ONLINE COLLEGE OR SAILING TO HAWAII — I
n 2020, Bella Siegrist and Tyler Savage were completing high school and planning to attend college in Bend, Oregon, when suddenly, the world shut down due to COVID-19. The 19-year-old students had the option to attend online classes from their home in San Diego or to wait out the pandemic and find something else to do in the meantime. Fortunately, they had sailboats to keep them busy. Tyler would take people out for sails around San Diego Bay on his Hobie or Prindle catamaran, and Bella, who until then had only sailed dinghies such as Toppers and Lasers, began gaining experience aboard the cats. While this sounds like the quintessential California lifestyle, the young students were not content to while away their time making the most of every ray of sunshine and every breath of wind. This pair was yearning for adventure, and once the seed was sown, the adventure came to fruition and carried them all the way from San Diego to Hawaii, aboard a 1964 Cascade 29. "It was actually kind of Bella's idea to sail to Hawaii," Tyler said. The couple now also owned a San Juan 24, which they sailed across to Coronado, up to Mission Bay, and eventually overnight to Catalina Island. "I grew up in Hawaii. I think I was missing my friends that day," Bella explained. "Only a small percent of me actually wanted to do it. But then Ty took that idea and was going crazy with it." "We'd never had a monohull that we can sleep inside and do long-distance sailing in," Tyler responded. "When we first went out 10 miles, and the water changed color into this much darker blue, and the fog came around us, it felt really cool. Not being able to see land and being in such vastness yet being completely alone. And we pondered the idea, 'What if we actually crossed the ocean in this thing and went to Hawaii?'" Tyler then did what all young sailors would do — he typed 'YouTube' into his computer search bar and looked for videos of people sailing to Hawaii. There he found Sam Holmes, who had spent nearly 30 days sailing a 23-ft Ranger across the Pacific. "During the video I had absolutely no intention of actually doing it. Being alone for that long, on a small boat, and not having anywhere to go; just having the waves and no way to go home seemed 0AGE s Latitude
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pretty miserable. But then when he actually arrived, and walked on dry land, it looked like such a great feeling and such a great accomplishment. And it just made Bella and me wonder, how could that change us?" When the couple started sharing their idea with other sailors, the most common response was that they should try crewing, rather than getting their own boat. But they had no ocean experience to offer the skippers. "It got kind of aggravating, so we were like, 'Fine, we're just going to do it ourselves.' It seemed simple enough." Initially, they had planned to sail with the San Juan 24, and began searching Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp and other sites for parts and equipment to outfit and improve the boat. They started slowly and made a list, with a
Bella looks perfectly at home at sea.
wind vane being near the top. "Every once in a while they would pop up — way out of our price range. I saw one for $1,500 that was close to us in Point Loma. So we drove out there, not having anywhere near $1,500, but figured we'd look at it. For the record, we had $300 in our account. "There were other people interested in the wind vane as well. We told them [the seller], 'Hey, we're really interested in this wind vane; we need it to sail to Hawaii. Is there any way we can make a payment plan?' "I told him our starting payment could be $300, and then we'd eventually pay off the rest. And he said, 'Yeah, let me think about that. But I really like your plan to sail to Hawaii. The wind vane's been sitting in my garage for so many years. We wanted to go somewhere and do something like that.' "So we all kind of sat around, awkwardly, thinking about what the price was going to be. Then he said, 'OK, so
here's the deal. $300 …' And I was thinking it's gonna be $300 starting payment, but he says, '$300. Just bring your car around, you can have it for $300.'" Meanwhile, back at the marina, Tyler's mom, Vera, had struck up a conversation with Ed Hart, a sailor who made Latitude 38's West Coast Circumnavigators' List after he sailed his Cascade 29 Hooligan from San Diego and back. When Hart met the young sailors, he told them, 'You need two things — a good hull and a good rig." Beginning to realize their San Juan might not be suitable for a sail to Hawaii, Tyler was already looking online for cheap boats. "Because maybe we could get an upgrade. "I'd never heard of a Cascade 29," he continued. "That evening I saw a Cascade 29 for sale. I didn't even search for it. It was almost as if my phone was listening to me." The asking price was $8,000. "Way out of our price range." But, as with the wind vane, the couple ventured forth to take a look. "We wanted to show how much good care we'd take of his boat and told him about us, how we wanted to sail to Hawaii with it." Once again fate was in their favor and they bought Osprey for $4,500 on a payment plan. "I guess he took a liking to us," Tyler mused. By this time, both sailors' families were becoming anxious. The pair had set a goal to be ready for departure by May 1, 2021, and now, three months out, their families were pressuring them to postpone, perhaps for a year. But everything was falling into place, and neither Bella nor Tyler was giving up. Instead, the pair worked at whatever odd jobs they could find, and within a couple of months, together with the help of a small GoFundMe campaign, they had paid off the boat and began the task of preparing her for sea. "A lot of people were very generous," Tyler acknowledged. "We raised almost $1,000 through that [GoFundMe]. We couldn't have done it without people helping us, all the people who supported us." Of course, the expenditure didn't end with just buying the boat. They sold the other boats and kept working to fund their refit of Osprey, which happily didn't need much work. The biggest job was changing the standing rigging, with the help of Tyler's sailing friend, Sean Davies, who worked at Rigworks. Along the way, they also purchased a second-hand stack