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Don’t ever have that feeling when you wished you left everything behind and just set sails into the unknown. Well, I know I did. Just at the moment when I thought I had all my life figured out and it sounded amazing, but felt ‘meh’.
Look at me. Your first impression might be that I’m ‘just another’ cute blonde. I am petite, I smile a lot, I come across as someone’s whose biggest struggle is choosing between two different pink dresses when going out. I get it. In fact, I pride myself in my ability of loving life and staying worry-free after everything I went through, after facing death so many times and fighting for survival like most of you will never have to.
The funny thing is I didn’t really have to. I was one of ‘you’. Grew up in a city, safe and sound where my biggest adventure would be camping in a tent as a scout girl for a few days.
But then after years of trying to get my life right, of killing it, of avoiding danger at all costs, I had a feeling I will die being boring and not really trying life.
After graduating from the University, I started my first corporate job and hated every second. I hated the fancy but uncomfortable clothes, I hated the strict hours, I hated the power dynamics. I was miserable. I knew there could a better way to live this life. I knew life is meant to be spent on adventures but since my corporate life and 2 weeks of annual leave didn’t look like I would have time for those, I kept asking myself a question ‘what can I do in my life to feel like I’m truly living?’
One day, my then-partner and I decided to change our lives in the most cliche way possible: we sold everything, quit our jobs, bought a sailboat online from somewhere in
Mexico and then fixed it and sailed it across the biggest ocean on the planet back to Australia. It’s probably worth mentioning the fact that neither of us had ever tried sailing or even been on a sailboat before, but we didn’t even care how dangerous it might be. We were just ultra desperate to leave behind the life we just weren’t crazy about.
When we told all our friends what our plan was, they first thought we were joking and then that we will never make our plan happen. They couldn’t understand why we would risk never being able to ‘cover up’ that gap year on resume. We struggled to come up with some answers that made sense because ‘sailing from Mexico to Australia sounds like a great adventure and like it could be fun’ wasn’t enough of an argument for a lot of people, especially for my parents.
The plan was simple: sail across the biggest ocean on the planet without any professional help, relying solely on ourselves. Of course we weren’t suicidal and always planned on reading guides and watching youtube videos titled ‘How to deal with a storm?’ but as the time went by, our frustration to ‘just go and figure it out later’ won and after 4 months of fixing a 30 years old sailboat bought on eBay for $10,000 named Heading Liberty – we left to cross the Pacific.
Our first leg took a little longer than expected – instead of 28, we spent over 54 days non stop at sea. Did I get sea sick? Yeah! Was I loving it? Nope, quite the opposite at that time. Was it scary? Yessss. Never knew what being afraid means until then. Did we run into storms? Omg, yes. We ran into unimaginable storms – ones I hadn’t even seen in movies. I can’t even recall how many times I thought I was going to die, but a few times I was very, very close. I still remember one storm when I was sitting in the cockpit by myself and a giant wave came up from behind me, but it was too late to do anything. The wave hit the boat so hard that I went flying out of the cockpit and into the railing. If it wasn’t for a harness I was wearing, my body would now be somewhere at the bottom of the Pacific. We managed to survive that storm, but I was too afraid to fall sleep for the next 2 days until the wind and waves were completely gone.
We spent months hopping between islands of French Polynesia. Nuku His, Tikehau, Tubuai. Spent Christmas in Bora Bora and New Year’s Eve in Tahiti. Some islands we visited, some I will always consider my second home like Tubuai, where an entire island not only save me from a tropical storm, they fed us and adopted us with all their hearts (perhaps because there aren’t really any tourists on the island.
After months in the tropics, we spent 4 weeks sailing to New Zealand – a journey where we had the roughest seas I ever experienced. It was already May at that point and it was Fall in New Zealand and already cold, which made the storms even more difficult to endure.
One of the most common questions I get about the trip is what we ate at sea for weeks at a time. Well, I learnt the painful way that even with our little fridge, most produce and fruit didn’t last more 2-3 weeks. Since one of pour crossings was 8 weeks old, we ended up eating rice cooked in ocean water with pepper and olive oil for lunch and dinner and long life milk with cereal for breakfast. It did get a little boring after a few weeks, but at that time I was so happy to have at least something to cook I didn’t complain!
And you know – it was hard and extreme and I don’t think I would go sailing for over 190 days anytime soon, but no other trip has shaped me more into a person I am total and I’m grateful for it.
Is there anything you would want to talk about that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments below!