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80 By the Dart • Postcard from Leonie Leonie’s interior


notes. My number one goal was something I had never discussed with Carl or anyone and only popped out as a fully conscious thought during the process. It was the same for Carl so we were surprised to discover our dreams were identical – to simplify our lives and live on a boat. We put the flat on the market the same day and eventually sold it for a profit. We had a choice – pay off our bank debts or buy a boat. The boat won. We shed most of our possessions and spent the next seven years living on a 70-year-old wooden motor sailer in the River Dart continuing to work as before. The dream was to buy a smaller yacht and cruise the Mediterranean for as long as possible. But first we had to clear our debts and save some money. It took longer than we hoped which was frustrating at times but those years gave us scope to learn the liveaboard ropes. We wouldn’t change a thing now though as the wait also gave us precious time to spend with Carl’s daughters’ as they grew up. Not once did we miss living in the flat and we never


regretted our decision to live on a boat. It wasn’t always easy – dressing head to foot in wet weather gear and psyching ourselves up to cross the river in stormy


We don’t know how long our voyage will last or what the future holds


weather to start our commute to work isn’t fun – but the good times far outweighed the bad. We owned our own home, we had views to die for and a dream to live for. Five years after moving onto Karenette we sold her and bought our beautiful classic sailing yacht, Leonie, the second biggest step towards achieving our cruising dream. Carl had been made redundant from Groundwork which allowed us to clear the last of our debts and a year later I took redundancy from the newspaper. We both carried on working for another year (Carl had a number of river-based jobs such as Castle Ferryman, yacht taxi driver and canoe helmsman, while I worked as a freelance writer and a shop assistant). We left Dartmouth for our big adventure in May 2013 and have since travelled across four-thousand miles of water, living in extremely close quarters with one another. The lack of space can be really annoying, specially when one of us is trying to cook and the other keeps getting in the bloody way, so obviously arguments do break out, petty or otherwise. But the thing about living in such a small space together is that you ultimately have to get on and any issues have to be resolved pretty quickly. Because close friends or family aren’t around, you also rely on each other perhaps more than you would otherwise which is another reason to get along. Missing family and friends is another downside of our nomadic life and our next dream is to buy a bigger boat that has space for visitors to stay. A more spacious cockpit would be a bonus too as Le-


onie’s can be a little cramped during long passages and doesn’t provide any shelter from the rain. Her heavy


wooden boom is a little low too so there’s the added worry of remembering to avoid it in stormy seas (which being fair weather sailors we try and avoid being out in). Our lifestyle isn’t for everyone but we really like it.


Living so close to the elements is life affirming. The smallness of Leonie isn’t noticed under big skies and in vast seas and there are few things as comforting as being gently rocked to sleep by the briny ocean or as welcoming as a safe port following a tiring 24-hour passage. We have amassed a varied bank


Leonie sailing off Corfu


of great memories during our voyage and hope to make loads more as we continue our cruise around the Mediterranean. We don’t know how long our voyage will last or what the future holds - none of us really knows how life is going to pan out – but we are happy now living our dream in all of its wild and wonderful diversity. •


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