ERIC AND SHANLEY — W
hat is the perfect sailing life? Cruising to faraway lands? Being inspired by your mentors to sail around the world alone? Is it working and sailing with your partner, and combining your passions with your job? And, as long as we're asking such deep questions, what are the downsides to the "perfect life?" We first met Eric Loss and Shanley McEntee last year in Sausalito. The husband and wife are, respectively, the chief skipper and first mate of Sea Dragon, a 72-ft, 90,000-pound steel vessel run by Pangaea Exploration. The couple invited us onboard for a spin around the Bay. We found an epic, adventurous sailing duo with thousands of ocean miles under their belts. But Sea Dragon is only part of Eric and Shanley's sailing life. They're also serious cruisers, have spent years in the high latitudes, and now have the Southern Ocean in their sights. "We're both so fortunate and lucky to have visited a full range of different places," Shanley said. "We've been able to do a lot of diverse sailing."
orn in 1985, Eric grew up in Laguna Beach. "My dad, who doesn't sail and gets seasick, dropped me off at a
'Sea Dragon's ﬁrst mate Shanley McEntee and chief skipper Eric Loss.
Page 66 •
• March, 2019
junior program — Westwind Sailing in Dana Point." Eric moved through Sabots, CFJs, Larks, and C420s, before he taught sailing and joined the Sea Scouts, where he sailed and repaired cruising boats. He went on to join the Bowdoin College sailing team, became a PADI divemaster, and would eventually skipper 88and 113-ft schooners, or school ships, through the Eastern Caribbean and across the Atlantic. Born in 1987, Shanley grew up surfing in Del Mar, just north of San Diego. "I worked with the Surfrider Foundation as a teenager, then got my BA in environmental policy and marine science from Western Washington University." Along the way, she added PADI rescue diver to her résumé, but didn't learn to sail until after college. Shanley was eventually able to combine her passion for science, the environment, and the sea by spending several months in the Sea|Mester program, where she met Eric. Despite his junior program roots, college sailing and skipper gigs, it was the raw, epic adven-
ture of sailing that began to draw Eric's attention. At 25 — and after reading Bernard Moitessier's The Long Way, Webb Chiles' Storm Passage and Robin Knox-Johnston's A World of My Own — Eric decided, despite never having sailed singlehanded, that he wanted to sail nonstop, alone, around the world. "I wanted to experience the Southern Ocean for myself; it had sort of always been tickling the back of my mind," Eric said. "I actually read the The Long Way a couple of times — I found Moitessier's writing pretty entrancing." he said, adding that it was a combination of the legendary Frenchman's prose and Eric's long-percolating idea that helped the dream to finally congeal. "And timing-wise, it worked out well. "I left my job with the school ships, so there was this good transition period." As a Southern Californian soul, Eric gravitated toward an inexpensive, Costa Mesa-built 1978 Islander 36 named Odyssey. He felt the boat was perfect for the job, and bought her in June 2011. Eric and Shanley, who were dating by this time, worked feverishly from August to November. They did a quick, eightday, doublehanded shakedown cruise to Santa Cruz Island before Eric headed south, by himself, for the 26,000-mile voyage around the world. Shanley said that as the opportunity presented itself, she was in full support mode, and didn't think about the potential hazards of the trip. "While we were refitting the boat, we were so focused and having a great time with it. It wasn't
The March 2019 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.