Before starting a sailing school and charter company earlier this month, co-founders Tobias Stull and Chris Bartick were merely friends who shared a passion for casting anchor in the open seas.
“We literally were sailing on our father’s laps. I was dragging anchor before I could spell the word anchor,” recalled Stull, who grew up sailing around Connecticut while Bartick honed his early skills in the Chesapeake.
The pair met a year ago and separately harbored fantasies of operating a sailing school. It wasn’t until May 7 that they took the plunge and launched Out on the Water Sailing, Inc., an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender)-focused venture based out of New York City and Sag Harbor.
Above: Out on the Water Sailing clients enjoy the view of the Manhattan skyline on Wanderlust.
“I knew that I wanted do something in this direction and that we could combine our powers,” Bartick said. As a professional graphic designer, Bartick oversees the website layout and the company’s design needs, while Stull, a lawyer, authors all press materials. Captains Bartick and Stull are the sole instructors for Out on the Water, but neither one is sacrificing their day jobs. Instead, the company, said Stull, allows them to pursue their hobby, while also sharing it with a group of new seafarers.
“We both love to sail and be around other people. It seemed like the natural way to do this,” Stull remarked. “Neither one of us have aspirations of getting rich.”
“We just have a boat in Sag Harbor. We don’t have offices or anything like that,” Stull said of The Pearl which is moored outside of the breakwater. “My office is my boat.” The 42-foot performance cruising sloop makes quite an impressive office though. She was built in 1984 by the Chantiers Beneteau Yard in France.
Left: Captain Chris Bartick.
Catering to the LGBT community differentiates Out on the Water from other charter boats or sailing schools, said Bartick. But Stull is careful to note that the classes, tours and adventure trips are open to everyone regardless of sexual orientation.
“Chris and I are both gay and we felt that we didn’t want to make it any kind of exclusive company. This is oriented towards a comfortable atmosphere for both gay and straight people,” he said, adding that the LGBT emphasis may help in attracting a segment of the population that wouldn’t necessarily have tried this activity.
Out on the Water’s scheduled getaways this summer, ranging from a weekend around the South Shore in June to a trip to the San Juan Islands in September, were chosen for the locations’ natural beauty and port side recreational offerings. Sag Harbor fits this bill on both accounts making it a perfect second home base.
“My great friends have been keeping their boats there for years. I would visit on weekends in the last five to six years and I have really come to love it,” said Stull. “You can take the Jitney and walk from the Jitney to the pier. And on your way, there is the best cheese shop, a little fish shop, a wine store. You have all the provisions. Sag Harbor has so much to offer. It is a great place to relax.”
Throughout the summer Bartick and Stull will offer courses in sailing in Sag Harbor, which are available in group or private sessions, for sailors with a bit of experience. Stull added they could be persuaded to offer beginning courses as well if there is enough interest. For Out on the Water, the pair created a curriculum and teach classes such as “introduction to sailing” and “performance sailing.”
Bartick and Stull both have American Sailing Association instructor certification and also have a wealth of experience racing. During the weekend of June 18 to 20, the pair will lead a Hamptons weekend charter, which departs from Sag Harbor. Though they haven’t selected a set itinerary, the trip may include a sail to Block Island, Montauk or even Newport.
“It is going to depend on the winds,” Stull noted.
“There are so many great places you can get to from Sag Harbor,” he added, pointing out another reason why the village is a practical base for Out on the Water. “It is the closest, truly great sailing destination from the city … [and] Gardiner’s Bay is amazing sailing.”
It also helps, said Stull, that Sag Harbor is, in general, an open community. Stull explained that there is a large LGBT community throughout the Hamptons and its close proximity to an urban area gives the area a bit more sophistication in accepting all kinds of sexual orientations.
“It is a progressive type of place. People in general are very open,” Stull said.
Thus far, Out on the Water has been garnering a fair share of attention from sailing and LGBT publications. A recent sale on Gilt Groupe, an invitation-only website offering steep discounts on luxury brands, yielded 80 new clients.
“A lot of people have contacted us wanting private lessons,” Stull noted.
Bartick and Stull hope to impart their love of sailing onto these new skippers. Stull calls boat-living a “perfect existence” and added that when the wind catches the sails and the boat glides along it is “one of the most beautiful experiences you can have.”
Bartick, however, perhaps best sums up the Zen of sailing: “I think people just have the sense of getting away. When you are sailing you can turn off the engine and you are driven by nature. In a sense you can go anywhere. It is an open road. You don’t have any lines to follow. It is your own path.”
For more information on Out on the Water Sailing, Inc., visit the website at http://www.out-sailing.com or call 917-399-0686.