Women On The Water – The Journey of the Arctic Loon

By: Sailing Story

“I have a boat and the time, and I can’t think of any reason not to.” These were the words that started female Sailing Captains Diana Trump and Anne Alberg’s journey to the South Pacific. Diana’s husband Jeff was unable to leave his business for early retirement, but she felt this was her time for the offshore adventure. Jeff supported her in every way including his invaluable technology expertise.

On August 31, 2018, Diana and Anne (an ASA Instructor/USCG Charter Skipper) left Seattle for New Zealand. The journey aboard SV (sailing vessel) Arctic Loon would take 14 months. Arctic Loon is a 45’ 2008 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey DS (Deck Salon) with 3 cabins. Additional crew, both men and women for various legs of the voyage, were selected from Anne’s vast network of ASA graduates, as well as friends/family including Jeff who has joined at various ports along the way and their 23-year-old son Casey and 26-year-old daughter Emma.

Since departing 8 months ago Anne and Diana have traveled 6,591 NM, with another 3,500 NM still to go. They plan to arrive in New Zealand in late October 2019. Their route took them out of Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca, cruising offshore coastal waters of Washington, Oregon, California, Baja Mexico, into the Sea of Cortez, down Pacific Mexico, and then departing from Puerto Vallarta on March 23rd for the 2,953 NM / 28-day offshore Pacific Ocean crossing to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

Arctic Loon, and her crew of 4 women for the recent Pacific Puddle Jump ocean crossing, officially arrived on Saturday, April 20 at their 1st South Pacific anchorage, the stunning island of Fatu Hiva with its majestic cliffs. After their 1st full night’s sleep in 4 weeks, the crew enjoyed spectacular Polynesian-style singing at the Easter Sunday Church service; where the local women dressed in their finest white dresses, many wearing fresh flower crowns and bun decorations. Easter brunch was served at a Marquesan family’s house and the feast included pigs they shot, fish they caught, chicken raised in their yard, rice, papaya salad, and breadfruit, with amazing fresh Pamplemousse juice.

The Dream

Let’s go back to how two women, each with a dream of going offshore to the South Pacific, were inspired and researched, planned, studied, prepared and embarked on this incredible 14-month journey together.

Four years after Diana and Jeff had sold their 30’ Catalina, Diana still wanted to continue to develop her sailing skills. In 2012, she signed up for the American Sailing Association’s 101, 103, 104 weekend courses through San Juan Sailing in Bellingham, WA. Her ASA Instructor for each course was Captain Anne Alberg.

Seeds for Anne’s offshore dream were planted in 1976 when her childhood neighbor Janet and her husband David built an offshore sailboat named Alegria. Over the years as they traveled to remote anchorages around the world, Janet would write letters always asking at the end, “When are you going to join us?” Anne’s dream was fueled by sailing with her older brother Tom and his family, watching offshore cruisers present at local yacht clubs, and her own charters with friends in exotic locations such as Palau, Belize, Thailand and Myanmar.

The Captain

Three specific events led Anne to get her United States Coast Guard (USCG) Captain’s License: A five-week sailing adventure in Northern BC to the remote First Nation Island of Haida Gwaii, a personal development workshop discovery that illuminated that Anne loves people, adventure, teaching, exploring, sailing, sailing, sailing, and her encounter with Jermaine Larson, Director of San Juan Sailing’s ASA School who said, “Why don’t you start teaching sailing for us?”

Luckily Anne had a lifetime of days on the water (USCG requires 360 total days/90 days in the last three years), she took the USCG Captain’s Course and passed three USCG exams. In 2012, as Anne celebrated her 50th Birthday, she began her new career as Captain Anne Alberg. Diana was in Anne’s very first ASA 101 weekend course, and their lifetime friendship was established.

Anne and her friend Marcia joined Diana/Jeff for a charter in Desolation Sound, and in 2014 Captain Anne cruised for 71 days round trip from Seattle to Sitka, AK aboard Diana and Jeff’s new sailboat Arctic Loon.

The Journey

Fast forward five years – after attending the 2017 Seattle Boat Show Coho Ho Ho/Baja Ha Ha/Pacific Puddle Jump Cruising Rally Seminars, Diana sent an email that would change both their lives, “Been doing some thinking! We should sail to the South Pacific. I have a boat and the time and can’t think of any reason not to go. No details at this time, all is open. Let’s talk if you think this might work for you.“ Captain Anne’s email response “What a thought!!! I have nothing on my calendar… Let’s go!”

For the next 19 months, Diana, Jeff and Anne began preparing Arctic Loon (which was already very well prepared for cruising in Alaska) for the South Pacific. Now there were new offshore considerations: install a water maker, solar panels, top down spinnaker, whisker pole, hydrovane, replacing boom vang, replacing mainsail and genoa, and the endless list of spare parts to purchase. Diana and Anne had to learn general maintenance as well as troubleshooting to become as self-sufficient as possible. Read their blog www.arcticloon2018.com and www.globalsailinglifestyle.com to discover what maintenance issues they encountered and ultimately mastered. If only video could have recorded the conversations of women working to solve issues on the high sea with no access to the internet for doing research. Thankfully Jeff was able to do research at home and provide needed consultation.

What has been surprising is the reaction to being an all-female offshore cruising boat and not just from other cruising boats. In Mexico and now in French Polynesian, the locals, especially women ask “Where are the husbands?” Big smiles and thumbs up have been the response received upon learning Arctic Loon has a female Captain and an all-female crew.

The Highlights To-Date

Magical memories so far:
Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge at 7 am sunrise after an intense 6-day offshore passage from Seattle
Being celebrated as an all-women crew
Sailing at night under the full moon, especially when the dolphins would swim alongside shimmering in the bio-luminescence
Developing a “We Can Do” attitude toward endless maintenance issues
Ultimately hanging a stem of 100 bananas proving their successful arrival in the South Pacific!

A favorite quote from an exhausted “Captain Fix-it” Diana: “If something breaks today, it is not getting fixed!”

What is next on Anne and Diana’s South Pacific adventure? They currently have 90-day visas for the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotus Archipelago, and Society Islands (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora), then will continue on to the Cook Islands, Tonga and ultimately the nine-day offshore passage to New Zealand arriving around October 20th.

Captain Anne Alberg, when not sailing across the Pacific Ocean teaches at San Juan Sailing School in Washington State.