Lots of people ask me how I ended up living on a boat. Many assume that I have been sailing since I was a small child, lucky to have been born into a life of childhood sailing adventures – but that’s not the case. I didn’t start sailing until I was an older teenager.
However, since I was a small child, I have been inspired by family tales of living on a boat. In the 1970s, my grandparents decided to give up their house in London, take my dad and his teenage brother & sister out of school, and buy a boat to call home. The plan was to spend the next few years of their lives cruising around the Mediterranean as a family, before the kids grew up and everyone flew the nest.
It took years of preparation and searching for the right boat, but they eventually found Jernica – which they named after my dad Jeremy, his brother Nicholas and sister Carolyn. Jernica was a 65ft steel De Vries Lentsch motor yacht built in 1961 with four double cabins, two saloons and a well-equipped galley for my Nana who was a queen concocter of amazing meals.
Despite being just 13 and having no previous experience, Dad took naturally to looking after Jernica’s twin diesel engines and generator. I have heard many tales of them pulling into a foreign port, to be greeted with fellow sailors needing help from a marine engineer. Locals often directed them to ‘the brilliant engineer on Jernica’, only to be met by the pasty-white face (because he spent so much time down in the engine room) of a 13-year-old boy. Of course he fixed their broken machinery with no problem – and now Dad is putting his passion into practice onboard Elizmor (thanks Dad!).
When they decided to leave their lives behind in London, all of their friends typically responded with “Oh how wonderful, you are so lucky, I am so jealous but there’s no way we could do the same – we have the house, the kids at school, my work…” Yes, and so did my dad’s family. But they decided that was their goal, and they set about to achieve it. That has inspired me to do the same, and living on my own sailing boat for the past five years has given me a taste for life aboard that I want to hold on to for a long time yet.
Not only have I been inspired by these spoken stories from my family, but my grandfather also wrote a book about their time afloat: Family Aweigh. It has since been published in Kindle format on Amazon, and currently sits at #70 in the best-seller list for sailing books on Amazon, well-deserving of its brilliant reviews. Family Aweigh is less than a couple of quid to buy on Amazon, and will no doubt inspire similar motivations in you. Give it a read.
And, my ultimate dream? To have my own children and raise them on a cruising boat. Maybe Elizmor will be my family’s home one day.