Working on the Water Again

Karen_At_HelmLife is good.  Life is very, very good.  Not only do we have our world bursting at the seams on the homestead, I’ve started a new adventure back on the salt this summer.  I’ve gotten my ASA sailing instructor credentials and have set a career path back on the sea with San Juan Sailing, based out of Bellingham, WA.


In addition to running my own business, Blue Water GIS, doing cartography and geeky map-making, I feed my soul by working on the water.  Last summer, I has the awesome opportunity to work aboard a 65′ power vessel, the Snowgoose, in Southeast Alaska.  Fending off icebergs, watching rare bubble-net feeding behaviors of Humpback whales and calling to visiting pods of Orcas were humbling and awe inspiring.

This once in a lifetime experience had to be balanced with leaving Mark and the homestead to fend for themselves for 6 weeks.  My husband is indeed a multi-talented man, but asking him to contend with our now growing herd of critters may border on the edge of neglect.  My amazingly dedicated husband deserved a bit more from me.  And, selfishly, being around to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest summer….and our four rounds of goat babies were additional reasons to find an opportunity a bit closer to home.

Tom_1I’m nothing short of enamored with my new position.  Not only do I get to sail in the gorgeous San Juan Islands for 2-7 days at a time, but I get to teach what I love and what I’m passionate about: sailing and cruising.  This is no, “Captain, can you make me another Mai Tai'” type of adventure.  No way.  I have four students aboard for weeklong trips, intent on gaining the skills necessary to be in charge of their own vessel by the end of the week.

David_3We work on navigation every morning, practice all aspects of sailing, including reefing, man overboard drills, docking, picking up moorings, anchoring, even some diesel mechanics and electronics in the mix.  You name it, we do it.  It’s hands on, it’s a lot of work, but it’s probably the best job I’ve ever had.  Oh, and of course, we find some time to get lots of hiking and exploring in as well as sipping a few frosty beverages at the end of the night.  Hey, I am teaching cruising here!

Tom_2Hands down, the best parts of the summer have been the experiences and laughter shared with the phenomenal groups of students I’ve been blessed enough to teach.  I suppose it takes a certain type of person to spend their hard earned dollars to take a working vacation, but these are indeed MY kind of people.  It has been a truly rewarding season and I’m already looking forward to the next year.




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