What started out as a dream back when I was only 15, has stuck with me all these years. Not only have I been fascinated with the construction and craftsmanship of wooden boats, I've desperately wanted to immerse myself in the historical culture that was so rich with amazing stories, legendary adventures and all-around great people. From becoming a better carpenter, to getting my captains license, to learning how to navigate open waters and read the stars, to one day exploring the inside passage all the way up to Alaska, it's a journey that you can't possibly experience unless you're willing to take a chance and dive in head first.
Enter Whitney. Now I don't need to tell you that this woman is absolutely amazing. Not only has she always listened to me babble on about dreams of grandeur out on the open water, she even started to buy in the wacky idea of building a life on a boat - including raising kids. Is it weird that I love it if our kids first words were "port" and "starboard"? No matter how you look at it, it would be a game changer.
When we moved to Seattle nearly three years ago, the dream got just a little bit closer to becoming a reality - for there would be no adventures of this sort on the Great Salt Lake. With Whitney slowly starting to see this lifestyle as a real possibility, we crept closer to consideration. But about 16 months ago, we started asking ourselves some serious adult-like questions. What were we going to make of our lives? Were we ready to start making roots and "settling down"? What sort of experiences did we want to give our kids growing up? Hell, what sort of experience did we want and need for ourselves in the future? The only thing we knew for certain was that we wanted a radical change. We weren't enamored enough with the idea of buying a house in the suburbs but we didn't know what other options existed.
We all reach the point where you realize it's silly and financially irresponsible to keep paying rent. It wasn't that we didn't love the status quo. In fact, we really lucked out finding an awesome house with two amazing landlords who we're convinced, gave us the best shot at taking a liking to city livin - Thanks Lynn and Anne!
So with both Whitney and I realizing we could no longer sit idle, we started dreaming. What other things could we do? What other places could we live? We started thinking about the world we had yet to explore and the idea of living on a boat became a topic of debate once again. Within a few weeks I had convince Whitney to at least dig into the idea a little further - enough so that we could really see if it was something we could do. With that, we decided to start looking at boats.
The very first boat went to see was an beautiful 51' designed by legendary boat designer, Ed Monk. It was about an hour south of Seattle at a little marina called Zittles, in Olympia WA. From the photos, it looked like a perfect fit. Well designed, well taken care of, and was owned by two of the sweetest folks we'd ever met. George and Becky not only invited us onto their boat, they also understood our trepidation as neither Whitney or I had lived on a boat - let alone one of this size - so after a few emails back-and-fourth, we convinced George and Becky to let us stay on the boat for a weekend. No driving but at least we could see how things felt in a space that small. After a few anxious weeks, the time finally came. We were on our way to have our first real boating experience. I have to admit, I was a little worried. For a dream I had been holding onto for over a decade, it was make or break time. I was crossing my fingers for the former. With that, we stepped foot aboard the Patricia V.
The Patricia V was amazing. We loved absolutely everything about it. The views. The smells. Even the growls (and smells) of the seals who insisted on howling at the moon each night. Our favorite thing about it was the scent of the wood and grease emanating from all around. it was one part rough-cut lumber, two parts sea, one part varnish and a dash of grandmas house -nothing too bad but just enough to give you a feeling of nostalgia, reminding you that you are on a boat that was built over 60 years ago. (Preparing Dinner?) We sat out on the deck, basking in the early summer sun, enjoying a glass of wine and a plate of cheese. It was my best opportunity to ask hoow Whit was feeling. We dove into conversation, discussing the realities of the situation. We're we really ready to put in the work necessary to keep this thing afloat? Could we raise kids on it? If we bought it, where the hell would we moor it?
Although it was an amazingly transportive experience that gave us a glimpse into what might be, we learned a lot about what we really didn't know about wooden boat ownership. So we said goodbye to George and Becky and told them we'd be in touch. In truth, we weren't really sure what we were going to do next.
After that experience things settled down for about a month with Whitney and I both busy with work, school and planning some of the adventures we'd be having that summer. Secretly, I continued browsing the internet nearly every night for that perfect boat - a boat that made it seem more do-able, more realistic. For all of you thinking, "why don't you get a sailboat?" I did think of that as an option. But as much as I wanted to think of sailing by the wind vs motoring with the aid of diesel, I'm not an idiot. There's no way Whitney would be cool with moving into a space that small without another place to go if she was feeling claustrophobic. We needed something big enough to be livable but small enough to be manageable... and affordable.
So one night about 9 months ago, I shook Whitney awake, eager to show her what I found. As usual, I pointed at the iPad in my hands as the brightness of the screen made her squint as she groaned out the words "Whhaaat is it? You have to stop waking me up. I have to go to work in the morning." - A frequent occurrence for us as I'm a bit of a night owl. But once she saw it, it was like she had never been sleeping. She stood up in bed as we both scrolled through the photos of this beautiful 63' wooden boat by the name of Mystique. So for the first time in awhile, we both started to geek out on what we could do with the boat and how this space could be changes to look like this and how that area could be used for that. The dream had once again been ignited and we were instantly in love.