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How This Sailing Thing Started

January 10, 2016 0 comments

Since the inception of the website, Dave and I have been trying to remember exactly how all of this started. How did we arrive at this present moment (planning to live aboard our 31′ sailboat and sail south)? If I recall correctly, it was just an ordinary day, probably after spending some time on the water. Dave turned his head and said, “Would you ever want to live on a sailboat?” I quickly responded, “Sure, why not?”

How This Sailing Thing Started

Our first photo together, on Poco in San Diego Bay, 2013

And really- why not? Neither of us have serious commitments (other than jobs) and we both love adventure.  This journey will be a way to feed my wanderlust as well as Dave’s appetite for sailing. It’s a win/win in my opinion!

In order to explain how we came to this decision one day, I think I first have to give you some background information, and then perhaps it will all make sense. Get comfortable, this might take some time….

The O.H. – Original Hobie

Dave has always had a strong connection to the ocean.  He spent countless summers as a child at the Jersey Shore in and around the water- fishing, surfing and swimming.  You could say he has some salt water in his blood 🙂

How This Sailing Thing Started

The O.H. – original Hobie

Dave first became interested in the power of the wind when he was a youngster at summer camp.  He learned how to windsurf and started to understand wind theory.  Dave had his first ocean sailing experience by rehabbing an old, waterlogged Hobie Cat 16.

He and another friend found the boat encrusted in dirt and weeds and replaced all necessary rigging and lines. After many misadventures and a steep learning curve (these boats are prone to capsizing), he became more comfortable pushing the boat off the beach and sailing for countless hours. He was hooked.

Eventually, he sold the boat but never stopped dreaming about being on the water.  He would use his inspiration from sailing the Hobie to fuel his dream of living aboard on his own monohull.

San Diego

In 2010 Dave moved across the country to San Diego where he spent a lot of time surfing and living the ‘surfer dude’ SoCal lifestyle. He took it to a whole other level when he bought a small 25′ sailboat, named Poco, which he lived on for one year. If it were my guess, I’d say that’s when he really fell in love with sailing.

How This Sailing Thing Started

Poco, Dave’s first sailboat

How This Sailing Thing Started

Poco in San Diego Bay

Dave later moved out to Las Vegas for work, but kept Poco docked in San Diego, using her as a weekend getaway from the desert heat (smart boy).

During the beginning  of our relationship, I was introduced to Poco and San Diego.  It was a pretty big deal -our first road trip together, first time spending over 48 consecutive hours together, meeting the beloved sailboat, living aboard for the weekend and going sailing for the first time.  Holy cow, that’s A LOT of firsts!  In my mind, this was going to be a make or break moment in our relationship, but no pressure! Long story short, everything was a great success.  I ended up LOVING Poco and sailing her.  I distinctly remember thinking, “I could get used to this.”

Lake Mead, NV

Back in Las Vegas, it was a typical hot afternoon, and Dave and I decided to go swimming down at Lake Mead – a beautiful oasis just outside of the Hoover Dam.  While walking along the shore, Dave spotted something familiar from his past – a Hobie Cat.  He immediately struck up a conversation with the owners, Dave and Ellie (talk bout a coincidence!), and he learned that there was a Hobie Cat sailing club, Fleet 51, and Lake Mead was their playground.

How This Sailing Thing Started

Our first day with the new Hobie!

I could see a spark had been ignited in Dave and it wasn’t long before he brought up the idea of buying a Hobie Cat.  I wasn’t quite sure what we’d be getting into, but I responded with another, “Why not?”

Other than yearly family vacations to the beach, I had very little experience around large bodies of water and none to speak of sailing (not counting San Diego).   However, always being interested in trying new things, I figured it was worth a shot, so I encouraged Dave to buy the Hobie he had been spying on Craigslist.

It wasn’t long before we were spending nearly every weekend sailing on beautiful Lake Mead along side our friends from Hobie Fleet 51. Dave even got to race in some regattas which was pretty awesome 🙂

How This Sailing Thing Started

Beautiful desert sunset on Lake Mead.

How This Sailing Thing Started

Dave’s first regatta in San Diego, as crew, with our good friend Dave M’s Hobie 18.

 The Longest School Year

*WARNING: this section is a bit sappy, but it’s an important part of the story (so you should probably read it anyway).

The Summer of 2012 was bittersweet.  Dave had made the decision to leave Las Vegas and move back to his hometown in PA to work for his family.  I was already obligated to teach for the upcoming school year so I needed to stay.  To say I was disappointed and heartbroken is an understatement.  I was so confused by Dave’s choice to leave, but tried to make myself understand that he had to do what was best for him.  We spent the last days of summer the best way we new how- with each other and around the lake.

We both knew we had two options – stay together and have a long distance relationship or end it. After lots of discussion, we decided we would do everything in our power to make it work and give a long distance romance a shot.  The situation would either make us stronger or pull us apart and we would have to let time take its course to see how things would pan out.

Lots of time was spent on the phone burning through the  minutes on our family’s cell phone plans.  We called each other every day. Video chat was a God send – thank you Skype!  We planned visits and used our vacation days to see each other over my school breaks.  The year seemed to crawl, but  finally nine months had passed and the school year was over.  We had survived and were ready to take our relationship to the next level – cohabitation!

How This Sailing Thing Started

Thanksgiving Break in Vegas

How This Sailing Thing Started

Spring Break trip to Bryce Canyon Nat. Park 2014

 Bye, Bye Vegas…. Hello Jersey Shore!

After the school year was up, I had made the choice to quit my teaching job and move to PA to be with Dave.  We had spent nine months apart and we were eager to move forward with our relationship. Dave found us a great little apartment and we moved in together. Woo-hoo!!

During the summer, we spent a fair amount of time down at the Jersey Shore.  If you’re not familiar with the Philadelphia scene, many people spend their summers or weekends at the beach. It’s fairly close to the city which makes it convenient and there are tons of things to do – Atlantic City isn’t far away, the beaches are great, there are lots of restaurants and bars, places for families and of course ample water activities.

Dave had trailered the Hobie across the country with him and it was now on the beach for us to use.  We quickly adapted to our new environment and learned how to push the boat through waves on our way out  and ride them back onto shore on our way in – It’s a pretty cool sensation:) To give you a better idea, here’s a video of Dave with our friend Charlie sailing the Hobie at the shore.

The Hobie Cat

In case you were wondering, sailing in the ocean on a Hobie is MUCH different than sailing on Lake Mead.   As you can imagine, the sea brings a completely different set of challenges to maneuvering a small boat.  Waves, tidal changes and the water’s sheer vastness can quickly become friend or foe.  You can sail indefinitely on the ocean without having to tack back and forth (something we got used to doing on Lake Mead) but if something goes wrong and your sailing along with the current, that’s where you’ll stay – moving out to sea with the tide.

How This Sailing Thing Started

Taking the Hobie across the country

How This Sailing Thing Started

Hobie Beach in Strathmere, NJ

Lake Mead isn’t exactly a cake walk either.  Although it’s contained, it’s massive. If you have a mishap out there when nobody else is around, you can be in a pickle real quick – it is the desert after all.  The winds on Lake Mead can be very unpredictable as well.  Winds are usually light and calm in the morning and steadily pick up in the afternoon.  As the day goes on, all of the warm air (that is Vegas) rises up into the atmosphere while the cold evening air (moving in for the night) rushes down the surrounding mountains and creates stronger winds and unpredictable gusts on the water.

How This Sailing Thing Started

Squall passing by Lake Mead

We have been knocked over quite a few times due to these strong puffs of wind.  Fortunately, you can see the texture from the wind moving towards you on the water, so you can brace yourself and prepare to fly some serious hull, but sometimes it’s more than you were expecting and you capsize. Oopsies!

Luckily, Hobies are designed to be ‘righted’ by it’s crew. It’s a process of getting underneath the boat and using body weight to pull its hulls back down in the water so it can sit upright again. It sounds tricky, and it can be depending on the conditions, but it usually works out in the end 😉

An Unconventional Life

Ever since Dave and I met, we’ve invested a lot of time discussing how we want to spend our time living life.  Travel and adventure have always been on the top of the list.  I suppose our similar dreams and ideas were a reason we were drawn towards each other in the first place.   We had long talks about our future and how we could achieve our mutual goals.  Owning a boat was potentially always a part of the equation, but what would it mean for us if we actually went through with it and bought a boat?

Being a young couple, we were faced with the reality of moving into a new chapter of our lives.  We could go through the typical motions that everyone else our age seems to go through: get married, buy a home, settle down, have children, etc., but is that what we wanted?  If we owned a boat, we could still do all of those things, just probably not own a house (we’re not rolling in dough over here!) We would be perpetual renters, keep our boat on the Chesapeake or at the Shore while we work our 9-5s and then use it on the weekends.

Neither Dave nor I thought that sounded like something we wanted to do at this point in our lives. We wanted to use a boat as a vehicle to follow our dreams, not latch us down.

Boatyard Bliss

In early spring of 2015, Dave was performing his typical evening ritual- looking at boats on Yacht World (a massive database of sailboats for sale). Let me just say he’d been doing this for quite some time and had narrowed our perfect boat down to a few specific types.  He stumbled upon a lovely boat that was in Annapolis, MD – a boat that could potentially be “the one”.  We decided to go down to the marina and check things out for ourselves.

How This Sailing Thing Started

Our first day meeting Wayfarer (Alli Oop) in Annapolis, MD.

She was a beauty! Well taken care of and a true bluewater boat, Dave and I fell in love with Wayfarer (which we’re renaming to Alli Oop).  We didn’t want to be impulsive, so we decided to sleep on it. We went back to our hotel that night to think things over.  Neither of us could sleep, our brains were swimming with questions -Should we buy her? Can we do this? This is a big commitment – Are we ready?

We both got up early that morning and had a long discussion.  We realized this could be the stepping stone to make our dreams come true, so we put an offer on the boat.

About a month later, she was officially ours! To read more about our sea trial and survey, you can look here.

So here we are now, on this crazy journey of life, together. Big things are ahead and we’re both looking forward to all the potential the future holds. We hope you stick around to find out what happens next!

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