The Steele-McCutchin family is awesome. Rob and I feel fortunate to have found such good people to spend a few months with, and such capable people to sail with across the largest ocean on the planet. They bought Llyr 4 years ago because they were ready for new expeditions. None of them had much previous sailing experience, but they took loads of offshore courses before sailing south from Maine to Panama last summer, spending 4 months cruising in the Caribbean along the way. You might notice their red hue in the photos below, which gives away their Scottish-Irish roots (and indicates it was early in the trip!).
Their grand plan is to set Llyr up permanently in Vanuatu (Melanesia) as a research vessel dedicated to documenting the impacts of climate change on coral reefs. During the storm season in the southern hemisphere (October to March), they’ll return to their family-owned maple syrup farm in western Massachusetts to collect the sweet nectar of New England maples. Here’s a snapshot of Llyr’s crew:
Meet Brooks. He’s the skipper, the mechanic, and the weather expert. Brooks is good-humored in his role at the helm of Llyr and his role as the oldest aboard. He also handles stressful situations calmly (thank god), and loves to converse about theories related to everything from education to climate change to how to change to oil mast most efficiently. As a clinical psychologist during his first career and a farmer during his second, Brooks enjoys figuring out how and why things work like they do. You can find him in the engine room, or trouble-shooting random problems from bow to stern.
Meet Janis. She’s the head caretaker of this big brood aboard Llyr, keeping our daily operations running smoothly. A fluent French speaker from Montreal, Janis is a trained anthropologist, and likes to stretch, eat dark green foods, and sew. If you have an idea, she’ll likely be able to make it a reality. You can find her cooking up tasty sauces or creating a wind-scoop from old flags.
Meet Connor. He’s 18 going on 28, a brand-new high school graduate with an EMT (emergency medical training) license, a great sense of humor and a clear head. Connor is the first mate, and is intimately familiar with Llyr’s many electronic and navigation systems. He’s going to spend the fall and winter in Australia this year, and planning to head to college as a pre-med major after that. Meanwhile, you can find Connor helping his dad with troubleshooting, surfing Facebook (at the marina only), or teasing his younger brothers (gently).
Meet Rowan. At 15, he’s doing a much better job of leaving his social circle than I would have at that age. Rowan is a detail guy, and sees the little things the big-picture thinkers might miss. He loves to dive, and reads incessantly…he actually burned out his Kindle in the first week. You can find Rowan cramming in calculus (gotta make sure he’s caught up after his few months out of the classroom!), listening to music, or scarfing down sodas or milk.
Meet Gavin. He’s the life of the party, and the youngest crew member at 10 years old. Gavin loves to draw and write and fish and kayak and swim and jump and chat and play games. He provides comic relief for the rest of the crew, and much-needed energy when others might be tired of chores. You can find Gavin eating PB&J sandwiches, sleeping in the cockpit, or trying to climb the mast when his parents aren’t looking.