How do two landlocked lovers end up wanting to sail around the world, starting in Alaska? Well, that’s a long story. The more important question is, how insane do you have to be to buy a sailboat in Alaska, not knowing how to sail, and take it out for the first time in Taku Inlet … in April?
“Rob! What do we do?” I shouted, as the howling twenty-five knot winds tilted our live-aboard sailboat to a very uncomfortable angle, making us feel like we were going to sink the boat we had just bought.
“Turn away from the wind, Megan!” He yelled across the deck, as he was trying to figure out what else to do with the sails.
I turned the boat as the master handler commanded and felt the boat tip even more. “That doesn’t make any sense!” I yelled with all my might, thinking ‘Mr. Captain’ had completely lost his mind.
Our deck was approaching a 90 degree angle to the water. In the next moment, the prevailing winds whipped us around in a circle and we completely lost control of our steering. I jumped on the outside of the life lines and was hanging on like a frozen icicle as the surging waves slammed into our boat.
When the boat turned and faced the wind, it popped back up. But within the next few seconds, our comfortable moment was lost as the sails again filled with wind and threw us into an uncontrollable whirling motion. The third time around, I grabbed the helm and pointed the boat into the wind, and Rob dropped both sails. This allowed us to gain control and keep the wind from twirling our boat.
Our first and most important lesson was learned: When all hell breaks loose, point the boat into the wind and drop the sails!
The only problem was we were still bobbing around in wild seas like a toy boat in the hands of a two-year-old. We quickly turned on our little 16-horse powered engine and uncomfortably motored through the chop. The constant flow of massive adrenaline pumping through our veins made our stomachs feel like we were on the verge of feeding the fish. After an hour, we reached the other channel and were able to motor through calmer seas. We may just live! Relief steadied our emotions.
VRRRRRMM!!! As we watched, a big power boat flew past us toward the rougher six-foot chop we had just escaped.
“Boy, they’re brave!”
In another two seconds, we watched them fly over the waves like a rocket catching air into space. They quickly turned around to avoid their fate in that given direction. Our laughter filled the boat as we knew exactly what they just went through.
It was a quick learning curve for us.
We’re mad. We’re completely mad. Mad enough to cut loose from the rat race and invest in the rest of our lives at sea. But isn’t this the beginning to every good story? After a summer in Alaska filled with trials, learning experiences, and epic adventures we still wouldn’t go back.
How could we? Witnessing the never ending colorful sunsets that shape the entire hemisphere … watching the humpback whales jet their entire 75,000 pound bodies out of the inland waters … listening to the sound of calving glaciers as the crumbling echoes throughout the carved rock canyon … experiencing a pod of Dall’s porpoises riding our bow, as if we were the mother ship leading their journey … sneaking up on a giant grizzly, causing him to run in fear after looking up to see a canvassed white monster floating his way … soaking in hot springs only accessible by riding bicycles through bear country … lounging on warm sunny days, and skinny dipping in the frigid waters… it would be madness to give all of this up!
We’ve just finished our first six months of boat life. Now we look at the stationary residences on land and we can’t comprehend going back. We are mad and we want to stay this way. Our mission is to encourage people to think for themselves and live passionately, to be the change they want to see, to live healthy and sustainably. This kind of madness is worth living for, because for us, home is where the anchor drops.