Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

S is for Sailboat

Day 19 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad

Readers of my blog during the A-Z Challenge have probably noticed by now (as friends, family and loyal readers of Roaming About have long known :-)) that Mark and I were living on our own sailboat Irie not too long ago. The summary can be read elsewhere on this blog and the whole eight years of our cruising life is documented on my other (sailing) blog It’s Irie, but, this is the gist of it…

Anchored in pretty Moorea, French Polynesia

Anchored in pretty Moorea, French Polynesia

A sailboat is the perfect way to travel to remote places (like tropical islands in the middle of the ocean), inaccessible – or exorbitantly expensive to visit – with other transportation methods. As a way to get around while having your home with you, cruising in your own vessel provides a unique opportunity to see the world. But, that was – initially – not the reason I committed eight years to living on the water. It was something Mark had dreamed about doing for a while, and it sounded exciting to me.

Our first boat Four Choices in California

Our first boat Four Choices in California

A first attempt to set sail long-term on a monohull with Mark and his two dogs, back in 2005 in California, failed. Instead, we drove south in a camper (much easier). Our second attempt, on the east coast of the US and with a catamaran this time, was more successful. The four of us left Annapolis in the fall of 2007 with the plan of sailing to the Bahamas, from the moment I would receive my Greencard (another interesting story, but unfortunately there is only one letter G in the alphabet).

Before leaving Annapolis, MD

Before leaving Annapolis, MD

In January 2008, with the little greenish card securely in my wallet, we left the US of A from Florida. A few months of amazing water colors and pretty white beaches later, an important decision had to be made: return to the US, or sail on to the Dominican Republic to sit out hurricane season. We kept going… and going… and going… to the Eastern Caribbean, then west to Panama. We continued through the Panama Canal (why not?) and ended up all the way in Tahiti, where we called life on our Irie quits in June 2015.

There are a lot of sailing blogs on the internet. Beginning sailors document their experiences step-by-step, experienced cruisers offer a lot of great tips, and the people out there right now share their sailing adventures around the world. We used to be among them. While the newbies, antsy to set out and start their trip, are excited and full of anticipation – yes, they even enjoy diving into boat projects and into the water to scrape the bottom of their boat – seasoned cruisers see things more in perspective and show the good with the bad.

Traveling by sailboat is a very unique method to explore this beautiful and intriguing planet and there are many experiences that can only be had this way (serenity at anchor, wildlife encounters in the water, blissful sailing conditions), but it is not an easy life, on the contrary. The boating lifestyle is challenging and oftentimes uncomfortable, but as long as the positives outweigh the negatives, all is irie (hunky dory, good). From the moment that the scale is tipping the other way, it is time to stop… and start house and pet sitting, or get a camper. 🙂

Here are some interesting blogs of people living or cruising on their sailboat. Some of them I have found through this month’s A-Z blogging challenge, others are friends of ours. sailing the oceans as we speak:

SV Wandering StarSV PitufaSV IonaSV JuffaSV Chapter TwoSV Yum YumSV ReachSV AmandlaSV Tickety BooSV IndependenceSV CinderellaSV Cambria

Have you ever sailed before, or set foot on a sailboat? Do you dream of going cruising one day? Where would you like to go if you had your own sailboat ready to leave?

Thank you for visiting! Feel free to like the blog, leave a comment, or follow us on Facebook. Tomorrow, T stands for Time in my A-Z blogging challenge as a nomad.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out! I want to go to all your photos! More specifically, we are crazy excited to go to the Bahamas this winter!

    • Funny thing… when we were in Stuart, FL, preparing for our sailing adventure, old salts told us that the Bahamas were one of their favorite places to cruise. With a whole world of explorations behind them, I didn’t believe such a place could be so close… Guess what? Thinking back about all the places we have sailed, the Bahamas are definitely one of our favorites as well. The color of the water and the beautiful beaches (our dogs loved them) in less visited places are what make the islands so special! The water temperature could be warmer though, and then there are those darn cold fronts to escape from. 🙂 Enjoy!!!

  2. It’s not all beaches and barbecues, but it is all irie (great name for a boat). Thanks for the shout out!

    Cheers, Stephanie

    • I really like your blog, Stephanie, because you do touch on ALL of it and in such an informative and gracious way!! I’d recommend your blog to all beginning sailors, and adventure lovers!!!

  3. Thanx for the shout-out! Isn’t it great to not have Plans?

  4. Wow! I have set foot on a sailboat but not much more than that. What an adventure you have had. Slow travel and being able to take in so much along the way. I’m sure it’s not always easy but what an astounding life experience.

    • It sure is a different way of seeing things and that way, you also experience many unusual and fun things, like snorkeling with the most amazing creatures. But, it wasn’t always easy, you are correct, Sue! 🙂

  5. Fascinating! I just came across your blog and look forward to reading more. I am definitely not a boat person. I love the idea, but when the reality hits I prefer to be on solid ground.Seems like an extraordinary way to travel though.

    • Traveling by boat sure isn’t for everyone, Peta. I would have never thought I would enjoy it, but a decent portion of endurance is required at times. While I love the unique opportunities that come with living on the water, I prefer roaming by camper for the ease of it and the fact that I don’t get seasick! 🙂

  6. I have never been sailing, but it sounds like a fun thing to do. Living on it for awhile sounds like quite an adventure. It could be fun if we learn to take the good with the bad. Enjoyed reading and seeing your lovely pictures!

    • Thanks, Gayl! There is a big difference between going on a fun sail in the bay and long-term cruising, which is a lifestyle you commit to. Most long-term sailors are still happy to take the good with the bad. For us, it was time to do something different after eight years. A big reason for that was because, unlike other cruisers, we were running a business from the boat and that became way too hard to combine with the lifestyle in the end.

  7. I’ve never sailed, only boated on craft with a motor. I am a horrible swimmer, and the ocean terrifies (and fascinates) me to no end. I admire your courage, and wish I had more of it.

    • I have a love/hate relationship with the sea as well. I respect the ocean and appreciate the beautiful wildlife it produces, but I hate being seasick and dealing with choppy seas or stormy conditions!

      • From the shore (or close to it) I can watch the ocean all day. I adore it. I had a revelation once, not a grand one, but poignant for me. The ocean moves all the time, every day it moves and eats and moves and eats and…while I sit on the sand and watch a few hours of it. What power, what determination.

        • The ocean is a force and a talent of nature. Each time I watch the waves, like you, I am amazed at its eternity! While sailing and never knowing what was next, I took comfort in the fact that the sun always rises and sets, and that the waves keep lapping the shores.

    • Ryan, I’m a complete non-swimmer- I sink like a stone besides! So it’s wearing a PFD ALL THE TIME and plan, think, consider every move…
      But if you love the sea, it’s worth it. And if not, there are lots of places to cruise that aren’t “sea” at all, and are equally worth it!

  8. Heading out August 15th! South from Maine and then? No telling! another newbie cruiser blog. Hopefully not too naive…

  9. blkbtslonglegs

    April 22, 2016 at 22:23

    A friend had a sailboat, so we spent one night on it when it was in harbour. I remember that it took me while to fall asleep since it was a different sensation, but then I slept so well 🙂

    I’m not sure where I would sail. Although I really don’t think that we could take our two dogs with us! They were nervous enough the one night that we spent with them in our small camper 🙂

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

    • Sounds like a nice experience, Tracy. When we had guests visiting, they always told us how well they slept at night, with the slight motion of the ocean. Our two dogs loved our catamaran (but they hated our monohull, which is why we sold it and changed over), so all is not lost about boating with dogs. 🙂

      • Thinking about sailing but also have a dog; why do you think your dogs preferred the cata over a regular sail boat? Looking at a 58′ steel hull at the moment. Seems like there would be enough room. Did it have to do with the difference in motion when underway?

        • Yes, Derrick. Our dogs hated the heeling of the boat (see my D is for Dogs blog in this A-Z challenge). They were restless and panting the whole time on the ocean (in protected waters, there was no problem) and one of them couldn’t tell floor from walls while sailing at an angle. It broke our heart. If you have a young dog or puppy, he/she might adjust, but our dogs were 4 and 6 when we started out sailing with them. On a different note… know what you are getting into when buying a steel boat. It requires a lot of skilled maintenance and very detailed inspection before purchasing. We have a few friends who regret having one.

          • Hope you don’t mind my adding a thought about boats – it’s near and dear to my heart. Aside from the issues of a steel hull, in which Leisbet is quite right, think long and hard about size. A 58 foot boat is incredibly expensive to operate and maintain – many times the cost – annually – of a 30 footer. And if you wrote accurately and are looking at a hull – meaning an unfinished boat that you would complete, know that the hull alone (a basically empty shell) is only about 20% of the total cost of a boat. The other 80%, therefore,would come out of your pocket just to finish the boat – and you haven’t sailed yet. Unless you’re sailing around Cape Horn or into iceberg territory, you probably don’t need a steel hull in any case. They are more damage tolerant in extreme situations, but SO expensive and time consuming to maintain…
            If cruising is really something you want to do, think smaller. Not “How big can I afford?” but “How small can I be comfortable enough in?”. Less is more. The money you save on a smaller, cheaper to run boat will then be available to actually GO, rather than sailing a desk or swinging a hammer to make the payments!

  10. My travels have been on land, so I’ve enjoyed this post that gives a sense of living on the sea. May you have many more happy adventures on land or sea.

    • Thank you, Beth. As ironic as it sounds, I do think that traveling overland provides more freedom than traveling by boat.

  11. I feel lucky to be counted among your friends Liesbet and am so happy to have met you on the high seas! I so enjoyed this recap of your 8 years of adventure. Those earlier photos, where the voyage is a sparkle in your eye and the dogs were faithfully by your side made me very weepy. You lived the sea life, and you lived it well, but I am certain that the best adventures are yet to come.

    • Oh, Lisa! I am so happy I met you as well, and that we are still strongly connected. 🙂 While we are enjoying our life on land right now (how could you ever get sick of all these conveniences!!), we are getting a tad antsy already for the next adventure. How did you know? 🙂 And, talking about adventures, I hope your next one, which is merely a continuation of what already is, will be fabulous!!

      • I so hear you about conveniences! I am going to miss the comfy little life I’ve carved out for myself in Sydney. I find that the best time for me to lift anchor is when I am desperately clinging to shore.

        • Yes, you do that! You are good at leaving when you are well-settled, just like in New Zealand. I do think that is the best time to get moving, so you leave with wonderful memories, not feeling like you overstayed! It is hard to leave a place you like, though, but … you can always come back, right? 🙂 Happy un-clinging, Lisa!

  12. I am quite happy to sail vicariously through you!

  13. it sounds like a grand adventure to live at sea. I grew up on the ocean and miss it a great deal now that I live somewhere that is technically landlocked.

    @magickislife from My Creatively Random Life

    • The sea has attraction from a safe distance, but causes fear as well. Growing up on the ocean sounds pretty wonderful, but the Rockies provide their own awesomeness, for sure! The landscapes there would keep me entertained. 🙂

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