About two years ago, Jeff discovered SV Delos—a group that has been sailing around the world on a 53 foot sailboat. He had never stepped foot on a sailboat before, but he was instantly drawn in by the idea of traveling by wind (he also works on NASA projects involving the oceans, so he has a huge respect and fascination for the world we live in).
He started small. He told me that he wanted to take sailing lessons over at Michigan State at Lake Lansing, so he spent the month of June, 2015 learning the basics of sailing. That fall, he told me that he wanted to take a four day course up in Traverse City to learn to sail larger boats. After the two classes, he was able to get me excited about sailing by bringing me out to Lake Lansing to sail with him and chartering a few boats out of Traverse City to explore the Grand Traverse Bay and experience sleeping aboard a sailboat.
We spent our winters talking about sailing trips we could take in the Great Lakes, and Jeff slowly started to introduce the idea of buying our own sailboat one day. It started as a longterm plan—we’d start looking at boats in 2019 before Zel started Kindergarten.
But as we talked about it more and looked at other families who were sailing with very young children, we were just so intrigued by the idea of starting the family adventure sooner. I told Jeff that I’d consider keeping an eye out for the right boat, and he immediately told me that he had one in mind (it turns out that looking at boat listings had become a bit of a side hobby for him).
We made the trip up to Muskegon on a cold winter morning to look at two Catalina 30s. We climbed up the ladder into the boats as the wind blew around us. In one case, we had to climb under the boat cover to get inside (the other was stored inside, which made things a bit easier).
We were looking at boats from the eighties, and Jeff had warned me that they wouldn’t be nearly as nice as the newer charter boats I had experienced, but I was pleasantly surprised by how warm and welcoming they felt (even with headlamps and flashlights in the winter).
We ended up making an offer on the 1989 Catalina 30—the family (also with two kids) was moving to Colorado for a job. After a little back and forth, our offer was accepted, and the Siarto adventures began.
We spent our first weekend there in early May while the girls stayed with my parents—we wanted to make sure we had all of our childproofing in place before bringing the girls aboard.
We spent the better part of a Saturday trying to install lifeline netting around the boat as an added precaution to go along with lifejackets and harnesses (we’re taking safety super seriously, especially since 17 month olds and three year olds aren’t always known for being the best listeners).
We had read that the lifeline netting would be a time commitment, and boy was it. It’s simple in theory, but we spent a lot of time unwinding lines trying to get the whole thing to lay the way we wanted to. We still have to finish off the back next time we’re up there.
We motored out onto Lake Michigan to test things out. It was windy and chilly that day, so we haven’t even had a chance to get the sails up, but we’re hoping to try them out soon, and we’re planning a long weekend mini cruise in June.
We’re also so excited about being a part of the community at Great Lakes Marina in Muskegon. Our first weekend there felt a lot like my first week living in a dorm at MSU. Hanging out working on the boat was a lot like leaving your door open on campus. Everyone who walked by made a point to stop, introduce themselves and chat for a bit. I can’t wait to see where this summer takes us.
And I’m sure you’re wondering the logistics of sailing when I’m photographing weddings on the weekends. I made a point this year to take more summer weekends off, and for wedding weekends, Jeff has plenty of vacation days to shift our weekend to Sunday/Monday.
We’re excited to share our adventures as we jump into this new world. I’ll try not to use too many cheesey boat puns, but no promises 🙂