Saturday, October 16, 2010

Who we are

I grew up in the Chesapeake bay region of Maryland. I was around boats and sailing all along. My parents took me sailing as a baby but the first time I really fell in love with the water was at age 10 or 11. That summer my dad took me along on a friend's boat for an afternoon sail. I can't remember the make or length, all I remember was the boat was heeled over, the rail was in the water, and I loved it. The next fall I joined my school's sailing team. I was allowed to join the practice team but didn't start racing until 9th grade (age 13). I knew nothing would ever be the same after that first season. I traveled all up and down the East Coast of the USA competing in Junior sailing events. Late in high school (age 17) I started racing in larger boats, J22s and J24s mostly. It wasn't until I moved to California that I started sailing on real yachts

When I got to California I didn't know anyone who had a boat. I didn't even know anyone who knew anyone with a boat. In fact, didn't really know anyone. I started searching crew lists to find someone willing to take me out for a PHRF race. (For those non-sailors, PHRF stands for Performance Handicap Racing Fleet. It is basically a rating system that allows dissimilar boats to compete against each other fairly.) I found a boat on the internet that seemed friendly enough and needed crew. I jumped at the chance. I raced with them for about a year until I met Matt.

Matt grew up in rural Ohio. Although he was not raised around boats he had the thirst to be near the water very early. He bought his first boat at age 16. It was nothing special; your garden variety great lakes trailer sailor, but he sailed it every chance he got. After moving to Tennessee for a bit he decided it was time for something new. He signed up for a sailing school in Gibraltar and moved shortly there after. He quickly moved up the ranks and soon earned himself a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yacht Master 200 ton sail endorsement. After he got his Yachtmaster certification the school asked him to become an instructor. Almost every week for the following 3 years he taught everything from Day Skipper to Yachtmaster instructor, also finding time to teach classroom classes about celestial navigation, charts, and VHF radios.

During the time Matt was teaching in Gibraltar and living in Spain he was always thinking about buying another sailboat. Eventually he found his perfect sailboat in California. He was sold. He put in his notice at the sailing school and packed everything up. He moved to California and bought the boat immediately. She needed a bit of work but it was nothing insurmountable. He worked on the boat nonstop staying focused on his goal of a solo-circumnavigation... until he met me.

How we met:
It was the first race in the Hot Rum series hosted by the San Diego Yacht club. I was set to race with the same boat I always raced with but there was a kink. We were beginning to rig the sails up when someone noticed the goose neck (where the boom connects to the mast) was completely separated and had somehow completely come apart. We decided it wasn't worth risking doing any further damage so the boat didn't go racing that day. However, since this was an unusually breezey day for Southern California the boat across the dock was short handed and asked if a couple of us would come along on their boat. I said yes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the neighborhood there was another boat that was also short handed. The crew from the other boat stopped by the local coffee shop to stock up on caffeine  and bagels. Matt was quietly sitting on his lap top in the corner waiting for his clothes to dry in the Laundromat around the corner. One of the crew recognized Matt from around the neighborhood and asked if he wanted to come sailing. He said yes.

It was the most amazing day out on the water. It was sunny, big swell, nice steady wind, one problem, the wind keep blowing the marks out of place and the race committee canceled the race half way through. Everyone was bummed but looking forward to drinking some Hot Rum at the yacht club race party. All the boats turned around and went back to their resting places. I went to the after race party with my new crew and Matt with his. People from his boat knew people from my boat and after a few Rums we finally met. 

That was it, I knew I was hooked and we have never looked back.

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