Sailing started out for me with a simple dream. I always wanted to have my own little boat where I could take her out on the ocean. I grew up in Huntington Beach, California, where my family spent many summers at the beach. At the pier, I would gaze longingly at the sailboats as they launched. Some years later, I would nudge my boyfriend Chris, and say, “Let’s buy a little sailboat.” We both shared a passion for traveling; we backpacked through Brazil, India, Central America and Eastern Europe together. Our dream was to take an extended trip and make it last for a year as we met many travelers who did just that from Australia and Europe.
During this time, we signed up for a sailing course at the local community college. I had always wanted to do this, but never had the chance. We fell in love with sailing right away. Just moving the little 17-foot sailboat through the water effortlessly delighted and amazed us. So fate worked her magic, and instantly, we discovered the means to our dream of traveling. If we could buy a sailboat, we could travel by water and save a lot of money by having our own house with us, plus a kitchen. That would help cut down on costs with hostels, eating out and transportation–-the three main expenses when you travel.
We made our dream happen in less than one year. We took Chris’ jeep from California to Florida to search for our dream boat. Chris had already decided on a Gemini catamaran, but we just needed to find one that fit our budget. In a matter of three months, we found Gypsy Cat, and purchased her. I knew she was “the one” the moment I saw her–-I just felt it. We worked on the boat for another two months and our shakedown cruise was to The Keys.
From there, the trip of a lifetime began. We went to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Spanish, U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten/St. Martin, Saba, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. All the islands were a wonder to explore and experience with the lively, bold Caribbean culture and the warm, inviting people. One of the best things about traveling is not the places you get to visit, but the people from all walks of life you get to meet.
Gypsy Cat was one of the smallest catamarans around, so I nicknamed her my kitten. She sheltered us through severe storms and carried us to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world that no one can reach unless they own a boat. To see beaches that the average person will never see in a lifetime enthralled me and made me want to pinch myself every time I saw a spectacular sunset or azure crystal waters that had all the shades of blue you can imagine.
Some nights, anchored in the water, the surrounding darkness and sea would resemble a dream so unreal and so hauntingly beautiful, that I felt as if I was either on a movie set or in a vivid dream. Sailing at night captured the same essence of a dream, some nights there was no moon, and millions of stars would twinkle in the sky to keep me company as I was on watch, and some nights, there would be a full moon, washing everything in a glow of moonbeams. To have experienced all this in one lifetime truly made me feel like I was the luckiest person on earth.
We had an advantage over most of the sailing boats as Geminis have a very shallow draft–-a mere one-and-a-half feet. It gave us the opportunity to get up to inches of water all over the Bahamas. Many times, we just sailed pass the mooring balls, and anchored in two feet of water or so. Not only were we able to anchor almost anywhere we wanted, we beached Gypsy Cat a few times when the current and tide was just right. All we had to do was pull up the centerboards and rudders and we were good to go. Other sailors would eye us enviously.
Gypsy Cat not only took us to many dream islands, but she was our home. She was like a living spirit beside me always. I would have full moon parties for her by dancing wildly under the moon and spilling wine all over her. Of course Chris thought I was crazy, but to keep a boat happy, I feel one must celebrate her as often as possible. I would leave glasses of wine and incense out for her, like a little pagan offering. It may sound crazy to some people, but I feel that you can really infuse your spirit with something inanimate, and make it alive, or at least a part of you.
Living and sharing that much time alone together can make a relationship stronger or break you apart. Unfortunately, Chris and I did not last. But our memories of making our dream come true, and sharing many adventures over the years, will always remain with us. I will always remember my love for Gypsy Cat and look at pictures and miss my little kitten. May her new owners love her and cherish her as much as I do.