Dream of sailing around the world?
Here’s how. All the things you never thought of. It’s an honor to introduce you to one of our best friends who made her dream happen. We’re so excited to be following (& joining for the S. Pacific leg), this sailing around the world adventure.
– Guest post by Xanthe Hayes-Yapp
Single; almost thirty, no savings. Living the classic suburban Sydney lifestyle doing a job that sucked the life from my soul, Monday to Friday. The ultimate epitome of a ‘What the fuck am I doing?’ moment that wasn’t really a moment at all – it dragged on for a couple of years, and I could see no real way out. I had a few flimsy ideas for how I might possibly disentangle myself from this bind. Buying a van and getting lost somewhere way up the coast was one of them.
Winter would swing around every year and bring with it the sweet salvation of regular escapes to The Snowy Mountains, with the trusty girl gang. Nothing like a weekend of shred to knock out the week of dread ahead. The bittersweet night we all got banned from the local pub (Banjo Pattersons if you frequent the place yourself), was the night I met Jackson, my now boyfriend.
I naturally, could not resist Jackson’s offer to take me out for dumplings and hot saké when we were both back in Sydney. If not for an opportunity to get to know this frothy gent who lived one beach away from me. Conversation flowed; as did the saké. And in true gentleman style, Jackson offered me the last dumpling – the first sign he was a keeper. It was on this very first date three years ago that our vision of taking on the world by sailboat was born.
Who knew that giving up cocktails and clothes for a year or two could afford me my very own boat?
The true magic in this conversation was that each of us held the missing puzzle piece to each others’ big dream. Jackson, being a very practical fella, had been nurturing this dream for five years strong. But it came last in the sequence of 1. succeed in a career, 2. marry a girl, 3. have a family, 4. Sail around the world. I, on the other end of the spectrum, was in the mindset of stuff the family; do it now. But to me, the thought of gathering the money and resources to do such a thing seemed beyond the realms of possibility. Proving each other wrong was the single best thing we have done for each other to date.
It took quite some time for me to adjust to the idea of squirreling money away and sticking to a savings plan. Ugh, I still sometimes shudder at just the utterance of the word, ‘plan’. The Xanthe who wanted to gallivant off on trips to Japan and order espresso martinis dressed head to toe in Spell & The Gypsy didn’t give many fucks for future Xanthe and her hypothetical nest egg. But with Jackson keeping me on the straight and narrow, the bank account started edging its way up into the black and it became a satisfaction of its own kind and a thrill I had never had the pleasure to know before.
Sure as anything, with my zeal for adventure and Jackson’s pragmatism, we saved up enough money for a boat worthy of crossing oceans, plus enough spending money for the 14 months it would take us to complete the trip. All in the space of 18 months. Who knew that giving up cocktails and clothes for a year or two could afford me my very own boat?
We bought our boat, Finding Avalon in Croatia this year and have been sailing around the Mediterranean for the last five months. We have been slowly setting her up to be fit to cross the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean; a 2,800 nautical mile passage that we plan to begin this December. This will be about 3 weeks at sea with not a shimmer of land in sight. And we’ve managed to dupe Alexa into crewing with us for the Pacific Crossing which is even longer. It’s been quite a ride – highs of dolphins dancing in phosphoresce alongside the boat at night, to lows of sails breaking in 45-knot winds, 200 nautical miles out to sea. It’s a rollercoaster ride I never want to climb down from.
….Now on to the good stuff. Some tips from me to you about how to realise such a dream, aside from the less obvious stuff such as plan, save, and research. The sailing is the easy bit; don’t worry about that part – you can learn it very quickly on the fly. I had not so much as touched a winch handle before. The following pieces are what you need to focus on to get things going.
There is something truly cathartic about simplifying life.
#1 Let go of attachment to ‘things’
This is the hardest barrier to break, but when you finally surrender to it, it comes crashing down and carves you a well-lit path to where you need to go. There is something truly cathartic about simplifying life. We were on a serious savings plan so we had to shine a spotlight on everything in our day to day lives and say is this reeeeally necessary? We were pretty brutal, out went 80% of my clothes to market stalls to earn a bit of cash. Out went two of my surfboards I didn’t ride enough to warrant keeping, and our furniture was picked off piece by piece by willing Gumtree users. The hardest of all was my car – a little yellow Mini Cooper who I named Bumble and regarded as a dear friend. Bumble and I had great times together and life without him was unimaginable. Then, when the day came for him to fly the nest, I was expecting tears of lament, but instead, I got a real kick out of sending him off to a family with two young kids who couldn’t wait to call him theirs.
Shedding all of these possessions was so liberating – less ‘stuff’ to worry about, less clutter, and less time wasted choosing what to wear. Breaking free from the trap of capitalism is a freedom I didn’t know existed and I have become more proud of myself as a person as a result.
#2 Ask Lots of Clever People Lots of Stupid Questions
You are never alone. You have nothing to lose in asking people for help, and the sailing community, in particular, are a helpful crowd who are on the most part, very willing to offer up their time and expertise in exchange for merely seeing another sailor thrive. I, myself benefited from sailing lessons, crewing on twilight races, gear donations – all from perfect strangers, just from asking friends to introduce me to yachting contacts, or indeed putting notes on notice boards of local yacht clubs. All sailors really want to talk about is sailing, so if you give them an opportunity to do so, they will derive great pleasure from it and you will gain a bunch from it too.
#3 Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway
There is always, always, ALWAYS a way to work something out. There were often times in my own journey where I second guessed myself, and like any normal relationship, there were times over the last three years where doubts were cast on the whole thing altogether. Not once did any of these wobbles deter me from doing this. I wanted it so bad that I always knew deep down that I would make it happen. And do you know what, things rarely go as planned. So it’s prudent to build up a personal resilience and a faith that there is always another way. If I hadn’t done this trip as planned with Jackson, there are a tonne of other options I could have taken. For those of you considering a similar trip, here’s a bit of food for thought as to what options there are to explore…
- The Alternative World Sailors Community – This is a sailing community built by a beautiful open forum where people come together to make their sailing dreams a reality as a team. Boats are gifted to the community, or acquired for a very affordable price, and the group works together to run and sail the vessel. Find out more about them
- Sailing Sea Gypsies – A group of extremely piratey and soulful seafarers who have been voyaging around the globe for a few years now. They involve themselves in all sorts of projects, such as helping out Sea Shepherd with a mission, and creating movies. They offer a program for you to buy your way in as crew via their website – all you have to do is get yourself to where they need to pick you up from. Find out more here.
- Oceanic Hitch-hiking – One thing we’ve come across occasionally is folk sitting outside a marina with a backpack, asking sailors if they need crew to their next destination. You would be surprised how many sailors will take you up on this offer as it’s always handy to have an extra pair of hands for a long passage. And it would surprise you, even more, to know how little experience they will need you to have. As long as you have a basic level of competence, you’ll prove quite handy to a boat in need of crew.
- Crewseeker – There are stacks of sailboats making a voyage around the world who are looking for crew and most will use this forum. They will all be looking for differing levels of experience, and there are plenty of boats out there happy to take on a novice. Have a gander here.
- Go in With Mates – One way to split up the cost and create an unforgettable bonding experience with your mates is to all chip in together and buy your own vessel. If this is something you are considering, I have some tips on my blog on things to consider when purchasing a sailboat; read the article here.
#4 Don’t Waste Another Minute
There were so many times Jackson and I buckled and thought, ‘nahhh let’s delay this another year to take the pressure off’. But the truth is, there will always be obstacles and unexpected happenings along the way. It’s important to stand your ground and keep the promise you made to yourself. Just get out there and start living.
I hope this article inspires you to dream big and believe in yourself. If you are looking for some salty inspiration, you can follow Finding Avalon’s journey from the very start on our YouTube channel, on Facebook or on Instagram @finding.avalon. Looking forward to seeing you out there me hearties.
OK, OK. Alexa here. I just got to say how incredibly proud I am of Xanthe, one of my best friends, for just DOING IT! Just making it happen. So many people say they’ll do a trip like this, but they find excuses to put it off, over-and-over again. Not Xanthe. Not Jackson. And on that note, I’m quivering with excitement to be joining Finding Avalon to sail (& surf) across the Pacific ocean, Panama to Tahiti on the trade winds in April/May next year.
For me, a few things just happened at the same time as an obvious sign the universe was saying GO DO THIS! Serendipitously, at the exact time I was contemplating the trip, my friends at Patagonia sent me Liz Clarke’s book Swell about sailing across the Pacific looking for surf (Seriously, READ THIS BOOK!). Then this job I wanted (but they wanted me full-time), were like “yeah, you can have a 3-month contract, do your thing Alexa”. And my apartment… anyone that follows my Instagram Stories knows how SICK my apartment above the surf on Manly Beach, is… said after returning from Japan, I couldn’t move back in (my housemate was in love and her legend of a man would be moving in – YES!). So that was it. Those were the signs. I too, would be sailing around the world. Because you know what? Why the f**k not? Listen to the signs and pay attention. Watch this space, cos Still Stoked is joining Finding Avalon and we are sailing the Pacific April 2019 – First crossing article is now live, 960 nautical miles Panama to Galapagos!
So yeah, this article is very special to me. I have so much love for these guys and I know this and their adventure is another MASSIVE chapter.
Please, please, PLEASE follow their Finding Avalon YouTube Channel and watch a few videos. They are living their dream and you watching their vids and a few ads help keep that dream alive. And that’s what it’s all about right? Living and supporting others on that dream.