Asa and I come from a data-driven world on the far west coast in Portland, where we began our boat research online. We browsed through thousands of listings from across the world and initiated communication without rolling out of bed. We found it easy, yet overwhelming to compare boats, fire off emails to a myriad of potential sellers, take messages, respond to texts, look up the boat's history, look up the seller's history, read up on their blogs, etc..
Despite all of this, while some of the bread crumbs we followed originated online, we continued to connect the dots and found our boat the old fashioned way.
Subject: sailing school meetup!
Begins Sept 17th... interesting...
$250 per person, includes everything we need to get started :D
cheaper than any other sailing class I’ve seen!
And so it goes. After registering, Jon Gillespie (the Sail School Director) made sure we knew where to go, when to show up, what to bring, and where we could find videos of the lectures on youtube.
Stepping into the unknown that was our first class, Cassie Richards was first to greet us with a warm welcome. As everyone settled in and found their seats, we found ourselves with Cassie as our table captain. Yay!
Her passion for sailing and passing on that knowledge was a big part of why we looked forward to the next class evert week - despite the rush hour drive from work in Tampa to BCYC. We must admit that it was a bit intimidating walking into a room full of people at different points along their journey to sailing. We’re forever thankful for the inviting environment that BCYC provided.
Time on the water is where the connections started to slowly take shape. We both took Cassie's advice to learn separately. And somehow, right around about the third time out on the water Bill Morse would be Phong's instructor for the day.
The bay was recovering from partially treated sewage from a rainy summer and the sundown sail had to be rescheduled. As luck would have it, all of this culminated in an odd number of students one weekend. Phong drew the short straw and had the opportunity to sail solo with Bill.
Time in the classroom was fine and dandy - time on the water was another story altogether. After a set of very poorly executed maneuvers, confusing left and right with the tiller, gusty winds, and forgetting to pull up the ladder causing an slow listing to starboard, Bill was thrown around and water started washing over the sides and into the cockpit. In order not to look bad in front of the safety boat, Bill took the tiller and the mainsheet, "Don't ever do that again."
He also said that he wouldn’t be able to check Phong out, but then offered to give him some additional lessons at his convenience.
It took two more attempts before Bill gave Phong a check out on the condition that he keep practicing.
From there, we met many other members… detailing those experiences would fill up the entire Windword.
But one way or another, Phong was invited to crew for a couple races on Idler. He insists that his mistakes routinely led to major losses in time. Yet Bill kept inviting him to crew.
Phong was invited to assist Chris Richards with some projects aboard Yulie Borealis, as well as James Masson's boat Calypso - a couple more dots.
James had heard from at least one person at BCYC that we were looking for a boat to fix up and sail, and invited Phong to join him at Dolphin’s Landing where he had Calypso moored up.
"You haven't done much boating, have you?" James asked me as he readied the paddles to paddle us out of some sea grass I had steered us into on our way out.
At some point during a hot afternoon working aboard, James told Phong of a boat he had heard that may be coming up for sale soon.
Phong ended up leaving his contact information with the lady working the front desk... just in case there may be a boat for sale.
It had been two summers and just over a year and a half before in early September, we received a voicemail from Nina.
Work was becoming all consuming at the time and "I'll call her back tomorrow after work" turned into 2 weeks. Then two weeks turned into four. Eventually, we remembered to call her back and after a quick chat, made an appointment to take a look on the weekend.
And then there she was, sitting in her private dock, a 1977 Gulfstar 37... lovingly maintained, being prepped by two captains for a sail around the world until their circumstances changed and they needed to sell.
Upon entering the cabin, Asa and I both gave each other that "I think this may be it" look.