Diane and Tim Leighton are experienced boaters and have “working together” figured out! From sailing-life to trawler-life, hear what they love about their experience.
I married into the world of sailing more than 20 years ago. Before I met my husband Tim, who has been sailing since childhood and was a career Naval Officer, my boating experience was skiing on the lakes of north Texas. I was a Navy Nurse at the time we met, and for 16 years, we cruised the southern Chesapeake Bay with friends on weekends between work and family obligations, and our yearly two-week cruise. Every July, we would venture past the Rappahannock River, and make it all the way up to Solomons Island and Annapolis—exotic cruising destinations in my mind!
When Tim retired in 2012, we made our first, long-anticipated trip to the Bahamas on our sailboat. We motored all the way down the ICW, with the occasional hop-out to the Atlantic, of which we motored then, too, because the wind wasn’t right. We put a lot of hours on our engine that trip, and although we had a cockpit enclosure that kept the wind and rain out, we were still in our foulies freezing our butts off! Which got us thinking, “hmmm…what about moving on to a trawler?” A few sailing friends of ours had made the switch and seemed to be enjoying it, and so began our quest for a trawler.
Flash forward three years—it is a very long story of how we found our well-loved 1996 Kadey-Krogen 48’, now named ACADIA—and we’re sitting here in Northeast Harbor, Maine, spending our days with hiking and biking the trails of Acadia National Park (our boat’s namesake), meeting up with lots of Krogen Cruisers and people with all kinds of boats, AND eating lots of Lobster! Dreams do come true.
When we first bought ACADIA, I was initially concerned about the size. Would just the two of us be able to handle running a bigger boat? My fears were quickly dissolved when we had some time on the boat. In a lot of ways, she is easier to handle than our sailboat, and we are a team when it comes to operating. Tim always jokes that yes, he is the Captain, but I am the Admiral. Funny, but not true! We work together! We have a system that works for us. He is at the helm when we dock, and I’m usually the line and fender handler. We bought some of those wireless headsets (which I would not do without) and I feed him information as we are docking. I usually try to look up the layout of the marina online before we get there so we know what to expect. I know some women don’t like handling lines and I don’t blame them, they are heavy! I consider it part of my exercise routine and really don’t mind. I like to think one day I’ll dock this boat. I know a lot of women who do, but as it stands, I’m not ready to risk the damage or the price tag of my learning curve.
On the other hand, we anchor-out a lot and I’m always at the helm. We have a system of hand signals we’ve used for years, so it works perfectly for us. When it comes to navigating, we definitely work together, especially in unfamiliar waters. Tim will have a route plugged into the chartplotter, which he will show me and I’ll have my Garmin Bluechart with Active Captain on my iPad (another must have for me!) so I can look at the same information. While he occupies the helm chair a lot of the time (I joke because it is the most comfortable seat in the house!), we take turns driving the boat. Offshore overnight work requires shifts and I’m comfortable driving the boat, looking at AIS (love!), radar, and the chartplotter. I will always wake him up if I have any doubt about anything…and he is not allowed to be mad about it!
People ask me a lot if I miss sailing, and the answer is yes, I do, but would I go back? No way! I miss the occasional perfect weather day of sailing, when we could turn off the engine and hear the boat moving through the water…but those were so few and far between I hardly remember them. In one word, I can say why I love our Kadey-Krogen so much: Comfort! As soon as we walked onboard, we felt at home, and that has never changed. Some sailing friends helped us deliver the boat from Georgia to Virginia and I think they both said about five times every day, “This boat is just so comfortable.” We agree. We are rested up when we arrive in port, because we haven’t been out in the weather, we’ve been in the comfort of the pilothouse, and the stabilizers have helped prevent us from being tossed around too much. We’ve met several couples who live on their 48’s, and I can understand why, there is plenty of room to be as close or as far apart as desired! We absolutely love our Krogen and have had so much fun meeting the other owners…it truly is a family.
If I had one piece of advice to those sitting on the sidelines, it would be: Don’t wait too long! When Tim (who was working as a pilot at American Airlines) reached 60 in 2012, he had the opportunity to remain in the cockpit for another five years. We thought long and hard about that, and let me tell you the money was enticing, but that would’ve prolonged our cruising for another five years, and who knows what could happen. We were healthy and ready to go, so Tim flew his last flight and just a week later we headed south. We don’t miss the money! Five years later, we truly are living a blessed life, and our Krogen takes us wherever we want to go. Which reminds me, we need to figure out tomorrow’s destination. I’m thinking about Swan’s Island in Penobscot Bay…I hear their Lobster is especially tasty.
Diane Leighton M/V Acadia