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Cross Border Love

Couples battle geography and the immigration system to be together.

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Love on the high seas

And then there's Jade and Ryan.

Jade Dumas, 36, is Canadian and Ryan Kinser, 28, is American and they met during a sailboat trip. But this was not your every day type of outing — it was an epic voyage stretching across the globe. Setting sail from Santa Cruz, California in April 2009, Jade and Ryan worked alongside each other as crewmembers, sailing a Norwegian sailboat all the way to Ireland. With an ever-changing crew, Jade and Ryan were the only ones to work the entire trip from start to finish.

The sea voyage took six months, peppered with stops along the way, including a repair stop in San Diego and a surfing break in Costa Rica.

A week in Panama saw them preparing the paperwork to go through the Panama Canal and afterwards they shot out the other side into the clear blue Caribbean waters. From there they sailed north, narrowly averting hurricane danger.

"We caught the tail end of Hurricane Phil," recalls Ryan. "There were still gale force winds and rough seas, but we really didn't see anything over 15 to 20 feet (4.5 metres to 6 metres)."

But there were plenty of times when they hit some seriously steep waves.

When you get broadsided it sounds like a gunshot right next to your head when you are sleeping in your bunk, recalls Jade. "I thought it had busted through the hull one night."

Traversing the North Atlantic, their longest stint was two weeks with no land in sight, explained Jade. You get used to it, she says, smiling.

According to Ryan, being at sea wasn't bad, but by the time they reached Europe, they all wanted to be off the boat for other reasons.

He described it as circumstances, such as interpersonal issues, which affected the relationships at sea. "Basically what it comes down to — the captain and the crew disagreed on a lot of things and the crew felt disrespected in a lot of ways. By the end the situation was not ideal, but it's also what brought Jade and I together."

They agree their relationship started out as friendship, but by the last leg of the trip it had developed into something more meaningful.

Jade acknowledges it was the experience of working through things together that was the clincher for her. "I had a lot of respect for him right off the get-go when I first met him."

"I think the whole experience allowed us to see how each of us deals with stress and deals with situations that might not be comfortable," says Ryan. "That was a big part of what attracted me to Jade — her demeanour and her calmness about situations, and also the excitement and willingness to try whatever and to give it a go."