Couple prepares their Tayana 37 for adventure on the open seas
At 37 feet on deck and 42 feet overall, Isla Mia is not a small sailboat. She’s a lot to keep up with, but Christian Jackson and Shara Kendrick are undaunted. They live aboard the boat with their dog, Sandy, at the Galveston Yacht Basin, and are getting Isla Mia ready for sea.
Toward the end of this summer, Jackson and Kendrick will leave the island on an extended cruise. They aren’t yet sure where they’ll go.
The couple met only a year ago, on a boat, appropriately.
“I fell in love with the water,” said Kendrick, who is relatively new to boating, but embraces it wholeheartedly.
“I’ve always been very interested in travel, and I found out this is the best way to do it,” Kendrick, 27, said. “I was born for this.”
Jackson, on the other hand, grew up on a boat with his father in the Clear Lake area, and has been sailing all his life.
“From age 7 to 17, I lived in marinas,” he said. “I learned to sail on a Catalina 27.”
When Jackson, 25, came of age, he moved to Galveston and worked for two years as a journeyman plumber. When his “honorary grandfather,” retired builder Milton Charles Kelley Jr., offered to underwrite the purchase of a cruising sailboat, Jackson didn’t hesitate to accept the offer.
It’s the third boat Jackson and Kelley have owned together. They met when Jackson was 7 years old, and they were both living at a marina. Jackson was a precocious “latchkey kid,” and he and Kelley established a mentor-protégé relationship. Their friendship has remained strong for more than 20 years.
Jackson found Isla Mia, a Tayana 37, for sale in Rockport. He bought the boat in January and motored her home to Galveston along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The Tayana 37 is one of the most popular and successful cruising sailboats ever offered. They’re built in the Ta Yang boatyard in Taiwan with sturdy fiberglass hulls and spacious teak-lined interiors. More than 600 of these double-ended cutter-rigged boats have been produced since the 1970s and are sailed all over the world. Isla Mia, built in 1987, is hull No. 519.
Isla Mia has a full suit of sails, a 30 horsepower three-cylinder Yanmar diesel engine, a 90-gallon fuel tank and a water tank topping at 60 gallons. She can sleep up to eight people, but can be handled by two. The tank capacity and ample space for stores gives her a cruising range that can take the couple anywhere they want to go.
Jackson and Kendrick are mostly ready to go, but they need some more equipment and supplies. Millennials that they are, they have established an Instagram site, @svislamia, to solicit sponsorships. They’ll need a good supply of sunscreen, for example, and will acknowledge any corporate contributions of it on their site. More crucially, they still need radar equipment, and an updated GPS system.
Jackson and Kendrick hope to be joined by friends on various legs of the voyage, but they’re both looking forward to time alone together on peaceful blue water. The challenge of such couple-cruising goes beyond the work, planning and expense of getting ready for it, and the need to face whatever weather the sea has in store. It also involves the testing of a relationship confined to a finite, sea-tossed environment, alone on the wide sea. They are confident about that.
“If you argue a lot in stressful situations, it’s not going to work,” Jackson said.
Kendrick has a lot to learn about sailing, but she has an able and experienced partner. They rarely argue, she said.
“No matter how stressful and tense things get, at the end of the day, we still love each other,” Kendrick said.