A Look Back to How it All Began

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I had a singular moment over Mother’s Day weekend where I really reflected on how things have changed in my life. In May, 2013, I finally gave myself the Mother’s Day gift I wanted…

Instead of flowers, breakfast in bed or chocolates, I took advantage of an opportunity I had been offered over and over again, but never had the chance to do — I was going to be part of the “crew” on my friend’s 115′ Westport when the boat was repositioned from San Francisco to Seattle.

Now, let me be clear…I was not professional crew. I was someone who has always been passionate about boating and continually obsessed with cooking. My best friend and virtual “sister” had introduced me to the world of luxury yachting and she had offered repeatedly over the past few years that “whenever the boat was being moved, you are welcome to go along for a ride.”

The stars never aligned and I missed out again and again, but finally…May of 2013 I got a fabulous surprise: not only would I be able to take part in moving the boat, BUT I was going to be able to be my friend’s guest for the Opening of Boating Season at one of the most prestigious yacht clubs in the country, if not the world.

So, first things first…I flew down to San Francisco sporting my “fancy best.” White slacks, navy blue blazer, Topsiders and red scarf. There is a huge amount of pop and circumstance that goes with Opening Day and yes, there is a dress code. April 28, I got dressed and proceeded to take part in the spectacle and social dance that is Opening Day.

I had a blast, I will admit. I absolutely loved my friend and it was so fun to be included…no welcomed into her circle. I’m certainly not in the “landed gentry” so this was a special treat hob-nobbing with the Commodores, their spouses and other important people in the yacht club. I even got to salute the viewing box during the cruise in the bay. It was weird having the food catered by a temporary chef…hey, I’m a chef,…but this time I was a guest so, well…let’s have another glass of wine shall we?

A few days later, my friend left the boat to head home, and I was off to the market to shop (provision) for my crew members for our expected 4 day trip up the coast. I was transitioning from “owner’s friend and guest” to “crew.” I would be chef and another watch-stander on board, and now the work phase of my trip was beginning.

As new and exciting as this new role was, I got a quick taste of reality. arrived back from shopping to learn that tragedy had struck in the waters off shore. While I was boarding the boat, I could see commotion on the docks not far away. There was a large amount of fire/EMT response and it looked like they were working on someone on the dock. Sadly, my observations were correct: it turns out a British member of one of the America’s Cup yachts had suffered blunt trauma to his head and neck during a training sail and had drowned after being underwater for nearly 10 minutes. It was a very sobering “welcome” and a reminder that, as I was to be told later in my yachting career, “the ocean doesn’t care about you.” Considering I was about to engage on my first open-water trip, it really put things into perspective. This isn’t just a game or a cocktail cruise, this is serious business.

In the next post, I’ll share what happened when we left the dock, and how this first trip was the beginning of a huge sea change in my life…

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