Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT / friedbits.com
They had only been dating for a couple months and it was almost her birthday. Unsure of what to get, and wanting a gift that would truly be appreciated, he decided to ask what she would like. With little hesitation she answered, “"I would like a sailing lesson." Really, he thought, this is too good to be true! Sailing was the passion of his life, and that was what she wanted for her birthday, things were going well. Derek started sailing star boats in 1977 and has been hooked ever since.
With a glance at the calendar, Derek noticed the Jack and Jill race of the Budd Inlet fleet on Puget Sound, Washington, was close to Michelle's birthday. Being a practical person, and needing crew, he thought that would be a good day for the sailing lesson. However, not wanting to cause pre-race anxiety for his student (crew), Derek decided not to mention to Michelle that her birthday sailing lesson would be during a race.
The day was perfect, Derek thought, 75 degrees, 7-9 knots of breeze and a girl who wanted to go racing! Actually, it was a girl who wanted a sailing lesson and clueless about the race. Minor detail!
At the marina, Derek went to work getting the boat ready while Michelle intently observed. She had only admired pictures and videos of the star boat and now, with excitement, she was ready to go sailing. Derek started his tutorial, more like a crash course, as they left the dock. Once out of the marina, other star boats could be seen, and that was when Derek shared that they were about to participate in a race. "What!" Michelle said with panic, "I've never been in a star boat, I can't race!"
As they sailed to the course, Derek assured Michelle that he would give instructions and the race would be fun! Although not completely convinced, she decided to be a good sport and go with it. After all, Derek was experienced, he was confident and, Michelle thought, very cute! Derek was able to pull off a win in spite of the challenge of having inexperienced crew. And even better, Michelle enjoyed sailing in the star and wanted to go out again. This was the beginning of a summer of racing together.
Deciding it would be a good to have crew for the rest of his life, Derek proposed to Michelle, and they tied the knot on July 4, 2016, aboard the "Lady Washington".
Derek and Michelle DeCouteau are now both happily married star boat owners. It was in the stars these two were meant to be!