Phil Decker – The captain of Catmandu grew up near Minneapolis, Minnesota.* He learned to crew boats during his high school years at Shattuck-St. Mary’s school, but didn’t learn the art of “skippering” until much later. Settling after law school in Eliot, Maine, he met a friend and neighbor, Ted, who had a sailboat. He credits Ted with inspiring the skipper in him.
In 2000, he bought Catmandu, a Catalina 27. Phil took a three-day sailing class at the University of New Hampshire and a Safe Boating Course before taking to the waves off the coast of Maine – no easy sailing grounds. After ten years of trips to the Isles of Shoals and the bays and coves of coastal Maine, he headed south, sailing down the eastern coast to the Chesapeake and the Potomac, where he became a “liveaboard.” Later, Phil moved the boat to Annapolis and settled in Back Creek in 2011.
After a few years of working in-house at the US Patent and Trademark Office and other life changes, Phil and Kay became a couple. In 2019, they sold the Catalina 27 and bought a Catalina 380. They also named her Catmandu (why change name that’s already embroidered on the hand towels?). Phil underwent a successful open heart surgery in 2020 to repair a leaky mitral valve, and was fortunate to be able to recover from the surgery — and stay safe from the COVID pandemic — with Kay aboard our new Catmandu.
*The nicest people come from the midwest, don’t they?
Kay Dolliver Decker – The First Mate is a novice sailor, but not a stranger to maritime traditions. The daughter of a career Coast Guard officer, she is part of a sea-going family with a long history in the ship building and sailing community of Gloucester, Mass. Kay has no home town, but was born in San Diego and lived in California, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington State, and Florida. She has traveled to all 50 states and settled twenty years ago in New Hampshire, the prettiest of them all. (New Hampshire has only 17 miles of coastline, but it’s a beautiful little coast.)
Kay fell in love with sailing during visits with a friend in Rhode Island and began to learn the feel of a sailboat, the sails and the wind on Narragansett Bay – and one trip to Block Island. She fell in love with Catmandu (and Phil) and started visiting them a couple of years ago. Visits to Annapolis came with opportunities to sail the Chesapeake, which they did even on Christmas Day in 2011, and every Spring and Summer visit they could arrange. She has taken her Coast Guard Safe Boating course, learned some knots (yes, there’s a perfect clove hitch on the salt shaker) and is ready for the next journey on Catmandu – south on the ICW.