It probably gained momentum 9 years ago, when we moved to Cairns and our boys had grown up and left home. If we were to be serious about this sailing, it was time to make decisions that would lead us there. So we worked our butts off both as employees, in our own businesses and buying, renovating and selling houses.
In 2018 we started to liquidate our assets so that we could buy a boat and set sail without any ties to the land and without any financial worries. I took on a job that would end in June 2019, so this was our deadline.
We bought a baby boat during this time, for practice. She was a little 27 foot Bonbridge called Alibi. Rene sailed her every week, and we also took her out on the weekends. I had to learn an entirely new language, and there were many moments where Rene would ask me to pull on the sheet, and I would have no idea what he even meant. We did have a few hairy moments on that boat as well, but Rene did not falter in his desire to do this more permanently.
Every night, probably for years, he was on what I called “Boat Porn”, endlessly trawling boats for sale. Then in January 2019, I just happened to be looking at boat porn too, and there she was. Our Ikigai, a 44 foot Elan Impression. Perfect size, perfect configuration, and in good condition. It had already done ocean crossings and had everything needed for blue water sailing (we thought). She was in Manly Brisbane, so we flew down, looked her over, and then had a survey and rigging inspection done, no issues at all. I did have to get over the purple upholstery, but at least its different. So the purchase was finalised and Rene sailed her up to Cairns with my brother Ross in March which took them eight days.
As planned, I finished work on 30 June 2019, the same day that we settled the sale of our house, and we moved on board. We spent that first month in a marina, just sailing in the Wednesday yacht races up and down the inlet. I was learning what the boat could do, dodging big boats, reacting to the whirlpool winds, turning on a dime and negotiating the narrow channel. Tacking, jibing, goose necking ( I since learned it is called goose winging), broaching, it all started to make sense and my comfort zone expanded and I was so grateful for electric winches. But our main focus was on modernising all the technology onboard, installing new navigation instruments including the radar and making everything talk to each other. We dragged her kicking and screaming into the modern digital world.
This was also a good time for our dog, Pepper, to get used to a different life. Not sure she is quite there yet, but she just has no choice.
I spent some time reading sailing books and blogs and after a month in the Marina I just wanted to get out there and sail. My experiences was still very limited, but I didn’t change my life to live on a boat in a Marina and I am one of those people who only learn by doing. So we planned our first substantial trip heading up north for a month or so.
We still had to sell an investment property in Cairns, but couldn’t do it until November, so this was the ideal time for us to bomb up and down the coast.
Travelling the world on a sailboat has always been a dream of mine. Ever since I was a nipper, I knew that this time would come. But time stops for no man so eventually, you have to say to yourself “I’m I really going to do this or just dream about it?” I spoke to a lot of crusty maritime old-times that never circumnavigated the world. “I could have – should have – would have, but never found the right opportunity…”. That wasn’t going to be me in 25 years time. One issue: convincing my partner.
Let me start by saying that I’m not a sailor. My qualifications for this lifestyle is the gift of not getting seasick and a desire to live a more simplistic life.
To me, this is literally going with the flow, seeing where this boat of ours can take us. No plans for once in my life.
Simply focusing on living well…
The boat mop
Pepper is our little dog. Half miniature Poodle, half Lhasa Apso, she runs amok on the boat.
She doesn’t shed hair so that is a bonus. She can be a pain in the neck but overall we wouldn’t want to sail without her…
Ikigai is an Elan 434 Impression. Build to high specs in Slovenia, it made its way down from the Med to the East coast of Australia.
She offers a comfortable quick ride with furling head and mainsail. A relatively self-sufficient boat that could stay on the water for months at the time offering comfort and safety for us and 2 additional guests.
Join us on one of our legs around the world. Drop us a line…