Heading south: the Class of 2012

Mike Ayers and his sailboat, La Volante Frances Jane. Photos courtesy of Wendy Hinman

Every year there’s a migration south.

I’m not talking about the birds flying south for the winter or retirees in their RVs. I’m talking about snowbirds of a different sort, who venture south aboard boats buoyed by dreams of staying south for an indefinite period.

Each August, a select group of boaters watches the weather carefully for a weather window. They want to get south during settled weather before fall storms roll through the Pacific Northwest. Many have spent years preparing to make this major lifestyle change. Some may never return.

In 2012, several boats made this migration. What follows is a brief profile of a few of them I’ve gotten to know.

Steve and Judy Dauzenroth aboard the Caliber 40, Code Blue, set sail in late August after delaying their departure for a year to finish planned upgrades. Judy has extensive sailing experience, having raced for years and served as crew on a number of yacht charters in the Caribbean and the South Pacific.

Judy and Steve Dauzenroth

Steve started racing Penguins at Western Washington University in the early 70s. Since then he’s raced Thistles as well as owned and crewed various types of vessels. Together Steve and Judy have cruised their Caliber 40 around Vancouver Island, the Queen Charlottes, the Broughtons and Alaska, and chartered in French Polynesia. They’ve spent years sailing and preparing their boat with many modern conveniences. After a brief stay in Mexico, they plan to venture across the South Pacific.

Mike Ayers bought his Wauquiez, La Volante Frances Jane, in the Caribbean in 1998. This 68-year-old is quiet and focused. He is a man of action who bought his first house at only 24 years old. His inclination is to “just do it.”

When he left the Northwest in August, he slipped his lines and sailed away with barely a word to anyone. He and his girlfriend, Janet Daugherty, plan to sail to Mexico and then possibly through the Panama Canal to Europe, where Janet has spent a lot of time working.

Rich and Lyn Lewis headed south in August on their Valiant 42, Fellowship.

Rich Lewis and his wife, Lyn, aboard Fellowship, a 1996 Valiant 42, also left in August. They’ve planned a trip they’ve named “From Here to Infirmity.” Its focus will be on providing humanitarian aid and doing Christian mission work beginning in Mexico. After their transit there, they will spend November to March in Loreto in the Sea of Cortez with Mexican Medical Ministries. Then they will sail into the South Pacific looking for similar opportunities to serve.

Penn Wallace has a different sort of mission in mind. Since he was 11 years old when he fished with his father for albacore tuna off the coast of Mexico he’s dreamed of revisiting. His book, “Blue Water & Me, Tall Tales of Adventures With My Father,” reveals his inspiration. After Penn’s wife died two and a half years ago, he began to pursue his dream. It took several months to find the right boat, then 18 months to get her ready for the cruise.

Chef Dawn Tift and Captain Penn Wallace aboard Victory.

The boat he bought in 2010 was Victory, a 56-foot Samson C-Breeze ketch, a ferro-cement boat. Along the way, he decided that it would be a perfect charter boat, so he got his captain’s license and set up a business. Victory left the Pacific Northwest in early September, If you want to head south but not on your own boat, perhaps you can catch a ride with Penn Wallace and chef, Dawn Tift, on Victory. You can follow their adventures at www.pennwallace.com.

Other boats that sailed south this summer include SV Emerald Lady, a Cheoy Lee 47 with Kelly and John Wanamaker; SV Chara, an Amel 46 with Joyce and Bob Scarff; SV Zoe, a Fantasi 44 with David and Barbara Rogers; and Anewday, a Tayana 37 with Frank and Carolyn Hill.

Each of these couples has conceived a dream and taken concrete steps to reach it. In one sense, they’ve only begun their journey. But in another, they’ve already ventured quite far. Embarking is often the biggest step of the journey.

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