We were recently tagged in an online "game" called the "Liebster Award" by Mike from This Rat Sailed. As Mike describes it:
A blog is "nominated" for this "award" by other bloggers. It is a bit like a chain letter, except that the idea is to allow a blogger to introduce or recognize a fellow blogger's work. So, being nominated is a bit of an honor...or at least an indication that someone else likes your work.It seems like a fun way to get to know other bloggers better and hear about their stories, so we're happy to have been tagged by Mike. Here are our answers to Mike's questions. Have a read all the way to the end, as you may find your blog's name at the bottom which means that you've been nominated by us for this award too! And be sure to check out Mike's Liebster Award post and find out more about their escape from the rat race.
1. Introduce us to your crew. Who are they and what role do they play in your operation?
That's us in the boxes. It might be a little hard to tell us apart - Ellen (the salty sidekick) is on the left and Scott (the cynical sailor) is on the right. Why the boxes, you may be asking yourself? You might also be thinking we're a bit odd. Or that we're wanted by the law and can't show our faces. It's probably a combination of the two. We're also not very photogenic. Trust me, we're doing you a favor with the boxes. (The boxes were actually in honor of Boxing Day - you can read more about it here.)
In terms of our roles, Scott is the skipper. He fell in love with sailing long before Ellen even knew why it was important to tie fenders on to your boat before docking (you know those things that turn your boat into some sort of bumper car). Ellen can skip rope, but she isn't quite skipper material yet. We're working to change this with the hopes that one day, we'll be co-skippers. In the meantime, Ellen makes mediocre meals, takes the lead on cleaning and provisioning and makes sure the skipper's coffee cup is full at all times. She is also the Chief Communications Officer and is in charge of the blog and organizing boxes for photo shoots.
If you want to know more, check out our About Us page.
2. What sort of boat do you have and would you recommend it for other adventurers hoping to live aboard? What do you like the least about your choice?
When we were cruising in New Zealand, we lived aboard a Raven 26, which is a classic little Kiwi boat (you can read more about it here). If you're looking for a relatively inexpensive small boat which you can comfortably cruise on, then a Raven 26 is a great option. There are quite a few of them sailing in New Zealand and anyone you meet is likely to have either owned one or know someone who has one. While a few of them have gone offshore, most of the Raven 26s are only found in New Zealand, so they are really only an option for folks who want to cruise there. For us, it was a great first "for now" boat and we learned a lot sailing and living ours. While many people happily live on boats of this size, it is too small for us for the long-term, so we're now looking to buy a bigger boat in the States.
3. What are your sailing plans, if you have any, for the future?
Our immediate plans are to buy our next boat in the States and get out there again cruising. Due to Scott's work and some other family commitments, it will likely be a few months before we can kick off the search process in earnest. This makes us sad. We're both have itchy feet and can't wait to get on the water again and see new places and meet new people.
In terms of where we buy our next boat, we're really up in the air. Flipping a coin seems like a perfectly rational idea at times. Heads, we look for a boat in the Pacific Northwest, tails we look on the East Cost. If the coin lands on its edge, then we look in the Great Lakes. You can read more about our wishy-washy approach to boat buying here.
And then once we buy our next boat, we have the angst-ridden decision making in store for us about where we plan to go cruising. It was almost easier to own a small boat in New Zealand that wasn't outfitted to go offshore. At least that way, it was just a matter of deciding where in New Zealand to go sailing. You can read more about our cruising bucket list here. So many places to go to, so little time and so little money. Which leads us nicely on to the next question.
4. How do you support your lifestyle while sailing and cruising?
Like many people, we've saved up enough money to take a few years off from worrying about where the next pay check is coming from. We're hoping we can stretch our savings out and take a semi-retired approach to cruising (potentially augmenting our income from time to time with jobs here and there), but we'll need to see how this pans out. We try to do things frugally and we tracked every penny we spent while cruising in New Zealand so that we can get a feel for how much we're spending and where we can cut back. If you're curious, you can find out how much we spent here.
5. What's the best experience you've had while living aboard?
There have been so many great experiences living aboard in New Zealand. Very hard to narrow down to one! We've enjoyed seeing wildlife (like dolphins, wallabies, sharks, fish etc), going for walks and exploring areas of New Zealand that we probably wouldn't have seen if we didn't live on a boat.
6. Name the most challenging experience you have had while living aboard and what did you do to overcome it?
The weather has probably been one of the most challenging aspects of cruising. We seemed to have had more than our share of gale and near-gale force winds which makes for some nerve wracking and sleepless nights, as well as causing us to be stuck for days in places when we would rather have been out exploring and seeing new areas. I can't say that we've overcome this particular challenge. After all, Mother Nature is in charge out on the water!
7. Is living aboard and sailing an alternative way of life for you, an escape from the system, or is it just a temporary adventure?
Someone once described their cruising lifestyle as "conscious poverty", i.e., learning to do with less and do so happily. (If you were the one who used that term, let me know so I can give you credit - love the phrase!) I think the phrase aptly describes what we're trying to do - whether it be living on a boat or not. We're trying to use our money to buy freedom to travel and enjoy life, rather than buy things we don't really need. Mike from This Rat Sails uses the term "freedom chips" to describe this approach. What are you earning money for - stuff you don't really want or need or freedom to enjoy life?
8. Any big mistakes you have learned from that others may learn from too?
This question should probably be rephrased to something along the lines of "narrow down the zillion big mistakes you've made to one that you aren't too embarrassed to share with others." Probably one of the big ones, that has already been confessed to, is the time that I almost killed Scott while docking the boat. It was an accident. He survived. All I can say is never, never, never pull the bow line while the skipper is jumping to the dock with the stern line. For some reason, this causes the stern to kick out and the skipper to fall in the water. I think this could safely be categorized as a big mistake.
9. What advice would you give to those that may be interested in following in your footsteps and living aboard and/or cruising?
We're definitely not experienced enough to be offering any advice to anyone. Just do the opposite of what we've done and you'll be fine! What we can offer is our personal lessons learned from our period of time cruising in New Zealand. Buying a "for now" boat and spending time cruising together before investing in our "forever" boat was a really good tactic for us. It allowed us to get a better idea of what we're looking for in our next boat and what worked and what didn't in terms of the cruising lifestyle for us. We've got a series of posts on our "shakedown" cruise approach here.
10. What motivates you to blog and what tips can you offer fellow bloggers?
The primary reason we started out blogging was to create a record of our adventures - for our families and for ourselves. Now that we have been doing it for a while, we wish we had started something similar 20+ years ago when we first got married and started our travel adventures. The reason we still blog is because we absolutely love it. It is a great creative outlet, we enjoy talking about what we want to write about and it is fun to look back on our adventures. Plus I have a shocking memory which is just getting worse as I approach the big 50. The blog is a great reminder of what we got up to, because I sure can't remember half of it.
For our one year "blogiversary" (happy birthday Mr Blog!), I did a post on some of the blogging tips/tricks that I had learned from other great bloggers out there and did a bit of a review of how our blog stacks up against what the pros say. You can read more detail about the blogging tips here, but I think it really boils down to two things: (1) only blog if you enjoy it (most sailing and travel blogs don't have a huge readership, so you have to be doing it because you personally find it fulfilling) and (2) write in your own voice, not how you think you should write or in the style of more "popular" blogs (don't forget, they're usually popular because they are writing in their own personal and authentic voice).
I read a lot of sailing blogs, so it was hard to pick just four to nominate for this award! So I closed my eyes and picked four blogs at random. Here are my nominations - they're in different stages of the cruising journey, sail in different parts of the world and have great blogs. Can't wait to hear their answers to the same ten questions!
Astrolabe Sailing - Viki lives and sails in New Zealand and her dream is to sail around the world. A very good dream to have!
SV The Red Thread - Jessie and Neil are tossing off the dock lines on October 1st and have plans to cruise from Seattle to Australia. Exciting times ahead for them!
SV Cambria - David and Stephanie are experienced cruisers who spent many years cruising in New Zealand and are now cruising in the Pacific Northwest. If you read their blog, you too will want to cruise in the Pacific Northwest!
The Spray Logs - Maria and Patrick (who describe themselves as a hillbilly and a frog living in France) are cruising in Europe. They've had a few challenging moments recently, but always manage to keep their sense of humor!
If you see your blog listed above, just follow these simple rules to accept your own Liebster Award:
- Refer back to the blog that you nominated you
- Answer questions posed by the nominator (same ones as above)
- Nominate other blogs you believe are worthwhile