There are some things that, as a species, we feel a deeper and almost genetic connection for. Some theorize that some of humanity’s creations even led to changes in our DNA. For instance, one study found that there is genetic code in a strand of DNA that indicates the level and ease in which a person is able to learn an instrument. Another study found that women tend to view musically talented men as better father figures, which would lead to the perpetuation of the music-talent gene.
Our relationships with dogs, our love of music, and the feeling of sitting around a campfire, all of these relationships and interactions seem to have a deeper pull on our souls, a longing that seems as if it were built into our DNA.
Perhaps it’s a disparate connection, but it’s possible that sailing could also be one of those human inventions that has worked its way into our genetic code. People don’t quit their careers and sell everything to finance a year on their phones, but people commonly drop and sell everything for music—they also do it to sail around the world.
It could be tied to our imaginations. As a musician, I find it easy and exhilarating to imagine myself playing in front of an audience. Similarly, if you’ve sailed even once, you can clearly imagine the feeling; a sensation much more pleasant and appealing than picturing yourself making a microwave dinner. Mystic Journeys an Olympia, Washington-based charter sailing company, excels in providing that feeling to inexperienced and experienced sailors alike.
Perhaps Scott Voltz and Connie Bunyer, a husband and wife team that own and operate Mystic Journeys felt an instinctual calling to the sea.
“Connie and I met 2012,” Scott said. “We chartered a sailboat in LaPaz, Mexico, with some friends for ten days. On return, we decided to quit our jobs, sell our properties, buy a boat and go to Mexico.”
They found a beautiful sailing ship, a Passport 42-foot Cutter rigged sloop in San Diego. The ship named “Traveler” was built in Taipei, Taiwan. According to an article in Sailing magazine’s article entitled Baba 35, “During the 1970s and 1980s, a small group if Taiwanese boatyards gained a reputation for master craftsmanship and solid construction. Among these was the Ta Shing Boatbuilding Co. in Tainan, Taiwan” The quality of work is evident down to even the smallest details like placement of handles and grips to help us landlubbers navigate our way around the ship.
Did you know that 4,500 years ago, Khufu, an old dynasty Egyptian pharaoh, was buried along with a 143-foot sailing and rowing ship. Ships around that time are known to have carried single pieces of quarried stone weighing up to 500 tons. An impressive feat even by today’s standards.
While perhaps lacking in the ability to carry a 500-ton stone, it’s packed with features ancient sailors would’ve appreciated far more.
“[The Traveler is] designed to be an ocean-going vessel,” Scott said. “It has all these features that allow you to cross the ocean without support. For instance, we have these solar panels so we never have to plug in, it can automatically steer the boat, a water maker that converts the saltwater into drinking water along with space for three months of provisions, and of course your propulsion system is the sails.”
It’s believed that several waves of people initially made the treacherous water crossings at about the same time the first flutes began to show up in the archeological record. A group closely related to modern day Asians settled Oceania around 45,000 years ago, traveling long distances on reed and bamboo catamarans.
Prior to that, Aboriginals, more closely related to Africans, are thought to have arrived in Australia somewhere between 60 and 70 thousand years ago. Even during an Ice Age with significantly lowered Sea levels, the journey still required the use of boats on ten or more sailings. If that sounds impressive, Homo Erectus managed those same crossings 700,000 years ago. How they accomplished that feat is a complete mystery.
Despite the centuries or millennia or even epochs that have passed, the ocean is still a daunting, powerful force. Scott and Connie have plenty of experience meeting the ocean’s challenges.
“We got into some big stuff. We got into a huge storm off Cabo San Lucas. The waves were bigger than the boat,” Scott said, describing one of his more treacherous outings. “We had to get in the middle of all that to reef the sails (folding the sails over to reduce the sail size and improve the performance during high winds). We had these harnesses on holding on for dear life, crawling up the side decks, we’d wedge ourselves up there to do the sail work while waves were hitting the boat, crashing over the top of my head. It was pretty exciting stuff. It’s exhilarating actually. At first, you’re really scared, but this is one of those times where you step up to do what needs to be done and when you do it, and the storm passes, you’re just so proud of yourself.”
Scott said that he and Connie spent four years living on the boat and cruising Pacific side of Mexico. They then sailed the boat to Hawaii in 2016 and from there to Ketchikan, Alaska. After this journey across the Pacific, they sailed down the inland waterway to Olympia before docking here and taking over another charter company. They have been running charters in this area since.
Mystic Journeys offers multiple types of charters ranging from two-to-three-hour Budd Inlet cruises where you get wonderful views of the Capitol Building, the city and Priest Point Park. They provide refreshments and a snack, often a delicious fruit bowl provided by local produce growers. For longer excursions, they also offer day-long sailing trips to an island where guests can kayak, explore, and have lunch. Speaking of eating, there are also sunset dinner and multiple-day, island-hopping cruises that allow guests an opportunity to sleep on the ship with all meals provided.
Guests all of ages and abilities are able to enjoy cruising the Salish Sea on Mystic Journey’s sailboat the Traveler. And for those with the music gene, Connie is also a talented musician and singer who takes song requests for her ukulele. Book your own journey with up to six guests to let the salty wind blow through your hair and relax while watching birds, seals and other Puget Sound wildlife go about their daily lives.