Marco Island sisters set sail for Bahamas to continue dad's legacy and start their own

Sisters Nathalie and Sascha Meyers were on a 50-foot sailboat anchored on a turquoise-water beach in the Bahamas earlier this year when a storm approached.

They saw captains began moving their vessels to the other side of Jaws Beach to avoid the worst part of the storm, but the sisters encountered a problem when they tried doing the same.

There was not enough sand for their old anchor to grab hold. 

Nathalie Meyers, 23, dove into the water and scouted for patches of sand while Sascha Meyers, 24, steered the boat.

"We could not anchor, but we were determined and kept trying," Nathalie Meyers said.

As the wind started to pick up, the water got murky, making it harder for them to find a good place to anchor, she said. 

Frustration crept in, the sisters said. 

They briefly blamed each other for being unable to safely anchor as 36-mile-per-hour winds rocked the boat from side to side, but then both took a second to rethink, Nathalie Meyers said.

They had two options: continue trying to anchor in the same area and risk being swept by the waves or go back to the original location and endure stronger winds, she said.

The chose the latter, anchored and survived the ordeal.

Nine months later the sisters are sailing again from Marco Island to the Bahamas, but they might go as far as Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles.

It could become their longest sail yet.

Continuing their dad's legacy

Nathalie Meyers and her sister Sascha Meyers provide a tour of the cabin of The Far Side, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, at their home in Marco Island. .

The 33-year-old cutter-type sailboat they captain is their father's, and without it they might not have even been born.

Jonh Meyers, Philippines, 1989

In the 1980s, John Meyer, their father, flew from California to Taiwan to find the best company to commission the sailboat which he named "The Far Side."

He had spent the last few years learning how to sail, saving money and researching to build the sailboat of his dreams.

"Instead of spending his money on cars and fancy stuff, he ended up saving it because his dream was to sail the south Pacific on his own sailboat," Sascha Meyers said.

In 1987, John Meyers began a five-year journey in the Pacific Ocean, sailing to countries like Fiji, Australia, the Philippines and American Samoa.

He spent over a year diving in Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia to see World War II shipwrecks, he said. In 1989, he anchored at night near a beach resort when he noticed hotel guests were lining up to dine outside because the power had gone out. 

John Meyers got on a dinghy, navigated it to shore and waited in line to eat, pretending he was just another guest.

Sascha Meyers, left, and Nathalie Meyers pose for a portrait on their ship, The Far Side, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, at their home in Marco Island.

As smart as he was with a degree in engineering physics, John Meyer could have never know he was standing in line behind the woman who would later become his wife and the mother of Nathalie, Sascha and youngest daughter, Tatiana.

Veronica Meyers said he tapped her shoulder while she was in the buffet line, but she did not pay much attention to him.

"He tried to talk to me, and I kind of shrugged him off," she said.

When it was time to find a place to eat, she said the only empty seat she found was by her future husband. She asked him if the seat was taken (it was not), sat down and they ended up spending the evening together.

"And that was it. The sun went under, the moon came up," she said.

Veronica and John Meyers, Philippines, 1991

The next day he came in his dinghy holding a thermos with fresh-brewed coffee to invite her to scuba dive at the lagoon.

"You know when you can trust somebody. You know when it is meant to be," Veronica Meyers said.

Days later, she went home as he continued to sail across the Pacific for the next two years, he said. In that time, he briefly flew to Key West and she to the Philippines to see each other.

"The mail was not so reliable, so she didn't get all of my letters, I didn't get all of her letters but we stayed in touch," he said.

To complete his trip, he sailed from Japan to Santa Barbara, California in 35 days. He later met her parents before marrying in the Netherlands in 1993.

A photo shows Nathalie Meyers, left, Tatiana Meyers, center, and Sascha Meyers playing in the sand near Fort Jefferson in Key West in 2001.

Born in the late 1990s, Nathalie and Sascha Meyers grew up in Michigan and participated in sail clubs since they were in elementary school, they said. 

While in their teens, they raced sailboats individually and as a team on Lake Erie, Ohio, winning the same race that U.S. sailor and Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe Tobias won earlier in her career, they said.

"Our sailing has not only been on this boat, we are also a team," Nathalie Meyers said on top of The Far Side on Christmas Eve..

Their dad would take the family sailing across Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba during school breaks.

"That is what we always looked forward to," she said.

'I'm the man'

Nathalie Meyers climbs the main mast of her ship, The Far Side, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, at their home in Marco Island.

Even after all their years of practice, planning and acquiring their captain, lifeguard and diving certifications, Nathalie and Sascha Meyers said people question whether they are capable of making the trip.

"We don't have to prove people wrong but we are going to because there are so many people that don't believe in us," Sascha Meyers said.

Nathalie Meyers said some men cannot wrap their heads around the possibility that two young women are able to complete the feat. 

"We get everything from 'You can't do it,' to 'You are girls,' to 'You are not going to be able to fix anything,'" she said.

"What makes you think that we can't?" she said. "You don't know us."

Sascha Meyers said some women have asked them if a man will be with them during the journey.

"They just feel like there always has to be a man in your life that you need to depend on to do the bigger jobs," she said.

"I'm the man!" Nathalie Meyers said in jest.

Sascha Meyers said their parents raised them to be self-sufficient by teaching them how to do plumbing, run tractors and operate bulldozers.

"I just tell them we are strong too," she said.

She said people realize how capable they are after listening to what the sisters have to say.

Keeping the family tradition

Sascha Meyers talks about her ship's The Far Side, navigation and communication system during a tour, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, at their home in Marco Island.

On Dec. 28, the sisters set sail to Key West to sand and add a fresh coat of paint to the bottom of the sailboat before heading to the Bahamas.

Nathalie and Sascha Meyers became busy with college athletics in New York and Illinois respectively, but during the last six years they used every bit of time they could spend with their dad to plan their Caribbean excursion.

"That was all that we would talk about," Nathalie Meyers said.

She recently graduated with degrees in journalism and photography, and her sister obtained a degree in animal sciences to one day become a veterinarian.

Nathalie and Sascha Meyers have spent the last few years updating the sailboat with new equipment and electronics to prepare for their trip, they said.

Two or three days after New Year's Day, the sisters expect to set sail from Key West to the Bahamas if the weather is favorable, they said. 

Their dad will be with them at first but will catch a flight back to Florida after they reach the Bahamas

After spending about two months in the Bahamas, they plan to sail to Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles — if COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and Mother Nature allow it.

The journey will be a way to make new memories together and pay tribute to their dad's travels, the sisters said.

"We want to continue his story in the Caribbean," Sascha Meyers said.

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