We have two daughters. Lily is 6 and Katie is 5. Lily first sailed when she was nine weeks old. She loves reading and wildlife and helping to inflate the dinghy and jumping onto pontoons to tie up the painter. Katie loves dancing, doing cartwheels and playing with Lego. She hates eating her dinner. They both love climbing the rigging and playing with the other sailing kids we meet on our travels.
When we met in 2004 we discovered a shared love of the outdoors – hiking, camping, SCUBA diving. Almost from our first date we had this dream of one day buying a boat and sailing off to explore the world by sea. I learned to sail and we took a few sailing holidays together. Then all of a sudden it seemed we found ourselves with a mortgage, a house that needed a lot of work, two babies and no money to do any sailing at all. Julian was no longer happy in his job and we looked at this rather ‘conventional’ life we had carved out and thought ‘is this what we really want?’
In April 2011 we suddenly thought there’s no guarantee that we’ll have more money in twenty years time, or that we’ll still both be alive and healthy. So we decided to make our dream a reality there and then. Six months later we had sold our house and about 90% of our belongings, bought our boat, and were well on our way to making our dream a reality. We still have very little money, but we make do, and we’re now living this amazing live aboard life with our children.
“Sailing is being in the elements – sun, rain, wind. Sailing is singing songs in the cockpit. Sailing is the anticipation of the adventures that await us at our next destination”
Carina is a 36-foot Westerly Conway ketch. She has a semi-long keel, a deep centre cockpit, and at 11 feet wide is beamy for her length. She was built in 1979 and has had two previous owners. Her last owner lived aboard in the Mediterranean and sailed her to the Caribbean in 2010/11. As soon as he sailed her back to the UK he put her up for sale. In the four years we’ve owned her we’ve replaced the engine, the heating system and the standing rigging. We’ve made no internal modifications and Julian’s list of repair and maintenance jobs seems to get longer and longer all the time!
Just like little girls anywhere, they love to play. Their bedroom is the v-berth, where they have all their toys, books and clothes. They love to play in there, but they also love to dress up in their fairy princess costumes and play with their teddies and dolls on deck. They like to arrange their teddies and Barbies on the masts and booms, which in the past has caused people to stop and take photos of our curiously festooned boat!
In the past three years you’ve cruised in England, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Which are the places that you loved the most?
I have two favourite places. I come from Ireland, so it was my dream to cruise the southwest of Ireland, to places that I knew well from the land, but had never been to by sea. It was magical. From Kinsale we sailed west, along coastline that grew more rugged and spectacular the farther west we went. We saw dolphins, seals and basking sharks and a profusion of sea birds. Long Island and Horseshoe Bay on Sherkin Island, both in Roaringwater Bay were memorable for their stark quiet beauty. Derrynane was the scene of many great family holidays when I was young and to anchor there with my own family was a dream come true. The huge bays, Kenmare and Bantry in particular, were a joy to sail across and up.
My other favourite place was Galicia in northwest Spain, where we cruised the rias in summer 2014. Galician culture, food and architecture are all amazing and the people are so friendly. There are great beaches, great forest walks, and great museums and churches to visit. We attended fiestas in almost every town we visited – some religious, but most celebrating local seafood – molluscs, octopus and barnacles!
Sailing is singing songs in the cockpit, drinking cuppa-soup and eating crisps and flapjacks.
Sailing is crusty salt-sprayed hair and greased-up salty glasses, sunburn and windburn.
Sailing is the anticipation of the adventures that await us at our next destination.