Austin & Elise met while instructing youth sailing for Anacortes Parks & Recreation. Austin was in between jobs as a boatbuilder and was aiming for his US Coast Guard 100 Ton Master License. Elise was home from college where she was earning a degree in Electrical Engineering. We both loved boats and dreamed of sailing around the world. Austin wooed Elise with his knot tying skills and Elise asked Austin to come sailing on her boat, which turned into our first date. We made dinner and talked for hours about boats and life. At one-point Austin was rolling on the floor showing how you get salmon in a fish hold when you are deck loaded commercial fishing. How could she resist his charms? While Elise was at the University of Portland and Austin was building carbon fiber racing sailboats in Anacortes, we had a three year long-distance relationship. We got married in 2014 at the Anacortes Marine Stadium overlooking Mt Baker and celebrated at the Anacortes Yacht Club. Elise’s first boat, a Lido 14 named Aqua Schock, became our first boat.
Our first big mission as a couple was to tear down and rebuild an old cabin on Austin’s parents land. With the end goal of sailing away in mind and not wanting to end up with a mortgage, we kept it simple and built what we could afford. While living on Guemes Island we spent as much time outdoors as we could. We both love to ski, camp and hike but we were always thinking about sailing. We filled our Wednesday nights and many weekends with local sailboat races to get out on the water as much as possible.
Christmas 2016 we took a vacation to Iceland, a place that had been on our bucket list for some time. The idea was to see the Aroura Borealis, which we did! With freezing temperatures and 3 hours of daylight, there was plenty of time for snuggling and YouTube watching. We stumbled across a video of a young Swedish couple sailing the world and thought, what are we waiting for, we need to do this now! With fireworks going off all around us, New Years 2017 had arrived and we set the goal of making our sailing dreams a reality.
It didn’t take long, after sailing on many other people’s boats we had a good idea what we wanted. With Austin’s experience as a boatbuilder, finding a boat in need of major repair was key. We figured a full refit to our standards was better for us than a boat someone else had made “offshore ready” with a price to fit. We found a custom boat on Craigslist that seemed to fit our criteria. The boat was in rough shape and needed some serious deck repair and paint, but we could see the potential and liked the hull design, layout and teak interior. Driving away after seeing the boat for the first time Elise said, “I hate to say it because it’s going to be a lot of work, but I think it’s our boat.” The night before we came to see the boat for a second time, the previous owner called us with “bad news”. He had burned up the starter on the, Volkswagen Pathfinder engine, trying to start the engine in the freezing cold. Knowing a little about diesel engines, Austin told him we would still come look at the boat and do not do anything until we get there. After taking a closer look at the boat and engine, we went against best practices and put out a lowball offer without a survey or even leaving the dock. The owner, desperate to sell, accepted without even a counter. After a trip to Napa Auto parts for a new starter motor and a few hours of wrenching we had the motor going and we took the boat out in the bay for the first sail, even putting up the spinnaker!
After a quick delivery sail back to Anacortes we pulled the boat out of the water and began the major refit project. We will detail the refit in another post. Like any project the list of tasks grows and grows the more you dig into it. From tip of the mast to bottom of the keel we have inspected, updated or replaced virtually every part of the boat in the 2.5 years of refitting. It has been such a good learning experience for us both and we are so proud of what our blood, sweat and tears has made Atica into. Refits could go on forever and we could always find something to improve so we needed a target date to cut the dock lines and go cruising. For us it was the goal of being in Auckland New Zealand for the next Americas Cup. To do that meant leaving Anacortes fall 2019… We got as many big projects completed as we could, saved up as much money as we could and made the big leap in September 2019. And here we are today sailing Atica into the big blue.