Karey and Aaron are two newbie sailors, but they love adventure. They are voyaging our 1984 Aloha 8.2 from Great Lakes of Canada and they’re planning to… reach the Caribbean and beyond to saltier seas!
Tell us something about you.
We’re a couple of laid back, open-minded and adventure-loving people who think this whole sailing lifestyle is pretty damn cool. Karey is a wildlife/science documentary producer and Aaron is a live-sound engineer who tours the world working with bands/musicians.
We try to be very active people (though marina life can sometimes make that difficult! Always “come over for a beer”) and love to get out and run, surf, climb, swim, and of course – sail. Amongst our favourite things are chicken wings and spicy thai green curry, our dopey cat, Lily, Netflix in the v-berth, and long chats over the bbq with saltiest of old salts.
You are not experts, but you are… “yacht owners”. Why this choice?
Aaron: We really dove head first into sailing. Neither one of us had ever had any experience until Spring, 2015. We indoor rock climb, and it was just getting nice outside, so we were looking for a new activity. Karey had the thought “what if we learn to sail?”. We don’t come from water sport families. Two days later we were enrolled in class’s and starting the adventure. We learned on 15ft dinghy boats called Albacores.
Later that summer an instructor turned friend offered to take us out on a keel boat for the afternoon. We got hooked in a big way. “We want one! We need one!….Let’s get one”. Neither Karey or myself could stop thinking about it. Eventually we started researching and budgeting and, with some fearful reservation, we made a purchase. I don’t think we realized how useful those class’s the summer prior were until we got Swizzle out on the water for the first time. We’ve got loads to learn, but we felt confident sailing her straight away.
Karey: The thought of using the power of nature to get your adventuremobile around the world, not on land, but by water, is something that both dreams and nightmares are made of. The romance of having the world at your fingertips – at the point of your bow – has inspired generations of explorers and adventurers, and was enough of a motivator to put our apprehensions aside and get on the water and out of our so-called ‘comfort zones’.
We weren’t experts, not even close! We started fresh together just a year earlier on 15ft dinghies at a cooperative sailing club on Cherry Beach in Toronto, capsizing and stressing at 7knot winds. Unbeknownst to us, we were apparently doing it “the right way”. Every old salt we’ve since spoke to has drilled us with the classic “So where did you learn how to sail?“, and after they hear that we cut our teeth throwing our weight around tiny albacores that spin on a pin, and purposefully capsizing in the freezing cold mid-June waters of Lake Ontario, it always earns us a gracious pat on the back, and sometimes another shot of rum.
It’s almost laughable – we’re “yacht owners” now, and it’s a whopping, welcome new challenge. Everyday we realize just how vast the learning curve is in this new lifestyle we’ve chosen to embark on. We both love, respect and appreciate nature, and having a sailboat is the number one embodiment of learning to work with the environment to get you where you’re going in life.
A sailboat seemed like a natural step for us, as we both aren’t good at city living or staying in one place for too long. (that, and housing prices in Toronto are astronomical!) When it comes to living arrangements, neither one of us had lived a “conventional’ life – we’ve both traveled a lot. Aaron travels the world touring with bands, and has done for the past 10 years, and I lived and worked abroad in the UK & Europe for her early 20’s, and was brought up on long road trips to the southern states with the family to escape Canadian winters.
So the idea of living in our own little “adventure mobile” that can uproot and take us anywhere was what got us hooked. Even more appealing when you buy a racer-cruiser and your house now turns into your recreation vehicle, capable of hitting 8knots and rocking steady heels, wind gusting, sun glistening, water splashing you in your smiling faces, all proud of the fact that you and your partner are nailing this scary/exciting thing together.
It’s a rush. And then you dock up in a different port and now your water-speedster is your cabin with a view. It’s just the best. So we decided to buy one, which was in itself an ordeal that felt like the stars aligning. Once you finally shake hands and hug the man who’s selling you his old girl that he’s lovingly owned for 33 years, and the paperwork is processed and the sailboat is at last officially yours – the work begins and you realize that it’s not just about the sport; the wind direction or point of sail, your man-over-board techniques or nailing your rigging test.
You’ve now pledged to become a plumber, a seamstress, a vehicle detailer, a diesel engine mechanic, a pro Tetris packer, and a champion rum drinker. It’s a lot straight out of the gate (slip?), but it’s already been so epically worth the energy and anxiety in taking on the unknown. We’ve adopted the mantra that “other humans do it, why can’t we?” and that mindset has got us to the point of accomplishing something pretty spectacular already (at least our moms think so). With the help of many YouTube tutorials, and plenty of support from friends and fam, we took the first steps towards making a dream a reality and have ultimately got our butts on course to a more happy and fulfilling life. The challenge was what got us into it, but the people and the nomadic lifestyle is what’s going to keep us going for years to come.
Which kind of boat is Swizzle?
Our 1984 Aloha 8.2 is an old gal, but a great gal. Fast and functional and a mighty vessel for her modest LOA. Launched just 2 years before we were born, Swizzle hails from boatyards in Whitby, Ontario – not too far away from our home town Toronto. She was built by hand, and the tale of her designer is one hell of a triumphant Canadian immigration story, coming to Canada with just $9 in his pocket. The story goes that Aloha Yachts are about integrity and heart, and we feel that in every inch of Swizz.
Handcrafted and made with love to be one of the finest racer/cruisers around, she’s decked out in top to bottom teak, and can turn on a dime. Not all 27’ sailboats are given a full wheel at the helm (most have tillers), but Swizz makes us feel like proper cruisers with a big teak wheel and plenty of room in the cockpit. They say that the theoretical hull speed of an Aloha 8.2 is 6.32 knots, but we’ve recently got her well passed 8 without a flinch. If you’re after a vessel that’s both comfy to cruise in, but also blows your hair back at the helm, we’d recommend the Aloha make to anyone who’s lucky enough to find one for sale.
What about your next programs?
We’ve been so busy learning (and filming!) this summer that we haven’t had the time to sit down and collect our thoughts and put it all together into nice little yummy packages. We will be doing this over the winter, posting it all on YouTube before Christmas, with some big news to come shortly!
And now, our classic questions: what does it mean “sailing” for you?
Aaron: This is hard! I think at this point, in only two years, it has almost come to define us. It feels like we’ve unlocked that special thing! It means happiness, challenge, effort, a sense of freedom. Go with mother nature and be who you want to be.
Sailing is a means of pushing you to get to know your partner… really damn well.
Karey: Even though we’ve travelled quite a lot, we had never yet found that lifestyle that is both equally “luxurious” and blue collar, both physically and mentally challenging, and the utterly perfect balance of living free and having security in your home on the water. We look ahead at our sailing future, and are so stoked knowing that we will always have the flexibility to uproot and move our modest water house wherever we please.
We like noodling! We like tinkering! We love being forced to be in tune with the weather forecast, being pushed to learn more about physics and the trades, and truly feel accomplished when we use our practical skills to get us from one cool place to another. And all the interesting and wonderfully weird, kind and generous people that are synonymous with the sailing community are just that extra cherry on top of an already overwhelmingly foreign experience.
Sailing is a means of pushing you to get to know your partner… really damn well. We weren’t even 2 years into our relationship, and we bought a 27 sailboat…. and lived on it. You learn a lot living in such close quarters, and you learn quickly if you can keep it sexy while your boat’s head is right beside your own head in the v-berth… with no door!
But you laugh, and you become a better person for being able to let go of your embarrassments and inhibitions and just deal with what’s in front of you – be it your partner’s bathroom habits, or a swirling black storm cloud and lightening in the distance. It’s been the best decision we’ve ever made, and the ultimate headline of the whole thing is that we get to keep on learning for our entire lives.
Learning about each other, learning about our boat, learning about new places and mother nature and your true self – and every old salt you meet! And you relish in trying your darnedest to put it all together into one big exciting adventure life. That’s what it is for us – adventure life.