Our sailing time machine: Five years aboard Yahtzee

The crew of Yahtzee after circumnavigating Vancouver Island.

When I first sat down to write this post, I thought I’d share a little about why we chose our 1984 Grand Soleil 39, why we named her Yahtzee and what some of our favorite things have been about her over the past five years. But the more I wrote about favorite pieces of gear and things we’d like to change, the more it didn’t really seem to fit. They were just objects. And it sounded too much like a boat review. (Plus, you can read all that here.)

All boats have sails, rigging and innumerable pieces of equipment, and most vessel owners love their boats — we’re no different. But, to us, owning Yahtzee for the past five years has never been solely about the boat itself or the things on it. It has been about what we’ve done with her and the stories and memories that have unfolded in that time.

Over the course of five years we’ve cruised and raced the Pacific Northwest to the fullest, welcomed two sons aboard, and fulfilled dreams that we set years prior. I don’t know exactly how many miles we’ve put under her keel since pulling away from Swiftsure Yachts in July 2012, but it doesn’t really matter. What’s mattered to us is getting out and enjoying the ride, meeting people and discovering new places along the way. We bought Yahtzee to make a home and to explore the world under sail, and after five years, I’m happy to say, she’s helped us do just that and more.

When we lived-aboard in Seattle for two years we took every opportunity we could to be on the water; spending countless weekends cruising and many fun regattas racing. Then when we set out to cruise the Salish Sea full-time, our wanderlust grew and grew. Every mile we sailed, we wanted to sail more, to keep going and to keep exploring what makes this extraordinary slice of the world so unique.

Magnus moved aboard when he was about 5 hours old.

Throughout that time, we’ve made many incredible memories that will last a lifetime, had wonderful days of sailing and some of the highest highs we ever thought possible. Welcoming Porter and Magnus aboard when they were hours old was wondrous, and raising them on Yahtzee has been our greatest joy in life. Racing Swiftsure and the Oregon Offshore were phenomenal experiences. Exploring the Columbia River was remarkable. Circumnavigating Vancouver Island was unforgettable. Spending winters in Puget Sound and the San Juan and Gulf islands was surreal. And voyaging north to Alaska this spring and summer has been nothing short of breathtaking.

Yahtzee anchored in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.

Though we’ve enjoyed many great moments through the years, we’ve also endured tough days too. We fought heavy winds and bitter cold. Lost a prop. Dragged anchor in 60-plus knot winds. Hit docks and bumped into rocks. Our keel has touched sand and logs have been dodged and hit. We’ve repaired fiberglass, bought a new rudder and watched as things broke (don’t all boat owners?) around us. I’ve unclogged heads, been up to my elbows in engine oil and chased leaks. But that’s any boat for you.

None of those good times or not so good times would have been possible without simply leaving the dock first. What we’ve come to realize over five years, and especially the last three of cruising, is that you don’t have to go far to go cruising. People think you do, but you don’t. All we’ve needed in order to live our dreams and to make memories with the ones we love was a good boat and the ability and drive to make it happen. Yahtzee has helped us find that success, and for that, we love her.

For Porter and Magnus, life aboard Yahtzee is what they know.

We love that she is our cruising time machine. Not in the sense that she actually takes us forward or back in time, but that she makes us rich in it. Accordingly, our reward has not been monetary, and we’ve never meant it to be. Rather, we’ve found prosperity in living a life in technicolor with each other one day at a time. One where we get to spend so much time together doing what we love, and Yahtzee is what allows that to happen. That right there, is priceless.

I’ve never really thought that you could love a thing, but to us, Yahtzee is much more than just a boat. Yahtzee in an embodiment of what we want from life, cherishing moments as a family and living simply yet fully. And if that’s how our first five years went, we can’t wait for the next five.

Yahtzee sails toward the sunset in the Gulf of Alaska.

11 thoughts on “Our sailing time machine: Five years aboard Yahtzee

  1. Andy a great story and I know how much you love your boat and living your dreams.Looking forward to seeing you soon. Love GMa

  2. Great encapsulation!
    The boat’s the thing -it’s what you do with it that’s important. Both figuratively and literally, it has allowed you to create as close a family as anyone could ask for. Congratulations! I always enjoy your entries -thanks for sharing.

  3. Love the concept of “cruising time machine”. Time does pass differently on a boat.

    Did you write about the story of the lost prop? I did some search queries but couldn’t find anything in past posts.

      1. Wow, that’s a great story. Can’t believe you sailed from Friday Harbor to Seattle. We’ve never had wind the whole way on that route. And sailed into your slip at Shilshole!

  4. We’ve followed you and your new family since you started, Andy and Jill, and have not told you how much we continue to enjoy your stories, your videos, and take on life. We can’t believe how big, sure-footed, and skilled Porter and Magnus have already become.

    Thank you so much for sharing your sea tales and family experiences with us!

  5. Andy and Fam,

    Hey I noticed your boat in the Seward Harbor today. I knew I recognized that hard dodger from when you wrote about it in the Cruising Compass. You and the family are welcome to use the yacht club and our facilities while you are here. Give me a shout and I’ll get you the code so you can get in..kitchen, showers, deck, hang out etc. Usually no one is there except on the weekends.

    Sam Steele
    Past Commodore
    William H Seward Yacht Club
    Seward, AK
    S/V Creola.. (J dock – Slip 24)

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