How Neverland Ocean Learning Got The Sailboat Whistlin’ Riggin’

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The Opportunity of a Lifetime

They’re called opportunities of a lifetime because, well, that’s just it! And life presented me, Abby, and my husband, Chad, with one such opportunity during the summer of 2017, just one month before our wedding day. 

We learned about Whistlin’ Riggin’ through social media and the only thing we knew was that the owner wanted the boat to be loved, maintained, and most of all, sailed!

This was something we were definitely interested in and we were eventually presented with the opportunity to do just that. When we were, we had to pinch ourselves and time and time again since that day, we find ourselves in awe of the kindness of others. We found out about Whistlin’ Riggin’ through a boat captain in Marina Del Rey, California who was sailing her from there to Newport Beach. He connected us with the person in charge and I wrote a brief email (just nine paragraphs!) to share a bit about Chad and I, our dreams and how this just might be a perfect match. After a few conversations, it quickly became apparent the next thing to do was plan our trip to California from Annapolis, Maryland to learn more about the opportunity in person.

Taking the Next Step

We spent three full days in Newport Beach, sleeping aboard Whistlin’ Riggin’ and looking at every aspect of her. We not only learned a lot about Whistlin’ Riggin’s condition but also her history as the sailboat that a woman named Donna Matson loved so dearly. It was evident that if we were to take on the restoration we would be stepping into something bigger than ourselves, and what a privilege that would be. 

Donna was, “a pioneer, an entrepreneur, an educator and an adventurer who has done more things than most people dream of doing.”

Alan R. Stephenson, Indelible Images

There was definitely some work required if Whistlin’ Riggin’ was going to be capable of crossing an ocean ever again, but along with Philip, we decided it would be well worth the effort to restore the boat to her former prowess and as Donna had imagined, take her to adventure far and distant places.

A Legacy to Follow

That work began in July 2017, and since then quite a lot has been accomplished. Not only has the restoration come a long way, but we have also laid the groundwork for  Neverland Ocean Learning. This idea was largely inspired by Donna and her passion for youth education, all things ocean-related, and travel. What an honor it is to get to share a bit about what has come of Donna’s beloved Whistlin’ Riggin’ with you already; I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.