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Two years ago, Roger Londberg and Linda Meadows sold their house and most of their possessions, and embarked on a journey aboard a 50 foot sailboat, Dalliance.
“Our friends thought we were not only crazy, but also irresponsible,” Meadows said. “They kept asking, ‘What about your retirement?’ That’s when I realized that if my biggest fear was what happened to my retirement, then we absolutely needed to do this.”
Fast forward two years. Meadows and Londberg, who have been married since 2008, now own and operate Simply Sailing Charters on the British Virgin Islands. They are both in their late 50s, but display a youthful glow and vigor for life not often seen among their peers, who have spent decades in the workforce.
The couple connected at a dock party in 2005 and have been sailing together ever since. Though most of their sailing has been on the Columbia River, they have also sailed in the San Juan Islands, Belize and the Virgin Islands. During the summer of 2013, they began planning their charter business in the Caribbean.
Meadows describes herself as extremely responsible and attached to her home, possessions and sense of place.
“That’s why this was so difficult to me to take this leap, but once I did, there was no turning back,” she said.
Londberg, an avid sailor for 20 years, saw the move as more of a natural progression of his life. He bought his first sailboat in 1998 and has clocked many hours sailing on the Columbia River. In 2006, he opened River City Sailing, a sailboat brokerage company, and later became the Catalina Yachts dealer.
However, the timing of Londberg becoming the yacht dealer occurred when the economy plummeted, and many lost their jobs and homes.
“It was really bad timing,” he said. “Nothing was moving.”
To make extra income, the couple opened up a small sailboat charter business on the Columbia River, a decision that would ultimately and drastically alter the course of their lives. They discovered that running a charter business and sharing the sailing experience with others was, “fun and rewarding,” as Meadows puts it.
After visiting friends and sailing in the British Virgin Islands in 2010, they began to toy with the idea of making a change.
“But at the time, we couldn’t do it because of the kids being in college,” Londberg said. “But once the youngest was done, we decided to try it.”
Meadows, who spent 25 years employed as a social worker, had the most difficulty taking the plunge.
“I was always a government employee and very stable,” she said. “Although there are some things that happen differently with your job, you pretty much know how your days are going and that you are getting paid. To do something like this was completely off the charts for me.”
After some soul searching, Meadows decided to take a leap of faith, and agreed to put their Camas house on the market.
“Roger told me he didn’t think there was any way I would ever be able to leave the house,” she recalled with a smile. “I knew then that I needed to do something different.”
On Aug. 31, 2013, Meadows and Londberg launched a Facebook page for their business, Simply Sailing Charters. They never looked back.
“That was just the start,” Meadows said. “It took a lot of research and planning as well.”
The couple had their first sailing season in 2014, with nine bookings. In 2015, it had increased to 12. Londberg serves as captain and bartender, while Meadows is the chef.
The couple offers what they call a “kick-back and adventurous,” charter through the Caribbean. Simply Sailing Charters includes one week and 10-day trips for up to four people. Many of the islands can only be reached by boat. The couple creates an itinerary, but allows flexibility in case guests want to go somewhere particular. The trip includes all meals, except two, and beverages, as well as a private bathroom for each cabin. Guests can also learn to sail, if they wish.
The Caribbean is known for its snorkeling, and all gear is provided for exploring.
Three years after launching their business, Meadows and Londberg are having the time of their lives, and working more than they ever have before.
“It is hard work, but I am much more confident as a person and have learned a ton,” Meadows said. “I have experienced another culture and met a ton of cool people, too.”
Added Londberg, “We work long, hard, 13- to 14-hour days, but it’s worth it. People tell us we are living the dream, and I tell them we are working the dream.”
Meadows noted that friends will sometimes ask if she has any regrets.
“How can you possibly regret being fully courageous in life?” she said. “If it’s fear that is holding you back, then that’s all the more reason to try.”