Photo Credit: Courtesy of Damien Williams and Maggie Jay
'We Traded Our House For A Sailboat To Travel The World'
Buying a sailboat wasn’t the original plan for Damien Williams and Maggie Jay. It happened by chance.
The couple was looking for alternative living lifestyles because their two Airbnb homes in Denver were constantly booked up.
“We were looking at a third place that we could actually live in so, we found this really cool 1973 GMC motor home,” said Jay. “We started traveling and doing these 90-day road trips while we managed our properties remotely.”
Jay and Williams traveled to 35 states in two years, but then their motorhome caught on fire, and it was totaled. Jay tells Travel Noire that she thought they would get another RV, but for Williams, he took the loss of the van really hard as they put a lot of work and miles on it.
“I told Maggie that I always wanted to sail,” said Williams.
From there, the couple traveled down to the coast from Colorado where they began a two and a half week journey through Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Florida, in search of a sailboat.
“We ended up purchasing a 1979 Pearson 35,” Williams said. “We bought the boat on anchor. We had our car loaded up with the stuff from the road trip and just anchored in the water not knowing how to sail or anything.”
For the first two weeks after purchasing the boat, Williams and Jay watched YouTube videos, and everyone from the marina sailing right by them. They had a little head start as Williams read Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual cover to cover.
“The first thing we learned to do was learn to lift and drop the anchor, and we practiced that religiously,” said Jay.
The end of February will mark their one-year anniversary on the boat, and so far, they have traveled more than 800 nautical miles.
“I’ve never experienced this level of privacy, and the freedom part is what is super cool to me,” Williams said.
YouTube and the sailing boat community have played a major role in teaching them to sail and learn how to cross borders legally on water. They admit that even though they are typically one of few Black families at sea, they feel supported by the sailing community.
When asked about some of the biggest lessons they have learned this past year, they both agree that taking risks to follow your passion is worth it.
“I’ve learned that no matter how scared I am that if I just breeze through it, that the result is usually beautiful and amazing,” said Jay.
Jay and Williams were anchored in Miami at the time of this interview, where they are getting ready to sail to Bimini.