Making the Leap to Cruising - Start Sailing Now

Meet Holly and Ron: New to the Cruising Life

Although Holly and Ron Foster had been sailboat owners who daysailed for several years, buying a cruising boat and learning the weekender lifestyle was new to them.

Tell us about how you got into sailing
Early in our marriage, Ron and I inherited from my father a trailerable sailboat, and we got a taste of sailing, even though we did not understand a lot about it. We would drive the boat to a lake in Pennsylvania and set it up, often referring to the instructions in the owner’s manual. We had fun, but since we didn’t really understand points of sail, we sometimes had trouble getting back to the dock. When our first daughter was born, we sold the boat and took a hiatus from sailing.

I got back into it when I was invited to accompany a girlfriend to the British Virgin Islands, where she was taking ASA 101 and 103 sailing courses to gain proficiency to sail with her husband. We both passed the courses, but it was I who caught the sailing bug—so much so that I went back the next year and took ASA 104, the bareboat course.

Time on the water and boat ownership
After that, for many years I got my time on the water by working with a Methodist camp on the West River, where I sponsored a boat (meaning I did the work to clean it up), and in return, I got to sail it when the camp wasn’t using it. For several years I sponsored Irish Hurricane, a 1968 Pearson 30 with an atomic four engine. The boat looked pretty awful, but I loved it. After it died, I sponsored a couple of other boats. Through them all, Ron enjoyed sailing with me, but it was more my passion than his.

The first boat Ron and I purchased was a 1978 Catalina 30, Alcore, which we bought from a relative. We sailed her out of the Severn River until last year; however, we never went farther than the Bay Bridge or Thomas Point Light.

Time to cruise
Last fall we purchased our current boat, Sweet Charlie, a 2007 Catalina 310, which has many more bells and whistles and a real mattress (which Ron really appreciates). Over the winter I took a marine diesel course from Annapolis School of Seamanship, and last spring I hired AR Marine to do my spring commissioning. I planned to watch over the pro’s shoulder and learn so that I wouldn’t have to hire him again, but unfortunately, due to Covid, I wasn’t able to shadow him.

Over Labor Day weekend we took our first real cruise, sailing to Swan Creek, where we picked up a mooring ball for two nights at Swan Creek Marina. Our daughter and son-in-law, with our granddaughter, visited with us on their powerboat, and we all had such a good time.

Did you have any preconceived notions about sailing that proved true or untrue?
Even though we had a good survey by Kevin White, there were kinks to work out since the boat had not been sailed frequently. While we counted on expenses like maintenance and dockage, Sweet Charlie needed a little more work. Annapolis Gelcoat and Restoration handled the gelcoat work, sanded and painted the bottom, and put PropSpeed on the prop. The Last Detail compounded and waxed the hull.

J Gordon added a lot of extras, such as fans, an inverter, a folding wheel, stereo, auto pilot, and a wind meter. Chesapeake Sailmakers fixed our jib. We bought new AGM batteries from Stevens Battery Warehouse, and Bay Shore Marine did engine work. I’ve also done some of my own work like replacing hoses, pumps, and repairing some parts.

What are your future sailing plans?
This winter I plan to take a marine electrical course, and now that we’ve done so much to upgrade and repair, we plan to be in better shape to do more and more cruising beginning next season.

If someone were interested in learning to sail, what would you tell them?
First go out and enjoy a wonderful day sailing; fall in love with it and experience how magical it is. Then take one or more sailing courses from a reputable sailing school.