Aye Aye, Captain // Set a Course for Summer Sailing

By Dylan Skeffington

There’s a lot to be said for learning about something from the inside out. But when you live on an island, to get the whole picture, you’ll also need to experience it from the outside in.

Locals Harry Pattison and Ben Doerr have created an opportunity for people to do just that. Their companies—Pattison’s Sail Bainbridge and Doerr’s Dreamboat Adventure Sailing—offer day sailing charters for people who want to see Bainbridge from the flip side.

“For me, if you haven’t experienced Bainbridge Island from the water,” said Pattison, “you’re missing so much about living on an island.”

A seasoned sailor of the Pacific, Caribbean and Salish Seas with over four decades’ experience, Pattison sails deliveries up and down the West Coast in addition to operating his charter business. Doerr pursued his charter business after falling in love with the lifestyle of sailing, explaining that he and his wife “wanted to find a way to integrate it into their lives—to make it work, literally.”

Pattison and Doerr are well acquainted and have even done a two-week passage together up the West Coast, which given the notoriously cramped quarters found on boats, speaks volumes about their friendship. And while their companies are not technically a joint effort, they admit that they pitch in for each other when the need arises.

It is evident that both men share, in addition to an easygoing vibe, a deep-seated love for being on the ocean. When Pattison took us sailing on his 44-foot Oh Joy II, Doerr came along for the ride, simply because he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to get out on the water. Luckily, it is a passion they love to share.

“For me, it is about the people,” Doerr explained. “I love meeting people and exposing them to sailing,” especially, he said, when people want to take up the practice themselves. “I love when kids are onboard and they’re interested.”

Both Pattison and Doerr include the option of showing people the ropes of sailing (and yes, that is where the phrase comes from) for those who want to do more than simply relax and enjoy the scenery.

“If you want to learn to sail, we’re as hands-on as you want to be,” said Doerr. “But if guests want to come aboard and kick back, drink some wine, they’re free to do that.” He said that this summer his guitar will be accompanying him aboard his 44-foot True, a bonus for guests, as he also moonlights as lead singer of acclaimed local band St. Paul de Vence.

Pattison and Doerr both noted the wide variety of guests they have taken onboard. Many are locals, either from the island or Seattle, but some hail from much farther away, sometimes from abroad. They have had families take their children for their first sail, hosted young couples looking for a romantic adventure, or taken a sail down memory lane, compering for old-timers wanting to reminisce about years past on the water.

Pattison admitted one of the things that surprises him most, however, is the number of people who are from here who haven’t, aside from commuting on the ferry, seen the island from the perspective of the sea. He insists there is something quite different about being out on a sailboat, explaining that the feel of moving through the water solely by harnessing the power of the wind can be a magical experience. He also believes that while at sea, it’s easier to savor the present moment, a feeling that can be hard to come by on land.

Sail Bainbridge and Dreamboat Adventure Sailing offer a variety of packages, ranging from a few hours of cruising to overnight charters. Both boats sleep between five and six people, offering guests a taste of life at sea. Although both vessels are available for charter year- round, summer provides an especially wonderful sailing experience with a mix of gorgeous scenery, warm weather and good winds.

More at sailbainbridge.com and dreamboatadventuresailing.com.