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Ballard Sailor

East Coast Cruise for 2012

Rating: 41 votes, 5.00 average.
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Adventure. The sailor racing their boat around the world, the mountain climber challenging the worlds tallest peaks - that, we all can agree is adventure! But lets face it, for the other 99% of us that kind of adventure is simply not in our personality. For the majority, adventure involves being a weekend warrior. Work, work, work all week to spend two days out sailing, hiking, biking or whatever then back to work and do it over again until that one time a year that you get to have some adventure for maybe 2 weeks straight before returning to the grind. Sure some see adventure as sleeping with a co-worker without their spouse finding out, seducing the pool boy or chasing around the nanny. Yet that kind of adventure isn’t for all of us, especially those that have a spouse that believes in that “until death do us part” thing as my wife does...


Up until things changed, I was fully encompassed in the “Work to Play” adventure group. I believed that I should work to get together enough money to sail as much as I could every weekend and then get on back to that work thing. I had a few bills, old college loans to pay, but nothing major - I had some serious weekend fun. Racing sailboats around the Pacific Northwest, traveling to various regattas, cruising the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands. Weekends and short holidays of adventure.

Then I met my wife Jennifer, fell in love, sold my then liveaboard sailboat (a custom 1 ton built by Axel Olson and Paul Elvstrom) and moved into her house. Over the next few years we fixed up, sold and purchased houses and a condo, nothing major, small steps forward each sale. Thanksgiving 2009 rolls around and Jennifer was looking at a layoff from the failing company she worked at. All the emotions poured out, everything imaginable was discussed. What should we do? What is expected of us? Should I take some time off? Should I find another job?


Sometimes heated, sometimes educational, through these emotions we came to the realization that we had no bills to speak of. We had no car loans, no boat loans, no college debt. We had paid off our house two years earlier and have no children - Why are we working? With that epiphany we decided to sell our current cruising boat, buy another more suited to how we sail and set it up for us to liveaboard. Then rent our house out and live off the income. Things moved forward quickly when we found our perfect boat, a 1985 Wasa 38. Plenty of sail area, a great interior and at a price we could afford. By May of 2010 I had quit my job and our new adventure had begun.


We traveled in our van down the California coast, we trailered our Moore 24 to regattas in Santa Cruz, San Francisco & up to 7000’ at Huntington Lake. We cruised our Wasa around Puget Sound, explored the San Juan Islands, the Canadian Gulf Islands and up into Howe Sound. We jumped on an opportunity to sail in a rally race around the desolate and amazing Vancouver Island. We pursued our own little adventures, one month at a time. Each adventure made us look for something more, something different, something that excited us.


The options for major cruising adventures in the Pacific Northwest are both amazing and daunting. You can spend a season heading North to Alaska and back. Sail with Orca whales, avoid the Grey whales, amaze yourself with the swimming antics of the porpoises. You can see Eagles snatch Salmon out of the water right before your eyes and watch Bears scavenging for shellfish along the beaches. Experience glaciers calving into the bays with majestic mountains pulling your attention to the beyond. All this is there just to the North - but it didn’t pull us, not yet.


The other option for us Pacific Northwest adventure sailors is what’s know locally as “turning left.” Left at Neah bay and the entire west coast of the continental United States is before you. It’s not a very welcoming coast with high winds, big waves and days between ports. Often these ports can’t even be visited due to rough bar conditions at the river entries. Usually sailors turn left towards the end of summer and make the run to San Francisco, some 800 miles South, as one leg of their trip. The plan, generally, is to find themselves in San Diego in time for the annual Baha Ha Ha cruisers rally to Mexico. Once across the border Pacific Northwest sailors cruise the warm Southern waters until they find a good weather window to make the 3000 mile “Hop” across the lake to those beautiful south pacific islands. Yet this didn’t pull us either...

Our adventure plan developed during the winter of 2010/2011 while helping disabled snowboarders and skiers at Stevens Pass through Outdoors for All. An amazing organization and one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. I challenge any of you to try something like this for one season, it was 6 weekends of my life and I wish it had been all winter. I digress, back to the story - So here we are sleeping in our Van in the cold dark mountain parking lot dreaming of warmer climes and summer scenery. “Why don’t we drive across the country, buy a sailboat and cruise the East Coast? Ditch the boat when we are done and come back. Something cheap and campy?” Brilliant! I was immediately captured by this idea and couldn’t stop dreaming about it and bugging my wife. I wanted to go right then, that spring.


Yet Jennifer, the brains in our splicing (I’m just the idea guy) needed to think about it. “I like the idea, but not this year.” Educated as a civil engineer Jennifer’s mind needed time to get itself around the idea. Time to look at contingencies and fall back plans. Time to make her own dream about it. Finally by mid summer while cruising the Canadian Gulf Islands Jennifer’s mind was around it - the idea had captured her! She organized a year’s rental of our house, she found a place to store our Wasa 38 for the season and by November she had prepared an itinerary of people and places we would be visiting as we drive across the country. Eight years of marriage and our first “big” adventure together. Planned start date, March 1st, the day after our 2nd Anniversary - leap year day 2012. At 40 years of age I feel as if our lives are starting again - that feeling of the achievable unknown that gets you out of bed to start a new day.

Come March 1st, the plan will be to drive across the country in my 1987 Toyota 4Runner. We’ll take our time, visit friends and family, make a 3 week trip of it. Once on the East coast we’ll start looking for a boat near the Chesapeake Bay. Something in the 26’ to 32’ range, easy sail plan, low freeboard or open transom to make getting the dog back aboard from the dinghy easy. She should have a basic galley and a head separate from the bunk we’ll sleep in. I don’t want to make my wife roll over in the middle of the night so I can go to the head that is under our mattress! Something that sails well and that we could possibly race a little if we arrived somewhere that a regatta was happening. Maybe something with a forepeak and something in the salon that would turn into a double bunk if some friends show up to cruise with us for a short period. Most importantly something that is cheap enough that when we finish our cruise we can sell it quickly, even at a loss. If we buy something for $6000 and ditch it quickly for $4000 at the end of our adventure the $2000 loss will be a cheap investment for an adventure of this sort.


Our plan then would be to sail the Chesapeake to get to know our boat and make necessary repairs and then follow the temperatures North. Work our way up the coast past New Jersey and New York and up into the New England coast. Following the temps, we hope to cruise some of what is known as the “Great Circle Route” around the East Coast and into the Mid West via the Great Lakes, then back to the gulf via the Mississippi or the Tenn-Tom Waterway. A full circle route of 7500 miles, our plan is to start at the Chesapeake, work North around Nova Scotia and into the St. Lawrence waterway to the Great Lakes. Although achievable, we have no plan on completing the circle route in one season. We don’t want to be held to a schedule and have to leave somewhere we want to explore or have to make long passages in order to stay on schedule. Wherever we are when the cold sets in is where we’ll decide to either store the boat for next season’s cruising or sell the boat for some profit. Who knows, we’ll just see how it goes.

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East Coast Cruise for 2012

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