We’d been talking about taking a year off for an adventure for many years, and both of our employers offered an unpaid “leave of absence”…  So, we started scheming – what would you do with a year off? At first, we thought we’d take a climbing trip to South America in our old Westfalia Vanagon. But at some point, our conversation turned to the water.

Both of us grew up in the Puget Sound area around boats. Diana’s family sailed; Randy’s family motored. As an adult, Randy transitioned to sailing and got involved with the local racing community. So we both have a sailing background and share a love of the water. We’re not really sure when or how the conversation moved from vanning to sailing, it just did, and we started speculating about what kind of boat we’d like to buy. (Our 1979 Islander wouldn’t cut it).

Requirements were challenging – we aren’t really warm weather sailors. Beaches are nice to be sure, but we also want to backcountry ski, climb, and hike from the boat. This meant a preferably metal, insulated boat. And preferably used. We finally found the boat that captured our imagination, and we just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Boréal makes an aluminum, lifting-centreboard monohull, ideal for cold weather with a fully enclosed doghouse, and insulation!

Diana in front of a Boréal in France, 2018
Diana in front of a Boréal 47 in France, February 2018

We decided to fly to France in February of 2018 to take a look at one in person, as well as visit some other yards and brokers of similar aluminum boats (Alubat Ovni and Garcia.) We toured the Boréal factory and met the two founders, Jean-François Delvoye and Jean-François Eeman (JFD and JFE). JFE took us out for an afternoon sail, where we fell even more in love (with the boat, sorry JFE). 😉 For the rest of our short trip in France (and since), it was all we could talk about.

Signing up for a Boréal in 2018
At the Annapolis Boat Show in October 2018. From left: Steve W., JFE, JFD, Claire J., Diana, & Randy

In fact, we tried to talk ourselves out of it, for months. We wanted a used boat, but used Boréals are hard to come by. It would mean buying new. It doesn’t take a financial planner to observe that this is not the most intelligent financial decision. We quietly went into working overtime, moved into the basement of our house, started AirBnb’ing the main floor, and scrimped and saved as much as we could. We decided on another whim to go to the Annapolis Boat Show in the fall of 2018 to get a second look, and this time we committed.

Fast forward three years of hard work, missed job opportunities, a pandemic, and seemingly endless changes to plans… and we are finally preparing to set off to France (fully vaccinated) to pick up our new boat, Randonnée. She will be the last Boréal 44 to launch; the smallest and oldest model. Working up to this point has been all consuming, yet we are so privileged to be able to make it happen. Not a day goes by that we aren’t grateful for the opportunity to take a break for a bit and enjoy some of this precious life on our beautiful blue planet.