Sailing has been a dream for many years while living in Michigan. I endured long winters by reading sailing mags & books written by real sailors. Someday I would be sailing my own boat on the high seas in my own vessel feeling the wind in sails and the sun on my face.
My first sailing dinghy was a Rhodes Bantam. A 14 ft. wooden (Class) boat, popular for racing other RB's. I learned of the boat while crewing on a 16 ft. Thistle sailboat owned by a fellow employee at TV-41 in Battle Creek. We would race on the weekends at Goguac Lake with a crew of three. I was hooked and this experience set me on a course to find & launch my own boat. I chose the RB because there were several docked at the local yacht club and I needed to start small.
"WISP" was located at Cold Water Lake in the small community by the same name southeast of Battle Creek. She needed some work to be competitive and with winter setting in, I had time on my hands and a garage.
With spring came the "Launch" and I couldn't wait. All went well and WISP was hauled
to several lakes over the summer. She finished the sailing season anchored off my parents place at Crooked Lake, north of Battle Creek.
Florida was calling and I had to go..... How could I pass up an opportunity to sail the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico? Now wooden boats don't do well in salt water and the thought of hauling WISP some 1400 miles did not figure in our planned move.
She was reluctantly sold, actually traded for a Yamaha motorcycle!
Naples-on-the-Gulf became our new home in 1978. I began my search for a sailing vessel and soon discovered that she was going have to be a small one. The idea of owning a boat
large enough to sail the high seas was going to be just a dream for some time to come.
However I did manage to acquire, over time, several small boats in the 8 to 10 ft. range
in various stages of disrepair but they served my family well and we did spend many pleasurable hours tacking off the Naples beach.
Years, jobs, and situations are a fact of life and so the dream faded and other adventures (hiking, kayaking, a photojournalist career) took it's place. Then in 2008
I helped a friend buy a 24 ft. San Juan sailboat on Craig's List. I offered my opinions
and the boat was purchased along with a few sailing lessons. During that short period of time sailing the San Juan off the coast of Ft. Myers Beach, something happened! The dream was returning with gusto! I considered the possibilities and the effort needed to obtain my own sailing craft. It would have to be larger than 24 ft. and in good shape to travel to distance shores.
Craig's List was scoured over a period of several months and there she was, a 27 ft.
Watkins build in 1979. Wow. that is a big boat by my standards and experiance but if I was to create a reality of my long time dream, this was my chance. I did some research and learned much about the Watkins brand and found it was considered a very good boat for coastal cruising and living aboard (if you liked simplicity and small places) but for weekends and extended cruising it was just the ticket. The price was right (cheap) and there was some work ahead for me and my crew.
"NAMASTE" was tied to a dock in El Jobean, a curve in the road northwest of Port Charlotte. Her owner obtained her from a marina in the area after she was damaged in Hurricane Charlie in 2005. He repaired her and used her for fishing with his buddies on Charlotte Harbor. He was a snowbird and decided he didn't have time to sail her only part of the year!
OK, I now am the happy and proud owner of a 27 ft. sailing vessel that need a home closer to home. Fortunately my friend (owner of the San Juan) was selling the boat and the slip it was stored in was available to rent at Ft. Myers Beach, just a stone throw from some amazing sailing grounds. Now the adventure begins!
How many experienced sailors and a crew does it take to relocate a 27 ft. sailboat XXXX miles to her new diggs? On the morning of