Unfurling the Heart is the story of the making of a cruising couple through a four-month “seabatical” to the Bahamas told from the wife’s perspective. The author bares all and is candid about her fears and desires. She learns that cruising is not done for fun but for its liberating lifestyle. She learns how smiling and forced bravery can lead to a positive attitude when times get rough.

And, even though the time span of the cruise is only four months, the couple deals with many of the situations that some long-term cruisers experience: the work required in living aboard and cruising, concerns and health issues with a pet on board, the loss of a parent while cruising far from home, and the anxieties and realities of staying in touch with loved ones. Susea, by the way, already has one book under her belt. She is co-author of Red Sky in Mourning with Tami Oldham Ashcraft.

The cover and title worried me. I was suspicious that this would be a fluffy book about love and cruising. In fact, I was biased against it in the beginning. But even though there are a few too many metaphors connecting love to sailing and cruising, I was drawn into this couple’s story and found myself wondering what would happen next. Susea’s story was worth telling. This book has honest information about what women sailors experience and how they feel about life while cruising.

Some readers may find the detail a little monotonous because it is an almost daily account of Susea ‘s first cruise. But there is value in all that detail. I found it to be a good example of just what a first cruise is like for a couple with a pet dog exploring a new country. In actuality, cruising itself can be monotonous at times.

The great number of photos throughout the book help illustrate the couple’s experience. I enjoyed reading about and getting to see many of the places our family visited several years ago on our own cruise to the Bahamas. In fact, I found the book to have excellent and useful information about cruising in Bahamian waters; it would be fun to bring it along to read while sailing there.

Susea McGearheart covers the emotional aspects of cruising that pre-cruisers and beginning cruisers need to know before setting sail. Through the eyes of the wife, Unfurling the Heart is a warm and sometimes tumultuous sail through the initiation of a cruising couple.

Unfurling the Heart: Love’s Persuasion by Susea McGearhart (Whitecaps Publishing, 2004)