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Sailing School Plonkers Of The Month: Mirador

Saling SchoolGeorge & Sarah on their catamaran 'Mirador' are two of our more adventurous Plonkers. Getting to know them over the years, we learned that even as a young couple they traveled to experience new cultures, foods and places and in doing so, educated themselves and their son and daughter about the world and it's peoples. We recognized their adventurous spirits right away during the sailing school and their enthusiasm dazzled everyone. They have since become very good friends and fellow sailors and we cannot wait for them to start their journey at sea! Here is their story...

When we got married (34 years ago!!!), we shared the dream of sailing off into the sunset, surrounded by tropical islands, palm trees, and white sand beaches. Both of us love to travel, and sailing seemed to us a great way to do it. Towards that end, our first vacation together was 5 days of classes at the Annapolis Sailing School.

Knowing our dream was years in the future, we started reading, crewing on other people's boats, attending boat shows, and chartering different types of boats in exotic locations. In 2003, we chartered our first catamaran out of St. Martin, and were immediately converted. You just can't beat sailing level and being able to see out of your salon! Add to that a cat's comfort at anchor and shallow draft so we could explore "skinny" water, and we were really sold. So we started seriously looking at catamarans.

In July 2006, a friend told us he's seen an interesting looking cat at the York River Yacht Haven Marina in Gloucester, VA, just 30 minutes from our home. We went to take a look, and there met Stephen and Estelle Cockcroft, aboard Siyaya, their Island Spirit 401. Stephen, a broker for Island Spirit, and Estelle invited us out for a sail on the York River, and we came away really impressed with their boat.

By that fall, after talking with cat owners and starting to read several blogs online, we'd decided we wanted a cat in the 38-40 foot range: large enough to be comfortable, but easy for the two of us to handle. At the Annapolis Boat Show, we saw Stephen and Estelle again, and spent a lot of time looking at the Island Spirit. Wanting to experience more than a demo sail, we asked if there were anyplace to charter one. Stephen told us that they would be teaching ASA Sea School courses aboard Siyaya in the Bahamas that winter. We signed up right away.

January 2007 found us in Marsh Harbor, Abacos, Bahamas, with Stephen and Estelle. What a fantastic week we had! Stephen is and excellent instructor, calm and thorough, with a great sense of humor. No Captain Bligh here. Estelle, a competent bluewater sailor in her own right, is a wonderful first mate, showing us the ropes and making sure we mastered our lessons. They make a good team. And, just saying, guys, what happened in the Bahamas stays in the Bahamas!!

After seeing Siyaya put through her paces, we decided to put down a deposit for a new Island Spirit 401. Unfortunately, Island Spirit went out of business a few months later. Luckily for us, Stephen was able to get our full deposit returned. So it was back to "hull kicking" for us, as we searched for a boat in our size and price range. We strongly considered a Manta 42, so we chartered one for a week. However, after living and sailing on one, we weren't satisfied with the salon layout.

Through all of this, we'd been looking at the three cabin version of the Lagoon 380. We'd always thought the galley was too small (we are foodies and both love to cook!). But with Stephen and Estelle's wise advice that "every boat is a compromise" ringing true to us, and with positive input from him about the quality of these boats, plus lots of talk and pictures from Lagoon owners concerning galley improvements, we began to see that this was the boat for us.

We found a suitable Lagoon 380 for sale in our area in the fall of 2009. In February 2010, Stephen acted as our broker for the purchase of our 2003 cat, now named Mirador. She's waiting impatiently for our house to sell so we can slip the lines and begin our adventures. Thank you, Stephen and Estelle, for helping us nurture our cruising dreams. See ya out there!

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