This is Bonnie here, and these are my very first words ever written on the blog. It’s taken me 30 minutes to get this far (where do I start? What do I say? So much has happened…..) so I’ll just try to spit it out…..

We, Greg and I, and Willow have currently found ourselves in SW Ohio. A businessman named George saw our blog and looked us up to see if Greg would build him a similar boat. This occurred in the spring, when we were back east anyway for a wedding, so we took a day to fly out here and meet George and the shop. Things probably could have gotten rolling right then, except we already decided that we needed to get Willow out of Hawaii first. The earthquake in Japan caused the tsunami in Hawaii that damaged many boats, and we weren’t even there to deal with it! Luckily our friends in Honolulu, Keegan Mars and Craig Short, took it upon themselves to take Willow offshore for us, without really having sailed with us before; but being sailors themselves, they grabbed some beers and dealt with all those funky lines in the junk sails. (Thank you thank you thank you!).

So, while I worked in Alaska this summer, Greg sailed Willow back to her homeport of
Bellingham WA with our friend Camila, and we would have kept her there except George offers to let us store our boat in his humongous shop. This is huge. We’ve sailed Willow over 25000 miles since launching her (enough to have gone around the world!), and she looks it. We haven’t stopped much to give her any TLC along the way, and while that’s a good indication on how well she was built, you can imagine the need for a new paint job. After arriving here and getting settled in, we have Willow trucked out and she arrived last week, probably wondering how she ended up so far from saltwater.

Now here we are. We actually live in the industrial park where George has his shop, as he has an apartment built next to the office, and it’s more square footage than we’re used to! It’s a good thing, with all the walk-in closets-all the crap I managed to get off Willow over the last few days had to go somewhere. I laugh to myself when I recall an essay written about our boat by a friend of Jeffrey and Christine Smith, Jack Mynett, who basically was amazed that we could fit all of our worldly possessions on a 34′ boat. He went on to list all of HIS possessions, obviously shaking his head. As I look at our pile of stuff, I realize that most of it hasn’t even been used: survival suits, dozens of flares, medical equipment, strobes, life jackets, spare batteries, epirb, spare anchors, sea drogue, sewing machine, camping and climbing gear a la H.W. Tilman (we surfed instead), 2 dozen knives(?), boxes of extra hardware from building (Ryan Martin called us the chandlery). What we did use: 3 guitars, a mandolin and ukulele, surfboards, and (briefly) kiteboards, wet suits, snorkel gear, pressure cookers, outboard engine, 20 lbs of nautical charts, chart guides for a dozen countries, fuel and oil filters, 5 pillows and 6 cockpit cushions, a dozen pillowcases, and 9 coffee mugs.

While I cleaned out Willow, Greg has been full speed ahead in the three weeks we’ve been here. He outfitted the workshop with all necessary tools, sourced out lumber and epoxy, has lofted out the lines of the new vessel and has already scarfed together plywood and laminated southern pine for the frames. He has help from two of George’s employees, Wes and John, so it’s coming along quite rapidly. We held our breath when George came by to see Willow for the first time, as his will be similar (but 3 ½ feet longer), and he seemed happy at the workmanship and was surprised that a plywood hull could be faired so smooth.

It’s amazing to see Greg ‘back at it’. I think he felt slightly bored with cruising after awhile, and now has a big mental and physical challenge again to focus on. When we visited with his family last spring, and this job was imminent, his parents took me aside and asked me how I was doing. Essentially what they were saying was, we know how crazy Greg can be with his projects and how are you holding up after 17 years with the guy? All I can say is, it’s been a hell of a ride and quite an adventure! With the experience we’ve had on Willow, we see this as a chance to build an even better version of “Badger”, while still loving our Willow and happy to have the chance to give her a overhaul and prepare her for further voyages. We’re not done yet.