The Start Of My Sailing Life

“Bond, James Bond,” my husband, Matt, said. It was our first ever cockpit happy hour and we’d anchored  our charter boat amongst several mushroom-shaped islands. The day started in Phuket, Thailand and ended . . . with a dream.

James Bond Island

I raised my eyebrow at him, thinking he was trying to be as cool as his drink. “What are you talking about?”

“Right there.” He pointed with his glass. “James Bond Island, from the movie ‘The Man With the Golden Gun.’”

I turned and looked. Near the closest of the limestone islands, I saw something more interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Bond, but a sailboat with San Francisco written across her stern caught my eye. She was anchoring right next to us.

“How did that boat get to Thailand?” I asked.

“They’re cruisers.”

“What do you mean, cruisers?” The answer changed my life.

“They live on board their boat and are sailing around the world.”

“People really do that?” I looked him in the eye with genuine curiosity. I had never read a sailing magazine, had no idea the cruising lifestyle existed, and more importantly did not realize it was my dream. “Honey, why can’t we go cruising?”

That was the moment I first heard the ‘Call of the Sea’. It occurred aboard Sweet Robin, a Jeanneau 39 chartered by friends out of Phuket. We were the ‘crew’, invited along to help do a bit of sailing and a lot of living. It was day one of our fourteen day charter, and our attitudes were already changing. After a delicious cockpit dinner of jumbo Thai prawns washed down with a Singa Gold beer, I repeated my question, “why can’t we go cruising?”

Over the next thirteen days we accidentally anchored in a ferry channel, swam to a rustic hut on an expansive white beach for the best ever sweet and sour fish, tried to barbeque while waves splashed into the cockpit, sailed out of sight of land without a GPS, and spent a very bouncy night on a lee shore. We had a moment of panic when the six-year-old on board yelled from below, “is there supposed to be this much water in here?” Relief followed as we tracked down the leak in the head. Through it all, the dream took hold.

We returned to living as expatriates in Tokyo and would be there another couple of years. I avidly read about other people’s sailing adventures and the world of cruising. Halfway through our next assignment in Germany we committed to each other that we would make the dream happen.

We took a ‘Learn to Bareboat” course in the Florida Keys and chartered in the BVIs and in Turkey. In 1999 we bought Allura, a Niagara 42 sloop, built in St. Catherine’s, Ontario.


We spent the summer on Lake Ontario learning to sail Allura and headed south in September with all other Canadian boats. We made it to Georgetown, Bahamas, just in time to celebrate the millennium with all our new cruising friends. After two seasons exploring the Bahamas, we sailed to Bonaire and ended up in Aruba for a year of windsurfing. In 2003 we cruised back to the Chesapeake, sold Allura and returned, for a while, to land life.

Now we are on Mattina, and love her just as much as Allura.

I kept the photo of the boat from San Francisco to remind us that dreams do come true, and I often wonder what that family is doing now.


6 thoughts on “The Start Of My Sailing Life

  1. Been following you guys for about six to eight months now and it is inspiring. My dream as like others is to sail the pacific on a catamaran Thanks for the updates and may smooth waters ever be before you. Terry


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