Sailing Uma

A journey with no end

Dan and Kika are a young couple committed to learning as much as possible about themselves, each other, and the world – by travelling. Dan grew up in a log cabin in a tiny Canadian community and Kika hails from Haiti’s capital, Port au Prince. They met and teamed up at an architecture school just north of Atlanta in the United States, first as business partners – they opened a design studio together – and then as a couple.

“We were spending every hour of every day together, and as our personalities were so similar, we fell for each other,” recalls Kika. While they were both set on making the most of their architectural skills, they realized they couldn’t do that from an office. They needed to get out and see the world. “We believe architecture and travel go hand in hand,” explains Kika. “We realized the best way to learn isn’t through books, but by being present, experiencing different cultures and different ways of building around the world.”

So they followed the advice of a friend of Dan’s who said, ”If you want to travel the world, don’t buy a couch.” Instead, they saved up and bought a 1972 Pearson, 36-foot yacht. “She’s perfect for us,” says Dan. They christened her Uma, the Portuguese word for one or first. ”We wanted a name that both inspires and reminds us why we bought her in the first place. She is our first step.”

But why a boat? “Although I grew up hundreds of miles from the coast, my Dad taught us navigational skills and instilled a sense of confidence in the adventure that I’ve taken with me to sea,” explains Dan. Unlike her partner, Kika had a view of the ocean from her brother’s bedroom window. “My Mom worked in the commercial port, so I used to watch the container ships coming and going. I would close my eyes and imagine myself traveling the world. I was a dreamer, and my dream has come true,” says Kika with a smile.

Next, Dan and Kika plan to head to Europe. “We’re planning to sail across the Atlantic and spend a year or maybe two exploring Europe and the north coast of Africa,” says Dan. “As architects, we’re fascinated by old buildings and historic cultures.”
Since they first set sail, Dan and Kika have gradually made Uma more comfortable, and Dometic has played a part in the upgrade. “On our first trip we didn’t have a fridge or a stove or a shower, we didn’t even have a toilet. But we’ve gradually installed equipment that matches our lifestyle – from suppliers we trust. Dometic products include a toilet, fridge/freezer, and an alcohol stove. In fact, the new stove is not just an added convenience, it’s also made Uma a lot safer. We spent the first two years cooking on a two-burner camping stove. One evening, Dan was preparing a meal just as we were getting ready to hoist sail and head for the Windward Islands. There was a pot full of cooking oil on the stove when a ferry passed by, and its wake made Uma rock. The pot flew off the stove (which wasn’t secured), spilling boiling oil everywhere. Luckily, Dan didn’t get burned, and we ended up wiping the floor for months before the oil was all gone. That incident made us realize how important having a proper stove is.

Before getting their hands on the Dometic CFX3 powered cooler, their diet consisted of dried and canned food, since fresh produce could not last very long onboard. Now, with the powerful fridge/freezer, eating fresh food is part of their daily routine. Now the crew is ready for their next adventure: crossing the Atlantic Ocean! Being able to store fresh food for longer passages is their ticket to a whole new world to explore without having to worry about mealtime.

Living aboard a small boat means that power is sometimes a very limited commodity. The couple powers their voyage with solar panels, so efficiency is a top priority when picking as possible. That is why they chose the Dometic CFX3, which is both electrically and thermally efficient, meaning that the compressor doesn’t run as often and when it does, it draws less power since it is so well insulated. The rugged exterior, app-controlled temperature, and dependable power mean that they have the freedom to spend more time above deck, taking on the world one place at a time.

If you want to keep up with Dan and Kika, check out sailinguma.com