Tom and Amy Larson – Photos by Bradley Joel
While Amy and Tom Larson have only been plying local waters aboard their charter boat Sadie Sea for less than a year, the two have logged enough nautical miles to fill a lifetime of mariner’s dreams.
Today the Larsons take groups of up to 37 on snorkel adventures, sunset cruises and more aboard the 37-foot Lindsey trawler moored in Cruz Bay. It was just about this time last year when the two stopped in the harbor for what they thought would be a short visit on their way north.
“We stopped here to get groceries and maybe a job and then we bought Sadie Sea,” said Amy Larson.
“We had a friend who used to work on the boat, so we thought we’d say hi to the owner and see if he needed any help,” said Tom Larson. “He wasn’t interested in that, but he was interested in selling the boat.”
Not able to secure funding, the Larsons were set to leave for South Carolina but decided to meet with the boat owner one last time.
“We had made reservations at a marina in Charleston and were all packed up,” said Amy Larson. “The night before we were going to leave, we were having a drink with the owner and made one last offer and he said okay.”
Living in the moment has proven more than successful for the Larsons — it is what brought them around the world and to the shores of St. John.
The couple first met in California shortly before Tom retired from the U.S. Coast Guard. Not long after getting married by Elvis in Las Vegas, the couple set sail on a four-year, almost-around-the-world adventure.
Heading out from San Francisco Bay, the pair sailed their 35-foot Yorktown sloop Sandpiper down the California coast to Half Moon Bay, which was Amy’s first taste of sea life, and sea legs.
“The day we left on our big cruise was the first time I sailed on the ocean,” said Amy Larson. “I had already sailed in San Francisco Bay and if you can sail there, you can sail anywhere. Our first leg was to Half Moon Bay and I puked the entire time.”
“When we got there, I jumped off the boat, washed myself off and said, ‘Let’s go,’” she said.
From Half Moon Bay, the two headed for Mexico where they celebrated New Year’s of 2006 and decided whether to head west or east, explained Amy Larson.
“We hadn’t made the decision which way we wanted to go at that point,” she said. “We decided that night to cross the Pacific and head to French Polynesia.”
Sandpiper did a 28-day crossing to the South Pacific, the longest trip of the Larsons’ four-year odyssey, which included calling on ports from Tonga to Morocco. For their Atlantic Ocean crossing, the Larsons set out from the Cape Verde Islands and reached Barbados 19 days later.
“There were 20-foot seas and 40 knots of wind for seven days,” said Amy Larson about the ocean crossing.
After battling nature for a week, the Larsons then had to contend with equipment malfunctions in the form of a loosened mast.
“Four days out from Barbados, the mast almost went down,” said Tom Larson. “The lower shrouds busted off and the mast came loose. There were four knots of wind and we managed to rig things so we still made it.”
“We were so happy to reach Barbados we stayed for four weeks,” said Amy.
After making repairs to Sandpiper, the Larsons cruised the Greater Antilles and eventually met the crew of the St. John-based Buxom II in Antigua. Stopping by Love City to say hello to friends and top up their bank account, the Larsons weren’t planning on buying an established charter boat business and making the island home.
But then again, things seem to work out for the Larsons as if every event had been carefully orchestrated. Their cruising days, however, are over for now. Since buying Sadie Sea, the Larsons have sold Sandpiper and moved ashore.
“I’ve been loving the land life with the hot showers and all the ice we can use,” said Amy Larson.
Guests aboard Sadie Sea can rest easy knowing the Larsons have logged so many nautical miles, handling everything from 20-foot seas to a proposed trade of Amy for 1,000 camels.
One of only two local motor boats capable of taking large groups, Sadie Sea is the ideal vessel for wedding showers, camping trips and birthday parties. The boat is also available for full day, half day, or sunset cruises and trips to the British Virgin Islands.
With brand new snorkel equipment, Sadie Sea’s $60 rate for a half-day snorkel cruise is among the best deals in town. The vessel also boasts a new paint job and sink with running water.
“We’ve been putting the Tom and Amy touches on her,” said Amy Larson. “We’re pimping her out.”
Since calling St. John home, the Larsons have gotten fully immersed in the community, working with V.I. National Park, Friends of VINP and the V.I. Environmental Resource Station. The couple hosted VIPs for the International Rolex Regatta and are partners with Arawak Expeditions, for whom they drop off kayak groups and gear on Peter Island.
They are also members of the Recycling Association of the Virgin Islands’ St. John chapter for which they tend to recycling bins at the Caneel Bay dock and Lumberyard.
“We also serve all cans and recycle on the Sadie Sea,” said Amy.
Perhaps the most memorable facets of any trip aboard Sadie Sea, however, are the captain and first mate. The Larsons’ zest for life and adventure is contagious and every trip aboard Sadie Sea includes fascinating conversation and intriguing stories from these two entertaining boaters.
“I love it when I get to go snorkeling with folks and they get so excited,” said Amy Larson. “I love it when they’re having so much fun. That is really fun for me.”
To book a charter on Sadie Sea call 514-0778 or for more information check out the website www.sadiesea.com.