Welcome to Matt & Jessica Johnson’s sailing page. We are a couple of Michiganders (Grand Rapids) had grown up without ever setting foot aboard a sailboat, but decided to take it up as a hobby one summer in 2008 when we had nothing better to do. Although that’s putting it lightly for my husband Matt. For him, it’s an obsession.
How it all started
For the past 10 years that Matt and I have been together at this point, he’d go through phases of different hobbies/obssesions. Ranging from rally cars, watches, and real estate, sailing has become the latest and hopefully permanent one. It started in late summer of 2007 while on the shores of Lake Michigan. Matt would look at the sailboats on the water and comment on how he’d like to try that someday. I didn’t pay too much attention, because of course, there was another hobby at hand at the moment. Still, every time we were at the beach he’d gaze longingly at the boats dotting the horizon. Come winter though, there were no beaches, no boats, and the subject slowly died. We turned out interest to Matt’s newest engrossment, buying property in northern Michigan and building a small pod home or prefabricated cabin. The whole winter was spent searching for properties and cabin designs. We had even narrowed it down to a few designs and certain locations when out of nowhere Matt asked, “We can either get a piece of property or spend the money to get a sailboat, which do you think would be best?”. I hadn’t known the sailboat might even come back into the equation, so the question took me a little by surprise. And Matt was not going to let me off the hook with saying ‘I don’t know, whatever you want to do’, so we sat down to weigh the pros and cons of both. Eventually we decided that although the cabin would give us year-round access where we could only use the boat in the summer, that we would rather spend our summers on the water with constant activity and enjoyment than every other weekend in a 400 sq ft cabin on barren land.
Once the decision was made, Matt dove into his new obsession by scouring the internet for boats up for sale, and which ones would best fit our need. In the end though, we did what we had done with our house and most of our cars, which is to buy the first one we actually see in person. It was August 2008 and we had driven about 45 minutes south to Battle Creek to see a 1998 Hunter 240. It was in pretty good condition, was a great beginner boat, and the price was right. So after taking a sailing lesson the following day (different boat, different town) to make sure it was something we liked, we put an offer on the Hunter and it was accepted.
Within a week we had the boat up to Muskegon where we had purchased a mooring at Torresen Marine. With the exception of bumping into about 6 other boats on our first time out of the channel (we literally had to have a guy passing by jump in our boat to save us), we had a wonderful two and a half months (thank you Indian Summer) learning and loving the sport of sailing on Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan. Scratch that, we also hit 4-5 boats in the channel again taking our boat out of the water for the year. We learned to put in and take out at a different location the following year.
So that is the story of how we came into sailing. Follow our adventures and mishaps as we purchased a new (to us) Sabre 34 Targa in January 2010 and prepped ourselves to go cruising.
From landlubbers to cruisers
Fast forward a few years and we are now new cruisers. Our Sabre has been outfitted and filled to the brim with things I’m sure both of us will realize pretty soon down the road that we do not need.
How did we get here? Lots of planning and hard work. We sold our house in June of 2011 and moved into Matt’s mom’s and stepdad’s house. Even though we had been scraping and saving for the past two years to save up and go cruising for 2-3 in the States and Bahamas the savings went into overdrive when we realized we wanted to be gone for longer, possibly 4-5 years and go much further. In July we both quit our jobs, sold our cars, and were ready to start the cruising life. Then on August 12 we were finally ready to depart Muskegon on the west coast of Lake Michigan and start our adventure. Over the past two years we’ve sailed down the east coast of the US, spent time in the Bahamas, Cuba, Central America, and crossed the Atlantic twice in 2014!
Our newest adventure is waiting for us in Indiantown, FL in the form of a 37 ft aluminum boat. We’ll spend the next however long gutting and rebuilding this new boat and getting her ready to cruise. One thing is for sure, we can never rely on plans and new adventures are always waiting around the corner for us.