More Than Boats

(A review of Newlyweds Afloat: Married Bliss and Mechanical Breakdowns While Living Aboard a Trawler by Felicia Schneiderhan)


I pay the bills by flying airplanes. I’m based in Chicago so I routinely swoop into town over Lake Michigan. I usually take a look at the impressive skyline. I just finished Newlyweds Afloat by Felicia Schneiderhan. Now, thanks to her great book, I look at the rivers and harbors instead. Pilots are overgrown kids who like fire trucks and excavators and trains and, of course, boats. So, I was hooked by the premise

You get drawn in because of her straightforward style. Won’t it be interesting to get hitched and live on a boat right away? Like marriage alone wasn’t a big enough life change. You get carried along into courtship and life on the water. It’s an adventure for the reader. Schneiderhan describes two transitions simultaneously: Single-life to married life, and landlubber to boat-dweller. You don’t even realize how much is happening at once.

I especially enjoyed how they had to find their way past two angry Canada geese to get to and from their trawler Mazurka. I had no idea geese could get that crabby.

So, you’re reading and laughing and, whoa, wait a minute. That was a truth bomb. Suddenly, this book catches you by surprise and Schneiderhan makes some pretty courageous revelations. After she does, she says the following, and you realize that you got tricked into reading about a whole lot more than boats and what it’s like to move in together:

For the first time as an adult, I was learning to be a full participant in life.

After this middle section of the book, there are more descriptions of mechanical and emotional problems that go along with boats and wedded bliss, but now, I was paying closer attention. Because you might get hit with one of the most interesting questions you’ve ever heard about what it may mean to be close to someone. In her case, Mark, her new husband, is that someone:

It’s kind of weird to let somebody else be responsible for your good time. Maybe that’s a good question to consider about the person you want to marry. If you relinquished control and let them be responsible for your good time, would they make sure you had fun? And could you do the same?

Thanks, Felicia. A minute ago I was laughing at geese and now I actually have to think.

Sure the book is about relationships. And boats. And later about kids. You even come to see Mazurka as a character, and a sturdy one at that. Go buy the book. I’ll let the author give you a hint about what you’re really getting into:

We fail despite our attempts to hold tight, because we really own nothing—we can only admire, in whatever unknown temporary time we have in any given place, on any given vessel.


About Eric Chandler

Husband. Father. Pilot. Cross Country Skier. Writer. Author of Outside Duluth and Down In It.
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2 Responses to More Than Boats

  1. Dana Griffin says:

    Your book reviews make me think about reading them even if they aren’t a genre I read.

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