Tag Archives: alternative living

How owning less is Free-ing

A few days ago a friend of ours interviewed us for her book on patriarchal hierarchies. Because with three kids and the whole shibam there’s really no spare time for special decor – and also because at times raw can just be beautiful – here’s the uncut, raw version of her transcript, some of it will appear in print next year. We really enjoyed t as it went far and beyond the usual focus on sailing which we’ve had during most other interviews.

Dini – “All of our friends started climbing the career ladder getting into mortgages and the possession hierarchy and we felt that wasn’t really our plan. We had to do what felt right in our hearts and what we valued most.”

Dini – “With a family even more so we felt that’s what we have to show our children – not something that society might say you should do, as in getting the house and a mortgage and a ‘proper job’. That really didn’t resonate with us.”

Pablo – “In my case I also wanted to do something completely different. You only live once and you have to give it a go for your wildest dreams.”

Background summary, Dini – Left Australia when oldest child was almost 2 and the now middle one was a couple of months old. Sold everything, ended house lease, resigned from jobs.

Pablo – “Those are the things an adventure brings. Getting to the unknown and doing things that you’ve never done before. For me, it’s all about the feelings from the trip – buying a boat, going to amazing places. These were the highlights.”

Dini – “I think you need to be prepared that whatever your dream or adventure is, you need to want it so much in your heart that it’ll push you through very low moments, because they will come for sure.”

Dini – “The obvious highlights are a typical amazing sunny day with a nice breeze and you set off to an unknown island and ideally you make some new friends.”

Pablo – “For me I’ll always remember and I’ll always miss: waking up anchored in some beautiful bay. And the first thing I’d do is to jump in the water, as my coffee to wake me up. How amazing is that! Jumping in the water, that’s how I started my day. It cannot be a bad day because it started in the best way.”

Dini – “I’d swim to the beach, do my yoga, go for a run… and a couple of times I’d come across these ruins, especially in Turkey, that in Australia would be THE national monument because they were so beautiful, so well maintained and so OLD – but because there’s so many of them it’s not even a tourist attraction… just those moments that you totally don’t expect.”

Dini – “When you get a beautiful sail and you’re in tune with the wind and the waves, just with nature. It’s sounds quite romantic actually, you always live in tune with nature when you live on a boat. But a part of it can be quite exhausting, because if you get a few days of strong winds you might not be able to get off the boat or you’re restricted in what you can do next. But when it aligns it can be really beautiful as well. And of course the sunrises and sunsets at sea….

P – “When we were in the middle of the Med, crossing for example from Malta to Turkey, at some point it’s just water. You don’t see land anywhere. You don’t see boats. It’s just your little boat in the middle of the ocean. And you know underneath you there’s nothing but 10km of water. You feel humble, like you’re such a little thing in the world.”

D- “And at the same time empowering because you have to be so self-sustainable. All our energy came from wind and solar (except when we had to run the diesel engine) – that’s how our kids understand it. You are your own little world. You need to make sure you have enough food. We made our own water through osmosis. It’s very scary and adventurous but at the same time very empowering and very humbling. Wildlife is always another big highlight. You don’t feel like a superior human species, as we often think when we live in a city. We’re not.”

P – “You realise when you go back to normal civilisation, in a country like Australia, we have it so easy. We take everything for granted: water, electricity, food, shelter. It makes you appreciate little things in life. I think that’s why we have some sort of crisis in our time because we just don’t appreciate a lot of things that we take for granted.”

D – “Also having time… on the boat, so often we would just sit there as a family, we might read, we might play games, we might talk, we might just sit there – that’s something you never do in land life. I don’t know any family that just sits in the garden and spends time together. People are always rushing.”

D – “It’s like the ocean: the waves of the ocean slow you down, and you’re forced to adjust to it. Maybe at the beginning you fight it and you still want to do a thousand things, and then after a while you have to give in because it’s the rhythm of nature.”

P – “Most people are scared to follow their dreams.”

P – “People create their own prisons. You are a prisoner of your own freedom. I think it’s about liberating yourself from your own prison. Your own baggage plays a big part of that. It’s a mental game.”

D – “To put things into perspective, they say there are about 10,000 live-aboard sailing boats out there at any one time of those just 1% are families – so there’s only about 100 families cruising the world like we did. So we were nuts!”

P – “Me being from Argentina – having instability is normal. That is what I got from my parents; they were in some bad economic situations but they showed me you can always get up and come back.”

D – “People slide into a mortgage because in our culture you need to own your own house. The way people talk is that the bigger the house you have, the more you must have achieved or the cleverer you must be.”

P – “Society is telling you that if you want to climb the hierarchy and you want to be at the top, you have to have a lot of material possessions. You need to have the big house and your wife needs to drive the latest 4-wheel drive BMW/Mercedes.”

D – “It definitely does exist, this hierarchy, especially in terms of possessions – but there is always the option to opt out. Maybe because we grew up in different cultures, it’s easier for us to step out and see that, that you don’t have to buy into it.”

D – “I’ve got three kids, I don’t have the energy to start a Che Guevara-style revolution. But I feel that it’s a silent revolution just being a living example that you can live a different life, rather than aggressively fighting against it.”

P – “I think a lot of people are realising that there’s nothing there in possessing, or climbing up the ladder in the corporate world, or trying to get the mortgage for the biggest house. I think a lot of people like us can see there’s emptiness there and it’s not going to fulfil your spirit.”

D – “People have realised there’s limits with possessions. They don’t really make you happy.”

D – “The more people have, the more fear they have of losing it. The less material stuff you have, the more you can just go with the flow of life and see where it takes you. And get all these wonderful surprises that otherwise you’d miss out on.”

P – “If you get rid of material things that you don’t actually need, you will feel freedom somehow, you will feel lighter with more options.”

D – “For example, we bought a boat with a relatively low budget compared with many other sailing families and we never worried about getting robbed – and our lock didn’t even work properly. Whereas we have quite a few friends who have boats worth 15 times as much as our boat, and talking to them I felt they actually enjoyed their experience much less than us because they were always worried about people kidnapping their kids or stealing things from their boat. So in a way it was freeing living on a boat that always looked like the poorest in the harbour.”

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Consistency

Consistency is the playground of a dull mind.

Oxford Professor Y.N. Harari on the evolution of humans in his fantastic book, Sapiens – a brief history on humankind

Liveaboard Kayaker

One of the most amazing things about living on a boat – and one well worth paying the sacrifice of confined space, constant maintenance, unfavourable winds, expensive fuel and rolling bays for – is the things you see, mainly those you least expect.

During one of my morning runs I noticed an old guy living on his kayak. He had pulled it up under two palm trees on the beach and was sleeping snugly  in it as the sun only just creeped over the horizon after a windy night. The next night as I was lying there with the boys counting the stars on the night sky above us, I noticed this little thing anchored next to our boat – it was him, the live-aboard Kayaker! Had we not left the next morning, I would have invited him over for dinner. I won’t complain anymore about not having enough space on our 12 x 4 meter floatable home!

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Passagenotes Malta to Greece: Day 5 (Arriving in Greece)

Land in Sight_798I can’t remember last time I was woken up so quickly to go from 0 to 100 kmh. One of the boys was sick down below. It was 5am and I was only in my third non-consecutive hour of sleep that night. As soon as the biggest part of the mess was tidied, Pablo jumps off leaving me to attend the sails, helm and navigation as his fishing rod is going crazy. Then the sun rises in its usual bright red, orange and pink glory into which we are heading right into to. Number two wakes up too all sleepy in need of a big cuddle. Next thing I know my, the aft-deck’s full of blood as Pablo’s got his hands stuck in six kilos of tuna – a beautiful creature which I’m sad to see you. Not long before the mess was cleaned up and the boys through their brekky, land was insight.

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Noah’s smile was massive and, whilst we all had really been enjoying the passage, everyone started getting itchy. It’s that funny thing when land is insight – you just want to be there. It seems human and on a sailing boat with its own preciously slow speed, insight means it can still take close to a day until your anchor is finally hooked and you stroll up the most picturesque Greek promenade to stretch your feet and check out the local tavern. We had seen beauty before, but Asmora in Kythira, where we had landed, was ridiculously cute. Flowers guarding the little cobblestone footpaths leading up to the village square over-looking the small inlet where Happy Dancer was long-lined and little bays went off to shape natural tiny beaches and swinging platforms amongst the rocks and caves. We all slept well, happy and soundly that night.

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Marina di Ragusa

A weekend in Ragusa, southern Sicily. A marina wintering community beyond belief. Smiley. Open. Friendly. Tight-knit. Supportive. Knowledgeable. Diverse… the list goes on.

Seeing bike seats, netting, and pontoon chaos unique to kids-boats upon arrival already brightened our hearts. It took less than a few minutes to find new life-long friends right opposite us on the pontoon – the family crew on SY Maya. Later that night, we’d be sharing wine and chats until the wee morning hours – from boat parent to boat parent. So heart-warming. Unforgettable. Invaluable. Sharing the highs and the lows. Putting things into perspective. Reassuring. Hilarious. Fun. Love. Can’t wait to welcome them in Malta as they are starting their sailing season.

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More to that. At least fifty life-aboard boats. BBQs. Dance parties. Regular radio nets where events are organized, give-always exchanged, advice given… Invaluable. On the pontoon, everyone smiles. We are equipped with a new manual washing machine. Another invaluable and BIG thanks to Maggie and Charlie. Little excursions here and there followed. Sicily never stops to embrace and hug – whether it’s the incredible hospitality of the locals, or the beautiful landscape and picturesque towns. Heart-warming. The 33 Euro per night marina fees aside, it was with a heavy heart we commenced our nine hour motor-sail back to Malta. As if the winds were telling us that sailing back to the same place is not quite right, the fore-casted North-Easterlies to take us South remained nowhere to be felt. But we got there, safe and sounds, just before midnight and snuggled up in our cozy beds for a good nights sleep after a beautiful long weekend.

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How Sailors connect to land

When a friend asked me a couple of weeks ago if my boys and I would like to share a plot of land with her and her kid to grow our own veggies, I did not hesitate a split second. (Danke Eli!) What a better way to roam in nature, connect with Mother Earth, smell this land, have chemical free products, teach the kids where their food comes from and last but not least, of course have lots of fun together on the way.

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Ever since, we’ve been catching up regularly near this wonderful community project which has made the mini-plots happen. Maltese soil doesn’t seem to be the most fertile at a glance and our plot appears particularly stony. Yet, this hasn’t stopped our enthusiasm to the least. Neither has the fact that we still have an awful lot to learn about permaculture and the like. On the contrary. Chatting with neighbouring mini-plotterers, some chanting hippies on the spot and the local and international woofers who’ve also been getting their hands dirty has advanced us one step at a time.

Last week it was taking out roots and weeds, marking our land (arigato Yuko!) and building our own compost. This week it has been airing the soil (grazie Lorenzo!), getting the biggest stones out and covering it all with cardboard and organic matter to keep the weeds away. Next week it’ll be feeling the energies of the place to decide where we gonna put our beds and plant our first seeds and seedlings. From one to five year old – our own little forest kindi is loving it to bits and so are we. What a fantastic opportunity while being hooked on land – a few months left, hopefully just enough for the first harvest.

Happy growing. If you feel like donating something for our plants, from permaculture advice over a few spare pennies, don’t hold back, lol. May rain and sunshine be with you.

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First signs of spring

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Almost two months in the calm and stormy Hampshire in the lush and grey south of England has passed. So have several gale force winds and flooding while Australia has been swept again by summer bushfires. Yin and yang. Life, so full of opposites. So chaotic it never makes sense.Image

Lovely new friends and playmates for the kids. Fabulous. Rekindling with old university mates. Fun. Nourishing friendships back home. Nostalgic. Driving through southern England – childhood memories coming back. Enduring cold and grey rainy days on end. For the first time in my life starting to really appreciate the pub culture. How inviting an ancient Inn’s warmth and coziness!

The miserable neighbour’s constant complaints about Wilson whose sight they don’t like in their upper end street. Pitiable people who don’t have anything else to do than try and keep their shaky aristocratic image alive. How empty they must feel when those few things they so fearfully hold on to – house, reputation, car – are taken away from them. A big Metta sigh – an opportunity to practice loving kindness despite all odds.Image

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Four weeks ago I started teaching yoga again. Classes are booming. The place is a haven. More divine people pouring into my life. Feeling grateful. The journey, all part of the adventure. A day at the beach, heavenly. More amazing people. Feeling connected. Planning a long weekend to our boat in Greece for March. Excited. Working through stuff. Cleanse. Ayurvedic Panchakarma. Full on. Detoxifying. Observing the crocuses grow. Slowly re-filling with energy with the first signs of spring. Uplifting.

ImageAnd finally a quote from Pablo Neruda with love to the neighbours:

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.