Two of our fellow CSC members have casted off on an adventure many of us dream of! If you are interested in following their adventure, check out Team Bouchon.
Yalcin (“Turkish guy”) and Marie (“Frenchick”) met here at CSC! For Yalcin his first time on a sailboat was after high school, when he took a keelboat trip in Turkey: “during this trip, we learnt the basics of sailing, how to tie knots, docking, anchoring, basic navigation etc. I got a basic crew certificate, I don't remember which yachting association issued it. I loved it so much! From then on, I always felt like if I ever had a chance to sail my boat full time, I was going to do it.” Yalcin kept sailing while in the Mediterranean, but when he arrived in the USA as a graduate student his dream started to fade as he had not sailed in three years. But then, he found a job in the bay area and started calculating how many years he’d need to work “to get a boat and save some money to sail her for a couple of years. I think I can say that as soon as I found the financial path, I started actively preparing for a trip. I, of course, had no idea what it would look like.”
Marie also had some sailing experience on optimists as a kid, then Hobbie - and she also dreamt of one day sailing the world! These two crossed paths at Cal Sailing Club and started to dream together. At first by racing JY dinghies in our own south sailing basin, then “on the Bay on Ricochet, a Santana 22, and finally on Yalcin’s first keelboat, the beautiful lady Avocet, a Canadian Sailcraft 30 who taught the couple a lot about avoiding crab pods, make pizzas while grounded at the entrance of a cove, chinese gibes, raftups and dipping outside the protective Bay for a couple of days here and there…” They each got their junior skipper dinghy rating at CSC and at some point worked towards senior skipper, but became distracted with their own boat.
They spent lots of time picking out an appropriate boat for them. Finally they purchased Tire-bouchon, an Ericson 38, which they brought from San Diego to Berkeley with our cruising skipper and friend Nick G and started to prepare the boat for an adventure one day, which was a challenge in a foreign country. “Because I didn't know how to find a good service or source some parts. I have some boat building experience, I have curiosity to learn the sailboat systems so I read a lot. Information is excessively available thanks to the internet. But I always had a hard time finding a place that will do the job. Marine stores charge an arm and a leg for any service they offer. The small shops that would do a one off just for fun, some small talk and a small fee simply wasn't available to me in the US” (Yalcin).
“In Turkey, I remember going to a shop that cut large plastic neon letters for store signs and getting them to cut marine plywood for us. We had to bring the right digital format and even the appropriate cutting bit for plywood but they let us use their machine for a few hours for a small charge. I remember helping them with their computer issues during the cuts. There were so many times I needed a tool or a custom job and I knew exactly where I could have gotten it done the way I wanted to if I was in Turkey; but I had to find a workaround because I didn't know any better. CSC was definitely a big resource for all my questions.”
“On the other hand, I always looked at this challenge as training. We're planning to go to places where we don't even speak the local language. It's not going to get any better for a while” (Yalcin).
Marie unfortunately had a deadline by which she needed to be out of the country: her visa in the USA was expiring. “I found the Bay so lovely and spoiled that I felt the next step had to be a little special - I needed a view that beat my old place!” (Marie). She had to keep stamina to work on the boat for months while still working a full time job as a post-doctorate at UC Berkeley trying to finish her research paper, and set aside all the things she would have wanted to explore and do in a place where she knew she had a limited time to live. “Also, announcing it to my parents without them freaking out took some energy!” (Marie).
These two spent months preparing for their departure from Berkeley marina replacing their rig, wiring and rewiring the boat, making lazy jacks themselves, fixing and gaining trust in the motor, sewing, cleaning and building a home on the water for themselves to begin their adventure. They scared away the snake behind their boat and shared drinks with Neptune, practiced in the bay, took trips to Drake’s Bay, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz. Their O-dock friends are selfishly so very sad to see them go but at the same time are beyond excited for their adventure!
“Not sure I'm seasoned enough to give advice, but I feel for this sort of stuff, it's important to not be too set on the way you want this to happen, but keep making little steps towards it. There are so many ways to sail around, some people skip the prep part and just crew around the world (I have some friends who did that, it took them less time to take off!)” (Marie, January 2020).
“I don't think I am at the point to give advice of my own yet. But I can reiterate what I heard from the people I trust. Try to crew on boats as much as possible. Look for skippers in search of dependable crew, jump on the opportunities for passages, boat deliveries, and races to gain on water experience. This is the easiest and the cheapest way to get better at sailing and boating in general. I did not do this enough myself and I think that's going to bite us especially at the beginning” (Yalcin, January 2020).
Tire Bouchon spent one last night in Clipper Cove anchored with some friends on January 13th 2021, and started their trip down the coast on January 14th.
“Today, we are waiting out a gale on the boat at a mooring in Redondo Beach, Los Angeles. It feels good to be back home after a couple of days sleeping on land, but at the same time we didn't get much sleep and the conditions are a little frightening. So I feel grateful for being sheltered and humbled by what's to come and the forces of nature” (Marie, January 25th, 2021).
“Few days ago we were landsick, now we're seasick. Jokes aside, we're still on the run to leave the country so a little stressed but I am super excited for what is waiting for us” (Yalcin, January 25th, 2021).
Cal Sailing Club wishes you fair winds and all of the best, we will see you soon Tire Bouchon hopefully somewhere warm with about 10-15 knots of wind! To find out how they made if out of the United States follow their blog: Team Bouchon.
Tire Bouchon taking off from Clipper Cove, about to raise sails for a beautiful close reach almost on one tack to Golde Gate.