We got many looks as we motored through the lagoon in our dinghy packed with six people. Our 10 foot Montgomery dinghy holds our family of five without any problems. As of October 25th, held a sixth, Emma Casey, just fine, but we had to be conscious of our trim. Frequently, people smiled and/or laughed as we rowed/motored by. Come to find out, people thought we had four kids and loved seeing a dinghy full of people.
We first met Emma along our way down California. We were anchored at Little Scorpion, Santa Cruz Island, when we spotted her on the boat she was crewing on at the time. Both Christian and I had met her separately. Christian spoke with her for a bit. Emma and I did not exchange in conversation, I only swam past her while she was rowing around in her dinghy. To be honest, I thought she was sixteen, and was super impressed with her independence.
The next time we saw Emma was at the Baja Ha Ha 2015 send-off/Halloween party October 25th, 2015 in San Diego. Although we were not doing the Ha Ha, we were invited by Doña and Richard, of Latitude 38, to join in on the festivities. We were nearing the end of the end of the party when Richard and Doña pointed out how upset Emma was. Her crew position wasn’t working out well and wanted to find a different, better fit. Christian and I looked at each other, and without having to exchange words, we agreed to offer her a place on our boat. Our kids agreed as well. Within seconds, I was offering Emma a position with us. We told her that didn’t need crew, but would take her along with us. I warned her of our crazy and sometimes loud three kids. She said that would be fine. I also warned her of our slow sail plan. Unlike the quick Baja Ha Ha rally down Baja, we planned on taking at least a month to sail Baja and then cross over from Cabo to the mainland. We also weren’t going to leave San Diego for about another week. “I would rather go slower anyway”, was Emma’s response. Within four hours Emma grabbed all her belongings and became our sixth person in our dinghy as we rowed out to our boat, which was anchored in Mission Bay, just north of San Diego.
After giving a tour of our boat, finding space for her two bags of minimal belongings, Emma settled into her new sleeping arrangement on the starboard settee in the main salon. The next morning, we pulled up anchor and sailed to San Diego proper, just in time to watch the Baja Ha Ha rally depart. Along the way, two of our kids had meltdowns. Emma handled it perfectly. We thought for sure she was going to back out after experiencing that, but she was fine with it. It was game on, and she was up for what was to come.
We got to know each other pretty quick, as one might expect living in such tight quarters. The whole situation started to feel quite serendipitous. We quickly learned that Emma grew up in Marin county (San Francisco area) not far from where we lived for many years. Her dad, Mike Casey, owns The Canvas Works in Sausalito, which was a few blocks from where we kept our boat. And to top it off, Emma’s uncle is a surf buddy of Christian’s. They have been surfing together at the local surf spot in Marin for years! Emma looks youthful, as I stated earlier. I’m not the only person who thought she was 16. Under her youthful appearance is a very strong, mature, and educated lady. She has graduated with a degree in Art and Spanish language and is very intelligent.
Emma fit right in. She was skilled at “the boat shuffle”, we never felt crowded with her as the sixth person aboard a 40 foot boat. She has been great with the kids and even parrotted our parenting style. She helped in the galley, translated Spanish, and even helped with boat schooling. She also became my “ship shape” buddy, keeping each other motivated to stay in shape while underway. Emma quickly became “family”.
Her time with us became open ended. She had already been with us for three months when we sailed in to Barra De Navidad, Mexico. After a few weeks in the Barra area, Emma was experiencing “the call of the sea”. She wanted to keep going South and West. Knowing that we were not going to be crossing the Pacific this season, she started to look for another few position on another boat. Nothing seemed to be turning out, until another serendipitous moment occurred a few nights ago. We went to dinner with a few cruising buddies (sailing vessels Chae Mi, Fukngivr, and Ness). Phillip on Ness was planning on leaving the next day. He plan, South and then West and then South east toward Chile and around Cape Horn! That evening he offered Emma a crew position aboard Ness, a beautiful steel one off from a Tahiti Ketch.
After a day of contemplation, talking with family and us, Emma made her choice to jump ship and hop aboard Ness. Don’t worry, Christian as I went and checked out Ness for ourselves and had a chat with Phillip. We know, Emma’s an adult and can make wise choices, but after four months, she was family and we felt responsible for her safety. Our consensus was that the boat’s integrity is strong and Phillip is a good man. Emma should have a good experience with him aboard Ness.
Emma left with Phillip aboard SV Ness in the morning on, Feb 24. It was hard to let her go, but we think this new chapter out at sea will be amazing for her. Will she hop off in Tahiti or continue south around Cape Horn? We are super excited to find out! We also have a strange feeling that she’ll end up on our boat again at some point, if not for a crossing, at least a visit. Let’s wish Emma and Phillip fair winds and following seas.