Couple sails the high seas to see world while they’re young
Michael Calvino and Claire Holmes live in League City, but that will soon change depending on where the wind takes them.
They met a few years ago while living in Kitty Hawk, N.C., and knew instantly they shared a love of adventure. So, it came as no surprise to family and friends when the couple moved to Dana Point, Calif., to check out their options.
Calvino, 26, a trained culinary chef, had no problem finding work. Holmes, 23, a licensed cosmetologist, didn’t either. So, they bided their time, worked hard, saved their money and came up with a plan: They would travel the world as frugally and ecologically friendly as possible. Even though neither one of them had ever taken a sailing lesson, much less sailed, Calvino bought a 1967 Cal 28 sailboat off Craigslist for $3,000.
The boat, appropriately named Splendid Isolation, became their philosophy.
“It took about two years to overhaul the boat and get it ready for sea,” Calvino said.
A new coat of paint— sunflower yellow and teal — were the final touches. Holmes, a perky, free spirit, sanded and painted right along with him.
They gave two weeks’ notice at their jobs, sold their vehicles and set sail for Mexico. Piña, their calico cat, went with them.
It took the couple about three months to sail the 1,200 miles to Cabo San Lucas, stopping along the way to fish, swim and snorkel.
“Next, we sailed the backside of the peninsula and anchored in La Paz for about two months,” Calvino said. “The whole Sea of Cortez is nothing but scattered islands, so we did day sailing from island to island and cove to cove. We spent another four to six months on the backside of Baja and then crossed the sea to Guaymas, Mexico.”
They pride themselves on getting by with minimal technology and modern accoutrements. The galley of the boat consists of a three-burner gimbaled propane stove, sink and ice box. A block of ice can last up to 10 days. A nice-sized V-berth, closet and head complete the interior. They have a solar shower, but prefer to bathe in the ocean.
A standard VHF works well as a communication device, but they often depend on nearby boaters for intricate weather reports and Wi-Fi. Other equipment onboard include kerosene lanterns, tools, fishing poles, life jackets, flood lights, spot tracker and an emergency alert system.
“Our boat is not high tech,” Calvino said. “If something breaks, I can fix it. It’s classic and simple.”
Holmes has become adept as a first mate.
“I can handle the 33-pound anchor manually with 85 feet of chain and over 260 feet of line — all by myself,” she said.
With his culinary skills, Calvino can whip up just about anything gourmet miles away from land. They have an abundance of fresh fish at their disposal; a typical meal might be seared mahi-mahi with coconut saffron rice.
“A variety of food keeps well at sea,” Holmes said. “Cured meats, fruits, potatoes, onions, sprouts and herbs. We grow some things in pots on the boat and plan to do more of that.”
Splendid Isolation is docked in Clear Lake while getting some upgrades. Calvino is employed as a restaurant chef in Kemah and Holmes also is working. But the couple plans to set sail in May.
A second cat, a Siamese named Comida China, has joined the crew and already has her sea legs.
“Our next goal is to sail to the Gulf Coast of Florida, reassess everything and go from there,” Calvino said. “If we have enough money, we’ll head for the Caribbean, spend some time cruising the islands and then go up to the Outer Banks for awhile. Or we’ll get jobs until we can set sail again. Working hard until retirement age seems backwards to me. We should see the world while we’re young.”