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From Dream to Reality: We bought a Sailboat

Where to start is the most difficult aspect of relaying a deeply personal journey. Is it your earliest childhood thoughts of what your life would be, or that time it felt like your life just fell apart? Both are life formative and determinative of what happened next in the journey. Given what we imagine Comes Next for us here in the present, it seems appropriate to start when we bought a boat.


While living in coastal northern California circa 2019, Bruce began to think of What Was Next after he retired in a year or two.


When he asked if I minded if he started to look for a boat, I was not surprised. He often spoke wistfully of when he lived aboard a sailboat decades earlier in southern California.


Being clueless and presumptive, it was reasonable for me to think a sailing yacht would be ridiculously expensive and out of reach for us. So of course I said, “No I don’t mind,” thinking it was a far from our reality. Bruce assured me that the key to the affordability of this purchase was age and material.


He was in the market for a wooden boat like he had before. With the variety of fiberglass boats available in modern times, an old wooden sailboat would not have a lot of competing offers.


Over the next few months Bruce read to me listing after listing of search results. Again, not knowing anything about any of them, my response was always “How much?” followed by a grimace when he told me.


As luck would have it, by summer’s end he found her. She was located on the Puget Sound in Washington. She was within our meager price range as yachts go and she was exactly the kind he had owned before. Bruce asks excitedly, “Wanna go look at her?”


Front view of a sailboat tied at a dock under a blue sky

Dirigo was one of the few remaining 50ft Kettenburg K-50’s, built by renowned wooden sailboat builders by the same name. After the survey (mechanical inspection), and a few hours sailing, sailing lessons (me,) some paperwork, and a few phone calls, we received the combination to the lock of our new boat.


Flushed with exhilaration of owning a boat, we had visions of owning our home in California and sharing time in our “floating condo” on the Puget Sound to play with over the summer.


Washington is beautiful and full of outdoor adventure in a different way from California, so we were excited about the possibilities of visiting new places from the water instead of from land.


It was a direct 2-hour flight from our home airport in California and Seattle-Tacoma airport. We could live like jet-setters (albeit from coach cabin) and spend long holiday weekends on our 50-foot sailboat! The future was bright and full of fun, fantastic adventure.

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