A few months back, we were nominated for a Liebster award. This award is a personal nod from one blogger to another in appreciation of their work, asking them to answer questions and share the names of blogs they in turn find inspiring. I was flattered, but I ducked (wha…? me?). But then there was a successive nomination, and when a third came in conjunction with a flurry of new visitors to the blog this last week- it seemed the right time to step back, look to the source, and answer some questions about who we are, what we’re doing, and why. With gratitude to Lyndy of Homeschool Ahoy, Tammy from Things We Did Today, and Genevieve of It’s Our Necessity – answers to each of your questions in turn below.
It’s Our Necessity (SY Necesse)
1) Describe yourself in 5 words. No more, no less.
I live on a boat.
2) What do you blog about? What do you NOT blog about?
Traveling, adventure, alternative lifestyle, family and sailing! I don’t avoid any particular subjects, although I leave out what we eat for breakfast and every detail of every boat project, and tend not to dwell on the negative.
3) You have $10 US to spend, what is the first thing you buy?
A family meal out! Yes, for all five of us. Southeast Asia, where we are now, has excellent and cheap restaurants…we couldn’t afford to eat off the boat in most of the Pacific, and appreciate very much the chance to do so here.
4) What is the worst travel spot you have been to?
Kumai, Kalimantan (Borneo) – it’s one of most wildly awesome places we’ve visited, with everything from orangutans to stick bugs. But massive clear cutting for palm oil plantations and waterways poisoned with mercury from illegal gold mining made it heartbreaking to see. It is the best for what it is now, and the worst for what it is becoming.
5) What is your favourite saying/slang/term you have picked up through your travels?
“OK, OK, OK” – always in triplicate. We first remember hearing it in Papua New Guinea; it’s still common thousands of miles across Southeast Asia. It’s become part of our lexicon.
6) If you were invited to a dress up party what costume would you wear?
After 6 years cruising, there is nothing in my onboard wardrobe would pass at a costume party, except perhaps Beach Bum.
7) What is your favourite drink (alcoholic or not)?
Oh, I do love a kir. And, it’s been a while. A long while!
8) How much wine is too much?
This is a question?
9) What are you afraid of?
Palm oil, plastic trash, big ships with nobody at the helm, and lightning.
10) If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?
Can we have a return to a healthy ocean, with sustainable fisheries and clean water? No? Then I’ll take seeing our happy children maturing into happy adults that strive to make their world a better place.
Things We Did Today (SV Dos Libras)
1. What is the one thing you wish more people knew about you? Don’t be afraid to brag here… this is your chance!
I’m not afraid to ignore the common understanding of things. I like to do my own research to arrive at my own conclusions.
2. If you could have EITHER five minutes with a crystal ball OR five minutes with a Genie… which would you choose and what would you ask for?
I’d jump to Genie, starting with a wish to instill in all people, an immutable sense of respect for each other and ending with healthy global ecosystems…and about ten others wishes in between. I can talk very fast!
3. What would you say is your partner’s greatest contribution to your success (current or future) as sailors/cruisers?
Patience and respect.
4. When did you REALLY consider yourself to be a Cruiser? What does the word “Cruiser” mean to you?
The first inkling was several months into our cruising life, when we sailed south across the border and raised our Mexican courtesy flag. At that moment, I became an explorer on a long journey. In Bahia Tortuga a week or so later it truly sank in. Our children were playing in a tide pool, making friends across languages. Our high school Spanish had been resurrected sufficiently to order up a simple, unforgettable meal. We had made it on our own bottom to be in a beautiful place that was far from our original reality, past some invisible point of no return, and it was everything we hoped for.
5. What do you think will be the thing that ends your Cruising journey? And why?
With a nod to Lin & Larry, we hope to be cruising “as long as it’s fun.” Of course, we also have to stay solvent, and with five on board “fun” needs to include everyone- not just me, or Jamie, or a majority. We expected that a desire for normal, grounded living would pull one of our kids to choose land over sea, but they’re on board as much as we are.
6. What was it like the moment that you “decided” to go cruising? What was the catalyst? Or was it a more gradual thing that just happened?
We were always going to go cruising…someday. The year our second child was born, we lost Jamie’s mother. She had just retired, full of hopes and dreams, and was much too young to go. It brought our priorities into sharp focus. What were we waiting for? We made a five year plan, and left.
7. How did your current boat get its name? Have you ever thought of changing it?
She was named Don’t Look Back, a nod to the prior owner’s personal life. It wasn’t for us, so we changed it. We kicked around ideas for awhile (it’s harder than naming a child!). One day Jamie called from work, excited about a name idea. It was Totem, and happily, it still is.
8. What size boat do you/will you cruise on? And if money were no object… would you buy a bigger one.
Totem is 47’ of fun. A bigger boat, probably yes; but not necessarily more length. A wider transom, more freeboard, and more volume in the bow would give more storage and living space with making Totem harder to sail or more expensive.
9. It is often said that before you leave, everyone says they will come visit you, but most never do. Who would you MOST like to come visit you on your boat and why?
Jamie’s mother, to thank her for her sacrifice in making someday happen.
10. Thinking back to before you tossed the dock lines and how you thought cruising would be, what in reality was your biggest misconception? What was your biggest surprise? What was your biggest disappointment? (If you haven’t yet set sail, what do you think WILL Be your biggest adjustments? Sacrifices? Joys?)
I knew it would be trading financial security for family. I had concern that we would struggle at times being around each other all day, every day. We have our moments, but they are rare; and the family time is worth so much more than the financial security that we gave up. My biggest surprise was how much the kids learn by traveling. All the worry about how well the kids would learn onboard, is long gone. My biggest disappointment is that we cannot get to everyplace that we’d like – but happy to try.
Homeschool Ahoy (SV Katsumi)
1. Introduce us to your live aboard family, how many in your crew and how old are they?
Well, there is my husband Jamie and I, both somewhere in our roaring 40’s. Our children are Niall (15), Mairen (12), and Siobhan (10).
2. What sort of boat do you have and would you recommend it for other families hoping to live aboard?
Totem is a Stevens 47 (Sparksman & Stephens design). I do recommend this design for being robustly built while maintaining good performance, being excellent value, easy to handle, and with good kid-friendly space.
3. How did you come to the decision to live aboard?
4. Where are you now and what are your sailing plans, if you have any, for the future?
We are in western Malaysia. The near term is cruising between here Thailand until January, then heading west across the Indian Ocean to South Africa- we expect to arrive there in late 2015. It gets fuzzy after that, but we have a fifteen year old who is “dying” to see the Mediterranean…
5. What’s the best learning experience your kids have had since living aboard that you could pass on to other sailing families for them and their children?
That we are all learning, all the time: it is not something you turn on and off, but the fuel for a lifetime of adventure.
6. What style of education do you prefer for your littlest crew members, are you homeschooling/world schooling/unschooling… or eclectic like me? Have they ever been or will they ever go to a traditional school?
I really don’t like labels for out-of-school learning, because they are all loaded terms. We – all Totem’s crew – learn from the world around us, guided by our passions and interests, and the things we need to achieve our goals.
7. What’s your best memory from the last year?
There are too many great memories to choose just one. They all involve family and friends and a beach, hike, swim, local food, or sundowner. These aren’t weekend or vacation events, but everyday occurrences – and that’s the beauty of this lifestyle.
8. Name the most challenging experience you have had whilst living aboard and what did you do to overcome it?
Hard to choose between being stung in the neck by a scorpion while in a remote part of one of the oldest cultures on earth (Papua New Guinea) or being awakened by a rat jumping down hatch onto my body. Life is filled with unpleasant surprises, and you just have to deal with the moment and move on.
9. Will you always live aboard or is this just one of the many adventures you hope to share with your family?
Impossible to say, but we have no foreseeable plans to change what we’re doing.
10. What motivates you to blog and what tips can you offer fellow yachty bloggers?
I blog to inspire and motivate other people to follow their dreams for an adventurous life. Hearing from readers with dreams I’ve helped feed, or helped cross the hurdles to live differently, is a tremendous reward. For other yachty bloggers, go from the heart, and only if it feeds your soul as well too: you can’t force it.
A cliche, but it’s true: it’s an honor to be nominated. I’m grateful for the recognition, and for the opportunity to be a little part in helping others fulfill their dreams to live differently. It’s one my primary motivations to keep writing. The Liebster tradition is to nominate others, but the blogging world for cruisers is pretty small, and there are nominations already in and shared for most of my faves already. So instead of punting back, I’m just going to say: there are some beautiful, inspiring blogs out there. I keep my favorites listed on our links page, and I hope you’ll turn there- and to my nominators, Genevieve, Tammy, and Lyndy, to find your own further inspiration. And DANG, but you are lucky to have a wealth to draw from! The handful of blogs in our pre-cruising days are dwarfed by the awesome writing and images coming out now. If there was ever fodder to feed a dream…
Reading this post on the Sailfeed website tosses change into our cruising funds: thank you!