Story by Anna Marie General on 10/25/2017(Editor's note: This article is part of a series following a Sailor's adventure on his first journey to sail from Gig Harbor, Washington to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.)
A lifelong dream has become a reality for a four-man crew as they departed Gig Harbor, Washington on their voyage to Hawaii, July 6.
U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian Bugge received orders to transfer to Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet Hawaii. He will be promoted to an Ensign Limited Duty Officer on Aug. 1.
Prior to receiving his orders to transfer, Bugge purchased a 36-foot sailboat which now gives him an opportunity to sail across the Pacific Ocean with his crew members Beau, Willy and Christopher.
"It is a unique process, similar to military deployment but different," Bugge said. "This is my first long voyage beyond 500 miles. I've sailed from Gig Harbor to Astoria to Victoria to Gig Harbor, but that was my longest."
After a year and a half of planning and preparing to get the crew physically, emotionally and financially ready, the boat (Stay Gold) was ready for its voyage to Hawaii.
"We decided to sail to Hawaii because it has been a lifelong dream of mine," Bugge said. When the Navy said I could work in Hawaii and we just bought a boat that was capable of the journey, it seemed like the perfect thing to do."
The other crew members share similar dreams as Bugge.
"One of my crew members (Willy) is a professional Sailor and chart captain and has almost completed a circumnavigation of the world, he just needs to complete a few legs of the Pacific," Bugge said. Another crew member, Beau, is a 5th grade school teacher who just loves adventure. He doesn't have much sailing experience at all but wants to live life by the fullest."
With support from family, friends and the local community, a bon voyage was held before the boat was cast off on their journey of a lifetime.
"As the boat was casting off, my immediate thought was how do I keep my 2-year-old daughter from crying right now as she's yelling I want to sail the boat to Hawaii with Dadda!'," said Bugge's wife Ashley while she was trying to film the boats departure.
It wasn't until Ashley got home and sat down to listen to her voicemails, viewing everyone's text messages and Facebook posts that she realized what lies ahead of the crew members, especially for her husband.
"Brian has put countless hours -literal blood, sweat and tears into making this dream come true for himself and it is the best feeling to be a part of this accomplishment for him. This is something he will look back on for the rest of his life and be able to say I did that. I made that happen for myself and I'll have it forever.""
What did they almost run into on their way into the Pacific? Read next week's installment