You might expect a seafaring story to be one of roaring winds and shipwreck. But the tale of Condor Sailing Adventures is, in fact, a love story – involving romance, a woman and a happy ending.
Captain Mike Kirk (who is highly accustomed to Star Trek jokes) had always loved sailing – the idea of it, anyway. Growing up landlocked in Tennessee, young Kirk spent his childhood reading and dreaming of the ocean breeze.
The little daydreamer grew up, and found himself toiling away at a corporate job that confined him. So he bought a sailboat – the “Dare II” – docked four hours away on the coast of North Carolina. When Mike became wistful for a nice, big bay to sail on, the map led him here to Pensacola.
These days, you’ll find him on the “Dare II” six days a week. The Condor 40 is an Annapolis-built catamaran, intended for racing around the world. She can make 70 to 80 day voyages in 30 MPH winds and up to 50-foot seas. Captain Kirk even sailed his bride, Whitney, down to the Bahamas to marry her.
Regular sailboats lean and rock, but they built stability and buoyancy into the outside floats of the Condor. “‘No leaning equals no seasickness’ is our mantra,” Kirk says. “Being out in the bay is nothing for this beauty.”
And, boy, is she one-of-a-kind. Truth be told, there are only 21 of her kind in the world.
“I fell in love with her the second I saw her, and I plan on keeping her a long, long time,” Kirk says.
When he shares the story of how the boat got her name, he lights up. You can tell he’s told it a time or two. Lucky for you, his sailing is just as seasoned.
As Kirk recalls: The previous owner of the boat, John, was born and raised in Annapolis, home of the Condor manufacturer. He formed a partnership to purchase one, but a friend’s bankruptcy and his own divorce led to the loss of his beloved boat.
Then he met Karen. After a three-minute conversation, John decided she was the most amazing woman in the world and set out to win her heart. He asked her out six times in three weeks, and was turned down cold each time.
Six months later while out with some rowdy friends, John spotted Karen across the bar. His tipsy cohorts suggested he ask her out again. John refused. Finally, the group dared him – then double-dared him! He agreed to go over if they agreed to be quiet.
“I just want to take you on one date,” John said. Karen looked at him with a frown. Several silent minutes later, she responded, “This coming Wednesday – take it or leave it.”
John took it, only later to remember his plans to be in California for business all week. He shifted his schedule to stay in town. On Monday, he met a man who worked at the Condor factory, who gave him a lead on the boat of his dreams. On Wednesday, he took the girl of his dreams on a date. Five weeks after their first date, John bought the Condor. Five months later, he married Karen.
John named the boat “Dare II” because, without daring to do something he had failed at before, he wouldn’t have finally found happiness.
“The next time you dare to try might be the time you succeed,” Kirk says.
In the 1700s, it was considered bad luck to change a vessel’s name. Today, it is common practice. After buying the boat from John and Karen, Captain Kirk could not get away from the idea of daring to do something bold and brave, so he decided to keep her name. The previous owners were overjoyed.
So is Kirk, and it shows. He expertly maneuvers the “Dare II” around the bay and into the sound on two-hour cruises that cost $65 per person, up to parties of six.
“I’m here to wait on you,” says your Captain. “I want you to have the experience of a lifetime.
If you’ve found your very own love story, Captain Kirk can even officiate your onboard wedding, if you dare to … say yes!
– Ashley Kahn Salley
Lead Storyteller, Innisfree Hotels