This is the comment I have heard most frequently since my son, Travis, and I hatched the plan to truck our boat, a Swan 44 MK II, from the Great Lakes to Southern California, and double-hand it across three oceans to the U.S. East Coast.
The seeds that got us here were sown many decades ago, and a lot of things had to go right for it to happen. During my college days, I was fortunate enough to spend two summers as first mate aboard a 1927 William Hand designed 60′ motorsailor on Long Island Sound, called the “Nor’easter,” for which I named our current boat. Having never sailed anything larger than a 16′ Rhodes Bantam in Sandusky Bay, “Nor’easter” represented a steep learning curve. One year after my college graduation, both the Captain, my college classmate Jay Buza, and I had not yet found our life’s work, and Jay somehow convinced the yacht’s owners to let us take their lovely vessel south for the winter. Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves motoring “Nor’easter” down the Hudson River aside rush hour NYC traffic one fine September afternoon, on our way to the Bahamas. At that moment, I could not imagine myself ever finding a real job.
After one season cruising between Pompano Beach and the Bahamas, I made the seemingly irrational decision to start my ultimate career, got a Master’s Degree in business, and became a staff consultant in Arthur Anderson’s Los Angeles office, a dream job for an Ohio boy who grew up listening to the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and the Ventures. I lasted a year commuting the 15 mile, one hour drive from my apartment in Santa Monica to downtown, not to mention the 12-hour workdays, mothballed my three tired Jos. A. Banks suits, and became a yacht broker in Marina del Rey. After several years, I had the opportunity to become the California agent for Nautor’s Swan yachts, which turned into an exciting 18-year career.
To escape the traffic and hectic pace of Southern California, I uprooted the family and at age 48, moved my young family back to Sandusky, Ohio, where I worked until retirement age as a Financial Consultant. About a year before I even considering retiring, my son Travis, who had grown up sailing on our various boats both in California and Ohio, informed me that he wanted to sail around the world with me at some point. The stars aligned, as my daughter, Tessa, who had spent 5 years at JP Morgan in Coumbus and NYC, joined my company and took over many of my investment clients. And here we are, my wife Jamie, Travis, and me, staying aboard our boat at Marina Park on Balboa Peninsula, busily loading provisions and spares for our March 3 departure. Travis and I will mostly double-hand the boat, but Jamie will join us for cruising in Papeete, Capetown, and the Caribbean.
If this sounds like a dream come true, it is, but not without headaches. We had planned to truck the boat from Toledo Beach, MI, to Marina del Rey, CA on October 24. The trucking company, Joule, failed to show up as planned twice, so I had to find a new carrier and finally got the boat on a truck November 19, the last boat out of the huge Toledo Beach Marina. The yard closed for the season the next day. We had to load the boat in a snowstorm. It was awful. The transport went well, thanks to the fine folks at Cross Country Boat Transport, and “Nor’easter” arrived safely at Windward Yacht Center November 29. Jamie and I by car pulled into town the day before, expecting to move aboard the boat in short order and enjoy cruising the California Coast until it was time to sail away in March.
Alas, things never go as planned in the boating world, and there were many times where I spent the entire day working in the bilge, under various sinks, or deep in a cockpit locker, never leaving the boat except for multiple runs to West Marine for more parts. While I feel like I’ve gone from being a highly competent Financial Consultant to a totally unqualified boat technician, I have learned a lot about “Nor’easter,” and am happy these problems have arisen here and not 1500 miles offshore. My tool chest and spare parts inventory expand daily, but self-sufficiency is paramount when contemplating a voyage such as this, and with a week left before departure, I feel we are in good shape.