It all started in 2013 when we got wind of a boat that someone was ‘giving’ away. It was a 24 foot San Juan sailboat and we went to see it that April. The days prior to actually seeing it, we started getting excited at the idea of a sailboat. We lived in the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia, Canada at the time, where the Gulf Islands are a hop, skip and a jump away. We imagined learning to sail and cruising throughout the Islands to explore and spend family time.
Then we saw the boat. Woah. Covered in green slime, the outboard motor didn’t work and the inside of the boat had a 2-inch deep green puddle of water in it and the walls and portlights were laden with black mold. It was an absolute mess. AND the owner then told us he was ‘giving’ it away for $1000. In hind sight, I don’t think he could have paid someone $1000 to take over that boat. She was in rough shape and it was very sad. We walked away so disappointed as we had gotten really used to the idea of becoming boat owners. I’m not sure what ever became of that sad little San Juan, but what happened next was fate.
Jason was at lunch a week later with a few friends- one of them a bailiff. He happened to mention the experience we had with the left-for-dead boat and he mentioned to Jason that he was likely going to be seizing a sailboat for being in arrears on moorage and if we are interested, he would get us some more information.
So, that boat did get seized. All 40 feet of it. She was a 1981 MC-39, built in Coquitlam, British Columbia. We were definitely interested, although we recognized that 40 feet was a bit big to be starting out on! We went down to get a peek at it and although it needed some TLC, it was a beautiful boat and we saw huge potential in it. It had 2 cabins and a head with a shower, full galley and a huge dinette with a setee.
Her name was ‘Mia Alma II’ which translates to ‘My Soul’. It was fate. One thing led to another and we ended up buying her on June 30th for a ridiculously cheap price because the engine wasn’t working. We hired a mechanic and Jason spent several long days working with him to get her going, and get her going they did! I remember the feeling of joy when Jason sent me a video of the engine purring away…We also had an electrician work on the boat who accidentally left a wire hot and we ended up with a small boat fire. That was interesting and made us question if what we were doing was sane. Luckily the old fire extinguisher on the boat worked, as we never even thought to check it. We’ve come a long way since then and now have 8 fire extinguishers and 2 smoke alarms on our boat!
However, she had been sitting, untouched in the Vancouver marina for 2-3 years, so there was more to be done. Boats like to be used. She needed her fuel polished, so we ended up hiring a guy off Craig’s List who put in lots of blood, sweat and tears and got the fuel cleaned for us! The marina by this time was anxious to get us out and put a new ‘long-term’ tenant in our slip. (There was a long wait list for a slip at Heather Marina, so no chance for us to stay there).
Next, we needed to find a new slip for her and figure out how we were going to get Mia Alma II into that slip. We ended up finding a spot in Semiahmoo Marina, which is in Blaine, Washington- just across the B.C. border by White Rock. We made fast friends with a couple on the same dock finger as us- Jay and Tracey from sv Lionessa. They offered to help us sail her to Steveston, a little fishing village in Richmond, B.C. that also happened to be where our house was. We got a wonderful, hot sunny day in July to sail her, but we ended up motoring most of the way due to the winds. We had Mia Alma II pulled out in Steveston, where we put her up on blocks on the hard for 2 weeks. She got a new anti-fouling paint job on her hull with Jay’s help and we installed a Nature’s Head compostable toilet as the boat had a super-old and nasty toilet and no holding tank. Ick.
When she was all done, Jason and Jay sailed her from Steveston, B.C. to Blaine, W.A. on August 8th. It was a hot, sunny day and they had a wonderful sail. Lisa and Carson took the convertible and drove to Semiahmoo Marina to meet them, help them dock and drive Jay back home.
We spent every free weekend, most of the Christmas holidays and every free moment we could on that boat. However, we never left the marina because we still didn’t feel comfortable sailing her alone! We bought a tandem kayak and a dinghy to explore Blaine and met some of the most amazing friends while at that marina.
We even stayed on the boat one weekend that was -8 degrees celcius! Lisa slept with a toque on that night. Brrrrr! We went crabbing and beach exploring and really enjoyed the closeness it brought to our family. There were several couples and one family living aboard their boats here, which was a completely new concept to us. Jason began to suggest that we should live on a boat someday…