Everyone always asks me how I learned to sail. I quickly answer….”from my Dad”, although as I have mentioned in other posts, my Dad didn’t actually sit me down and teach me to sail, he rather included me in his sailing adventures, and as a result, a passion was born in me that will never die. I learned through immersing myself in his sailing life. As a kid, and especially a teenager, I would never miss a chance to jump on a boat with him. We could be doing anything, for I was always just as delighted to follow him around his boat polishing stainless steel, and cleaning bilges, as I was to cast off the lines and head out on a sail. He taught me by example the satisfaction that comes with caring for one’s boat, as well as enjoying the fruits of that hard work. My brother Jeff (an incredibly accomplished sailor and one who I deeply admire) and I are the only two of his six kids that showed any real interest in sailing, and my dad recognized that and always encouraged it. We mostly raced in the ancient mariner’s races in San Diego bay, but there were many other adventures as well. I was usually the only girl on a crew of 6-8 guys, which had its own interesting challenges. It also taught me a lot about holding my own and being confident in the face of chauvinism and extremely strong personalities. Sometimes I handed that more gracefully than others.
My very favorite moments on the boat with my Dad were those where it was just the two of us on a pleasure sail. Those times are etched indelibly on my heart as some of the most special in my life. Watching my dad confidently and calmly handle his boat in any situation was a huge influence on me, and informs the way I am on my own boat to this day. When I am by myself, I sometimes feel that I am actually channeling him and his graceful power. He is always with me.
Dad started sailing in Michigan when he was four or five years old. He would first ride aboard his father's Q boat named "escapade", and then worked his way up to racing Northern Michigans as a teen. That time in his life certainly sparked a passion that has driven him to be the sailor he is today, as well as an avid scholar of maritime history.
When I was about 8, my dad bought a Westsail 32 and christened her “Scottish Fantasy”. He set sail with little experience in navigation or blue water sailing from Newport Beach to the Big Island of Hawaii (where we lived at the time) with two of his buddies. He always tells the story of them on the beach on Newport in the days before the trip teaching themselves celestial navigation. That boat was my first experience on anything other than a sailing dinghy, and I loved her! From Hawaii we moved to Arizona, and my dad bought a 56’ 1932 Alden Yawl and named her Scottish Fantasy II. She was kept in San Diego, and we spent many a weekend aboard. This beautiful lady is where I got most of my sea time as a young woman. She is a graceful creature and a sight to behold. I was sad when Dad sold her, but he felt it time to move on. So, in 1993, he had commissioned a one off design of a Cherubini 44 (a ketch). He received permission from the designer to have her built in wood, and hired a wonderful boat builder, Bent Jesperson in Sydney BC to bring her to life. She is probably the most beautiful boat I have ever seen and she always takes the breath away of anyone who lays eyes on her. I had the honor of christening her “Spitfire” as she was launched in BC in 1994. I have had many wonderful sails aboard Spitfire, and still do, because my brother Jeff is her faithful steward. He races her and cruises her, and carries on my Pop’s legacy with pride. She still stops me in my tracks every time I see her. She is a gem.
The other boat that my dad owned is so unlike the others, but is the one who taught me the most about single handing and boat handling before I bought my own boat. Her name was "Carronade", and she was a J80 based in The British Virgin Islands. Carronade was a good teacher for me, and I will always remember her so fondly. Those days sailing around the BVI’s on my own were precious and life changing for me.
I am so grateful for all of these lovely ladies and the fact that my dad so generously shared them with me. I learned so much and as with all meaningful relationships, they will always be with me in my heart, as will my own first boat, "Moody Blue", a 1981 Wyly 34.
Now I have a 1988 Catalina 34 named "Haunani" (after my beautiful mother). She is the perfect boat for me, and we have already shared many adventures in the past two years. This Singlehanded Transpac and the PSSA races, and practice leading us there will certainly be our biggest adventures yet, and I have every confidence that with a lot of upgrades, TLC and elbow grease, that we will both be ready in July of next year.