30 January 2017

Q&A Time | The Sunshine Blogger Award


Viki from Astrolabe Sailing nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. The Sunshine Blogger Award is given from one blogger to others who are “positive, creative and inspiring." Once you have been nominated you are given a set of questions to answer and then you get to “pass it on” to other bloggers that you admire and find positive, creative and inspiring.

Viki is a really cool sailor from New Zealand who blogs about all things nautical, as well as travel in New Zealand and abroad (check out her Destinations page). Even though I lived in New Zealand for five years, I never got to meet her in person. I really hope our paths will cross on the water one day.

Here are my answers to Viki's questions.


1 - What is the best part about traveling and/or sailing for you? 

Experiencing new stuff, meeting new people and learning about different ways of life.

2 - What are the most challenging aspects of your adventurous lifestyle? 

I'm not sure our lifestyle is really adventurous as much as it is different from how many people live.

The thing I find most challenging about living on a sailboat are things that scare the crap out of me.

Like when the boat is heeled over so much that I think we're going to tip over and drown even though I know that the laws of physics promise that we won't. Or sailing at night and panicking that we're going to hit something or run aground. Or bad weather. Or running out of chocolate chip cookies.

I've written a number of posts on my sailing fears such as holding my breath underwater, sailing in the dark and feeling tippy, not tipsy.

3 - How do you fund your sailing and travels, and what advice would you give to others wanting to do the same? 

This is probably the #1 question people who are considering becoming full-time cruisers want to know - how do you afford it? For us, it's a combination of having saved up and living frugally. I was lucky enough to have been made redundant from my job in New Zealand and was given a lovely parting gift in the form of a check. That chunk of change pushed us to go for it now, rather than wait until normal retirement age. We moved onto our 26' sailboat in New Zealand for a season and decided to make the cruising lifestyle a permanent one.

Both of us have worked on and off since then to top up the cruising kitty, but our plan is to try to cruise as long as we can off of our savings and meager investments.
When we went to buy our next sailboat (Tickety Boo), we looked for an older one that we could afford and try to do as much work on her ourselves to save money.

We document how much we spend each month and things we do to live cheaply on this page.

I wouldn't even try to give advice to others on how to fund their sailing and travels. There's no one right answer and no one answer that fits all. Everyone needs to look at their own financial situation, consider their appetite for risk (in terms of quitting the full-time rat race) and think about what their long-term priorities are.

4 - What is the one off-beaten path location you'd recommend that we visit? 

Ray, North Dakota. Or anyplace in North Dakota really. Scott is from North Dakota and, to be honest, I probably would have never visited the Peace Garden State if it wasn't for him. I joke that I would never move to North Dakota because it's too cold there. Okay, that's probably not a joke. But I have enjoyed visiting there.

When people think about visiting the States, they think of big cities (like New York, Las Vegas or LA) or well know tourist attractions (like the Grand Canyon or Disney World). They don't always visit the heartland of America - places like Ray, North Dakota (population 729), where Scott's family is from and where he spent his early years.

If you happen to find yourself in North Dakota, be sure to make your way to the Northern Unit of the Badlands. The first time I ever went camping in my life was there. It rained 5" in one night and this is a state that gets less than 15" a year. I saw my first rattlesnake up close. I woke one morning to a bison snorting outside of our tent. And we saw about six 10-12 point mule deer bucks one night, followed by a dozen of them the next.

5 - If you have a book you re-read often, what is it? If not, what's your favorite book? 

It's kind of impossible to narrow down to just one book. I do find that the books that I have re-read are those I originally read  when I was younger which really made an impact on me, such as Frank Herbert's Dune, Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and C.S. Lewis' Narnia series. I definitely read them differently as an adult and take away new things from them. I've also re-read all of Octavia Butler's books multiple times, as well as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Iain Banks - let's put him on the list too (both mainstream and sci-fi). Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers' mysteries are always fun to re-read too. Okay, that's probably enough.

6 - What is the strangest thing you've eaten or drunk while traveling? 

Dracula's Blood in a tiny bar in Berlin. I don't think it was actual blood, but since I don't speak any German, I can't be sure.

7 - What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I enjoy three things about blogging: (1) documenting our adventures so that we have something to look back at when we're older; (2) using it as a creative outlet; and (3) "meeting" people virtually. I would have never met wonderful people like Viki if it hadn't been for blogging.

I've written a number of posts about blogging on topics such as monetizing your blog, the mistakes I made when I first set up this blog, what makes blog posts popular etc., which you can find on this page.

8 - When did your passion for sailing/traveling start and how did you make it a reality? 

I've always had a passion for travel. I remember reading a book as a little girl about children who lived in other countries. I thought it would be so neat to go visit those far away lands when I grew up. I was always fascinated by different peoples and their cultures (which probably explains why I studied anthropology) and see travel as a way to learn more about the incredible diversity of the human race.

As for sailing, I'm still waiting to develop a passion for it. I see sailing more as a means of travel, kind of like an RV on the water. I do love being on boats, watching dolphins frolic along the bow and sitting at anchor sipping on tropical cocktails while watching the sun go down, but getting excited about the technicalities of sailing and the thrill of racing on a sailboat kind of escapes me.

I've written a number of posts about how I ended up leaving corporate la-la land, getting rid of all of our stuff, moving on to a sailboat and turning our dream of living an alternative lifestyle on the water into reality including 10 Steps to Becoming a Full-Time Cruiser and It's Official - We're Full-Time Cruisers!

9 - What is one item you can't live without when you are sailing/traveling? 

A way to make coffee. A morning without coffee on our boat is a very unpleasant place to be. I drink two cups in the morning. Scott drinks coffee all day long. I can't imagine our life without coffee.

10 - Where are you from and what are some fantastic things to see in that part of the world? 

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. To be honest, I haven't been back there in a zillion years, so I can't really recommend what you should see now. I do have fond memories of the world-class arts and culture on offer, the Metroparks system which provides green spaces throughout the greater Cleveland area and the zoo.

If you're from Cleveland or have visited there, what would you recommend visitors see?

11 - What's the biggest lesson you've learned from your travels? 

 Have an open mind and expect the unexpected.


Now the rules state that I'm supposed to nominate 11 other bloggers for The Sunshine Blogger award. I'm a rule breaker, so I'm not going to do that. The biggest reason why is how can I possibly choose just 11 bloggers? There are so many fabulous blogs I follow that I would never be able to narrow down the list.

So, if you want to play along and answer these questions on your own blog, please go for it and let me know so I can check your blog post out.

If you're a rule follower, here are the official rules:

1 - Thank the person who nominated you. {Thanks Viki!}

2 - Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you. {Go ahead and use the questions above, but feel free to tweak them if you like. For example, replace "sailing" and "traveling" with "writing" or whatever else you have a passion for.}

3 - Nominate 11 other people and given them 11 questions to answer. {Oops, broke that rule.}

4 - Notify your nominees. {If you decide to participate, consider yourself nominated.}

5 - List the rules and display the badge in your post. {It's a nice badge. Well done whoever designed it.}

What about you? Care to answer any of the questions above in the comments?

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  1. I've heard the Badlands are beautiful so I wouldn't mind visiting North Dakota.
    I'm neither a risk-taker nor a do-it-yourself person, so safe to say sailing wouldn't be for me.
    What to see in Cleveland? Certainly not the Browns...

    1. The Badlands are gorgeous - definitely worth a visit.

  2. Running out of chocolate chip cookies would freak me out, too. And no coffee? I'd be jumping overboard and swimming for the nearest Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. :)

    1. If only there was a floating Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks that could trail behind us :-)

  3. Coffee and beer. That's what I thought you were going to say, but coffee in the morning is a must.

    I learned a lot more about you with this post.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  4. Great questions! I'll have to check out some of your favorite books... the one thing I wouldn't be without is an e-reader.

    1. I was dubious about the Kindle at first, but now I really like it.

  5. Great post, you are definitely a sunshine blogger! I first encountered Narnia when I was about 7 and have loved it ever since. I have a set in a slip case which I treasure.

  6. Great interview! While the Badlands are pretty cool to visit, I am surprised that it was the answer you gave. I am with you in regards to seeing sailing as a means to get places. And sometimes, it is a really enjoyable means. :-) Have a great trip to the Bahamas!

  7. I think this is such a great post. I love reading about people who I blog with. I don't know why...but I imagined you with a British accent. But I guess that is not the case if you are from Ohio! LOL.

    - Lisa

    1. I definitely have a Midwestern accent and say thing like "pop."

  8. There is no life without coffee! And now I want to visit North Dakota.

  9. It would be neat to see a bison up close. But not too close. haha

    Congratulations on the award!

  10. I agree. Coffee is a must. And I would recommend people visit the 4 corners area of the desert southwest in the united States. Hike the desert and stumble upon ancient Native American ruins high in the cliffs. Climb up and imagine what is would have been like to live in a cliff dwelling 1000 years ago. It's a magnificent part of our country.

    1. We loved the Four Corners! Definitely should be on everyone's must see list.

  11. This was so interesting and also refreshing to read. I like your honesty.
    I had to laugh out loud when you wrote about the bison outside your tent in the Badlands. The same thing happened to us in that area - I wonder whether it even was the same campground. We do enjoy the less traveled areas of the US, but also like to return to places we love and that are also popular with a lot of other people (like the fantastic national parks in the American Southwest).

    1. I can't believe you had a similar bison experience. It was surreal.


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