Life changes when you choose to sail the world


He was yacht nesting.

As this ever-growing pile of indestructible apparatus grew, I started experiencing cravings for slow cooked meals.

Every Saturday afternoon was spent in the kitchen with recipe books, ingredients, chopping boards, pots, pans, bowls and utensils spread across three bench tops, four hotplates, an oven and a grill as we cooked chicken pie, lamb shanks, beef wellington and paella.

Life as we knew it was about to change and it was with some sadness that we farewelled the luxury of a normal kitchen.

We were however buoyed by the promise of a diet of fresh fish plucked from the sea by the fishing rod and net which had also arrived on the doorstep.

Our vision of catching tuna that would provide at least four meals of sushi and seared steaks would be a reality if we could actually catch one.

Two years into our mission to sail around the world, the only thing we’ve hooked is the red ensign that flies off the back of the boat.

Despite the absence of roasts and seafood on the “SV Boomerang” menu, we have managed to feed ourselves, but every meal is an adventure.

For a start, unless we are moored in a marina, we have to go ashore in a dinghy. This requires a 15-step process and a mountain of patience to attach an outboard motor that constantly threatens to run out of fuel.

Once we’ve made it onto dry land without having to bring out the oars, the next challenge is finding a supermarket or any place we can stock up on supplies.

Baguettes become fish food

We never know what we are going to find from one destination to the next and often the price of anchoring in secluded and pristine waters is a long trek to and from civilization weighted down by backpacks full of fresh and preserved produce.

We’ve also found that we can’t always buy fresh milk, bread and other staples like we did back home in England, so we have had to become strategic when provisioning for the boat.

It’s a matter of calculating how much we can carry, how much we can actually store on the boat and how many days we need to sustain ourselves in between dinghy trips.

Sometimes the market comes to you. Fresh fruit and vegetables sold off a cart in Cefalu Sicily.

We’ve also learned to factor in potential mishaps. Many baguettes have arrived back on the boat sodden because they’re not easy to fit into waterproof backpacks. Many have become fish food, dropped during the unglamorous maneuver of disembarking from dinghy to boat. Needless to say, packaged fajita wraps are a standard purchase in lieu of lost or salted bread.

We generally stock up every three days simply because we quite like an excuse to go ashore and buy some fish to justify the purchase of the sushi kit.

The longest trip we have had to provision for so far was our maiden voyage. Four mouths needed to be fed three times a day for 10 days.

This was quite a challenge for a couple still learning to stay upright in rolling seas, let alone cook in a 2×2 meter galley kitchen with two gas burners and an oven that apparently only delivers pizzas with a burnt base and raw toppings.

We quickly learned that every meal would be restricted to two pots so pasta, risotto, stir-fry, curry, grilled meat dishes and scrambled eggs have become standard fare.

Anything that takes longer than 30 minutes to cook doesn’t make it on the menu because having to replace gas canisters every month is a chore and it’s just not fun cooking when the boat is at a 45 degree angle.

During our maiden voyage, Jonathan bravely prepared spaghetti bolognese for the crew. He didn’t have to throw the pasta against the wall to test that it was al dente. It arrived there by itself, along with the sauce.

Pollock in the galley of SV Boomerang.

We have since learned to prepare our meals before we embark on longer passages and simply heat them up when the sea is relatively calm.

Boomerang has the convenience of a microwave for this purpose but these things use more energy than the hadron collider so we generally only use it as a Faraday Cage to protect our electronic devices in the event of a lightening storm.

And it’s not just energy we have learned to conserve.

Water, water, everywhere…

Since buying the boat, we’ve become consumed by water.

We sail in it, anchor in it, swim in it and are constantly surrounded by it, but the cruelty of its abundance in the ocean is, of course, that we can’t drink it or wash with it.

The solution is to buy a water maker and through the magic of engineering and science, this wonderful machine turns brine into 100 liters of pure water in an hour.

Our fresh water tanks hold 600 liters which may sound like a lot, but even with just two people on board, this volume seems to magically evaporate. But when you consider the fact we use it to bathe, wash our clothes, hydrate, cook food and clean the dishes, it all begins to add up.

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We’ve discovered that we are essentially “Wallies”. This is a term that I grew up with in drought-stricken Australia and it means “wasters of water”.

As someone trained to brush my teeth with the tap turned off and to have showers with an egg timer next to the soap holder, I figured I was a water rationing expert. Not even close.

We have become so parsimonious onboard Boomerang that we have the shower turned on only to get wet and to rinse off. Lathering is done with the tap turned off. When you explain this to guests they think you are joking.

We’re not.

We make 100 liters of water every day to fill the tanks and replenish 24 plastic bottles we recycle for drinking water. These two dozen bottles also act as an emergency supply in case the magic machine breaks down.

These are issues that rarely crossed our minds on those long Saturday afternoons cooking up a feast, turning on taps and flicking on switches.

We do occasionally miss a normal kitchen with its space and cups and plates that break, but in the same way that a parent misses a time before children.

While the memories remain fond, they are overwhelmed by a new-found awareness of life and how to sustain it.

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