Because her partner wanted to change to a liveaboard cruising lifestyle (she was not interested, but wanted to see him fulfill his dream), she conducted a five-year study of women who followed the dream and became cruisers with their partners. Using her career talents, Debra has taken the information gleaned from her efforts and created a portable seminar about change – what it is, what it entails, how to face it and cope, and the reward of accepting the risk and making changes.

While the book is intended for women who have been asked to leave land for life on water, it would be appropriate for any person or couple contemplating a major lifestyle adjustment. It is infused with vitality, joy, realism, and a sense of “I-can-do-this” via the quotes, comments, and stories of 100 women.

She offers exercises to pin down what you want and how you feel. The vast array of subjects seems to cover most of the questions, concerns, and benefits that would be important to the average person. A few of the areas discussed are the process of change, steps to becoming an involved boat person, ideas to keep you busy while cruising, and how things will be different (and in some cases more difficult) on a boat. She tackles the multifaceted problem of fear – water, weather, heeling, and the “what-ifs” that go with it. She discusses other emotional issues of family, gain and loss, communication, partner compatibility, and conflict with candid openness but without bashing.

The book seems fresh and honest, and the author is warm, enthusiastic, and encouraging. Debra never tries to tell her reader what to do or how to do it. She offers information, options, choices, ideas, and ways for you to determine which is best for you. She says take your time, make your best choice, and risk the challenge. In her own words, “A life without change is void of vitality, passion, and joy . . . But in order to change we must take risks.” This is a safe risk – read it. Even if you believe nothing changes, everything does – and this svelte volume may help you through the chaos.

Changing Course by Debra Ann Cantrell, (McGraw-Hill/International Marine, 2001; 186 pages)