The backstory

The backstory

I’m not a sailor, or at least I wasn’t until now.

The first time I set foot on a sailboat was about two and a half years ago – June 2009. It was the S/V Tie Fighter, a 37 foot trimaran, anchored in False Creek, Vancouver B.C., owned and captained by Drew Smith. I flew in from Michigan with grand ideas of what sailing would be like. The first mission out was meant to be a 10 day sail, meandering along the islands near Vancouver B.C. The first few days out I was so sea-sick I couldn’t stand straight. I spent most of my time sleeping, waiting for the fun to arrive. Eventually, with the help of time and a powerful little scopolamine patch, I was able to come on deck and see what all the fuss was about. Almost immediately my mind quieted and my body softened. I understood. It was beautiful. Peaceful. Perfect.


That lasted a good 24 hours before the storm hit. Big winds, rain, waves crashing onto the deck, and Drew promising that this was completely normal (only later did I find out that this was definitely NOT normal). We made it through the rough weather, and back to Vancouver with only a broken shackle on the traveler and some frayed nerves. I went home to Michigan to finish graduate school, and Drew continued living on the boat. I didn’t sail again for almost two years.

In early 2010, I moved from Ann Arbor Michigan to Seattle Washington … proximity changes everything. Drew and I started dating more seriously, Tie Fighter was pulled out of the water and into a boat yard for several months of intense work, and in October 2010 I moved on board for the winter. Winter is not the best time to fall in love with living on a boat, especially in Vancouver B.C., especially when only one of the cabins has a heater, especially when I could happily live in 90 degree weather year around. I slept wrapped in wool and drank hot tea to keep my body temperature up. Everyday was like a puzzle: try to figure out how to not die. Even the cold eventually became charming. In January I had to move back to Seattle for work so I was back to weekends on the water and weekdays on land. During this time I learned a lot about living on a boat, but between the summer drydock and the cold winter, we were still not sailing much. Not much, as in, not at all. We motored a bit, but never got the sails up.


Then the spring came, and as it usually does, the summer followed. Weekend excursions on the water became the norm and my knowledge of sailing increased exponentially. We sailed alone, we sailed with friends, we sailed to festivals and we sailed just to sail. We caught crabs and laid in the sun and danced on the deck. Suddenly it was fun being on the boat. It was no longer constant work just to exist.

Drew and I are now preparing for the next step. Going offshore. I’ve packed all my things and arranged to work remotely. I’ve said goodbye to friends and made deals and pacts and promises for future assemblings. Today I am moving back onto Tie Fighter. Then we have 10 days to finish off the last of the projects. I’m nervous and excited.

September 12, we sail south!