Brianne O’Donnell Fisher is a realtor with the Swan Agency Sotheby’s International Realty. An avid boater, Fisher lives with her husband, Alex Fisher, in a renovated 1903 sea captain’s home on the Portland peninsula. Fisher is on a J/24 sailing team that races out of the Portland Yacht Club on Wednesday nights from May to October.
I had a very active family growing up. We had camps on Sebago Lake, and we had a little island in Tacoma Lakes. I grew up around lake sports, tubing, wakeboarding, and water skiing. I was born in Portland and moved away. When I moved back, got my first apartment, started running Baxter Boulevard, and getting out and seeing Casco Bay, I started being more of an ocean person.
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I’ve been with Sotheby’s for seven years, and with Kim Swan at the Swan Agency for four years. She’s based out of Bar Harbor. We decided to team up and do the Portland version of coastal real estate. Last year I sold Clapboard Island East, a beautiful piece of property that went to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. We currently have a property for sale on Sturdivant Island. It’s fun when you’re going to a building inspection to be able to say, “I’m going to take my Whaler, and I’ll meet you there.”
I was skiing one day at Sugarloaf, and a friend of mine said, “We’re looking for a fifth on our J/24 sailboat.” So a couple of months later I went down, and we started sailing. This will be my fifth season. We race out of the Portland Yacht Club on Wednesday nights. There are probably 14 to 18 boats in the regatta. The J/24 is a very popular, sleek, and fast sailboat.
To have five people on a fairly tight boat, you need to know your job and what everyone else is doing so you’re out of their way: not only to get a better time, but also to not fall off the boat and to not get hurt. It is really fast-paced. Everyone has a very specific job, and you have to be efficient at it. I am mostly in the front of the boat, dealing with the jib—the sail closest to the bow.
The course changes according to the wind. The race committee, on a boat that goes out and drops large buoys that you race around, sets it. When you are on course, you can look a mile ahead and you see this big, orange, floating beacon. That’s your windward point. Casco Bay is essentially your backyard. You might be sailing the Hussey Sound off of Long Island, or if the wind is coming in from a different direction, you would go more towards the Brothers Islands, or in between Great Diamond Island and the Brothers. You can usually do two races, sometimes three, between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. You get in as many races as you can before daylight leaves. You go by Mother Nature. She tells you when you’re done with your race.
At the end of every race, we all come in and put our boats away. Then we have a bite to eat and shake hands and tell war stories. We give away prizes, which are always very fun and sometimes silly. It’s good camaraderie.
Alex and I own a few boats. One of them is a Webbers Cove lobster picnic boat. We are out on that boat half of the nights in the summer. We have a bathroom in it and a bed. We prefer to be out there, and so do our dogs. Most of the time, we’re trying to catch fish, which is more fishing than catching for sure. It’s something that we love to do. After a busy day or after a big meeting, it’s really nice to have a partner that has the same outlet.
The Chebeague Island Inn is one of our favorite places. The porch and the building itself are so beautiful and historical. When you go out onto the porch as the sun sets, there is this energy that Zens me out. If you’re not a boater, you can get on a ferry and go over. They have a fantastic restaurant. I think it’s really quintessential Maine.