Let’s go back to the beginning.
Nick and I met on a tour of India and Nepal back in 2009. I had already been in India for a week and had arrived into New Dehli late at night, therefore missing the first evening that the tour group spent together. I tiptoed into the room I was sharing with another woman on the group, went to bed, and got up before light the next morning to meet everyone in the lobby, after which we would catch a train to our first destination. A young couple from London were sitting on the shabby couch (we’re still very close friends, to this day) my roomie was making a cup of tea, our tour guide was chatting to the hotel staff, and we were still missing two others.
I was not feeling my best, to say the least. I was tired and cranky and feeling a little sick from all the curry I’d been eating for the previous week (every meal, you guys. Yes, even breakfast). So, when Nick bounded down the stairs and bounced over to me to introduce himself, a big grin on his face and cracking jokes even at this ungodly hour, I could barely summon the energy to be polite. However, he clearly liked what he saw because, well, it’s been nearly a decade and he’s still putting up with my grumpy morning face.
We connected over a shared love of adventure and travel. I told him about my plans to backpack around South America the following year, he told me about his plan to sail his boat around Europe. I remember thinking, “Wow. People do that?” At the time I had never stepped foot onto a sailing boat before, but Nick’s passion for sailing was infectious, and I had always longed for adventure. A life on the water sounded perfect.
A few months later I moved to London and Nick had his chance to impress upon me how important sailing was to him; he’d made it quite clear that if we were to have any sort of time together it would have to be on the boat, since that’s how he spent his weekends. So the pressure was on! I wasn’t sure what would happen to our dream of sailing around Europe if it turned out I couldn’t stand being on a boat, but I decided not to ask the direct question and hope for the best instead.
One blustery June morning we set off for my first sail: a 30 mile passage across the Thames Estuary. We endured 7 hours of beating into 20 knots and slamming over short, steep chop (Nick asked me about 27,450 times if I was feeling okay, all the while looking pretty green himself) before finally reaching our destination: a shallow, winding creek that led to a few rickety wooden piles against which it was apparently possible to tie up. Good thing a friend was there to help us out, because I was clearly useless. I remember Nick calling instructions to me and I thought, “Is this guy even speaking English? What the hell is he saying?” The mooring was challenging enough to require close attention even now, after so many years of experience. At the time, I was totally befuddled. Eventually I managed to throw our friend a line (“A what!?” “The rope, the black rope right there, it’s called a line, pass it to him!!”) and then I fended off while they got a fender board sorted (“Fend WHAT?” “Fend off, hold the boat away from the piles, don’t let it scratch the gelcoat!”). In short, it wasn’t exactly the ideal introduction to a life onboard, but luckily for both of us, I was willing to give it another chance.
Well, that first experience really did encapsulate the type of sailing I could expect for the next five years. Cold, windy, tidal. Choppy brown water. Difficult moorings, grey skies, and occasionally running aground. Every now and then the sun appeared and the wind dropped off- or, at the very least, was coming from a direction that didn’t heel the boat over and have us hanging on for dear life- and it was almost pleasant. Once or twice we spent a peaceful evening at anchor, watching the sun set and drinking a gin and tonic and I could- using a bit of imagination- see why people do this full-time.
Joking aside, those years of sailing the Swale were really special and we look back on them with fond nostalgia. However, the rest of the world beckoned. By this time our dream of sailing to Europe had morphed into something more ambitious. (I blame the internet.) We now considered sailing across the Atlantic, reaching the Caribbean and perhaps even going further afield: the Pacific, Australia, South-East Asia and the Indian Ocean held great appeal. Nick, a great lover of running around in just his underpants- or nothing at all- wanted tropical islands, cold beers, blue seas and good sailing. For me, the notion of a nomadic lifestyle full of travel and adventure was the greatest pull of all. Together we agreed that instead of dreaming about it, we’d get on with planning it. We set a departure date- summer 2015- and worked out how we would use the next five years to prepare ourselves for this mammoth change of lifestyle.
Okay, enough cat photos.
Sorry, got a little side-tracked there. Let’s move on.
Putting the plan into motion
So we sold our Hanse 32 and bought a Southerly 38, which we believed would be the perfect blue water cruiser. A year later in 2013 Nick and I made the decision that it was time to sell his business; we weren’t quite ready from a financial point of view, but the years in the dental chair had taken it’s toll on his back and he had recently been given the diagnosis of a bulging disk. His doctor advised three months off work, which simply wasn’t possible. So Nick continued to trudge to the practice every day, knowing every moment he spent in that chair delayed his recovery.
We decided the time had come, whether we were ready for it or not, and so Nick put the practice on the market. It took a further 18 months to actually complete on the sale- probably the most stressful 18 months we’ve endured- but on the 31st May 2014 we finally got that phone call from his solicitor saying the money was in the bank and the practice was officially no longer Nick’s. We drove down to the boat in a daze, went to the pub and, with a sense of utter bewilderment, toasted our newfound freedom. It was months before it truly sank in that our dream was now reality.
Setting off on our adventure
Our flat was rented out, our belongings put onto e-bay or into a storage unit, our cats re-homed, and we took our few remaining possessions down to the boat and moved onboard. Most of this was done with a sense of bemused wonder: was this real? Was this actually happening? Were we doing the right thing? It felt like it was happening to somebody else. But it wasn’t. This was was our lives now.
Instead of setting off then and there, we decided on another shake-down cruise. The boat wasn’t ready to leave yet (we had resisted the temptation to do a lot of work and preparation on her, feeling that we’d be tempting fate. Yes, we’re quite superstitious) and I wanted to spend some time with my family before disappearing into the sunset. So, we sailed to France that summer for 6 weeks, and then returned the boat to the UK. We went back to Australia, did some travelling, and then lived onboard over those cold winter months while we prepped her for ocean sailing. In May 2015, right on schedule, we finally set off on our sailing adventure.
I started a blog, which I didn’t expect anyone to actually read (good thing too, because nobody did). It was more a journal, kept for my own sake, and provided a creative outlet. That first year of sailing the Atlantic coast of Europe- France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco– was a whirlwind of settling into a new lifestyle, discovering more about each other and ourselves, and learning new sailing skills. Through trial and error we discovered how to ensure we could continue to live onboard long-term and fulfil our dream of sailing around the world. We ran into problems we were never expecting, and took in our stride challenges we had predicted. The subject of settling into a liveaboard cruising lifestyle is far too big for one measly paragraph, but to say it was full of ups and downs is an understatement. The highs were high, no doubt about that. We were having the time of our lives: good sailing, sunshine, fascinating cultures, beautiful sights, and, above all, utter freedom. However, we ultimately realised that despite ‘living the dream,’ there was something missing.
This was a difficult realisation to come to and it was more difficult still pinpointing what was missing exactly, but we soon identified two important changes we needed to make. One, we needed to spend more time both making friends on the water and spending time with our friends and families back home. Isolation didn’t suit us one little bit. Two, we needed to work. We needed to engage our minds, to challenge ourselves intellectually, to create something. We weren’t ready to stop working, but nor did we have any desire- at all- to go back to living on land.
In order to consider what this all meant, we needed a time-out.
A New Chapter
We hadn’t expected to require much time away from the boat. In fact our original plan was to only leave the boat for a few weeks each year to see family. However, in June 2016 we put Ruby Rose on the hard in an Antiguan boatyard and said goodbye to her for 7 months.
It was during this break that we hatched the idea of starting a YouTube channel. We had no idea how to make videos but we’d watched plenty of Delos and La Vagabonde on YouTube and honestly, it didn’t look that hard. Surely it was just a matter of filming stuff, putting it together in iMovie, and overlaying some music. Easy.
Ho, ho, ho.
So we bought a $300 compact camera, ordered the cheapest microphone we could find on Amazon, dusted off the old GoPro and downloaded free editing software onto our 10 year old MacBook. As we flew back to the boat in January 2017 we pressed the ‘record’ button and started to film.
Of course, it wasn’t easy at all, but we enjoyed the challenge and figured that, if nothing else, it would be good for us to have footage of our time sailing so that when we’re old and crippled and can’t do this anymore, we can look back on our videos and relive the good old days. I hoped that other people would watch the videos too, but I didn’t expect for anyone to really care. I still remember getting our first comment on our first video. I was shocked. A real person had actually commented- that meant people were watching! Not many, but still. Someone who wasn’t my mother or my best friend was actually watching our videos. Mind. Blown.
Well, at the time of writing, over 42,000 of you now subscribe to our channel and watch our videos, and that really does blow our minds. We’ve since upgraded our camera equipment and now do our editing on new laptops with professional software. It’s now a full-on job. One we love. I went from spending about two hours editing a 20 minute video, to 6 hours editing a 10-15 minute video (does that mean I’m getting better or worse?!). Nick is heavily involved in all aspects of filming, editing and marketing and the workload is split pretty much down the middle. He loves doing smaller projects like the trailers or fun little sequences where he can be creative and work on creating cool transitions or effects. My passion is for story telling and I try and do that to the best of my ability with every video I create. Working together is fun, motivating, frustrating, inspiring, challenging and rewarding. We love what we’ve created together and can’t wait to see where it takes us in the future.
Nick & Terysa