On a cold winter day in 1971, this Montana boy wrote to sail charter companies: "Teach me to sail and I'll work for room & board." The following spring he started working for a small charter company on Lake Champlain. From Vermont, Stephen hitched a ride on a 61' sloop to New York City to board a 72' schooner bound for the Caribbean. Her winter passage was thwarted by 70 knot winds & 20 foot seas 200 miles off the coast of Delaware. The boat returned, damaged, to NYC.
Determined to reach the Islands, Stephen sailed from Florida to the Virgin Islands & stayed for the season as the charter boat's first mate. From there, he boat-hopped, hitch-hiked & rode the rails to San Francisco with an eye to the South Pacific. Working for yacht maintenance companies in SF and racing every weekend, he managed to work several passages between SF and San Diego.
After four passages to Hawaii, four to Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, cruising between So Cal & Catalina, sailing the San Juan & Gulf Islands, he bought his third boat in 2005: a S&S Yankee 30 sloop. Today he has three grown children and lives in Tiburon, operating a yacht maintenance company.
Spoja obtained his captain license in 2015 through Modern Sailing. Having taught sailing informally for years he finally got ASA certified and began teaching at MSC. His safety-first teaching philosophy is intended to enable students to handle & enjoy the demanding conditions found on SF Bay.