I’ve always loved the water. Growing up with super hot Houston summers, my sisters and I would spend hours in the pool, playing “rock the boat” and “categories,” perfecting our back dives and flips, diving for coins or anything else that would sink, and trying to beat the heat. Most family vacations revolved around or at least featured water - lakes and rivers when camping, trips to beach towns, sailing my grandfather's boat - and if they didn't, we'd find our way to water somehow.
After college I lived in New York City and didn’t have much water time aside from vacations and when I first moved to San Diego the cool temperature and instant depth of the Pacific Ocean kept me on the beach for awhile. But there was always a part of me that knew I needed to find my way back into its healing arms. It wasn't until I started teaching paddle yoga that I truly reconnected with my carefree, happy inner child and decided I needed to make some changes in my life and refocus it around water.
There’s something romantic and idyllic about living life on the water. I remember seeing boats anchored in the remote and quiet Shark Harbor on Catalina Island and thinking “that’s the life.” At a time when I was busy building a business, navigating the ups and downs of a long term relationship turned new marriage, and trying to figure out how to balance everything, life on a boat seemed like a welcome escape from everyone, a rare sense of peace and simplicity in an overly complicated world.
When my relationship took a turn and I decided to move on without my best friend of 8 years, I was faced with finding a place to live and starting a new life on my own terms. What did I really want? With the opportunity to start fresh and do all the “crazy” things I wouldn’t have considered when I had a partner's needs and wants to take into account, I decided that I wanted to live on a boat.
I briefly looked at renting or taking care of someone’s boat, but without a lot of experience as a captain or crew, I wasn’t super desirable to anyone and didn’t know the right channels to find a boat owner looking for someone to watch their boat. It turns out the easiest, albeit more expensive, way of living on a boat was to buy one and call it my own.
I had some money in savings and started the search. (More on the boat buying process including getting a loan, where to find a boat, etc. in another post.) I found an older 32 foot Islander within my budget and the minute I stepped foot on it and saw its funky magenta cushions, striped curtains, and full teak lined interior, I knew it would be home. I named her Barefoot Adventures and she became my floating condo for the next year.
Fast forward a few months and it became clear to me that life as a liveaboard was pretty sweet, but that I wanted to use my boat for more than just day sails and play dates. I wanted to sail into different ports, explore different places, and experience different ways of life. I wanted to combine my love of travel, my desire to be on the water, and my passion for sharing yoga; thus Floating Yoga School was created.
Barefoot Adventures #1 just wasn't going to cut it in the Caribbean, so I sold her and started the search for #2. This time around, I wanted something bigger and somewhat newer that could handle island-hopping and some large crossings, something with enough power and electronics to feel safe in unknown waters and rough seas, and something that I could customize enough to feel like home for the next few years without breaking the bank. I found a 40 foot O'Day in Miami that fit the bill and have been living and working on her ever since.
Life as a liveaboard is certainly not for everyone. Depending on your set-up it can feel like permanent camping (or maybe glamping if you're lucky!). There are ALWAYS projects to be done on a boat and usually those projects require money, sweat, and hard work. It can be frustrating, confusing, and overwhelming if you're not an expert in all things electrical, mechanical, and nautical.
But despite all that, it's really rewarding. To me it feels like going back to a simpler way of life. People have lived and worked on boats for hundreds of years, crossing oceans and seeing the world, and it's exciting to think about everything I get to experience that I would have otherwise never even known was out there.
I’ll be breaking down the various aspects of living aboard in the coming months, from the freedom it brings to challenges that come along with it. For now it's back to the project list :) Stay tuned!
Helen's Adventures as a Traveling Yogi
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