Back in the days of “You’ve got mail” and Yahoo email addresses – back when online dating was a tad bit taboo and flip phones were the rage – Tammy Goodall signed up for a free week of Match.com.
Thank goodness for the Internet.
Thirteen years later, on the rooftop of a Lake Union houseboat, Tammy and her husband Tom Gerkens shared their story and a glass of wine with me.
It’s not a classic boy meets girl, bended knee kind of tale. Theirs is an untraditional epic love, so whacky it has to be real.
Theirs is a story that’s taken them around the world, across the country and up several dozen flights of stairs. It’s taught them seasickness is real; tuna tastes best when caught, sliced and eaten with your fingers on the back of a boat; and home is wherever you’re standing (or floating) together.
While Tammy and Tom love Seattle, they’ve only lived here a short time. Originally, they met in San Francisco.
Unlike the classic coffee shop, ‘I met you online,’ stranger meet up, Tom went for it. That first night he took Tammy to dinner and a Sharks game. “We talked the whole night. And at the end, he walked me to my car and didn’t make a sleazy move on me or anything,” Tammy recalled.
The 3-Year Sail
They’d been dating eight months when Tom went to Hawaii on a family vacation. Tammy sent him with Tania Aebi’s Maiden Voyage – the tale of an 18-year-old barfly who spent two years sailing around the world.
Tom read. He read a little more. And then, he called Tammy. “This book is really good. You want to sail the world with me?” he asked.
“I said yes,” she told me. “I didn’t think he meant it. I certainly didn’t think he meant we’d do it anytime soon.”
But when Tom returned, the two started planning. With just four weekend sailing classes, they sold everything they owned, bought a 46-foot sailboat from a shop in Westlake and set sail around the world.
At times they were stranded and at times they were sick. But together they made it, visiting continent after continent, eating what they caught and taking shifts at the helm.
The Grand Central Station Proposal
Under the guise of his celebrating his mother’s birthday, Tom lured Tammy to New York City. She didn’t think anything of it. Nor did she think anything of it when he suggested they visit Grand Central Station.
“I just told her there was going to be some event and I wanted to check it out,” Tom said.
An event it was. March 13, 2013 at 3:13 PM, the drums of a Brooklyn marching band erupted within the lofty arches and elegant marble of Grand Central Station.
They played for 19 seconds. That’s how long it took the police to get there and shut them down.
Nineteen seconds isn’t a lot of time. It certainly wasn’t long enough for their family and friends to unroll the sign Tom had made. It read:
Tammy will you marry me? Love Tom
But, it was enough to knock Tammy’s socks off. “I was absolutely floored. He’d arranged for all our friends and family to be there. I just started crying,” she said.
A Seaplane Wedding
Tammy and Tom like to do things a little differently. They’re the kind of folks who enjoy touring the country on motorcycles and took living at the top of Queen Anne as a challenge to get in shape.
When it came to planning their wedding, they were determined it be untraditional. Toying with a variety of ideas, they arrived at seaplanes organically. From the rooftop deck of their new Lake Union houseboat, they’d been watching the planes take off and land for weeks. A pilot himself, Tom was intrigued by Kenmore Air’s water landing babies and when Tammy discovered Joy Stewart’s Northwest Floatplane Picnics – a catered, seaplane adventure – they were sold.
And so, on an afternoon in June, Tammy, Tom; their sons Kyle, Warren and Philippe; Tammy's maid of honor and sister, Laura; and Tom’s best man and his wife jumped into an Otter. They headed to Dabob Bay – a secluded beach located on Hood Canal, accessible only by seaplane or boat.
“It was incredible,” Tom said. “Eventually, I could make out a few houses across the way. But really, we were in the middle of nowhere.”
From the red carpet their pilot, Joe Leatherman, rolled out upon arrival to the champagne Joy had on ice, every detail was cared for. Tammy said:
Joe was a sweet heart. He was so bubbly and excited that it felt like he was part of the celebration. That really made it special. The food was amazing, especially the chocolate covered strawberries. And, our photographer did a great job capturing the entire day.
To top off the excitement, Joe tipped his wings to the wedding party after he dropped them off.
Congratulations you two. It was an absolute pleasure to hear about the adventures of your courtship and your wedding ceremony. Here’s to many more years of exploring together.
Joy Stewart, Floatplane Picnics
Joy’s sea-to-sky odysseys are food-filled adventures that you’ll never forget. Join her aboard a Kenmore Air seaplane for a trip to a remote picnic beach, where all you’ll have to worry about is having enough room to eat all the goodies she prepares.
Renata Steiner, Nataworry Photography
Renata is a Seattle based portrait, wedding and event photographer who specializes in making her couples feel at ease. Tammy said:
We really wanted our pictures to look natural and unstaged. That’s exactly what Renata did. She captured the moment as it actually happened.