Meet Gretchen & Tim

Our meet cute

We met in 2014 when Tim joined the Rhodes 19 fleet in Chicago. At the time, we were both otherwise committed, so our relationship was strictly competitive (buy Gretchen a cocktail and she’ll tell you who won the most). In 2017, while getting our boats ready for the summer season, it became clear that we were both single. But, Tim was being relocated to San Diego for work in November. At that news, Gretchen wasn’t so sure, but as the

summer wore on it became clearer and clearer that Tim was exactly the man she’d been waiting for… Our first date was aboard Sprinkles sailing in 13 knot winds on Lake Michigan and we’ve never looked back.

A little more about Tim

How did you learn to sail? In 2005, I bought a book, Invitation to Sailing, and a Capri 14.2 to sail on Lake Alatoona in Georgia. I capsized it many times, almost (but, not really) drowning my youngest son. Happy to report that he’s healthy and in his mid-20s. Not so happy to report that he’s not a huge fan of sailing. During this time, I also took some sailing lessons with a UCSB student who taught private sailing lessons on the side while on a trip to Santa Barbara.

I relocated to Chicago from Atlanta, and decided to sell the Capri before I moved. In 2013, while sharing with a colleague how much I missed sailing, he suggested I check out the Rhodes 19. After a quick Google search, I found the fleet at Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club, which lead me to the purchase of Sprinkles–the boat Gretchen and I still race today at Mission Bay Yacht Club in San Diego.

The purchase of Sprinkles also came with a four-year enrollment in the John Durlak Academy. He became my sailing mentor and boat mechanic. John taught me the ins and outs of seamanship, sail handling, and racing–and beyond that is a treasured friend. I raced with John in Chicago from the day I bought the boat until 2017, when I relocated to San Diego.

Beyond that, I got my US Sailing Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, and Coastal Cruising certifications at J World in San Diego. Gretchen and I have done a couple bareboat charters together, and I jumped on with John Kretschmer for a heavy weather training passage in 2019 from Maryland to St. Thomas in the USVI.

What draws you to sailing? Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved kites and have been fascinated by the wind. So, sailing was a natural progression. The biggest draw to sailing for me is the constant challenge and the fact that when it comes to sailing, you are never done learning.

Most anticipated project: Adding a staysail and converting the rig from a sloop to a cutter rig. I’m excited about this project because of all the flexibility it’s going to give us from a sail plan standpoint.

Most dreaded project: Adding the Hydrovane. It is going to require a lot of structural change to the stern of the boat, which feels like a big job, not to mention costly.

Favorite captain’s hour cocktail: Seabreeze

A little more about Gretchen

How did you learn to sail? I did a bit of Sunfish sailing on ponds as a kid, but started sailing in earnest in 1997 after my dad bought a Cal 20 to sail on the Chesapeake Bay. I quickly fell in love with cruising and set out to get as much experience as possible. 

I got my US Sailing Basic Keelboat certification at Chicago Sailing and my Basic Cruising, Coastal Navigation, and Coastal Passage Making with Offshore Sailing School in Tampa. From there I skippered a few bareboat charters. 

In the same span of time, I started racing with the Rhodes 19 fleet at the Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club which, as you read above, played a pivotal role in the life of future Gretchen. In 2011, I became the skipper of Rhubarb, my own Rhodes 19, which I sailed until relocating to San Diego in 2020.

Once I felt fairly comfortable with coastal cruising, my eyes turned toward the horizon and I decided it was time to get some blue water experience…
From 2016-2019, I jumped aboard with John Kretschmer on three offshore training passages in the Caribbean; Oban, Scotland to Cork, Ireland; and, Solomans, Maryland to St. Thomas USVI. Other than that, I read a ton and just keep learning every time I step foot on a boat. 

What draws you to sailing? My love for sailing started mostly because I was able to spend so much time with my dad. But, as I got older and life got more stressful, I started turning to sailing to slow down. When I’m under sail, my otherwise (overly) active brain, gets settled and quiet. That focus is, frankly, a relief.

Most anticipated project: I’m looking forward to installing the Hydrovane self steering system. We won’t do this project until about 18 months before we shove off because we have the auto pilot for any short passages we’ll make in Southern California. But the Hydrovane + auto pilot will be a great combination for lots of reasons when we go offshore.

Most dreaded project: Figuring out the water maker. The system was pickled when we bought the boat, and we’ve never done anything with it. It was installed by the previous owner and we have some manuals, but there is tubing all over the place. It just looks complicated. And, what if it doesn’t work? Break out another thousand (or 5)…

Favorite captain’s hour cocktail: Dark ‘n Stormy or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc

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Meet Gretchen & Tim

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