PASSIN' THROUGH T
he annual migration of southbound cruisers is well underway, and you have just a handful of weeks left to catch a cruiser before they all sail south for the winter. But trust us, they're worth catching. All have their own stories to tell — some thrilling, others educational, all entertaining — so we highly recommend going out of your way to greet all the transient cruisers you can. Last month it was our pleasure to run around in a dinghy for a few days meeting cruisers who had stopped in the Bay for a spell. In the following pages you'll get to meet them as well, and they're as varied as their boats: the young couple who have to work wherever they stop; the retired professionals sailing in style; the family with young kids who realized life on land wasn't for them; the boat partners who had a guys' trip down the coast; the retired couple cruising in a boat smaller than most people's bathrooms; another retired couple leaving for points unknown; and the singlehander who built his own boat but had never been sailing before. So walk the docks of your marina — if you see a foreign courtesy flag flying, they're likely just passing through. If you have access to a car and a few spare minutes, offer them a ride to the grocery store or West Marine. 'Paying it forward' will reap you huge returns when you finally cast off the docklines. — latitude/ladonna Wondertime, Benford 38, Seattle, WA (www.svwondertime.com) — All too often, when cruisers get pregnant their cruising plans get shelved. They move ashore and get caught up in family life, and those plans they had to see the world get pushed farther and farther back until they're a faint memory. Not so with Seattle's Michael and Sara Johnson. The couple bought their first boat in '99, a beautiful Hans Christian 33T aboard which they cruised Puget Sound and as far north as Juneau. Reality set in when they realized they'd be shackled to jobs for as long as the bank held the note on the boat, so they 'downgraded' in '01 to a '65 Alberg 35. Freed from bondage, they spent the next year happily cruising Mexico before returning to Seattle. Feeling the need to stretch out a bit while living aboard in Puget Sound, they bought a Tayana 42 in '04 and, two years after that, welcomed their first crewmember, Leah. After nine months of living aboard with a baby, Sara said it was time to move ashore. They found a nice house, sold the boat, and gave life ashore the good ol' college try. Holly, who arrived in '08, completed the little family. But all wasn't picket fences and ice cream. "Life ashore was boring," lamented Michael. "But we learned a lot about ourselves," Sara added. Namely, that they felt incomplete without a boat in their lives . . . a boat that they lived aboard. So the search began. In '09, the Johnson family fell in love with a unique 38-ft Jay Benford-designed ketch named Wondertime. They moved aboard last year in preparation for an open-ended cruise that will eventually see them jumping the Puddle and ending up in New Zealand. The Johnsons, who cruised around Vancouver Island this summer as a shakedown, reported beautiful conditions off Washington, but found Oregon's coast to be less hospitable. "The bad weather started around Cape Blanco," Sara recalled. "By 9 a.m., it was blowing 30 and we were hand steering." Wondertime took refuge in tiny Port Orford — little more than a nick in the coastline — for 24 hours before continuing on. "We sailed into fog around Crescent City, and had it the entire rest of the trip," said Michael. In addition to visiting family and friends in the Bay Area, the Johnsons intended to explore the Bay some before heading south with very few firm plans. "All we know is that we can't miss the Channel Islands," said Michael. "And of course Disneyland!"
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• October, 2011
The October 2011 eBook issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.