Brent and Beth Miller

Meet the Captain

Brent was born in Los Angeles and grew up primarily in Manhattan Beach. As an only child, he never learned the meaning of having limitations. He seemed to be a model child, until he was kicked out of the Boy Scouts for rolling a giant boulder down a mountain, through a camp of pup tents…and starting a small forest fire. He enjoyed his model train set, making Super 8 movies from his diving excursions to Catalina with his dad and running an aquarium business for saltwater tanks and tropical fish. His parents always had a sailboat while he was growing up, and every Summer they would sail to Catalina. He no doubt gained his love of sailing from these excursions.

After graduating with a Computer Science degree, he spent about 6 years doing programming, before finding a sailboat that met his price and design criteria in Florida. The boat had a steel hull and was a ketch rig. He flew with a few friends to sail her back to Los Angeles and after a 3-month boondoggle, finally made it home.  He had visions of refitting her to be his dream boat, but in 1989, at 27, there were a lot of things that would get in the way and stall that dream.

He met a girl in the jacuzzi at the apartment complex adjacent to his boat slip. That girl was impressed with Brent’s long-term planning goals of sailing a boat around the world, but she wanted to live on land and have a design career. She was not impressed with the boat in the slightest. She married him anyway.

Brent Miller

Shortly thereafter, the boat was hauled-out and trailered to a boatyard and Brent commenced gutting it, down to the bare hull. The couple bought a house, had a son and started 3 companies between them. The boat sat patiently and expensively in the boatyard…rusting.

Fast Forward: After 20 years of the boat sitting in the yard, Brent got an itch to start working on her again. Their son Kyle was about 12 by this time and could lend a hand. Brent taught him how to plasma cut, grind steel, polish stainless, paint and do wood finishing. Over the course of 8 years, the boat started taking shape.

Brent sold his company in 2017, retired 3 years into the revitalized project and was able to spend full time on his beloved project. He handled all the welding and steel modifications, the electrical system, the plumbing, the exhaust system, water maker installation, navigation, communication, hydraulic rudder and some of the finish carpentry. He also hired many tradesmen to work on the boat, including a full-time carpenter for 2 ½ years to engineer all the custom woodwork on the interior.

Brent spent countless hours, (and dollars) on this labor of love. He knows every square inch of Steel Away. His knowledge should prove to be a giant asset while cruising the world.

Meet the First Mate

Beth originally hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her dad grew up on a dairy farm, which puts her close to being an actual Cheese Head. Her parents moved the family to San Diego when she was 9. Growing up, she thought she might like to be an orthopedic surgeon, or an architect. Architecture won out, as one of the neighbors was an architect and mentored both Beth and her brother Dan to be interested in the profession. She and her brother both ended up receiving architectural degrees from the same university but went on to do very different things.

After graduation, Beth moved to Los Angeles. She thought she wanted to work for a big firm, designing big things. What she found out was that she had a short attention span for big, long projects. She ended up at a large Commercial interior design firm and that became her new joy. The relatively quick turnaround of projects was just what she wanted.

After meeting Brent in the jacuzzi of her apartment complex and dating for a short while, he announced he was moving his new business to San Diego because manufacturing costs would be cheaper there. Since Beth’s family lived in SD, moving back there seemed like a no-brainer. The two moved to an apartment in Hillcrest and were married a year later in Dec. 1992. They bought a house a few months after the wedding.

Beth’s days of working for other people came to an end in 1997, as Brent’s suggestion of starting her own design firm took hold. She and a partner started their business out of Beth and Brent’s home. Just to make things interesting, the couple had a baby (Kyle) in Dec. of 1998. For the next 6 years, the firm would grow and thrive, gaining clients and employees. By 2003, the firm had growing pains and Beth and her partner went their separate ways. She continued on her own with a small staff until retiring in Jan. 2021.

While life was happening, Steel Away was sitting patiently rusting in a boat yard, awaiting the head-to-toe refit that began in approximately 2013. Although it has always been Brent’s dream to sail around the world, Beth readily married into this idea and knew eventually sailing would happen. Both Brent and Beth have geared their retirement to be about sailing. Beth has taken numerous ASA classes, in the hopes of catching up to Brent’s skill level. Spending a month in Catalina in August 2021 to do a thorough shake-down cruise, has confirmed that Steel Away is ready for a big trip and so is Beth.

Excited to immerse herself in the cruising life, Beth is the instigator of the Steel Away website, Instagram account and hopefully a future YouTube channel. She loves photography and is looking forward to sharing images of their travels.