Our Dream Began 10 Years Ago
“I wish we could do this forever”
“People do, you know”
“They do? Can we?” I answered with eyes wide
“I don’t see why not” Bill answered with a smile and another sip of his sundowner
That was the start of our dream to become live aboard cruisers. We were lounging on our 30 foot 1972 Newport sailboat under a perfect evening sun anchored off of Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake. The dogs were snoozing and the kids were swimming, the perfect day.
But how did we come into sailing at all? That is a longer story. We had started a real estate business purchasing properties for rental use. Our goal was to have an income to allow for early retirement. While perusing the classifieds looking for properties, Bill came across a 21 foot Catalina on a trailer for an unbelievable price. Bill had sailed for years in the San Francisco Bay with a buddy and had loved it. I had been interested in sailing but had no experience. At the time neither of us knew that about each other. When I got home that evening, Bill asked if I would be interested in seeing the boat. Sure I would! It was in very good condition. We sat in the cockpit, the boat parked on the side of the residential street, discussing. My mind was busy: I love backpacking and camping, sail boating would be similar because it is in nature, it is slow moving exploration, and you are completely self-reliant. Yes, I want to have a sailboat! Should we have this boat? Would we really take the time to travel, launch and trailer this boat every time we want to use it? Where would we store it? Where would 3 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 parents sleep? I turned to Bill and said, “I like it but……we need a bigger boat.”
Our deal is and always has been that Bill does all of the research and offers 3-4 good choices. I choose. I am a general surgeon and simply do not have the time to search but, I can analyze and make a good decision like no one else! It works for us. After some months of looking, Bill found 3 very nice possibilities up on Flathead Lake: One newer, slightly smaller; one a bit older but with all the gadgets; and the older larger very basic Newport 30 with a compass, orange yarn tell tails, and a scream-o-meter which tells how far leaned over the boat is. When I stepped onto that Newport I knew it was the right one. It was open and light and felt joyful, she was not intimidating with fancy gear and beautiful new paint (3 kids and 2 dogs), I could learn on this boat without being afraid of creating a few dings and scratches or Kool-Aid stains! We named her Double Trouble! Did I mention I had never sailed before?
Let the lessons begin! After one day of test sailing I had figured out that there are basically 3 things that I would have to learn before being able to safely take out our sailboat as the captain: First, how to safely use the engine; second, how to properly set the anchor; third, how to raise and lower the sails. The actual maneuvering under motor and under sail would come with practice. Bill took me out 3 times and each time we concentrated on one of the above until I was proficient. The fourth time Bill was out of town. In Montana, nice weather is not to be wasted! My best friend Claudia and I went out and spent the night on the hook before going in for a sailing lesson scheduled for the next morning. I am sure we were a site to behold as we approached the bay that afternoon using a full 445 degrees for each tack. As we reached the anchorage, someone yelled out “are you racing tomorrow?” My answer, “I think I will go to the sailing lesson!”