We've never had a start like this trip. "Severe thunderstorm warnings" had been crackling over the radio all day as we cleaned and provisioned Amicus II in preparation for everyone's arrival. By suppertime it was dark and tornado-looking. "Will they even want to get out of their cars?" I wondered.
I needn't have worried. The two couples who moved aboard that night came dashing in, laden with their luggage and sleepingbags, dodging large raindrops with smiles on their faces. Sara and Dave have traveled around the world and led their own canal tours in France. Carla and Rick own their own boat and have sailed on it for days at a time. Both couples were here to learn more about sailing and what it really takes to live aboard, as well as to explore their own dreams and possible future visions. No one expected perfect weather.
We awoke to a crisp morning and a SW wind that would briskly bring us to the Apostle Islands, offering all the big-Lake sailing we had all hoped for. We sailed from Knife River to Sand Islands in a record six hours, in SW winds up to 25 knots and following seas that built all day. Though intimidating at first, it was exactly what we needed to begin a trip of learning about authentic cruising. No one was immune to seasickness, but everyone did what they needed to do and we arrived still having fun. (And we must have all adjusted well, for no one was seasick again the rest of the trip.)
We were followed all day by a distant sailboat that was flying a red spinnaker. "Seems a bit windy for a spinnaker," Rick commented early on, and we all assented. An hour later, someone looked back again. "Hey, what's that spinnaker doing flying through the air?" Sure enough, it had ripped or perhaps gotten loose and was flapping wildly halfway up the headstay--and there it stayed for the rest of the day. When we reached the Apostles the gusts increased to 30 knots. Mark lost his hat and we did a spontaneous MOB (man overboard) drill to try to retrieve it. The hat sank but we learned a lot. Our companions with the red spinnaker--which we had now termed "Shoot"--had no better luck bringing in their flapping spinnaker. They dodgedly followed us into Raspberry Bay but then, to my disappointment, turned and headed east--presumably to a marina somewhere where the controlled environment gave them a better shot at regaining control of their wild red flag. I had been looking forward to a group effort in the anchorage (Mark loves going up masts in wind) and was disappointed to see them go.
Other than a brief evening thunderstorm, we had fabulous weather all week. Our trip was further enhanced by buddy-boating with Mark's friend Doug on Imagine with his crew Jared. Every night Dave posed a philosophical question that originated in the French high school philosophy exam. Questions like "Should art be pleasing?" and "Are we what our past has made us?" were dramatic diversions from the more practical things we discussed every hour. "It's so nice to know that unless you (Katya and Mark) are sleeping, we can ask any question we want!" Dave declared. And ask they did!--everything from "how do you finance living aboard?" to "Why are you reefing?" "How do you sail alone?" "Are you working ginger into every meal on purpose? What are the best foods for seasickness?" Discussions like this were the backbone of the trip, never ending and always fascinating.
Mark and I have wondered if we should focus trips for people looking for charter certifications or captains license training and sea time. Trips like the ones we've had this June are a great reminder to us that fun-loving people everywhere can have a great time on Amicus II for myriads of different reasons. For us, this is as good as it gets. Some trips are all about sail training, some are more about living aboard, and some are all about weather. A few are all about relationships! All are good reasons to live aboard for a few days and all provide a leap off the rat race of everyday life. It's impossible to return without a new perspective.
Rick, on Facebook, wrote one of the most thoughtful reviews we have ever received. Here it is: My wife and I just recently returned from a trip with Mark, Katya, Cedar and Lamar....w