There to Here - In the Beginning

We've promised an in-depth look at our journey from there to here … from corporate life to a sailing life. And so it begins … at the beginning. We need to back up a few decades to the late 1980s and 1990s to give you a little background.

In 1987, tired of working for other companies, we started our own little Denver-based medical equipment company, Tamarac Systems, on a shoestring budget. David, the electrical engineer, was responsible for developing and manufacturing pulmonary function equipment and Marcie handled marketing and sales. We had a few employees, but basically it was a bootstrapped business and we worked 60-70 hours a week and the business was moderately successful. We also ran a household, had a combined family of three kids (and a few strays along the way) and all the usual accouterments of a middle class family and the associated requisite challenges with which to contend. Not so different than a lot of folks

                                                                   1987 – typical Colorado family

                                                                   1987 – typical Colorado family

I want to interject here that David has always been interested in sailing. In fact, he joined the Navy right out of high school. “Join the Navy and see the world”, the enlistment posters promised. But, as luck would have it, he was never even on a ship. Instead, he spent most of his 6-year Navy career as an electronic tech maintaining computer systems. And Marcie? Well, other than a few hours on her Grandpa's rowboat fishing in a local pond, she had never been on a boat at all. Was David dreaming of sailing off into the sunset even then?

While the kids were away for a week one summer, we decided to dip our toes into the water and take some sailing lessons … more on that later. Subsequently, thoroughly enthused about our newly acquired skills (because after one week, we knew everything there was to know about sailing), we began chartering and then decided to buy a boat … in the Florida Keys. Bad purchase decision, this was a misstep, but we'll talk more about that later, too. For now, let us continue with the saga.

In 1995, we had the opportunity to sell our company to a bigger fish. This sale required a move to Wisconsin and working for Burdick, Inc. for at least three years to transfer intellectual property and basic know-how, which we did. In fact, we stayed for nearly five years and did pretty well both financially and career-wise … but we still put in our 60+ hour weeks. Then the “big fish” was purchased by a “bigger fish” … not good. In the meantime, Marcie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Things took on a new perspective. We disliked our jobs and we got in touch with our own mortality. What the heck were we doing with our lives?

Over several months and many long discussions, we decided it was time to make a drastic change. But what to do, where to go? Well, we applied to the Peace Corps. The interviews went well, but Marcie's bout with breast cancer a few years previous made us a liability. They didn't want us. What now?

Then David sprang it on me … let's sail off into the sunset … permanently. Sell everything, buy a boat and sail around the world. Really? This scenario had never entered my mind. Not only had we never discussed it; he'd never even mentioned it before. I wasn't sure I was ready for that drastic a change just yet. But then again, I was ready for a new adventure. It would just take some time to get my arms around this idea and definitely some planning.

Coincidentally, out of the blue, David received an offer to work in St. Louis on a one-year contract. We resigned our current positions and moved to St. Louis. We figured this year would allow us the opportunity to shed some of our land anchors, like a big house in Wisconsin chock full of furniture, and make some serious plans for the future. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Look for the continuing "Journey from There to Here" series every Monday. We want to start your week out right!

Next week … Learning to sail