At age 24, I met a 31-year-old man in a San Francisco cocktail bar who had a sailboat, a ready-to-go South Pacific plan and an opening for a first mate. Handsome, romantic, Latin and a yacht-owner, he was almost the perfect catch … if only I didn’t suffer from a debilitating fear of deep water (thanks, Spielberg!) Even a swim in the shallows of a lifeguard-patrolled beach was too much adventure for me, so when Ivan proposed I join him on a year-long Pacific Ocean crossing, I told him “No way!” But Latin charm is intoxicating and, struck stupid by love, I jumped aboard his old boat and voyaged into the terrifying void of the Pacific. Along the way, in between idyllic remote islands, I learned that my macho explorer was seriously accident-prone, that seasickness can cause not only nasal vomiting but also incontinence (yay!) and that elderly boats are quite intent on trying to sink themselves. Which is great fun when you’re quite certain that truck-sized sharks are licking their chops just outside the fibreglass vessel that keeps you floating—but only just!—over 4,300 feet of deep, dark water.

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