Katie M II at anchor in Fiji, 2012. A Tuulos 36, custom designed offshore cruiser. Its length is 36 feet with a 10’8″ beam and a 5’10” draft.
I decided to pursue this adventure because for several years now, I have had the ambition to sail around the world. I started to sail when I was 12-14 in dinghies, but left it behind because I felt intimidated by the larger keel boats. When I look back on it, I don’t think I really knew what I was doing but it was fun. So I left sailing behind in my mid-teens. During my 20s, I saw a documentary about Yves Gélinas, the first Québécois to sail single-handed around the world. I was taken in by the thought of the freedom that he experienced and viewing his story put a bug in my ear. Not however a serious bug, just a romantic one. I felt drawn to the idea of sailing around the world, but at the time, it was really no more than fantasy.
My wanderlust prior to my 30th birthday had me on a bicycle touring across Canada from Inuvik to Charlottetown, then continuing around the United States down to Key West, to Santa Barbara, and returning to Vancouver. On several occasions, once in New Hampshire, then in Florida, I longingly looked at sailboats and the thoughts stirred by Yves Gélinas returned. I chartered a ride aboard a catamaran in Marathon, Florida Keys to take me out to the reef where I swam in the bluest water. Then I scoured local marinas in Key West looking for someone to take me out again. I stayed with a family in Northern Florida aboard their trimaran as they prepared the boat to sail the Caribbean. A year later, I chartered another ride in Australia, actually being asked to helm this time (I think I made someone seasick). Was I hooked? No, not really. My own sailing remained just an idea in my head. Not until I finally decided in 2006 to take a course (Basic Cruising) did I officially get back into sailing and it was then when the idea first popped in my head about actually sailing around the world. Still, one course is a long way off from heading offshore. As I took further courses though, I wondered if I wasn’t going to make this idea a reality after all.
My first opportunity to go offshore was when I met Martin Minshall (skipper of Katie M II-above) in 2009. I expressed my interest in joining him as crew as he pursued him dream of sailing to New Zealand. For me at that time, the voyage was more about getting away than a dream to fulfill and I had very limited sailing experience. Circumstances were such that I didn’t join Martin however as I didn’t feel ready. The following year however, I became a boat owner (a C&C 29) where I at last got experience being on the helm and making decisions. After a very exciting and confidence building summer, but not by design, I became another boat owner (a Valiant 40–upgraded and almost ready for offshore). For all intents and purposes, I had put myself in a position where going offshore could become a reality–I had a boat that was designed for it! What I lacked though, and it’s a biggie, was experience. Many people have said: ‘Just go.’ But…but…but…I’m not ready. ‘No one is ever ready. The boat is never ready, you’re not ready, just go or you never will.’ Okay, okay I’ll go…but as crew first. ‘Suit yourself.‘ So along came the opportunity to sail with Martin again as he makes the return to Vancouver and I am going as crew where it will either cure me (I NEVER WANT TO GO OFFSHORE AGAIN!!) or corrupt me (Bye! Come visit me in Mexico, the Caribbean, or the South Pacific.! Either or, readers here will find as much as I can impart to you about my adventure. Time will tell whether it’s a good fit with me.