This is a refreshing, at times bluntly candid, perspective of a couple entering the world of cruising. It’s an in-your-face reality check for everyone’s dreams of casting off convention and embracing the carefree life. Eminently qualified technically, the author and her husband are both Navy retirees holding Coast Guard licenses. Yet their backgrounds only reinforce the fact that all cruisers encounter surprises. The delivery is strong and the message clear; cruising is essentially an ever-unfolding discovery of your world and especially yourself.

Suzanne Giesemann describes the thrills and throes of leaving a demanding, fulfilling career for the idyllic lifestyle of increased pleasure and lowered stress. They find that and more. Much more. Set against the rich backdrop of New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces, their physical adventure will hold reader interest and the personal impacts on the couple provide food for thought. Action, consequence, and perspective are intertwined and described wonderfully.

It’s an objective and honest glimpse at the imperfect world that we love, not a glossy soft-focus look at a romanticized boating world. The author quite accurately describes the gritty details that many accounts overlook: the strained encounters with inconsiderate boaters, physical discomfort, culture clashes, medical self-reliance, and destination shortfalls. And, of course, the rich fabric of traveling afloat that balances the is-it-worth-it equation: friendships forged from hardships shared, unforeseen bonuses from apparently mundane decisions, and the awe of discovery when least expected. Underscoring the balance is their appreciation for the majesty and beauty of nature.

This is as much about a journey inward-bound as it is outward. The greatest rewards of cruising are peeling away layers of facade and living an elemental lifestyle of endeavor and reward. Elemental and satisfying. Core values and relationships become paramount. Artificial banalities shrink in importance.

Still, it’s a jolt for the couple to find themselves in a world defined by a few slow-moving square feet after careers crisscrossing the world at hyper speeds. Their new world is often challenging at a gut level and sometimes hazardous with comfort envelopes stretched. They are honest in their self-appraisals, their evolving relationship, and growth. They seem like old friends I’ve sailed with forever.

Living a Dream is the most refreshing treatment on beginning the cruising lifestyle that I’ve read recently. For those who’ve fantasized or even begun planning this leap of faith, it is highly recommended. It holds forth a central theme for all who choose to see: that the potential of cruising is endless and the access or limitations are found within ourselves. An enthusiastic thumbs up for this forthright and centered couple. May all of our wakes cross theirs, and may Suzanne’s inspiration continue in future books.

Living a Dream by Suzanne Giesemann (Aventine Press, 2004; 277 pages)