Reaching South’s Team

Our Team at Reaching South is comprised of recent college graduates looking to see the country, world, and maybe even learn something about themselves along the way.  The following people are the mainstays aboard the ship, journeying from Chicago to Nassau and for three of them to the Dominican Republic and back to Florida.


John Elam -Skipper:

One of the founders of Reaching South and the sailing team at the University of Puget Sound, John Elam has been addicted to sailing since before he could remember.  After getting surgery on his pinkey and deciding that this journey was not only possible but necessary, he has spent the majority of his time in recovery planning and preparing for this trip.  On board John will be the primary skipper and is responsible for dealing with and preparing for issues relating to entering countries, marinas and maintaining the boat.


Dustin Holloway -Our navigation expert

While many may think that navigation today is simple with the invention of advanced GPS systems, increase in boater traffic, navigation regulations and the extensive presence of shoals throughout the Caribbean mean that while navigation is simpler than the days of Magellan, it still remains far from click and go.  To ensure the safety of the crew and vessel, every voyage needs an dedicated navigator, and Dustin Holloway is that man and the other original member of this team.  Double majoring in history and German at Haverford College, Dustin’s dedication, commitment and focus did not go unnoticed and it is these skills that the team will be relying on to ensure a safe voyage.  Beginning his planning and research ahead of time, especially regarding bridges, locks and crowded waterways, Dustin has already demonstrated his commitment and value to the team.


Ellen -Health and safety

As the secondary skipper Ellen Ytterberg’s responsibilities are split between time at the helm and managing the health/safety of the crew.  The second position should be viewed through two separate lenses–preventative and reactive policies–and requires significant forethought and preparation.  The former, preventative, is greatly simplified as a result of the boat chosen for this adventure.  The latter, reactive policies, focuses on how to respond to issues at hand, something that Ellen, certified in first aid, CPR and AED, is well positioned to do.  Recently graduating from the University of Puget Sound with a degree in Political Science, Ellen has a true gift in expressing herself, one that we hope to use to update our followers throughout our trip.


Pieter VerHaar -Our computer guy

A computer science major at the University of Puget Sound and a passionate technologist, Pieter VerHaar is tasked with running all things electronic on the ship.  His two main responsibilities are electricity generation/storage and as the communication liaison with the outside world.  His first responsibility centers around generating power from solar, wind and when necessary fuel sources.  With this Pieter is in charge of monitoring wattage usage and battery levels.  His second main responsibility, as communication liaison, is more than just posting updates on our website, social media platforms and youtube series; it is maintaining the ability for us to connect in those ways.  While we will all write, photograph and take footage of our journey, he is the one that will make this all possible.


While most of the miles were completed with just four, quite a few of our most enjoyable moments occurred when others came aboard.  We want to thank each of the following people for taking time out of their lives to join us on the water. (In chronological order)

Peter Callahan- Port Washington WA to Saugatuck MI

Having known Peter virtually all of my life and certainly all of his, I knew that having him aboard for our first sail was something that would not only be a lot of fun, but would add extensive sailing knowledge and a pervasive positive attitude to the trip across.  His addition proved essential as rougher than expected weather for the first half threatened to damper the crew’s moral.  While his active track and work schedules prevented him from joining us for longer, it was great to have him aboard for the short time we did.


Mike Knape- Detroit to Toronto.

A close college friend and fellow sailing team member of the Puget Sound three, Mike drove across the state of Michigan to join us for a couple weeks.  Beyond being the most successful sailor at UPS, Mike literally grew up on the water, spending the better part of 5 years circumnavigating the world with his family when he was a kid.  Mike’s love of the water, especially when it involves flips and jumping, got us to spend some of the most time in it, even if it was the questionable waters of Lake Erie.  Special thanks to Mike for helping us make it through the Welland Canal without a gearshift lever.


 Kyle Thackery- Falmouth to Boston

Another friend of the three UPS’ers, Kyle flew out to join us for a week in September, including his birthday.  An avid biker (the pedaling kind) and outdoorsman, Kyle was introduced to a life of perpetual stomach-churning motion immediately upon exiting the Cape Cod Canal.  While the trip involved less sailing than a normal week would entail, we did get to spend his birthday in the bustling town of Plymouth MA.  I personally would like to thank Kyle for soaking me while paddling back to the boat on his birthday and picking up the mood of everyone aboard.


Jeni Oppenheimer- Charleston to Savannah

The third UPS student to join the trip was a close friend of mine from college, and the only other girl to join the trip for any time offshore.  While the trip lasted just 60 miles, the lack of cooperation between the wind and the waves along with the lingering effects of the night before made this section particularly challenging.  We appreciate Jeni’s joining us for the fun weekend and great barbecue, even if the seas were a little choppy.


Jackson Lindeki- Georgetown, Bahamas to Luperon, Dominican Republic

Our final visitor, Jackson, was also a fellow Logger, and he sailed and journeyed with us for almost three weeks through the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Dominican Republic.  While his experience sailing was quite limited when he came aboard, he picked it up, especially at the helm with extraordinary speed and interest  Even though we knew he had to go home for work, we all were sad to see him go, and his presence and especially his positive nature were sincerely missed.  Thanks to Jackson for helping us make some of the big crossings, catching some big fish, snorkeling and exploring three beautiful countries.

3 thoughts on “Reaching South’s Team

  1. Hey John… We met you at the Nassau airport a couple weeks ago. Wished we could have dropped by to see your boat, but Paradise Island got the best of us. We had a great trip. I look forward to reading more about your adventure. Best, Scott

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