We are the owners of AVATAR and previously the owners of Raven. We live in Tucson, Arizona, and have a grown son and daughter and three grandchildren. Over the years we’ve enjoyed a wide range of interests since we were married in 1966, sailing included.
Mike learned to sail in Boston and competed on MIT’s sailing team. Carol started her sailing career on Lake Lagunita as a freshman at Stanford University, where she met Mike on a Valentine’s Day when he hitched a ride aboard her Flying Junior. During the early years of our marriage, we raced small boats, primarily Snipes but also Mobjacks and 505s, on the Chesapeake and in the San Francisco Bay area. We also had the opportunity to crew aboard larger yachts during weekend races.
Not so coincidentally, we are neighbors and very good friends of Steve and Linda Dashew in Tucson. Raising a family, careers and other hobbies had taken us away from the water for decades, not to mention living in the Arizona desert. But eventually the Dashews reignited our interest as we learned more and more about their innovative approach to cutting edge high performance yacht design.
In the real world Mike is known as Dr. Parker, a PhD with electrical engineering and computer science degrees from MIT and Stanford, and founder of Rincon Research Corporation in Tucson. In addition he is an avid pilot of both power planes and gliders, and currently holds two world distance records in his World Class PW5 sailplane. He is semi-retired, which means he works full-time when we’re home and not at all (theoretically) when we’re off cruising the ocean blue.
Carol over the years has had a variety of interests, including raising and showing top quality miniature schnauzers (under the Skyline kennel name) and for the past 30 years has been involved in the equestrian world exhibiting hunters and jumpers competing under her Cross Creek Farms stable name. Currently she has taken up photography obsessively and promotes her work under the name of Carol Brooks Parker Photography.
Rod Bradley, AVATAR’s captain, is a native of New Zealand. He came aboard Raven in early 2003 when she still belonged to her previous owners, and remained with the boat when we acquired her in 2004. When we made the transition to power and launched AVATAR, Rod stayed with us and continues to mastermind our adventures.
Most serious cruising couples run away from home to live on their vessel full-time. Mike and I, due to other obligations, have not been able to commit to that lifestyle. Instead we rely on Rod to reside aboard our boat, maintain it in peak condition, fix what breaks (always something!) and show us a good time when we do escape and have a few weeks for a new adventure.
Rod’s superior seamanship is enhanced by in-depth knowledge of boat and systems technology, expertise as a certified SCUBA divemaster, culinary prowess in the galley, and a host of other talents – all packaged with an insatiable thirst for travel and new experiences.
His competence, enthusiasm and yen to travel the world (at least those climes where coconut palms grow) have opened vistas for us that we never even dreamed of when we first bought Raven.