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The Call to Adventure
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The Call to Adventure
June 1, 2021
Inati Bay, Lummi Island, WA USA
48º40’18” N 122º37’22” W
Winds: 10-15 kt NW Weather: Sunny & Clear 75º
“I think it would be really cool to circumnavigate the world on a sailboat,” said the cute, dark haired, funny guy from ski lessons as we barreled down Mt Baker Hwy in a decades-old green Bluebird school bus while Alex, the mostly sober driver of the “Stoner Bus”, blasted Pink Floyd. This was one in a series of “crazy” ideas he had shared since we began talking in class, on the ski lift, then on the bus home. The others (hiking 35 miles through the North Cascades to Stehekin and kayaking through the Everglades) seemed adventurous enough to me. By the second Saturday of lessons, I was smitten with my classmate: smitten enough to think circumnavigating would be cool and romantic, not crazy and suicidal like any normal person.
Meet the Hero
Name: Ana María (named after my sister who affectionately calls the boat “her godboat”)
Make: 1994 Pacific Seacraft. Designed by Bill Crealock.
Size: 34’ long, 10’ beam, 4’2” draft. In layman’s terms: She feels huge when you’re varnishing, and tiny enough that you feel perpetually as if you’re navigating the airplane aisle in Economy class.
Features: Canoe stern, tiller-steered (no wheel)
Sail Configuration: Cutter Rig (1 Main Sail, 1 Genoa, 1 Staysail, 1 Spinnaker for light winds)
“Iron Wind”: 3-cylinder 29 hp Yanmar tractor engine
Currently anchored to the bottom of Inati Bay with a 15kg Rocna anchor operated with a SeaTiger 555 manual windlass.
Powered by: 340 watt SunPower Solar Panels + Alternator
Condition: Recently underwent a complete refit.
You know the scene in “Lion King” where Mufasa tells Simba “everything the light touches is our kingdom?” I often say that to Andrés Jacobo as we look around the boat: everything your eyes touch on the boat has been renovated or refurbished with our own 4 hands.
She’s like a dog you get from the pound. She has good breeding - the Crealock 34 is on every list of best boats to cruise around the world - and she has good bones - the men who built her almost 30 years ago were careful craftsmen. But she suffered for years under the neglectful hands of previous owners.
It took over a year to break her in, to get her trained up, and in good enough shape just to sail out of the marina. It took another year to get her in cruising condition. It’s taken another year to get her strong enough and comfortable enough to cross oceans.
We used epoxy and sealants to rebed 200+ deck fittings because the most beautiful boat is a watertight boat. We fixed rot. We replaced the standing and running rigging. We stripped, sanded, and varnished every piece of teak on the boat. We rebuilt the compression post with our friend Joe. We replaced the engine and redid 90% of the electrical infrastructure. We installed a gimbal stove & oven. We discovered the fridge insulation in the owner’s manual was false advertising and rebuilt it to triple the insulation. We installed new water hoses and repainted water tanks so we can safely enjoy water from the spigot. We installed a wifi radar in case we get caught in the fog. We rebuilt the anchor windlass and self-steering wind vane. We made new cushions and created sea berths. We carefully repaired hull damage from other owners.
She has demanded so many hours of our life, so many resources from our bank accounts, so much blood, sweat, and tears.
Oh but boy does she sail like a dream: smooth and comfortable and well-balanced.
Meet the Sidekick
Name: Paulita (named after my sister-in-law)
Model: Monitor Windvane attached to the stern
Paulita is our best helmsman aboard. She is a self-steering device connected through lines to the tiller. She has a windvane and water paddle that allows her to steer the boat for us (in fact, better than us!) at a certain wind angle without the need for any electricity. Though we will still always have someone on watch, she allows us to take all our hands off the tiller.
Here is a link to see how the Monitor Windvane in action: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lpgFaVEmZRI
We had survived - both physically and as a couple - the first 2 adventures: the 35-mile trip to Stehekin which turned out to be a nice 69-miler and our feelings toward the kayak trip through the Everglades improved once the 100 mosquito bites stopped itching. The sailing idea kept coming up in conversation. Andrés Jacobo kept sailing most summer weeknights on Lake Washington and got his Basic Keelboat certification at the Center for Wooden Boats. To learn to sail Puget Sound is one thing, to learn to sail across the Pacific is another. As he progressed in his studying, the conversation of “Should we or shouldn’t we” felt imminent. Luckily for me, it felt pretty farfetched that the answer would be “we should.”
Until we looked at the numbers. We looked at reality. And to my shock, the farfetched dream was actually within our reach.
Yes, it would be a stretch. It would take dedication and commitment and money. But once we asked “could we or couldn’t we”, the impossible dream suddenly felt like a real possibility.
Meet the Captain & Co-Captain
“All sailing couples have an optimist and a pessimist. Without the optimist, they’d never leave the dock. Without the pessimist, they’d sink as soon as they left.” Beth Leonard in “The Voyager’s Handbook”
Andrés Jacobo is definitely the Captain. He spent years sailing dinghies first around the lake at University of Florida then on Lake Union and Lake Washington in Seattle. His sailing skills were honed on a small Laser where getting capsized in the lake meant the opportunity to meet a gator up close and personal. He is also Chief Engineer, having spent literal months of his life researching and planning and designing the systems for Ana María. He always thinks of how everything could go wrong and innovatively tries to prevent it.
I am the Co-Captain. I technically have the same level of sailing certification as Andrés Jacobo (U.S. Sailing Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, Coastal Navigation, and Bareboat Cruising). My sailing skills will be refined on Ana Maria as will (we hope!) my cooking-at-sea skills. Normally a boat keeps a Captain’s Logs, but those tend to be dry and full of only technical details and events. As a Co-Captain, I am free to tell you all about the interesting characters we meet and places we see along the way. I am eager to share our adventures with you, our family and friends.
My in-laws were in town from Florida helping us with the worst of the boat work. While Andrés Sr and Jr were putting 8 coats of varnish on the teak, my mother-in-law and I were scrubbing mildew off the headsails on the floor of our garage. The work was awful but the conversation delightful. She told me about her years growing up, of meeting Andrés Sr, of raising Andrés Jacobo and Paula away from the chaos of Medellín in the peaceful hamlet of Guatapé. The tranquility of the lake and the striking landscape. “Those were the best days of my life…until they weren’t.” Her words, though I had never heard them come out of her mouth, sounded familiar. The warmth in her voice as she spoke of those years matched the warmth I’d heard as Andrés Jacobo described the combination of peace and adventure of his childhood in Guatapé.
When she said that, I knew. I knew that years spent sailing in the peace and adventure of the open ocean would be the best years of my husband’s life. I knew we would cruise the world in a sailboat.
If you had the opportunity to give someone the best years of his life, wouldn’t you too jump at the chance?
So this morning, we cast off the familiar Squalicum Harbor dock, sailed across Bellingham Bay enjoying the view of Mt Baker as she regally surveyed her kingdom, and anchored (surprisingly smoothly!) in a secluded bay tucked into one side of Lummi Island.
We left safe harbor and set sail for what we hope will be some of the best years of our lives.
Fair winds and following seas,