Once upon a time Steve and Liz were an ordinary couple living ordinary lives in Toronto. Then they got costly and often fatal disease called sailing mania. They sold their beautiful home, got rid of most of their worldly possessions and took to the seven seas!

Skipper Steve

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” -Ratty said to Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s beloved 1908 classic, The Wind in the Willows.

 

“Scouter” Steve started messing about in boats at a relatively young age, canoeing with his scout troop, or on family canoe vacations in spectacular Killarney Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. As a 15 year-old he started messing about in bigger boats, spending a summer aboard the brigantine, St. Lawrence II, out of Kingston, Ontario, where he earned the nickname Seasick Steve, spending most of his time wrapped around the mast or feeding the fishes. Undaunted, he took on white water canoeing and built his own fiberglass canoe. But, like Toad of Toad Hall, he became enamored for a while with other modes of transportation ….he earned enough extra money fighting forest fires during university breaks to buy a motorbike when he was an undergraduate, and biked across Canada in stages, from one coast to the other. He learned to fly and got his private pilot’s license as soon as he graduated. He bought a share in 2 planes when he secured his first job at Proctor & Gamble and blew off excess energy getting his jeep CJ5 stuck in bogs in Northern Alberta where he lived for 8 years. He married Liz and traded in his toys (motorbike, airplane and jeep) one by one, for three kids, Nick, Matthew and Tim. Not ready to give up, he started a penny jar for a family cabin cruiser, but after several years, traded it in for a beautiful Swift canoe and took the family out camping, canoeing and hiking. The family moved to Doha in the Middle East for a few years in the ‘90’s and Steve followed son Matthew’s lead by taking sailing lessons in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, falling in love with the “salt sea and the spray”. Back in Ontario he continued his “White Sails” certification and dinghy sailing/racing, before wearing Liz down into agreeing to take basic keelboat sailing lessons. More classes, experience, charters and a year or two passed by and Skipper Steve was now a keelboat instructor….and so began the seven year plan!

 

Liz

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”- Mark Twain

 

Liz was born in rural South Africa, and was an amateur naturalist from the age of three, keeping bugs and chameleons as ‘pets’.  Summers were spent at Bonza Bay in a caravan by the sea – getting stung by blue bottles and Portuguese men-of-war. She crossed the ocean in Union Castle mail ships several times, aged 2, 3, 9, 10 and 17, and developed a healthy respect for the awesome power of the ocean, swearing never to venture out in anything less than 700 feet long! But the allure of the ocean was strong, even with the African dust in her veins, which kept calling her back to gaze again with wonder at the Southern Cross long after she emigrated, first to the UK and then to Canada. She wanted to study Marine Zoology, but fell in love with ‘old Durham town’ and decided on a plain Zoology degree at Durham University. However she was able to spend several months at the Archipelago Research Institute on Seili island in Finland, doing her third year project on the effects of pollution on bethnic organisms of the Baltic. Her Masters degree was spent chasing wild bees up the Miramachi River in northern New Brunswick, Canada, before “settling down” to married life with Steve in Northern Alberta. Her varied adventures in paid work include the science and agriculture ‘beat’ for a small newspaper in Alberta, crime prevention for the John Howard Society, child care consultant, disability advocate, human resource manager for a multinational bank in the Middle East, M&A integration for a tech company, and managing global projects for a US-headquartered mutual fund company. But her most valued career has been as nurse, driver, disciplinarian, advocate, educator, cook, cleaner, swim instructor, doctor, therapist, counsellor, activist, and well, yes…. mother, to her three sons, Nick, Matt and Tim. Pulled kicking and screaming into her husband’s ‘hobby’ of sailing, which she considered a costly disease, she woke up one day to find herself living on a sailboat, and dreaming of travel to exotic locations.