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Ken Gillstrom
Sail Canada Advanced Cruising Instructor
RYA Yachtmaster Offshore
STCW certification
Transport Canada Marine First Aid
Transport Canada Marine Medical
Carol Gillstrom
Sail Canada Advanced Cruising Standard
STCW certification
Transport Canada Marine First Aid

Ken began to develop his passion for sailing with his father aboard their 16’ dinghy at the age of 10. At sixteen the family moved up to a Northstar 22 and began doing a bit of cruising around Montreal, Lake Champlain and Lake George.

A couple of years later, he and a friend purchased 10 well used dinghies from a local yacht club’s junior program. By scavenging parts from all the boats and weeks of fiberglass work, they were able to produce 5 seaworthy “beauties”. Four were quickly sold to help pay for university tuition fees and the best one kept for their own enjoyment.

As invincible as teenagers think they are at 18, decided that 30 knots of wind would be an awesome day to sail. Well as you would expect, the boat turtled with the mast becoming embedded in the muddy bottom of the bay. With no hope of getting righted, and witnesses on shore becoming aware of the dilemma, an official rescue was set into motion. This left the two sailors in the hospital suffering from hypothermia.
Continuing with university, Ken worked summers at a manufacturing plant. Over 3 summers, Ken intently watched one of the company owners outfitting a Westsail 32 hull that he purchased……the seed was planted.

He married Carol after graduating from university with a business degree. Life became very busy with running a construction company, helping Carol with the dance studio, designing and building their home, raising 2 children . . . . . .. Sailing took a back seat, however, he did manage to race on a friend’s Hobie 18 for a few years.

At forty, Ken came across an unfinished hull near one of his construction sites. The dilapidated, helpless hull screamed out at Ken each time he passed by. It was crying out for a home to be part of and share some experiences. Finally Ken stopped on one occasion, after being deafened by the cries, to have a chat.  The boat hull was beyond any first aid that Ken could was prepared to administer. But the seed that had been planted back in university was starting to grow. Ken raced home and asked Carol the question he had pondered years earlier. You know, the one every male sailor dreads asking his wife, about selling the house, moving onto a boat and become nomads sailing to the far corners of the earth. Well, Ken was blessed, the answer came immediately with a resounding   YES. 

So Carol needed to learn to sail – actually find out if she even liked it. So began the years at Humber Sailing and Power Boating Center. Ken took all the courses along with Carol, but also took up on the Center’s offer for him to get his instructor certifications. Ken actively teaches at all levels of certification, gives dozens of seminars on all sailing related topics and has been a mentor to hundreds of sailors over the past years. 

Oh ya, and then there is that boat thing. With this starting as a 14 year plan until retirement, why just buy a boat when you could build one in that much time.

People believe that having the ability to work with your hands and create something from raw materials is an enviable skill. However, there are many times when Ken considers it a CURSE. Never able to look at a product and just buy it. The mind has to dissect its components and figure out how you can create the same thing. It has lead to building furniture, cabinets, windows, a house, offices, dance studio for Carol, and now . . . . . . . . a boat.

He has accumulated over 100,000 miles teaching and cruising on most of the Great Lakes, St Lawrence River,  the Caribbean, UK, and has completed 2 Atlantic crossings, two transits of Panama Canal, to Galapagos, then a 34 day passage to Hawaii and another 21 day passage to Vancouver. They then spent 3 summers sailing the west coast of BC and Alaska as far north as 61 degrees in Prince William Sound. Currently cruising the east coast of Canada


Carol, a dance studio owner, director and teacher has always loved the outdoors. Early years of sailing links back to being a “go-fer” on her “soon- to- be” father-in-laws 22 foot Hughes North Star. She loved the experience but had no clue what she was doing. Ken and his family had sailed for many years, Carol embraced the experience. After marrying Ken in 1978, Carol occasionally crewed on Hobie Cats. Her passion for sailing began to grow but it was time in their lives to begin a family. Sailing slipped into the background for Carol, replaced by parental and family commitments to their son, Geoffrey and daughter, Diana. Hockey, skiing and dancing lessons, ski and camping trips filled her “not-so-spare” spare time while both Ken and Carol each ran their own businesses to make their living.

It was 1999, when Ken announced to Carol that he had seen a bare sailboat hull on a parking lot in Brockville, which was “calling his name”. 22 years earlier, Carol had remembered Ken mentioning one of his co-workers and wife had built a boat and began their retirement sailing to far off places.

So in 1999, in a marina near Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ken proposed,”What do you say, we build a boat and sail around the world?” Within a moment Carol’s response; ...”Okay!”

The rest is history!

It sounded like a great idea, but Carol needed to know to sail a boat by herself. Beginning with an introduction to sailing weekend, then a basic cruising course and then navigation course, radio operator’s license, an intermediate course, Things were progressing nicely. Then came the true test of commitment to this plan: The Advanced Sailing Course; 6 days of pure adrenaline. Although unsaid, Carol knew she was not prepared to pass this test, but if she could finish this passage in heavy weather, sailing day and night shifts and still be as passionate about sailing, then Ken and Carol would continue with their plan.

Having passed the Advanced Cruising Standard, Carol has chartered sailboats in the Caribbean with her husband and children and she accumulated 5000 miles on The Great Lakes and Georgian Bay.

Since launching Voyageur 10.10, Carol has sailed another 70,000 miles including 2 Atlantic crossings, two transits of Panama Canal, to Galapagos, then a 34 day passage to Hawaii and another 21 day passage to Vancouver. She then spent 3 summers sailing the west coast of BC and Alaska as far north as 61 degrees in Prince William Sound.

She has also kept up with her dancing, teaching ballet in Vancouver over the winters of 2014/15. 16 & 17.

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