Some parents enroll their children in private school for their middle school years, but Jim and Jeanna Rard took to the sea instead. With their two daughters, Molly and Jessie, they embarked on a two-year trip from Seattle to Australia and back on their 2007 Jeanneau 49P, Ruby Slippers.
Tell us about your boat’s name.
No matter where we go, we can click our heels and be home in our hearts!
Have you owned other boats before this one?
Ranger 33, Tartan 37, Fontaine Pajot catamaran
Tell us the story of how you found your boat and what makes it special to you.
We chose this boat for its tall rig, deep keel, and ability to “go the distance.” It fit our family of four perfectly for our two-year cruise.
What’s the history of your boat?
We bought our boat specifically to take our twin daughters cruising during their middle school years — a much better option than public middle school! We left in October of 2006, sailed from Anacortes to Australia and back, via Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Vanuatu, arriving home in August of 2008. Last summer, Ruby Slippers took us to Sitka, Alaska and back, along with a flotilla of nine other boats.
What do you like best about your boat?
In some very rough weather between Tonga and New Zealand, Ruby Slippers showed me that she could get my family anywhere safely. It is comfortable offshore, and roomy below.
What do you know now about your boat that you wish you’d known when you bought it? Would that have changed your mind?
There were times off the shallow coast of Australia that I wished our keel wasn’t quite so deep (8’9”), but that wouldn’t have changed our minds, maybe just our destination! I didn’t think I would like the linear galley, but it proved to be seaworthy and easy to cook in underway.
What’s your favorite story involving your boat?
I liked how everyone we met cruising really like the name of our boat. It seemed to strike a familiar chord in adults and children. Even captains of fishing vessels and Coast Guard personnel that we spoke with on the VHF would mention how they loved the name!
Describe the most challenging situation you’ve experienced on your boat and how it performed.
Dodging icebergs in Tracy Arm and sleeping whales in the South Pacific was challenging, but the boat was nimble and forgiving. When we were running under bare poles near New Zealand, Ruby Slippers performed admirably and gave us a fairly good night’s sleep.
Tell us a little about your boating background.
Jim and I have made about 10 trips up the Inside Passage on different boats, have sailed to San Francisco and southern California, done boat deliveries on the East Coast, have raced in Antigua and Bermuda, and have sailed extensively in the San Juans and Canada. We have lived aboard for long periods of time. Our daughters have many ocean miles under their belts, and love the ocean. Our two-year trip to Australia and back was the highlight of our sailing career. It was so bonding to need to depend upon each other as crew members, and to learn how to live the “simple life”.
Where do you plan to take your boat?
Ruby Slippers will lead another flotilla of boats for Sail Alaska 2012, leaving from Bedwell Harbor in mid-June. And, I wouldn’t mind spending some time in Mexico again …
Do you have a dream destination?
I would like to sail the Dalmatian Coast near Croatia, and I would love to cruise around Vietnam. Embarrassingly enough, our daughters have never been to Victoria, so that needs to happen as soon as the weather warms up!
If someone gave you $10,000 that you could only spend on your boat, what would you do with it and why?
Repaint the name, which has become a little weather-worn, update some of the hardware down below — mirrors, sink handles, towel racks, etc. (You can tell this is a girl talking …) not much else!
If you could have any other boat, what would it be and why?
We are perfectly happy with our boat! We have learned that it’s not the type of boat you are in, but where you allow your boat to take you and the people you meet along the way that makes all the difference.
What didn’t we ask you about your boat that you wish we had?
You did a great job — these are good questions!
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