We were still boat hunting when Paul asked me to start writing in preparation for our sailing blog, as he made clear, “this is part of the experience” (which I was very familiar with as we had been reading sailing blogs for years). He made his request soon after we merged our Amazon and Netflix accounts to start trimming unnecessary expenses. It sounds small, but it’s part of the preparation, the baby steps. It’s like you’ve been cataloguing your life and evaluating it all, taking into account every last detail as best you can. And if it were true, that we’d be leaving in about a year’s time, transitioning to sailors, it was a good place to start. Nevertheless when he asked, I imagined writing about this endeavor of merging our accounts and my fear suddenly became that we’d be known as the “Netflix Couple”, much like “Spaghetti Man,” a live-aboard who blogged about his frequent spaghetti dinners and rum drink combo.
This merging however, was far from the beginning of our preparation. It had already been a good 5 years in the making. If my job was to now begin recounting our preparation for this endeavor of moving aboard a sailboat and taking off… to somewhere, then we need to go back to about August 2012, when we took our first ASA sailing course.
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, nor did the 10 year old we had in tow at the time: 4 am wake-up calls to study, an ornery captain, and getting sea sick while charting in the salon ~ where our instructor insisted we chart, “what will you do when you’re really out there in rough seas and you need to chart?” she asked wryly. To answer her rhetorical question, I wanted to puke on her captain shoes.
That said, in all honesty, it was her own way of teaching us the rigors of real sailing, how it’s not all fun and games, and how it’s a serious sport and life choice where you’re taking crew’s lives into your hands. And that is your ultimate responsibility.
So that time around, it was ASA 101, 103, and 104 in Newport, RI on a Dufour 43’. And in February of 2013 we decided we couldn’t possibly go boat shopping until we knew what we were looking for. We didn’t understand the basic differences between a multihull and monohull sailing experience and wondered how we could possibly know. So it was decided. We took Multihull Fundamentals ASA 114 in the Abacos on a Prout 45’. This time with a pleasantly charming and level-headed captain that taught us so much more than the differences between vessel designs. This captain showed us how to live aboard (and find the best watering holes – like Nippers!). He taught us to be self-sustaining and harvest lobster and conch while anchored far from civilization. He taught us the joys AND the rigors of life aboard. And most importantly we decided we could now go boat shopping, a monohull it was! This was what we were hoping for, experiencing both the joys of living on a sailboat and learning how to do it right. Where the first ASA class nearly scared me away from my dreams of circumnavigation (joys were limited), this class gave me hope that I could actually do it and certainly not on a multihull. The space is lovely but the heeling and that thrill of being part of the ocean itself is what we were looking for. Paul and I agreed on that whole-heartedly, as we usually do on most everything… but politics.
The following August we decided to charter our own 42’ Beneteau with Bareboat Sailing Charters in Newport, RI and there were 6 of us aboard.
We chartered again from Bareboat Sailing Charters in Newport, RI in the summer of 2014 but this time for 2 weeks. As we have 6 kids between us (that is not a typo) there were points in time that we had as many as 11 people on the boat, sailing into ports on weekends picking up and dropping off, and sailing on. Kinda like carpooling in suburbia, but oh so very different. This is when we learned the importance of having crew with their heads in the game. Perhaps Capt. Ornery rubbed off on us a bit more than we realized or would like to admit, but in retrospect, all for good reason: the safety and health of our crew. This was a critical turning point, as we had only ourselves to depend on and it was gloriously symbiotic.
Our final formal sailing class had been February of 2014, ASA 105 and 106. This time we got a captain who was a bit of an ornery and charming combination, depending on which side of his salty birth he woke up on. It was all good as this time, we had crew. These were 2 others who had the same dream as us, to untie the dock lines and cruise the world.
Our last charter was just the two of us in the romantic BVIs for two whole weeks in August of 2015. We hit as many snorkeling spots as we could: the Caves, the Indians, the Baths… what a sailor’s playground! We hopped to about 7 islands and basked in the abundance and beauty.
And the most important lesson learned on this trip…? That we needed to get our very own boat and soon. It was time for toddler steps.