Lighthouse on Central BC coast

Frequently asked questions

Questions are common when people find out what we did. Here are a few.

Q: What made you decide to change course and go voyaging?
A: It's kind of a long story. See What got us started?.
Q: What's your itinerary?
A: We're done now. In our travels we went as far north in the Pacific as Alaska, spent a summer exploring British Columbia, sailed south to Mexico and Central America, through the Panama Canal, back up to Florida and across the Atlantic, stopping in the Azores for a few weeks. We've sailed in the English Channel, North Sea, Baltic, and Mediterranean as far as the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Then we sailed back across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and on to Galveson and Houston, where we put Solstice on a truck back to the San Francisco Bay. You can find a little more detail on our cruising plan page. And be sure to check out the photos of where we've been.
Q: Have you been sailing a long time.
A: Now we have. Before we started our adventure, not so much. John took sailing lessons in college. Shirlee and her sister used to own and sail a Coronado 15, and Shirlee also crewed on a 505 in her younger days. See What got us started? for more. We figure our experience was about average for people who decide to go voyaging.
Q: How long are you going to keep voyaging?
A: The original plan was 10 years or until we don't enjoy it anymore. But it ended up being a few months longer than five years for now. We thought we'd want to set out again when we retired, but it seems unlikely now.
Q: Are you going to sail around the world?
A: No. Circumnavigation was never the goal, but we wanted to visit lots of places and some of them are on the other side of the world. The prevailing winds encourage circumnavigation.
Q: What do you miss most about having a house?
A: Our original answer was: John misses the wine cellar; Shirlee misses always-on broadband Internet access. Both of us got tired of always needing to stow things securely before we moved. John's original answer wasn't really about the wine; what he really missed was space to get away from each other.
Q: What kind of a boat do you have?
A: Solstice is a sloop (since renamed by the new owner). Specifically, she's a 1983 Sceptre 41, hull number 12. We named her Solstice (and the s/v stands for "sailing vessel"), but previous owners called her other names. Sceptre Marine was in Richmond, BC, but they're no longer building boats. See About the boat for more details and a few photos.
Q: Where do you live? Where's home?
A: Really, people did ask that, including lots of official people like insurance companies. We lived on the boat, wherever she was at the time. Our official home port was San Francisco because that's where we started (and ended). Our permanent mailing address was a mail forwarding service in Florida called St. Brendan's Isle. We picked this service because it allowed us to preview the mail we received and discard junk mail instead of having it forwarded. Our extended families live in Oregon, so when we flew back to the States, Portland was generally where we went. Shirlee will go back to work in the San Francisco Bay area, and that became our home again for 10 years. Now we live outside Waldport, Oregon.
Q: How long did you live on the boat?
A: We sold our house and moved aboard Solstice in October 2005. We began the voyage early on the morning of May 1, 2006, when we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and turned right. The cruise ended in June 2011.
Q: Are you really from the U.S.?
A: This was a common question. Many of the U.S. flags we saw in the Mediterranean were on boats belonging to, or sailed by, people not from the States. This was so true, in fact, that we started asking this question ourselves of other people flying the stars and stripes.
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