Sailing

My fascination with sailing started early. The idea of exploring the world, new places and to go where you like self sufficiently appealed to me. They are the same reasons that space colonization and travel are my ultimate dream. The difference being, sailing was a far more easily obtainable goal.

My first sailing experience was with the Johnsons in upstate New York. My neighborhood friend Bret Johnson and his family owned a sailboat and they would take me out with them. We would sail the Hudson River and I was exposed to everything from beautiful sunny calm days to storms and at times, laughing so hard that YooHoo came out our noses. Bret and I loved riding on the bow with our legs hanging over the sides. Our feet and legs plunged in and out of the cool water as the boat cut through the waves. This is still my favorite place to be on a sailboat.

In 1985, my family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. My cousin, Rob’s family worked for USair, so he could fly free anytime he wanted. Because of this, he could come down frequently. We would often rent small boats and go out on the lakes. One summer, we even took a sailing class together on Shelly Lake. We each had a Sunfish and would race back and forth across the lake pushing those little boats to their limits. Often, we would push them too far and they would flip! With such a small boat, it wasn’t a very big deal. I would just swim around to the bottom, stand on the keel and up the boat would come. Of course, it was always a good idea to remember to lower the sails before trying to right the boat or it would try to take off without you!

Rob eventually bought his own Sunfish and one summer in the late 80’s, we were out sailing it on a particularly windy day. Since there was only one boat, we took turns. I was healing her over just shy of capsizing, which by the way, is the most fun thing to do with a Sunfish. I made it all the way across the lake, but when I came about, the wind slammed my sails to port and over she went! It actually threw me into the water. I then swam around and tried to get on the keel, but she wouldn’t rise. In the violence, the keel had been thrown upwards, so that only half of it was showing out of the bottom. The lack of a sufficient moment arm and with the wind trying to keep the boat in the water, made it impossible to upright. So, I had to swim back around to the top side and shove the keel back through, but when I tried it again, it still didn’t work. It took me a minute to realize that the boat in its partially capsized position, had begun to dump the mast. It was this extra mast height that was making it impossible for me to upright. Once again I swam around to the topside, and tried to shove the mast back into the boat. To do this, I had to put the boat in more of a capsized position, which caused the keel to fall through again. By this time, people from the other side of the lake were yelling if I was OK. With my body blocking the keel from falling through, I was finally able to shove the mast all the way back into the hull and tie it in place. I looked toward shore and I could see Rob getting in someone else’s boat to come to get me. I then swam around one last time and stood on the keel. Up she came! Wahoo! I hopped in, tightened the sails and I was underway in an instant! I yelled across the lake “I got it!” Rob threw up his arms in relief and frustration and went back to shore. This was the first time that I experienced sailing the way it shouldn’t go. Simultaneous problems led to a precarious situation. Later, I would learn that this is always the case when thing go wrong. As a result, the more prepared you are, the more things it takes to go wrong before you are in trouble, but when you are in trouble, it is real trouble.

I have always dreamed of sailing around the world. That self sufficiency and complete control over your destiny in as much as nature will allow you. It’s not the ultimate freedom you would have in space, but it gives you a feeling much like it. There is also something about experiencing non malicious fear that you get from trying to work with nature, but sometimes against. This fear, self sufficiency and sense what you do as an individual makes a difference, seems almost lost in everyday life. When I am captaining a boat, I know that what I do is sometimes a matter of life and death to me and my passengers. My decisions, my actions, really do matter. This can be terrifying and glorious all at the same time. Every time I go out, my confidence in my boat and in myself increases.

 

The Millen

In May of 2008, I bought my first sailboat, a 1970 Cal 25. I purchased it from the Sea Scouts, located next to the Portland airport. I found cheap and close moorage in Ridgefield, WA, so all that had to be done was to move the boat the 10 miles down the Columbia. I invited friends from the Rose City Astronomers to help me sail her to her new home. We left the docks near PDX at about 12:30PM and motored out on electric power. Once in the channel, we put up the sails and had a good southerly wind which got us going pretty good. Everything seemed to be going pretty well, so we broke out the sparkling grape juice and toasted. We had a sweet sail until we got to the bridges. The I-5 bridge has several spans and we were looking at going through the second from the North, but as we approached, we started to realize that the mast might not make it under that one, so we decided on the third span which was taller. Unfortunately, two barges were trying to go under it at the same time. With the heavy current, we had no easy way or safe way to turn around, so we squeezed through with the barges and cleared the bridge by a couple of feet. Then came the train bridge about a half mile West. The bridge was open, so we thought no problem, but as we approached, they closed it! We radioed them to ask the clearance, but they didn’t know. They told us to look at the markers on the bridge, which you have to be pretty close to see, even with binoculars. Well, it turned out to be only 33 feet, so we were about 5 feet too tall. We asked them to rotate the bridge and they said it would be a couple of minutes, because an Amtrak train was coming. We sloughed the sail and slowly drifted toward the bridge. We finally had to put the sails back up, come about and sail against the current, to keep from hitting the bridge. After about a half hour of hoping the wind didn’t die, they finally opened the bridge and we slipped through.

After the bridges, everything seemed to be going well. We got toots from a cargo ship from Hong Kong and lots of waves. Eventually, the wind died, so we turned the electric motor back on for about a half hour until it picked up again. And then it really started to pick up. We were heading directly into the wind, of course, so we had to tack back and forth. On one of the tacks, the boat was healing hard and really picking up speed. Greg pulled in the jib to give us more speed when BOOM! The starboard mainstay anchor ripped out of the deck and the mast started to go over. After yelling some obscenities, we grabbed the mast while dropping the sails. Then we had to make some makeshift rigging to hold the mast up. From then on, all we had was the electric and paddling.

By nightfall, we made the end of the slough. As we came about 180 degrees and started heading up the slough, the wind which had been against us, and which was supposed to now help us, died. Damn Murphy and his laws! Now, we were fighting the current and with no wind, our little electric barely moved us at 1 knot. Then we ran aground on a sand bar and the current turned us side ways until we were really stuck. We tried the motor in reverse while pushing with poles, but it was useless. Finally, a fisherman came along in his power boat, and once we flagged him down, he pulled us free before towing us into the marina. We were able to at least dock under our own power at about 10pm. When we jumped off onto the dock, we realized that half of the dock was underwater and that it was sinking. We thought “how appropriate of a place to dock this was”. I took everyone out to eat and then we started to realize how exhausted we were, so everyone went home to bed. It was an exciting day and definitely qualified as an adventure!

I was going to name the new boat Enterprise, but the experience changed my mind to the Millennium Falcon instead.

However, the name Millennium Falcon was never to be, due to a particularly bizarre Friday, and meeting a girl who was an artist. More details on her are in the love section of the book. The point is, she came up one Saturday and was going to paint a beautifully stenciled ‘The Millennium Falcon, Mos Eisley’ on the back. However, it was slow going and she only got as far as “Millen”. After that, I never saw her again and so the name Millen stuck.

After the first trip, I took the plate that had ripped from the deck to a metal fabricator, and had two large half inch steel plates made to bolt to the wooden bulkheads below deck. Jake Dever and Tyler Nolan helped me install the plates, and once they were in, they were as solid as could be! We figured that, unless the boat ripped in half, which may have been a possibility, they would hold.

A week later when I had everything put back together, I decided to take the boat out myself. I learned the hardest thing about sailing, is not sailing, but finding friends who have time. I sailed down the slough to the Columbia, but just as I was about to enter the river, I ran aground at the same spot we had run aground coming in! I put up full sails and ran the electric motor. I could get the boat to spin, but nothing else. I thought the I might be able to run some lines ashore and use the winches to get me off the bar, but it was the 4th of July and there were drunken’ lunatics flying by in speed boats. I’m sure I would have decapitated someone if I had tried, so I decided against it. I remember some of the speed boaters sitting on shore saying stuff like “look at that stupid sailboat stuck out there..haha!”,

I looked over the side of the boat and estimated that I must only be in 2 or 3 feet of water, so I jumped in. The water was only up to my chest, so I walked to the back of the boat to see if I could push it off the bar myself. I was able to rock it and swing it around, but it was just too heavy. Finally, I decided that I am going to walk around this damn river and figure out where it wasn’t too shallow. I don’t want to run aground here ever again. So there I am walking around in the middle of the river, with my boat stuck and 50 drunken people laughing on shore. As I walked toward the center or toward the West, the river became shallower, but as I walked toward the East bank, where all the partiers were, it abruptly became deep. It was then I realized I would have to sail within 10 feet of the shore for it to be deep enough to pass without running aground. Well, that fixed having to do this in the future, but I am still stuck now!

I started thinking “who do I know with a boat?” and I immediately thought of Bob Johnson. I climbed back into the boat and gave them a call on the off chance they were around. Him and his wife were at home and they said that they could come get me, but it would be an hour or so. That made me feel a lot better, so I grabbed a coke and began to relax on the back of the boat when someone yelled “hi!”. I looked over and it was another sailboat. They had pulled up next to me and we talked a bit and they asked if the could tie up. “Sure!”, and I threw a line. We tied up and they invited me onto their boat full of food and drinks. They had a retractable keel on theirs, so they had no problems with the shallow depth. We ended up relaxing and talking for about an hour and a half, when they finally shoved off. Sometimes the best fun happens when you are in the most trouble.

Bob and his wife finally arrived with their boat and we tied a line to the aft end of mine. Once I tied her off, I stepped back and gave him the thumbs up. He gunned it and steered back and forth. The Millen swayed to port and starboard but didn’t budge. He increased his throttle and BANG the line snapped! I heard it wiz by me! I was sure glad I had stepped out of the way. We talked and decided to give it one more try, this time with more side to side action. After about 2 minutes, I felt the nudge slightly and she gave way. I hopped on the electric engine and the rudder, aimed her for the deep section I discovered. The wind was good so I put up the mainsail and Bob escorted me back to the dock. On the way back, one of the speed-boaters who had been laughing before was floating adrift because they ran out of gas. I overheard them say “I bet he’s thinking they got what was coming”, which is funny, because it is what I was thinking. I sailed past them, as I was in no condition to help another boat.

As we approached the marina, Bob split off to the boat ramp and I continued on to my moorage. As I approached the wind started really picking up. At a frantic pace I raced up to the mast and dropped the sail, but it jammed halfway down. I had to run back to the tiller to avoid driving right into the docks and then I ran back to the sail and yanked it down and put a bungee cord around it. I again ran to the tiller and steered wide of my dock so I could come about and dock into the wind and current. But, as I came about, the motor went dead. I was about 20 feet from the dock, but I couldn’t make it. The current and the wind started pushing me further up river and toward some floating houses. I grabbed the till and frantically yanked it back and forth trying to give me some propulsion. It was just enough to steer the boat, but nothing else. I missed the houses, but I knew there was bridge upriver that was too low a clearance for me and I did not want to drift into that. I purposely started running the boat into the western shore, which slowed my progress, but wasn’t going to stop me. This is another important lesson. Never sail without an anchor! After a few minutes I saw a tree coming up. I grabbed some line, lashed it to the deck and purposely sailed the Millen into the tree. The mast hit the branches and she stopped, but the current began pulling me around. I through the line over one branch then another and managed to get her secured to the tree. I sat down for a minute and breath a sigh of relief. Then I called Bob “hey, um I don’t suppose you can come rescue me again?” He laughed and told me that he couldn’t they just pulled the boat out and there was a large line of people to use the boat ramp. Just then, someone floated by and said “do you need some help?”. They went and got the dock master, who came out with a jet ski and pulled me back in to my half sunken dock. He told me with a grin “from now on, you are not allowed to go out by yourself and certainly not without a real motor!”

The Millen had a one cylinder diesel in it, but I could never get the thing to work, so I gave up and bought a used 4 stroke Honda 7.5. Best thing I ever did for that boat. The next trip Jake, Tyler and Briana all piled on. I even posted a warning that this trip may involve dangers such as running aground, motor failure, no wind, paddling and finally, being stuck in trees. They decided to brave the danger and head out with me anyway. As we came to the end of the slough, I steered her very close to the eastern shore, where I had “scouted” and towards the lighthouse that I could see on the other side of the Columbia. After making some corrections to avoid pilings, we made it. From then on, that became the standard procedure for entering and exiting the Columbia. I actually never ran aground there again. We sailed back and forth for a while testing her out. The mast and boom would make a snap sound when it was under heavy strain, which knowing the Millen’s history, freaked me out a bit. Jake really like to push the boat hard and see how much it could take and with full sail including a 160% jib up, we had her heeled way over and we’re hauling ass, when SNAP! I saw some white piece from upper rigging fly off the boat and into the river. “holy shit! What was that? Did a piece just my just fall off my gorram ship?! What the hell was that?” To this day, I have no idea what is was, but apparently we didn’t need it. I instinctively jumped over and let the main loose to take strain off the mast. My heart was going, but nothing really happened. So, we continued sailing, but we took it a little more easy on the old girl.

From then on, we would regularly take her out, often sailing over to the town of St. Helens, having dinner and sailing back. During the winter of 2008-2009, Jake, Tyler, Josh and I tore out all of the innards and replaced them with new benches and a much needed sump pump. The main problem was that we would laugh so hard and so long, that we never got anything done! Often, we would just sit inside the empty hull and do nothing but laugh until we decided that we had done enough work, and that we need to go sailing! By the summer of 2009, the Millen looked fairly decent. She had a new paint job, I finally got the title transferred, which I had lost, gotten another and lost again for a year in a pile of paperwork. We learned that the Millen was actually a pretty stout boat once we gave her the care she needed.

On my birthday of that year, we took the Millen out with my kayak in tow and sailed to a nice warm deserted beach. They had brought a cake, but no one had remembered utensils, so we ate it with our hands and it quickly turned it a cake fight. We also started a fire with my handy blowtorch or at least that was the plan. We had to actually borrow matches from another passing boat to light the blow torch. And then we had hot dogs. During our stay, Jake and Briana fell in love with a log. A log which they wanted to turn into a totem pole or something. The insisted that we take it home. They floated this massive thing out to the Millen and tied it on. But trying to steer and having this log swinging around behind us uncontrollably was not desirable and I told them we need to cut it lose. I was also worried about all the lines getting tangle up in the outboard. But they really really wanted this log, so Jake, Tyler, Josh, Briana and me hauled this thing onto the Millen. It went from below deck to sticking off the back end, and was 2 feet thick. I don’t have any idea how we got that thing on board! We managed to get it home in my pickup, which it didn’t fit in either, and it then sat in my yard for years. Another ADD screwball idea, but at least this one wasn’t my ADD screwball idea.

The greatest thing about having adequate crew, besides having full control over the boat, was that I could go forward and dangle my feet over the side, while someone else manned the helm. All I had to do was shout orders. Shortly after I met Tonya, I invited her to go sailing with us. My favorite time on that boat was laying on the foredeck at night with her. We could see the Milky Way past the dimly lit jib and hear the rush of water flowing by the bow. It was unbelievably romantic laying there together and talking. I think that is where I really started to fall in love with her.

On one occasion, we had 6 foot waves in the river and fierce wind. Tonya and I stood on the bow and rode this magical ride that had us almost weightless on 8 second intervals. The bow plowed into the waves and we got soaked, but it was so much fun. After an hour of sailing downriver and downwind we decided to come about. I made sure everyone was ready and turned hard to port. At first she responded well, but our turn slowed and the bow started drifting back to where it had started. I got the boat back up to speed and tried it again. With the same result, I decided that we were going to try to turn to the starboard. We had no luck and no matter what I tried, I could not get the boat to turn around. I had never encountered this before. Finally, I was forced to take down the sails, start the engine and get her turned around that way. Once I had her facing upriver, we put the sails back up and she did fine. Its always unnerving when you don’t have control of your boat.

An ever present danger in the Columbia was the freighter traffic. These mountains of steel, moving at 20 knots were something to be respected at the very least. Once, we were out on a fairly calm day and one of the lines was tangled, so we dropped the jib and started to untangle it. I looked up and saw a container ship coming around the bend. I jumped down, yelling “forget the damn sail! Start the engine!” It took a few frantic tries but we got it started, turn the boat toward the western shore and made our best speed. Apparently, we were not the only ones freaked out by this as the captain of the freighter blew his horn rapidly 5 times, a sound you don’t want to hear! That really got my heart rate up. As we cleared the freighter’s path and it roared by us, I saw the bow wave coming and looked at the shore. If we kept on that coarse, we would surely be washed ashore or onto something, but there wasn’t enough time to come about into the wave, so I steered back toward the now retreating freighter. The wave hit our stern at a 30 degree angle and lifted us what must have been 8 feet into the air. I remember looking down at the shore instead of over. The engine and steerage came out of the water and the motor raced. When we made contact with the water again I steered her directly back into the river. A second wave hit us broadside, but it wasn’t as big as the first. It hit the boat like a wall, the boat shuttered and we got soaked, but we made it!

The Millen was a glorious piece of crap! But I learned so much from it. I can’t tell you how much fun we had on that boat! The great thing is I only paid a $1000 for it, so if we had wrecked it or sank it, we could have chalked it up to a learning experience. But it was actually a very tough boat when it came to the parts that really mattered. I will always have fond memories of her, all those who sailed on her with me and her mascot, Angry Owl.

The Millen was sold to another man at the Ridgefield Marina and as far as I know, is still there.

 

The Myott II

In March of 2010, after Tonya left and I had to close the store, I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina with the intention of buying a new boat, living on it and earning my captain’s license. I stayed with my sister in her small house while I looked for a new boat. After a few weeks of looking I found a boat 25 footer for about $2800, but without a trailer. I went and looked at it. It was in rough shape, but still much nicer than the Millen ever was. I told the man I would take it, but he said that the man who was here just before me said that he wanted it. He told me to give him a call in an hour and see if the other guy comes back with the money. So, I decided to go look at one of the trailers I had found on line. When I got there, they had the trailer, but they also had a second trailer with a beautiful, what looked like, new 25 foot Tanzer. I asked them how much it was and they told me $4000 with the trailer. I thought for a second. ‘hmm, $2800 plus $1500 for a boat in poor shape and a trailer or get this new looking one with a trailer for less’. I offered them $3500 and they took it! I was ecstatic! The hard part was getting it out of there yard. With the trees and the fences, it took hours of maneuvering to get it out. I asked them if they built the fence around it, but they assured me that it was put in afterwords.

I then took the new Myott II, as it was named, back to my sisters house and put it in her driveway to get it ready. It dwarfed her house and the neighborhood quickly complained. They said I had one week. I had to go find a low power outboard for it. In Washington, there were plenty of low horsepower motors, but in Wilmington, they were all at least 50 hp. Everywhere I went, no one had one. Neither the want ads nor Craig’s list had them either. Then I walked into a boat supply store to buy some small parts and there sitting next to the wall was a motor. I looked it over and it was a 10HP Eveinrude 4 stroke. Perfect! They told me they had just refurbished it and its for sale. I took it! And with that, I was ready to find a water home for my new beauty.

It turned out that Seapath, was not only the nicest yacht club in the area, but also reasonably priced for my size boat. The bonus was that I could also live on my boat there. After work, Jason and I took the boat over to the local boat ramp and put her in. The mast wasn’t up yet, so we didn’t have any problem with the bridges and it was just a short motoring to Seapath from the launch. When we got in sight of the marina, I could see 3 or 4 “paths” going through what looked like vegetation. I chose unwisely and we ran aground. “oh come on! I’ve only had this boat in the water for 15 minutes!” I was lucky in that I had purchased a TowBoatUS membership the day before. So, I called them up and let them know where I was, but they couldn’t find my number in the system as I was so new. They however, put me in contact with Captain Tom anyway. He told me that it was no problem and that we can sort it out later. While we waited for him to get there, the tide began to go out and the Myott started listing to starboard. Everything started to fall off the shelves inside and we had to climb up on the side of the boat. Soon, we could see the bottom with our flashlight. I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to tow us out like this. I thought we might have to wait until high tide in the morning, but when Tom arrived, he looked and said “no problem!”. I tied the line onto winch loop on the bow and went back to stern. Tom, with his huge twin engines, created a stream of water that essentially dug us out by removing all the silt. The boat began to right itself and once he was satisfied he throttled up and pulled us right out. He then towed us all the way to our slip. And that’s how I made my first friend in Wilmington!

A few months later, dad finally came down and went out with me. It was the 4th of July and a beautiful windy day. We sailed out into the Atlantic and headed south. After several hours, we decided to head into one of the inlets to see if we could find a snack and a something cold to drink. As we entered Carolina Beach Inlet, it got very rough. I could see bottom on parts of the inlet, so I was keeping a close eye on the water and currents to make sure we didn’t run aground. We made it through just fine and we came upon a marina, so headed in. The marina inlet was on about 50 feet wide. Not wide enough to turn around under sail. I told my dad to start the motor, but he couldn’t get it to start. I gave the tiller to him, popped the top of the engine off, pumped fuel in, tried to start it again. I could smell fuel, so that’s not the problem. What the problem was is that I was out of time. We were approaching the end of the marina. We had to dock or crash and there wasn’t time to mess with the motor. I told dad we’re going to have to dock under sail. We were only under mainsail power as I had dropped the jib before we came into the channel. I looked around and quickly sad “that one! That the one we’re going to dock at” He still had the till. I got a line ready and got on the starboard forward. I told him to let the main loose when I give the word. As we go close to the dock, I told him “now!” and I jumped. I got the line around a dock cleat and then grabbed the boat. It stopped! Whew! We did it! I was just breathing a sigh of relief, when the dock master started yelling that we couldn’t park there! I wanted to go slap that guy! I ran in got two cokes and came back. By then, dad had gotten the engine started. He said “it was flooded”. With the sails down we let go of the dock and did a hard turn to port almost hitting a speed boater that thought he could squeeze by in time.

On the way back north, we were watching a gorgeous sunset when out of nowhere, the mainsail just rips from the edge all the way to the mast! I immediately let the mainsail loose, gave the tiller to dad and grabbed the bungee cords. I put the cords into the reefing points, which thankfully were above the tear and let the main down the mast a bit. Once everything was set, it seem to work well and we sailed on, albeit at a slower pace. As soon as it became dark the fireworks started. It was beautiful. Fireworks as far as you could see to the north and south and a twinkling stars above. The ocean was empty of boat traffic, save us. About 10 o’clock we decided to go back in ans as we entered the Masonboro, I tried to start the engine. Same problem as before. I took the cover off and was leaning over the engine when this massive black thing flew out of the water and plunged back in with a thunderous slam. It sounded like it weighed a literal ton. That scared the hell out of me. My heart was racing and I started to shake with adrenaline. We figured it must have been a large manta ray. I’m just glad it didn’t hit me or the boat!

In…..Dolly, the same Dolly I met in Paris, flew out from Denver to visit. I showed her around Raleigh and Wilmington, but I really wanted to take her out sailing. It was a windy day, but I had been out on windy days like this without any real incidents. The main danger was getting through Masonboro inlet without letting the wind and current smash you into the rocks. My engine didn’t have enough power on its own to accomplish this in heavy seas, but with the sails up and the engine, it was manageable, but I always sailed on the windward side to give me a large margin. The difference about this day, was that I was sailing from a different marina. I was no longer living on my boat, so I had moved it to a low price marina. From this marina, I had to sail north to the inlet instead of south and it was a longer distance to the ocean. While undocking, the boat drifted into one of the pylons at my slip. There were many oysters on the pylon and they were crushed instantly, but it left a gouge in the side of my boat. This was a bit of foreshadowing for what was to come. As we left the marina, I felt the boat give a slight nudge as it hit bottom, but we had enough momentum and kept going. When we got into the channel, there was good wind, so I put the mainsail up. I left the motor running, as I always do in these narrow channels, just in case. The wind then started blowing very strongly from the sea. It began to push the Myott II toward the eastern side of the channel. I turned the tiller to compensate and the boat turned away turned toward the West, but was still being blown east. There was a long dock sticking out from the east side and it was coming up fast. I throttled up the engine and used it and the tiller to try and steer us clear, but we were still drifting East. My next thought was to take the sail down, but there wasnt enough time or any experienced crew. I couldn’t let go of the tiller and the motor to get the sail or we would surely crash. In the last few seconds I had no choice but to turn hard to port towards the East. I thought maybe there was a chance I could come completely about, but we only made it through ¾ of a turn and we hit bottom. Once we hit, I got up and lowered the main. I came back and sat down. I could see that Dolly was shaken. This was not how I wanted to introduce Dolly to the world of sailing. I texted Tom “Are you busy? Do have time to rescue me again?” He answered in the affirmative and that he would be there in 30 minutes. At least it was a sunny day, so we talked and had some of the snacks we had prepared for our ocean voyage.

By sailing all the hours in the Millen and the Myott II, not to mention all the other miscellaneous boats I had helped sail, I was able to qualify for my “6-pack” captain’s license. I went to Oriental, NC to take an 8 day course. It worked out that I was the only student in the class. After getting all the paperwork together, which was considerable, I finally got my license about 6 months later. I finally became a real captain. So, does that mean my nickname is now Capt. Capt. Sand?

Soon after I received my license, I also received the job offer to work in China. I still want to sail around the world, but the most challenging part is not buying the boat or being adequately prepared, but its finding the right people that have the time, are compatible and reliable. Sailing is the only activity I know of that can be extremely relaxing, and a few seconds later, terrifying. It gives you a sense of power and freedom, while at the same time makes you humble and feel at the mercy of the elements.