From Zero to a Hundred
They weren’t sailors, but they had spirit, and they were ready for a big change. A new catamaran and a couple of continents later, they got all that and more.
Like a couple of college kids pulling a string of all-nighters, they crammed and jammed. They bought the magazines. They inhaled the works of such multihull experts as author Charles Kanter. They took sailing lessons any way and anywhere they could. Dinghy lessons, monohull lessons, women-only lessons for Laurie, weeks aboard with instructors in locales from the Pacific Northwest to Belize and San Diego—the odyssey was gaining momentum.
“We learned to sail in San Diego Bay,” says Craig. “It’s like learning to drive in New York City.”
After gaining confidence in San Diego among the multitudes of commercial, pleasure, and military traffic, they got their wits about them and came to appreciate how fairly predictable weather patterns helped them focus on the sailing itself. They went to the next step, liveaboard lessons.
“The first time we had an instructor leave us, and we anchored to stay overnight on our own, it wasn’t pretty,” Craig says. “But we did it, after just a week, which is amazing. Instructors are so impressive in their ethics and attention to safety. They possess military-like attention to detail. And it was good to get lessons in different places in the world. In Belize, we learned to deal with coral. In the Pacific Northwest, it was the currents and the tides.”
They were quickly approaching a crossroad, and they sensed it. In 2007, they attended the fall U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, the largest in-water event in the country catering to sailors, one complete with new production-model boats, equipment, and a popular seminar series.
“We knew we wanted a catamaran because we’d be living aboard, and Laurie had seen the cat when she was kayaking,” says Craig. “We were still considering a house in Mexico, and when we went looking at homes on the waterfront, we saw cats in the anchorage.”
Besides climbing aboard every catamaran on the docks and talking to builders, they spent an afternoon with owners in the nearby anchorage aboard Leap of Faith, a 44-footer, and met with Rob Poirier, the Antares Yachts co-founder who devised the company’s flagship design. (See “Sensible Liveaboards.")
Pieces of an unwieldy jigsaw puzzle were starting to come together. “The construction and design of the Antares made a lot of sense to me,” says Craig. “We wanted something that we could take offshore for an open-ended journey. We liked the big saloon and that the engines are situated in the center of each hull of the boat.” Adds Laurie: “Access to the engines is easy and comfortable.”
By late 2008, Alberta Crewed was hull number one in production at the company’s new plant in Argentina. Craig and Laurie chose the name as a play on the rich crude-oil resources of their landlocked province of Alberta.