It started as a crazy idea

Updated: Sep 1

Be careful about which ideas you allow your beloved to cultivate.


More than three years ago, in the days before the pandemic, John started germinating this wild idea: let's buy a catamaran and sail the world. There are so many reasons this was inconceivable to me. First, and perhaps most obviously, he is 6'7” and I couldn't imagine a sailboat with enough headroom. Then there were our family, careers, farm, animals, LIFE. It was an inconceivable and crazy idea, so I just let it be, thinking it would fizzle out like MY inconceivable and crazy ideas always do.


I won't equivocate: I was wrong.


I failed to remember a fundamental difference between John and me: I focus on all the reasons that something is impossible, while he gets down to the business of making the dreams happen. When the sailboat dream hatched, we had been married five years. He had showed me time and again that when we have a spectacular idea, he will make it happen. It is one of his magical qualities that I love most: everything is achievable. My rich, wonderful life is possible because of his "of-course-we-can" approach to life.


Why did I forget this when he started cultivating this dream to buy a sailboat and explore the world by crossing oceans, with no sight of land for weeks at a time? Because I could not imagine myself doing that. There were ten thousand reasons it was simply impossible.


Then we started kicking hulls. It happened innocently enough. We went aboard a brand new 40' Fountaine Pajot catamaran in Lake Union. It had been the Evening Magazine boat and it was swanky, like a big city micro-condo. Comfortable. Pretty. And what's that? John is standing upright? Still, I could not imagine living on that boat and I felt a little guilty wasting the yacht broker's time. But that beautiful boat did allow me to see that a sailboat can be livable and comfortable, especially at the dock on Lake Union.


Looking at sailboats on Yacht World and at docks from Portland to Anacortes became our obsession. What I loved about it was the hunt and the adventure with John. We would get in his big blue truck, escape from the pressures of everyday life, and dream about adventures in far away places.


Somewhere on I-5, headed north or south, on one of these hull-kicking trips, the crazy dream faded and the vision of our future emerged. We could buy a boat, probably a seaworthy monohull instead of a catamaran, retire early, sell our farm, and sail the world for awhile before settling down to be old folks. I don't know when it happened, but what John had seen all along slowly came into focus.


It might have been on that rainy Sunday morning when we came aboard Karma for the first time. I felt like I was like stepping inside a jewelry box, and Cherie, her captain, was a confident Queen of the Seas. I instantly loved them both. Still, I couldn't imagine owning such a beautiful boat. A Baba 40, Karma was a seaworthy vessel, but also expensive and 37 years old. I could tell that Cherie had a spine of steel and would drive a hard bargain.


While I was instantly in love with Karma, John was less so. With 6'5" headroom in most areas, his head was a little cocked when he stood up. I am not proud to admit that I pouted all the way home from Port Townsend that day. It took me two days to email Cherie and tell her that while I loved Karma, we would have to move along.


John had his eye on Baba 35, and with a smaller pricetag, we decided to make an offer. I hated that boat; she didn't feel like an old friend. I wasn't comfortable aboard. There was no magic. When we learned that the engine was shot and we needed to walk away, I was relieved.


Weeks later, we asked Cherie if we could see Karma again, and we spent another Sunday morning aboard. I could see myself knitting in the saloon, cooking in the galley, exploring the world from the cockpit. John wasn't bothered by the headroom. And so we bought this beautiful sailboat. She has quite a pedigree, and many giants in the Northwest sailing community, including her legendary naval architect and the world renowned maker of her suite of sails, have been aboard. At 37 years old, she has a lot of stories but she's not telling.


We bought the boat. Crazy idea? Maybe. But just imagine, and away we go.


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