Already February? How did that happen?

Braving the cold at Tynemouth beach, Tyne & Wear, England

Hi! Happy new year! Well, yeah, not exactly new any more, but we’re just settling back into Vancouver after six weeks away (no, not on the boat, come on, you know us better than to think we’d actually go sailing, don’t you? Hoho. More on that later…) so it still feels new to us. And hey, it was still January when I started writing this. Just.

What can I say? It’s 2016, our boat is still not our main form of housing or transport, and all is well.

Not always an uphill path! At Diamond Head, Honolulu

Really, 2015 felt like a pretty successful year. After a couple of years of feeling like boat-owning was a battle we were losing fairly spectacularly, last year we finally turned a corner and started to see a little bit of light ahead. (Actually, a lot, it’s pretty sunny in Hawaii.) Having not got the boat moving in time last summer, we realized we needed a bit of a mindset change. If we were ever going to feel good about Illusion again, we needed to immerse ourselves a little bit more into boat-life, even if things hadn’t gone as hoped the previous years. A fixed engine really helped, but also spending a little time on her for fun, going sailing here in Vancouver, making contact with other cruisers and sailors – it all combined to help us feel like us and sailing still had a future.

Kewalo Basin Harbour (including Illusion!) seen from the air

We hoped, back in 2013, that our days of long-haul flights would be nearly over, but as it’s turned out in the last couple of years we’ve spent way more time and money on airplane travel than anyone should do in a lifetime. We’re ridiculously embarrassed by this and I’m only mentioning it here to give huge shout outs to those of our friends who refuse to fly (for solid environmental reasons) and to state publicly, that we are trying to cut down, honest, but we also really want to see our family. It’s a tough one.

Simple pleasures! Music in the cockpit

Our dream of a simpler, non-consumer driven lifestyle (on the boat) is something we’ve been trying to put into practice here in Vancouver. We downsized into a one bedroom apartment, got rid of a lot of stuff, try not to buy new stuff, and generally aim to live a fairly environmentally, social-justice friendly lifestyle. I might write more about this at some point, but for now, suffice to say that the library, thrift stores and clothes swaps are our friends. (Oh, and course we also have actual friends who pass on kids stuff – thanks go particularly to Jon & Fiona, and Hannah & John for keeping Toby looking cool and entertained).

Toby picks some grass for dinner, while out people-watching in Waikiki

So much bad stuff is happening in the world, that it’s hard to not just come across as super privileged and/or self indulgent when talking about the challenges we’ve faced to sort out our boat life. We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to rent a safe, comfortable place to live in Vancouver. All the same, it’s tough seeing your savings depleted without much to show for it, and leaving a perfectly good boat-home sitting empty all this time is more than a tad annoying.

If only wine were this cheap everywhere (Lidl, Madrid)
These guys hung out a lot together while I worked

On the other hand, we’re getting closer and closer to being able to get Illusion out to sea again. And that feels great! (Actually, we almost took her out for a sail when we were in Hawaii in November, but I was a bit behind on a work deadline so ended up sitting at my computer for most of the trip instead.) Doug is really hoping to sail her up to Vancouver this summer. We’re very wary of saying anything definite (haha, we’ve learned something at least!), but assuming things go ok, that’s the plan. On that note, he may be looking for a third crew member to join him for the passage. It’ll likely be in June, maybe early July. Get in touch if you’re interested in finding out more….

Madrid Metro is sooo great for getting around

So we’re excited looking ahead to 2016 to see what we can make happen. It’s already started off with some brilliant travel experiences in Spain and a very-flooded Cumbria, UK. Many thanks to our family and friends for hosting us, lending us a car, and hanging out while there.(A few pictures below along with some from our trip to Hawaii in November last year.) We wish you all the best for the rest of this year and hope that you too can find ways to do the things, see the people, and visit the places that are important to you – or feel good about helping somebody else achieve those goals and cheering them on as they do it!

Looking across to Diamond Head
Visiting the Arizona War Memorial, Pearl Harbour
Watching people have proper holidays – while we head back to the boat to do some work!
I never get sick of watching the boats coming in and out of the harbour
There’s more to Oahu than beaches and palm trees – view from Diamond Head
Distant view of Kewalo Basin Harbour (and Illusion, just) from Diamond Head, Honolulu
Checking out street art in Madrid
Roman Aqueduct, Segovia, Spain
Wandering around Segovia – a new favourite place in Spain
Plaza Mayor, Madrid – being festive
Enjoyed getting to know the river in Madrid – it’s all been done up (with parks, playgrounds and paths) since I lived there
Epiphany procession – Los Reyes, Segovia
Cathedral at Segovia
Hanging out at the National Library (La Biblioteca Nacional), Madrid
Brougham Castle, near Penrith, and a very full river Eamont, Cumbria,UK
Ullswater Lake, Cumbria, UK – fuller than I’ve ever seen it
What’s left of the bridge at Pooley Bridge after flood damage, Cumbria, UK
First outing with Toby in the snow.

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