I imagine the number of people who live full-time aboard a boat for an extended period of time is quite small. Maybe less than five percent of the population? Whatever the number is, I’m among them. Al and I had this notion that we’d sail around the world. We didn’t make it but we did cover some nautical miles and we lived aboard our sailboat, Carina for sixteen years. Unconventional? Read on…
THE STORY OF CARINA July 2012
CARINA was built in 1983 in Helsinki, Finland by Siltala Yachts. Her first owner named her Christina and sailed her in the seas of Scandinavia. She was sold in 1991 to Raimo Jaykka, himself a boatbuilder and experienced sailor. Raimo and his wife Lena renamed her Christin and prepared her for their planned voyage. They upgraded and outfitted Christin to transit the Atlantic in 1992 with the Americas 500 Transatlantic Rally, retracing the route of Christopher Columbus five hundred years earlier. Raimo made many improvements to Christin to strengthen her for the crossing. In 1992 they left Finland and sailed to Spain to join the rally.
Having successfully arrived in Saint Augustine, Florida in early 1993, Raimo and Lena put Christin on the market. They had never intended to sail her back to Finland, so she was for sale fully equipped and ready to go. When we (Linda and Al Card) arrived in Saint Augustine in late April 1993, Raimo and Lena were eager to sell Christin due to constraints requiring their prompt return to Finland. We made a deal, signed the papers, and moved aboard our new home on the day we took possession of her, May 7, 1993. She has been our home ever since.
From Saint Augustine we transited Florida along the Caloosahatchee River, and made Fort Myers Beach our home port. We sought to rename her and researched the right name. Having always been interested in the stars and astronomy, it’s no surprise we found it on a constellation chart. CARINA is a group of stars in the constellation Argo. You may recall from your ancient history reading that Argo was the ship in which Jason and his men, the Argonauts, sailed the world in search of the Golden Fleece. In the constellation, CARINA represents the keel of the ship, which was made from a single magical oak tree. In the story of Jason and the Argonauts, CARINA had the magical ability to communicate with Jason, and thus protect the ship from the hazards of the sea. Aboard Argo, Jason and his men found the Golden Fleece and returned safely home. That was enough to convince us, and we rechristened her CARINA.
For the next four years we learned to sail CARINA and to make her our own. We lived at Fort Myers Beach Marina and both worked full time. We explored the Gulf coast waters and the Florida Keys while we made changes on board to make CARINA more
suited to her new tropical home. In November 1997 we let loose the dock lines and set out for the Bahamas on our first major cruise. We explored the Berry Islands, the Exumas and made our way to Georgetown, then returned to Fort Myers Beach in the summer of 1998.
Back to work, on shore and on board, we made plans for a longer cruise. We were preparing to leave in 2003 when CARINA was struck by lightning at the dock in Fort Myers Beach. This unfortunate event delayed our departure, but had a silver lining. With our insurance coverage we were able to replace and upgrade nearly all the electronics on board. Our first cruise to the Bahamas functioned as a “shake down”, and we made other changes and upgrades as a result of what we had learned. After surviving all four of the hurricanes that hit Florida in 2004, CARINA was ready to sail. We waved goodbye and headed south on the Monday following Thanksgiving Day.
Early December 2004 marked our arrival in Isla de las Mujeres, Mexico. After several months and a variety of boat projects, we made our way south through Belize to our destination, Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Since July 2005 this has been our home base. A total engine rebuild was necessary in 2006 and our Bukh diesel is as good as new. In June 2007 the crew at Astillero Magdalena (aka Abel’s Boatyard) hauled CARINA up on the track and did a complete bottom job and rudder stop repair.
After all these years on board we are ready to make a change and pass CARINA on to the next sailor. She is a sturdy, comfortable boat, with a lot of sea miles left in her. We sold CARINA in 2012.