We married on the fly. I had no wedding gown, no ring, no cake. No one thought to bring a camera. Our parents were given an hour’s notice to meet us at the altar. I’m still amazed the minister agreed to tie the knot on such late notice. We were married standing beneath a giant heart covered in roses in a chapel decorated for another couple’s wedding.
We drove off to Santa Barbara later that afternoon to spend our wedding night with our best friends, Steve and Kathy. They graciously gave up their bed to us, a mattress on their bedroom floor, and slept on the couch that night.
The next morning we rented a 10-foot sailing dingy and headed off toward the oil rigs in the channel, even though storm warning flags were flying. No one knew how to sail, but how hard could it be?
We made it half way to the oil rigs before the steadily building waves started swamping the boat. Kathy and I frantically bailed water with our straw sun hats while the guys managed to get the outboard engine started and the boat turned around. We finally made it to shore, wet and cold with ruined hats, but undaunted by the adventure.
That afternoon we headed south to find an apartment while Dale looked for work. Meanwhile I enrolled myself in the local high school. Although I had already turned 18, I was still two months shy of a diploma when we eloped. I lasted about a week at the new school, and then enrolled myself in a community college. By the time I finally took the courses needed to get my long-delayed High School diploma, I’d already earned a BA in English.
Not long afterward we moved back to the Central Coast where we bought a small sloop that we launched and sailed at Lake Lopez, Morro Bay, and Santa Barbara.
We kept her at a slip in Santa Barbara, spending long sunny weekends aboard with the kids and cruising along the coast and to the Channel Islands.
Even so, it wasn’t until we took a bareboat charter in the Virgin Islands and later the same year to the Bay Islands off Honduras that we knew for sure we could do this—live this way fulltime, sailing from one island to another . . . forever.
Our dream of sailing around the world was reborn.
Stay tuned for Part III of our Sailing Saga: Chartering in the Caribbean