How a family of novice sailors began to travel the world
Erin Carey never imagined she would be crossing the Atlantic Ocean with her husband Dave – especially not with three young children in tow.
In 2015, they were perfectly content, living in Adelaide and work high-paying jobs for the Australian government. So why did the couple leave their home to navigate the globe?
” We were not sailors. We never dreamed of doing something like this,” says the 41-year-old. “One evening we sat down to watch netflix and my husband randomly picked ‘Maidentrip’, about Laura Dekker, the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the world. Something about this documentary completely changed our lives.
Their first thought was: could we do it ourselves? A quick Google search helped them uncover dozens of families who lived full-time aboard the yachts. The couple made their decision. They would spend the next two years saving and planning to buy a boatthen take a two-year sabbatical to sail around the world with their children.
Seven years later, the family of five is still chasing their dream. two years in the Caribbean was followed by an Atlantic crossing to Portugalfollowed by Spain, Tunisia, Malta, Italy and Croatia.
Erin and her family are part of a growing community of cruiserswho gave up the rat race to live off a boat. The global sailboat market has grown exponentially in recent years, growing from €5.7 billion in 2021 to an expected €6.7 billion by 2026, according to The Business Research Company.
So what does it take to go from a complete novice to a full-time cruiser?
How did the Careys prepare for their sailing adventures?
First, Erin and Dave had to learn to sail. Over the next 18 months, they joined sailmaritime survival and first aid courses, as well as taking their boat licenses.
Second, they needed a ship. “We didn’t have the money to just go out and buy a boat. We had a lot of mortgage and credit card debt, so we decided to reverse engineer our plan,” says Erin.
The Careys calculated that a suitable yacht would cost around AUD100,000 (€64,000), so that figure became their target. “We made a lot of changes to our way of life. We took our children out of private school. We both applied for promotions to our positions. We stopped eating out and buying new clothes. My motto became “Do we need this for the boat? Otherwise, I will not buy it.
Two years later, the family had saved up AUD$85,000 (€55,000) and bought a one-way ticket to Grenada in the Caribbean.
One of the crucial decisions the couple made before leaving was to hire Sailing Totem – a family of bloggers, mentors and sailmakers – to accompany them through the planning and boat buying stages. “It turns out that they were in Grenade at the time, so they found our boat for us. We never saw it until we flew over and moved on board.
It took three months of hard work to get their newly acquired 47ft yacht ready for the water. Finally, they found the courage to cast off and sail away from Granada.
What is teleworking on a boat?
The couple juggles work home school their three boys.
In addition to the $85,000 saved to buy a boat, the couple borrowed the same amount of money to live on, which meant Erin and Dave didn’t have to work for the first 12 months. However, after nine months, Erin felt restless.
“I knew I didn’t want to go back to my old job. Having time and space helped me think about what I really wanted to do. A chance encounter with the world’s second largest sailing YouTube channel, Sailing SV Delos, led Erin to create her own adventure travel public relationship. agencyItinerant generation.
Today, Erin is the sole breadwinner, running the agency from her cabin. Desk. Her husband homeschools their three children in the mornings and spends the afternoons maintaining the boat.
Connection to the the Internet is simple: Erin simply purchases an unlimited SIM card in each country and hotspots on her phone to host Zoom calls and answer emails. “We don’t sail very often. We usually stay in the same place for a few weeks and sail on weekends. Our boat is like living in an apartment on the the water.”
What are the challenges of living on a sailboat?
While their three boys (13, 11 and 8) love the freedom of life on the boat, homeschooling remains the hardest part of life on a yacht.
“After four years, we’re still struggling and don’t feel like we’re doing it right,” Erin says. “Our three little boys are fighting, not listening and swinging from the rafters. It’s super tough, but we’ve hired a lady to come and help us now.
Spend each day working closely with your family This may seem like fertile ground for trouble, but Erin disagrees. “I never worry that I haven’t spent enough time with my kids because we’ve been together almost 24/7 for the past five years. How many people get that?” She says it also made her wedding with Dave even stronger.
Do they see their life afloat soon coming to an end? “We all agree that we all want to keep going a little longer,” Erin says. They plan to spend the european winter back in Australia, before returning in the spring to sail to Turkey, Morocco and as far as Cape Verde. But their schedule remains flexible. “Sailors always say plans are written in the sand at low tide, so we really could end up anywhere.”
Just like Erin was inspired by Dekker’s documentary, no doubt, many will also feel moved upon hearing his story. What advice would she give to other families who want to follow their tailwind?
“Don’t insist that you can’t sail. You can learn, it’s not rocket science,” Erin says. “Get a trainer like Sailing Totem. They saved us from making stupid decisions,” she adds. “Be very strict with your budget for two years and you’ll potentially have a lifetime of browsing… And finally, do your research. If you are going to slowly and do everything sensibly, then it’s not as scary or dangerous as it sounds.