About a year ago (summer 2014), we were sitting around the kitchen table talking about something… we being my mother (Mary), my wife (Candace), and myself… I’m Josh. The something was… well, I don’t remember what the something was. The important part is that the something turned into talk about sailing and the idea of someday being able to charter a sailboat in the Caribbean for some future vacation.
This wasn’t some completely off-the-wall idea. When I was a teenager living in northern Arizona, my mom bought an old Alcort Sunfish. We weren’t avid sailors by any means, but we had fun taking the little boat out a few times a year to various lakes and ponds in the area. And it taught us enough about sailing (supplemented with some book learning from the Annapolis Book of Seamanship) that we were able to charter a few small sail boats here and there when on vacation.
Years later when I moved to Portland, OR, I hauled the little Sunfish with me and had a blast cruising around on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. I even tried my hand at Sunfish surfing on the Oregon coast, though as you might have guessed, that little escapade ended with a barrel roll that snapped one of my spars… oh well, count it as a learning experience. The injured Sunfish lay under a tarp for many months until I got the sailing itch again. A few calls, a short drive up to a shop in Poulsbo, WA, and I had a new spar, a new sail, and was ready to hit the water again. A short time after that, I met Candace and somehow convinced her to move to Portland. I have fond memories of several sailing adventures that first summer together, from paddling around on hot windless afternoons to submarining our bow in wind and waves in which we had no business sailing… we loved every minute of it.
Fast forward 10 plus years, three kids, and two advancing careers, and Candace and I are both enticed by the idea of something more out of life… something including more travel, exploration, and adventure. Sailing is certainly not the only path to that goal, but it’s one that holds a strong appeal, aesthetically, logistical, and technically (I’m a bit of a gear head at heart).
And so, our sailing bug was born. I began searching for local sailing schools, knowing that chartering a large boat on coastal waters would require more than Sunfish skills. I was fortunate enough to find a local sailing club that offered several ASA courses. I cycled through Basic Sailing and Coastal Cruising pretty quickly which allowed us to literally join the club and spend as much time as remained in that summer day-sailing on the Columbia River.
Less than a year later, Candace completed her own ASA 101 class, preparing herself to be more than a kid-tending, jib-trimmer on the boat, and I completed the ASA Bareboat Chartering course at San Juan Sailing in Bellingham, WA. As we proceeded with building our sailing skills and confidence, what started in my mind as a dream to do a few bareboat chartering vacations evolved into a dream of transitioning to a full-on cruising lifestyle. When and in what form that cruising lifestyle will manifest itself are open questions that we’re still trying to sort out for ourselves, but the first question we needed to answer was, did we really like cruising that much? After all, at that point, we had never spent more than eight hours on a boat, and on nothing larger than a Cal 25 (except for our ASA classes).
We decided to dive right in this summer and take out a one-week bareboat charter in the San Juan Islands. Given that I had completed my bareboat chartering class with San Juan Sailing (and that Candace had completed her 101 class there as well), we figured they would allow us to charter a boat without too many challenges to our thin sailing resumes. I’ll post an entry with the details of our first charter experience soon enough, but the bottom line was that the experiment was a great success (at least in the eyes of the parents). We had a great time and found that not only did we really enjoy cruising for that week, we were also pretty good at it and managed to handle the Beneteau 423 quite well in varying conditions.
So the dream continues. Now we’re simply faced with addressing financial logistics… daunting, but not insurmountable… and the much more difficult challenge of sorting through the various ties, good and bad, that bind us to our current lifestyle, thus the title of our blog.