By Marty Gervais, The Windsor Star
Theirs is a story of love. And with it swarms all the bittersweetness that keeps you on edge in a relationship, all that keeps you conscious of your strengths and weaknesses.
Alayne and Alec Main were alone at sea for three years battling the elements, and luxuriating in the exhilaration of a dream that would take them around the world.
In 1992, the couple embarked on a 33-foot catamaran full of optimism, the glow of being newly married, and a determination that showed no limitations.
They left on a journey that would test their relationship, that would change their lives.
When it was over, Alayne sat down and wrote about it, drawing upon journals she kept aboard their sea-bound home.
It's not a travelogue.
Into this book, to be launched at Chapters and South Shore Books in Windsor this month, she poured out what it was really like to spend three years in the cramped quarters of a catamaran.
Including the agonizing moments of fear at being at sea, the arguments that blew up between them were worse than the storms that buffeted their tiny vessel.
The truth, in other words.
Alayne's friends were surprised at her honesty. Her sister told her she lied in her own diaries. She wouldn't dare tell the truth.
I drove out to see the couple in their lakeside home near Tecumseh. Alayne, following in the footsteps of her father, Dr. Allan Warwaruk, is a family physician in Windsor. Alec is an electrical engineer.
The idea of the trip was all part of a long term plan that grew out of Alec's proposal for marriage. He set down two conditions: No children for five years, and a promise to sail around the world with him.
They set out to accomplish that. In 1990, the couple married. Two years later, they bought, equipped and set sail on this odyssey that taught them more than just the geography of the world, but the geography and landscape of their own lives.
It was a test of friendship, of love.
It wasn't easy.
"We had stars in our eyes," Alayne says describing the moment of their departure.
But suddenly, Alayne, an empowered woman whose world had been one of taking control in the daunting chaos of a hospital emergency room, was now suddenly "twiddling her thumbs" at sea.
Alec was the one in control. Immersed in repairing equipment, patching problems, charting out the course.
"I couldn't help him, and he couldn't tell me anything." Alayne felt "subordinate," constantly fetching screwdrivers, cleaning up messes, or doing the cooking. "I just wasn't that kind of person," she tells me, still betraying annoyance at having been cast in such a role.
"I was basically being a housewife and I was thinking, 'What am I doing here?'"
Alec agreed it was tough.
Living on this catamaran was "like living in your car... but the ocean is a pretty tough environment."
Things went from bad to worse.
The crisis erupted in crossing the treacherous Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia.
"I felt there was no way out of here," Alayne says of the stormy sea. Her fears got the better of her. Her imagination envisioned death at sea.
"I couldn't cope - I felt like jumping overboard. It brought me to rock bottom."
Now in the midst of an unyielding storm, there was no time for "rational" discussion. "We had no choice but to keep going," Alec says in that typically reasoned manner.
"Here we were," adds Alayne, "with dreams of being this wonderful team and battling the elements together and sailing around the world... and I was crapping out on him!
"And Alec said, 'This is short term pain... Get over it!'"
Alayne needed someone to talk to. "All I had was Indiana Jones over there," referring to her husband.
Things needed fixing. Not the sails, not equipment. But between them.
"I realized I couldn't stay with him and keep being miserable... This was his dream, and I wanted him to fulfill it."
From that point on, life aboard The Madeline changed. The two looked out for one another. Listened. Cared. Gave a little. Took a little.
And kept sailing.
As for the other promise of not having children for five years. Alayne kept it. Their first child was born a year and a half ago. The second, two months ago.