Clark Willix

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My First Boat
Sailing has always fascinated me. As a kid my family was into small powerboats and canoes but I didn’t know anyone with a sailboat. I remember finding a Red Cross book on sailing and reading it with great interest. I had my first real sailing experience at the age of 15 while working at a 4-H summer camp as a counselor. The camp used to have a sailing program but it has been long since forgotten. I looked over the boats and was able to piece together one working boat from the small fleet. I convinced the camp director that I could teach sailing so I learned to sail while teaching. Poor kids, but we all had fun.

When I was 24 and just out of college I bought my first small cruising boat. It was a Coronado 25 that I kept on Lake Ontario. I spent every weekend of the short summer season sailing around the northern end of the lake and reading sailing books and Cruising World magazine. I remember one weekend in particular, my crew couldn’t make it so I went out alone and while anchored in the bay of a small island I read an article about the financial costs of offshore cruising. It was then that I realized that one could make a life out of messing around in boat and traveling the world. I put my mind to the task and in a couple of years was no longer working for other companies as an employee but marketing myself as a consulting software engineer. This meant leaving northern New York State and selling my first boat but I had a plan. I figured that if I pushed myself for about 10 years I could put enough money together to allow me to retire young on the interest. After a brief stay in Boston I took a contract in Austin Texas with IBM developing their OS/2 operating system. After that I took a contract in the Seattle Washington area with Boeing doing some work in the 777 airplane design. Seattle is a great place to get yourself ready for the cruising lifestyle. Where in northern New York cruisers were just people you read about, here you could be surrounded by people who were either getting ready or have returned. The weather is warm enough to make living aboard practical and the local economy was doing very well while I was there so it was a great place to accumulate the cruising kitty.

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