Judi has logged more than 30,000 miles at sea, sailing from Connecticut to the Azores and back via the Caribbean followed by another extended cruise from Connecticut to Florida and through the Gulf to Mexico, Central America, and Puerto Rico before returning home to work at Defender.
Her adventures landed her in the book "Women Aboard," a series of stories written by women with extensive cruising backgrounds. Not exactly what she had in mind when she was growing up in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.
"I had no concept of what it was like to live on a boat," she said, recalling her years of cruising with her husband, Dave. Judi is a senior sales representative in the Contact Center and Dave crafts custom-spliced line for Defender customers when he’s not at his regular job with a marine contractor.
"I’m so glad we did it when we were younger. Little things didn’t bother us, like a leaking boat or wet clothes or getting beat up at sea," she said.
Dave hails from Noank, Conn., a tiny coastal community in southeastern Connecticut and spent four years cruising with his family when he was a young teen. He and Judi did the typical recreational sailing along the coast until they got the urge to cruise. They traded their Cape Dory for a 35-foot Lion class Cheoy Lee with a teak hull, which would become their new home.
Judi’s first experience as cruiser was their 23-day trip to the Azores. And because Judi and Dave are of a certain age, let’s just say they didn’t have the luxury of all the digital technology so common in cockpits today. Their weather reports came via short wave from a broadcaster based in Canada who went by the handle "Herb on Southbound 2."
Judi describes "Herb" as a lifeline for all those transiting the Atlantic in those days, and the communication between him and those at sea created an early "virtual" community of cruisers decades before the days of social media.
That initial crossing made Judi a seasoned sailor, coping with overnight watches, foul weather, a broken boom and the need to throw out the sea anchor at one point to slow their surf in a heavy following sea. But their reward was nearly two years of sailing off the coasts of Spain and Portugal before heading to the Caribbean with a stop in the Cape Verde Islands on the way. In the Caribbean they moved up to a Columbia 40 before sailing home and back to work for a bit.
But another cruise was in the offing, this time from Mystic, CT to Florida and across the Gulf to Mexico, south along the eastern coast of Central America across the Caribbean to Puerto Rico and then back home.