Dare To Dream: Our Story – Ep 11

Daring to dream can be daunting but taking the step is worth it. In this episode of Sailing With Thankfulness, you’ll discover some of the highs and lows along our journey to living aboard ˝Thankfulness˝ in the Mediterranean. Discover a simple thing that you can do today to move you closer as you dare to dream.

Follow Our Boat

Episode Notes

0:00 Kerry

So, how did Stephen and I come to be living on a boat, sailing in the Mediterranean? We´ll take you on that journey in a moment, but first a quick bit of background to set the scene.

Dare To Dream – What Is It That You Really Want?

0:48 Stephen
Imagine that you can do anything with your life, with unlimited time and money. What will you do?

Think for a minute about learning anything you want, with the full expectation that you will be successful. What will you learn?

There will come a time when each of us breathes our final breath at the end of our life. Imagine the feeling of satisfaction looking back at your life – a life well lived. That you had a positive influence on the people around you. That you did the best with what you had.

What will you be remembered for? If someone was to sum up your life, what would they say?

These are the types of things that I was thinking about in my final year of high school, some 30 years ago. I was wondering where my life would lead, what I would do and who I would become.

One thing I was sure of was that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted to learn and to grow, but above all, I wanted to be remembered as someone who was strong, solid and reliable. A man of integrity. I wanted to be a father who unreservedly loves his children, a husband who adores and cherishes his wife. A faithful son. A dependable, encouraging friend. In short, a lifetime of loving and serving the people in my life.

The interesting thing is that none of this had anything to do with the type of job I would do, the business I would own, the car I would drive or the house I would live in. It had nothing to do with whether I’d be rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, super intelligent or educationally challenged. Instead, all of these things, being reliable and dependable, having integrity, choosing to be loving and encouraging. They´re all choices we make that are independent of our circumstances.

Get Clarity With A Clearly Defined Vision

2:13 Stephen

When Kerry and I got married we created a vision for our marriage that was independent of our past, present and future circumstances. Our vision is simple and clear and I even drew a picture of it which we have framed on the wall in our boat.

2:20 Kerry

First, Seek first God´s will in our lives.
Second, go out in to the world encouraging and building people up, empowering them to live their best life.
Third, go around doing good.

2:34 Stephen

Everything Kerry & I do can be an expression of this vision regardless of our circumstances. The clarity in our vision helps us to pursue the plans and goals that best support the vision. The vision is firm but the plans and goals are flexible. It’s ok if we make mistakes. We can always adjust our plans.

From Dream To Reality

2:48 Kerry

This brings us to the Mediterranean and our adventure sailing with Thankfulness. How did it come about and why are we here?

The Dream Starts To Take Shape

2:55 Stephen

The dream first sparked after Kerry sustained severe trauma. At the time I had an electrical contracting business called Mr Volts. Kerry was coming with me to work because she was too damaged to be left alone at home on her own. We went to one particular job at a house on Berowra Waters in Sydney, Australia. The only access to the house was via boat. As we were coming home on the boat one day we were soaking in the beauty of the surroundings, the trees, the mountains, the water. It was extraordinarily beautiful. As the sunset burned luminous with rich, vibrant colours we decided we wanted to live on the water but off the grid. The peace and tranquillity was intoxicating. It would be good for our souls.

Buying a house right on the water wasn’t something we could see ourselves being able to do but we’d noticed house boats along the way and thought that that might be a way to make the dream a reality.

3:43 Kerry

We started looking at house boats, but quickly decided that having an apartment that happened to be floating wasn’t really what we wanted. We could float around a lake, which would be fun, and do lots of fishing but as far as going out into the world it would be very limiting.

Maybe The Dream Is Possible

3:57 Stephen

What if we got something that we could sail? We’d then be on the water and also be mobile. We started watching live aboard sailing videos on YouTube to get ideas. Sailing Yacht Florence, Gone With The Wynns, Sailing Uma, Sailing Ruby Rose, Sailing Britican and The O´Kelly´s are some of our favourites but there are many more. It all seemed so surreal and not something that we could ever attain. The self talk was something like ˝It´s alright for them but we could never do that.˝ One thing that gave us hope was when someone said that sailing can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. Maybe it was possible. Maybe we could live on a sailing boat and sail around the world. So, we set a criteria that this adventure would have to cost us less than it would cost to live on land. That would certainly help us with the going into all the world part of our vision.

Take Small Steps Towards The Dream

4:22 Kerry

We had very little idea of how we could make this possible but one thing we could do was to try out the nomadic lifestyle. So we started house sitting. We lived in other people’s houses, looking after their pets while they went on holiday. Sometimes we’d stay for a couple of weeks and sometimes for just a few days. We loved living with only what we could fit in our car as we travelled from house to house. We’d be fine living on a boat – we hope.

4:50 Stephen

Oh, did I mention that neither Kerry or I knew how to sail? It might be important to learn. What do you think?

So, here we are with the seed of an idea. An idea that could completely change the way we do life. We don’t know how to sail. We know nothing about boats. We don’t have the money to buy a live aboard boat. I’m locked in to working huge hours in my business and Kerry has a very long road ahead to recover her health and would in all likelihood never work again because of what she’d been through.

When the attainment of a dream seems impossible and moving forward feels overwhelming we have a choice. We can give up and go back to the perceived safety of how things have always been. Or, we can find just one thing that we can do towards our dream, no matter how small, and do that.

Trying Out Sailing

Even though there were so many obstacles to our ultimate goal we decided to find one thing that we could do and do that. Kerry searched on a website called Gum Tree to see if there was anyone looking for crew for free. We found a lovely man named Mike who had a 23 foot Endeavour sailing boat on Sydney Harbour. He was looking for crew to help him out and wasn’t asking for payment. So we got started learning to sail with Mike. So far, this new sailing life was costing us nothing. We´re so appreciative of Mike for allowing us novices to go sailing with him. We learnt a lot.

Our First Boat Was A Flop/Lemon/Dud

6:08 Kerry

We’d never been sailing on our own though. The next step then was to buy our own boat. We decided we´d by the cheapest little boat we could find that seemed ok and then we could sell it after a while and get our money back. We could take it out a few times a week and practice so that we’d be ready for when we moved aboard our dream boat. Again, this was a small step we could take towards our dream even though the dream itself seemed unattainable and we still had no way of making the dream a reality.

6:37 Stephen

We found a 50 year old, 22 foot Santana (https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/santana-22) that was moored on Brisbane Waters near where we lived and I noticed that the mast of this boat made the missing I from the word IMAGINE in a sign in the nearby park. So we bought the boat and called it Imagine because that’s what we were doing – imagining. We were imagining a different life. It wasn’t a reality yet but we were taking small steps and doing the things we could do. It was so exciting sailing our own boat, called ˝Imagine˝ for the first time.

We took it out of the water and some friends helped us apply new anti-foul which was a great learning experience. However, all was not as it seemed. I had no idea what to look for when we bought the boat and to our dismay we found that the steel plate holding the 558kg keel to the boat had completely rusted through. The boat was unsafe to sail. So disappointing. I started researching how to fix it and every solution I found was going to cost more than the boat was worth. In the end we sold it, with full disclosure, to someone who wanted it as a mooring minder. We didn’t get much sailing practice but we did learn a lot about what to look for when buying a boat. Even with this set back it felt like we´d moved forward because we now had some experience and learned some important lessons.

Our Live Aboard Boat Becomes A Reality

8:26 Stephen

The next step was to start researching what type of boat would make a good live-aboard boat for us. We really liked the spaciousness and comfort of catamarans like the Perry 43 but the cost was prohibitive. A mono-hull was going to be right for us. We liked that a mono-hull can be knocked down with the mast in the water and then return itself to upright. This seemed a safer way to go for us novices.

8:53 Kerry

Since our dream now included sailing around the world we could really buy the boat anywhere and start from there. We flew out from Sydney at the beginning of November 2019 to search for the boat we were going to move on to. At this point we still didn’t have a way of paying for it. Again, we were just doing what we could do. Taking the steps we could take and going to look for the boat was a step we could take.

We spent the month of November travelling around Croatia, Italy and France looking at many boats. We found a single owner Bavaria in France which was in great condition and had everything we needed for sailing across oceans one day. We also found a single owner Bavaria 37 in Croatia. The one in Croatia was a little bit more expensive but was in even better condition. In fact, the surveyor said it was the best second hand boat he´d ever seen. I think the one in France was better value but in the end we decided that we wanted to start our journey in Croatia. Croatia´s a great place to learn to sail and as novices it might be quite a while before we venture across any oceans.

10:01 Stephen

There are so many hurdles to get over as an Australian buying a boat in Europe. Issues of VAT tax, the country of registration, Croatian regulations, Australian regulations and the length of time we as users of the boat could stay in Europe. We dealt with each issue, one at a time, and eventually sorted it all out. It took an enormous amount of effort.

While we were travelling looking for the boat, the money to buy it had miraculously appeared from an unexpected source. By the end of December the boat was paid for and we were set to go. The total time from committing to look for a boat to owning the boat was about 6 months. Although, the truth is that the seeds of adventure had been brewing for many years. We set our sights on going back to Croatia in April 2020.

I enrolled in an RYA course to fast track me through Competent Crew skills and on to become a qualified Day Skipper. Since then I´ve also completed RYA training for Coastal Skipper, Offshore Yachtmaster and Ocean Yachtmaster. Eventually I plan to become a qualified sailing instructor. Again, one step at a time.

Putting The Dream On Hold – A Reality Check

10:56 Stephen

This is all getting very exciting. Maybe we could be like the live-aboard sailors we watch on YouTube. I think it’s time for a reality check. Is the plan that’s taking shape in line with our vision? We decided to put the whole thing on hold, even though the boat had been bought and paid for. This is where the first part of our vision comes in. Making sure that we’re first seeking God’s will in our lives. At the beginning of 2020 we joined an organisation called YWAM that has a tall ship it uses to bring aid and support to remote areas of Papua New Guinea. I sailed with them from PNG back to Australia and then spent the next year as a full time volunteer with them teaching people to sail and working on their boats.

The Dream Becomes Reality

12:00 Kerry

After putting our dream on hold for 12 months we felt that it was still the right path for us.

We set out for Croatia and moved aboard Thankfulness on February 5th, 2021. Again, there were many challenges. First to be able to leave Australia with the restrictions on travel and then to be able to get into Croatia. Again, one step at a time.

12:28 Stephen

We started with step one – seeking God´s will. That’s something we could do regardless of circumstances. Step two of our vision is now under way. We’ve gone out into the world. We´ll bring you many stories of our sailing adventures in coming episodes.

Steps two and three of our vision are all about encouraging and building people up, empowering them to live their best life and to go around doing good.

Our plan here for this is to get to know people in the local communities and to partner with local organisations. So far:

  • We’ve made connections through the YWAM organisation which has been fabulous and we serve with those guys wherever we can.
  • We have conversations with people every day taking a genuine interest in their lives. We´re starting to form some good friendships in a number of local communities, especially on the island where we´re based.
  • Our YouTube channel has opened up another way of building a community of encouragement and hope. We´re regularly interacting with and encouraging many people, far more than we would have without the channel.

If we can encourage just one person and their life is better as a result then the whole journey, with all its challenges, will have been worth it.

Our encouragement to you is to never give up. Never give up. Never give up.
You may not see the whole picture of how you can attain your dream but don’t give up. Take one step, no matter how small.

If you don’t know what your dream is, start small. Something easy. Something that’s not dependant on circumstances. Maybe your dream could be to intentionally say something kind to someone each day for 7 days. That’s worthwhile. It´s attainable, but you can do it and it’s a start.

Dare to have a dream. Dare to pursue your dream. Dare to live your dream.
What’s your next step. What one small thing can you do today?

It’s our hope and desire that you’ve found something in this video encouraging, inspiring or uplifting. If you did, make sure that you like it and subscribe on your favourite social media platforms. Be sure to click that notification bell so we can keep in touch. See you soon.

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