Rob sailed dinghies which is something I never have, so technically he is a much better sailor than me. He was just completing his Day Skipper course when we met so we shared a common interest. I started sailing in my teens, with my dad, on his boat ‘Dark Sapphire’. Although she was just over half the size of Beyzano, we sailed to France overnight and I was sick all the way! Despite that, I have always loved being on a boat, not just sailing but pottering and just stepping onboard I feel relaxed and at home. Rob doesn’t get sea-sick – I do and I definitely get scared but I still love casting off the lines and being at sea.
Although we were fortunate to have a good life in the Cotswolds whilst our children were growing up, we have always been happiest on our boat, lazying in the sunshine and enjoying the sound of the water whooshing past the hull. When chartering we snorkelled in clear waters and walked hand in hand on white sandy beaches. Hence we thought it would be a good plan to leave the UK and go somewhere warmer!
For the past 6 years we have spent a lot of time apart whilst both working hard in different countries to earn the funds to allow us to retire early and pursue our dream. Our family home was sold in 2008 (once the children had gone to University) and we rented a smaller house for a year, as a test, before moving onto the boat full-time. We are nearly there now (Feb 20 2011) – 4 months and we will be on our way.
We enjoy having friends to stay and showing them how relaxing sailing can be. We also like sharing a bottle of chilled Rose in the summer and warm reds in the winter. Meeting like-minded people is also a big part of our lives and we have made some wonderful friends, some of whom will be following us to the Caribbean in the next year or two.
We are both adventurous and have been sailing together for more than 16 years, the last 7 on our own boats. It is a wonderful existence 🙂 The lazy days spent at anchor, fishing and swimming are balanced by difficult days when the stress of finding the way into an unfamiliar harbour, or mooring the boat in a strong tide when exhausted from the passage, is high. The exhilaration of completing the stressful tasks and sharing that success is something we don’t often come across in everyday life though. The challenges and achievements are another factor in our love of sailing.
The rules, regulations and ‘nanny state’ in the UK also drive me mad! I literally swear out loud at the motorway signs which say, ‘Fog – slow down’ or ‘do you need fuel’. I have a theory that the less we are able to think for ourselves and make our own decisions, the more unable we will become to make them. So if there is fog when we are sailing, I hope no signs pop up!
It may be that we cross the Atlantic and find we want to come back to the Med or we may want to head on to New Zealand, visiting Chile on the way. Can’t be sure yet, until we try. We also have to face the fact that we may even hate the cruising life, we may miss working and the focus of earning a living, miss our family and friends and having a house and want to come back. Hope not – after all these years planning for this adventure it would be a real disappointment if we didn’t like it after all.
As we have now sailed together full time for 9 months I thought an update was in order! Although I have had to return to the UK for about 10 weeks in 4 different visits owing to my parents’ ill health, Rob and I have had an amazing time living our dream. It has turned out to be even better than we dared dream and we have settled all too comfortably into the cruising life, enjoying all the time together.
Having time to cook, potter around the boat and socialise more has been a huge benefit and I can happily spend weeks at anchor, not even going ashore. We aren’t losing weight though, as we laze around a lot in the sun and are drinking more in the way of rum punches with new friends at sundowner time. Might have to make a concerted effort to exercise more and drink less. Maintaining the boat has been a priority for Rob, with new batteries to fit and a few items of equipment failing. On one occasion Rob had really had enough as the water thermostat gave up the day after we fitted a heavy battery in front of the bit we needed to remove and he had no idea how the 2 of us would replace it. Fortunately we managed to move the battery and just squeeze the new thermostat in but it was the one day Rob felt he would rather be at home!
We haven’t had any arguments and only a few stressful situations with high winds and an accidental gybe which broke the kicker off. Rob had a couple of weeks sailing alone which was difficult for him and me worrying from the UK but we have always worked well as a team or separately, so this has stood us in good stead. Haulout in Trinidad will be an interesting experience later on in the hurricane season but we are used to doing the anti-fouling together and I quite enjoy working on the boat.
Looking forward to a few years sailing the Caribbean before deciding where to go next!
Hard to believe it has been almost 2 years since the last update to this page!
Sadly, my father and former brother-in-law died during this time and we returned to the UK on several occasions.
Better reasons for returning were my youngest’s First Class Honours Degree and this year our second son’s Wedding in Guernsey.
We have spent hurricane seasons in Trinidad and Bonaire, 2 totally different experiences but both good enough to repeat this and next year. We are still very happy with this lifestyle and have met even more people, local and cruisers, so much so that we feel very at home here now.
The boat has stood up very well to the heat, salt and wind, the only issues being glue melting in the headlining, our shoes and laptop cases. We had some water leaks with the locker on the stern and our water pump accumulator plus needed a new UV strip but generally we have had little work to do compared with many others.
Financially we have had to spend more than planned due to trips to the UK, a new dinghy and outboard and a new watermaker pump. All cost thousands. We eat out a bit too much as it is such a social life and half price pizza nights are too tempting! We put on a bit of weight over the years, so just lost that by not having alcohol or too many carbs for a while!
We have had several visitors over the years, some worked out well, others less so but we do need to go further afield and resist having many more next year as it becomes too constricting planning wise.
Our marriage is still solid and happy, lots of laughter and memorable times. Definitely glad we made the break from work to spend these years living our dream.