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We quit our jobs, bought a catamaran, outfitted and set off around the world, all within five months. I wouldn't recommend this approach for everyone, but three and a half years later we returned as circumnavigators - and still married.

This story shares the full experience of my husband and I sailing around the world, from my perspective. For me, the voyage was a journey of discovery in more ways than one. It was a physical journey: exploring the vast oceans, distant lands, people and wildlife sharing our planet, and the forces of nature that control it. This was what I expected when I agreed to such an adventurous trip.

More important were the things I didn't anticipate. I didn't expect to be so afraid and I hadn't predicted an emotional journey into my relationship. But as my husband and I struggled to face the challenges together, I had no choice.

Ultimately I was forced to undertake a personal journey into my soul - to question who I was - so that I could understand what drove me to continue sailing. This was the toughest part of the entire voyage, but I believe it has given me a perspective and a confidence to last a lifetime.

Lastly, almost unbeknownst to me at the time, I went on a philosophical journey that challenged my traditional perspective of the world.

One of the greatest rewards of traveling is the chance to be an observer; to note the physical and cultural differences and similarities to life back home. I couldn't help but compare the geological history of the sharp volcanic peaks to the eroded sand atolls, or notice the present-day influence of ancient seafarers who sailed the same waters. I marveled in the subtle changes, such as the evolving shape of locally-baked bread as we sailed from country to country.

Yet as the physical scenery changed in front of my eyes, so did I. This interested me even more - the emotional experience. When I'd read similar adventures before we left, I was constantly left asking the same questions: Did you ever argue with your husband? Weren't you ever scared? What did you feel when you returned home? What was it really like?

This is what I've tried to capture. With the help of my journal, I have recounted the experience as it happened. The result is a multidimensional journey where the observer, the traveler, is changing along with the landscape. I'll take you through the troughs and crests of the vast oceans, as well as the dark, jungle-clogged valleys and the sunlit peaks of my emotional journey.

This is an adventure in every sense. A story that I believe both men and women, sailors or not, will enjoy and benefit from.

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1999 Alayne Main