The Pacific Travels of Dan Best & Kathryn Sieck
Dan Best & Kathryn Sieck have done numerous trips in the various sailboats they have owned, but three were of special note.
· The first trip (2004-2006) was in their Tayana 37, Tricia Jean. This took them down the coast of Central/South America all the way to Ecuador, then east to the Galapagos, Polynesia and Tonga before returning to the San Francisco bay area via Hawaii. Click here to see photos and our journal of this trip.
· During our 2nd major trip (2010-2012), this time in our Kelly-Peterson 44, Loose Pointer, we first did a season in Baja, then went directly to the South Pacific, visiting Polynesia, the Cooks, American Samoa, Tonga and finally New Zealand before returning via Tonga, American Samoa and Hawaii. Click here to see the photos and journal of this trip. During this trip, we also had our newly adopted son, Adam Walker Best with us.
· No journals are available, but way back in 1999, we also did a two month trip from the San Francisco bay area to Baja in our Catalina 30, Still Clueless. This was a crowded boat as we also had our two kids, Brian and Nicole as well as our nephew, Ben, aboard.
· If these haven’t been enough of an inspiration to you, here’s an article I wrote back in 2010.
By Dan Best - July 2010
“Why can’t we?”
It’s a very simple question. Yet, this seemingly simple question changed the very structure of our lives. It was late in the summer of 1998 and we were driving up highway 101, back to our home in Healdsburg, north of Santa Rosa. We had just come from a farewell party for some friends of ours who were leaving to do the Baja HaHa cruising rally down the outside of Baja and spend some time in Mexico. We were talking about our friends and their upcoming trip and I said something like “Man, I wish we could do that!”
Kathryn’s immediate response was “Why can’t we?” and this short, simple question changed our lives.
“Because.” Was my brilliant reply, thinking that the full answer was so obvious as to be a waste of breath.
“No, really. Why can’t we?” she shot back seriously.
This time, her simple question brought me up short. It made me realize that in truth, I had never really thought about it. After all, we were the typical family. We both worked full time, had a mortgage, two cars, two pre-teens in public school and a house full of pets. The only thing that made us a little different than most Americans is that we did own a sailboat. Our 20 year old Catalina 30 wasn’t exactly a world cruiser, but it was a nice little boat that we enjoyed spending time on and was big enough that the four of us (and sometimes more when one of the kid’s friends would join us) had enjoyed ourselves on trips all over the bay and as far away as Santa Cruz.
But I had never really given serious thought to doing a major trip on it. Oh sure, I had always dreamed about going cruising someday. What boat owner hasn’t? But I had never really given serious thought about how to make it happen. Kathryn’s question started a discussion in which we tried to list all of the reasons why we couldn’t.
· What about our jobs?
· What about the kid’s school?
· What about the pets?
· The boat isn’t really ready for such a trip.
This discussion went on for a week or so until we felt we had identified all the problems that had to be solved before we could go on such a trip. We then prioritized them into a list with the most difficult ones at the top and set about coming up with solutions. Kathryn was willing to quit her job and get another when we returned (though when push came to shove, it turned out she didn’t have to as they gave her a leave of absence). Being one of the owners of my company, I couldn’t really quit, but fortunately my partner was a sailor too and understood the desire. Given almost a year of time to prepare for my being gone for a couple of months, the company was able to endure my absence without undue harm.
By late November or December, we had worked our way through to the bottom of the list of problems and had solutions for all of them. It was then that the simple words that had so dominated our lives for a few months changed from “Why can’t we?” to “We’re going!!”
That was many years ago. Looking back on it, I can honestly say that those 3, simple words changed our lives. In fact, they were such an eye opener that they really changed the way in which we approached life. Prior to that question, I had been a typical boat owner. I’d had dreams of sailing long distances and exploring strange lands. I had Images of sailing into deserted tropical atolls and dropping the anchor for awhile and wandering on to the next one when the fancy struck me. But I had never really believed that my dreams could ever be realized. So I never did anything to make them come true.
Because of this new approach to life, we enjoyed not only that two month trip to Baja, but later, after our kids were out of school, Kathryn and I spent over two years living on a boat, sailing around the Pacific. We visited places such as Polynesia, Tonga, the Galapagos Islands and many, many more. Family obligations eventually caused us to return to California, but we are once again preparing to enjoy the cruising life and will be shoving off again this summer.
It was that simple question that made me realize that dreams can be made to come true. All you have to do is to decide to make it happen and then do whatever it takes.