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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]


Seattle to New Zealand
Dreams of fabulous sailing adventure come true

Dan and Jeanne Blair
Dan and Jeanne Blair at the harbor in Auckland, New Zealand.

May 23, 1999
"And one more thing I remember thinking before we left 'oh, we'll have a ton of time to read books, play games or cook fabulous meals.' So far the reality has been: we eat soup and power bars, and sleep most of the day to make up for the tiring six hours of watch we each have to keep. I'm sure this will change when we get further south. We expect that we've still got two-thirds of the trip ahead of us, with the toughest part disappearing over the horizon."
Excerpt from Jeanne Blair's journal.

The final journal may never compete with classic sea adventures, but those who've been following regular Web reports from a couple of PLU graduates find the monthly update as riveting as anything by C. S. Forester.

For the past seven months, Dan '94 and Jeanne '94 Blair have kept in contact with stateside relatives and friends via sail mail, as opposed to "snail mail." The couple is on a lifetime adventure, sailing from Seattle to New Zealand and back in 14 months. It's a trip they planned for several years, after purchasing a 44-ft., Finnish-built Swan boat two years after graduating. Throughout their voyage they've posted progress and problems on their website, www.ocean-magic.com, which includes photos and journal entries, as well as links to other web pages.

Dan and Jeanne Blair realized their long-held dream this past spring when they set sail aboard the Ocean Magic. "When we were in school," Jeanne says, "we considered buying a boat and living aboard-instead of getting an apartment or house."

No stranger to sailing, Jeanne has been on boats since she was a kid. In junior high, she says, she organized a sailing trip through the San Juan islands, Wash. "I always dreamed about sailing in the tropics. Dan grew up waterskiing and running around in ski boats, and took an intro sailing class at PLU." Shortly after graduation in 1994, the Blairs purchased a 25-ft. sailboat and spent weekends cruising Puget Sound.

Visions of abundant leisure time quickly went overboard soon after departing Seattle, as hopes of a pleasurable cruise were replaced by foul weather, a diet of soups, power bars and lack of sleep. Interspersed with inconveniences, such as regular saltwater showers, engine problems and not-exactly-gourmet meals, such as the old mac-and-cheese standby, the two, along with their various sailing companions, complemented their days at sea with extended stays at exotic spots that have long appealed to maritime adventurers.

Jeanne, who double majored in Chinese studies and global studies, said, "in general, we've loved the trip thus far. Like any adventure there are good and bad experiences, but you learn and grow from them all. We've met the most wonderful, generous people, seen some awe-inspiring scenery, and visited places that very few people will ever see.

"We've also realized that the Pacific Ocean is big! While the cruising lifestyle can be romantic and wonderful, it also holds the thrill of life-or-death situations, stressful nights and a lot of boat maintenance.

"We've reached the end of our sailing journey to New Zealand, and are spending the next few months exploring the island." While their boat is being overhauled and repainted, the Blairs are camping and backpacking. "We're not sure how we'll get the boat back to Seattle. We don't want to have to sail-since we'd be going against the wind and weather for the entire trip."

This summer, they'll return to work, however, "so we can begin saving for the next Blair adventure." The Blairs plan to return to their previous employers. Dan is in the mortgage business while Jeanne is a business system analyst at a bank.

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