“We want to live this lifestyle without causing more harm to the planet. We plan on using the wind to take us places.”
Soon to set sail, Jamie and Base are about to embark on a dream 6 years in the making. Aboard “Charade”, a 36′ fiberglass long keel ketch, they set out to teach, learn, experience, embrace, surf and explore. When opportunity to help comes along, they’re there with the knowledge and willingness to help, and when it comes to things like clean water, there is no shortage of opportunity to offer knowledge and a helping hand.
“As a Hydrogeologist and a Sustainable Development Practitioner with experience in water and sanitation, we both understand that fresh water is the most precious resource on our planet…without it, nothing is possible.
Remote communities face the toughest challenges with fresh water. This is a problem now and will become ever more challenging in the future. We don’t have the answer, but we do want to be part of finding creative solutions for sustainable water management in communities.
Our aim is to take the skills we have and set sail. If or when we come across opportunities to use our skills to help communities we will be there and ready to contribute whatever we can.”
How long do you plan to sail for?
We want to make a change to a lifestyle of living simply and sailing. We are planning on sailing coastally, back and forth from our home port of Fremantle, Western Australia to Indonesia. We will do this for a few seasons, working half the year and sailing half the year. We decided to start off with an 8 month trip on our boat ‘Charade’ a 36ft Bruce Roberts, Henry Morgan Ketch. We are planning to spend the winters of the Southern Hemisphere up in Indonesia and the summers back in Fremantle where we are going to run a sailing school and charter business.
Have you figured out the course you’ll take?
Since we are based in Fremantle, we knew that for our first trip, the Western Australian coastline and East Indonesia would be a good place to start. We have both sailed parts of this coast on a boat delivery and we saw that there is so much more to explore.
We will sail North and spend 4 months cruising the West Australian Coast – from The Abrolhos Islands, Kalbarri, Shark Bay, Canarvon, Exmouth and different archipelagos along the way. Then we are headed to Eastern Indonesia where we will have three months to explore and sail from West Timor towards Bali. After that we head back down the WA coast. When we get back we will be doing local sailing charters and sailing lessons over the summer months. The next trip will be to explore further parts of Indonesia.
Did you have to make modifications to your rig before it would be ready for a trip like this? If so, what were they? Did you make them yourself?
We have had our boat Charade for nearly two years, and when we bought her she was in great condition, even though she’s over 30 years old. Charade has been set up for coastal sailing and was set up as a sailing business previously. For the last two years we have been working on to-do lists and plans of all the changes we want to make before we set sail.
We are three months out from leaving and still have quite a bit of work to do. The things to do include: Setting up shade on the boat so we don’t bake in the sun, getting a fridge installed (cold beer!), set up solar panels and a water maker on board, getting new navigation equipment, having the rigging checked for safety, set up a surfboard rack in a spare bunk and the list goes on.
Every year we do general maintenance on Charade to keep her in commercial survey which means she can be run as a business. She is sea worthy vessel, but for extra safety and comfort we are aiming to get as much done as we can in the next three months.
We are trying to be conservative with amount of gear that goes on board, and keep everything simple. The more gear, means the more things that can go wrong.
What’s the longest you’ve spent on a boat up to this point?
Base has grown up sailing, and has had the chance to do some amazing sailing trips around the world, such as sailing from Panama across the Pacific for 8 months as a crew on a friend’s boat. Base’s dream has always been to captain his own boat to remote surf breaks.
I stepped on a sailboat for the first time 6 years ago when I met Base. He had a little 24ft sloop and we sailed on the river nearly every night in summer, and had weekend trips to the local islands. We also did a great sailing trip 400km south down the coast. We had strong winds the whole way and had to put our wetsuits to deal with the waves over the side.
Those days sailing on our little boat where great, and I fell in love with Base and the sailing life. Base kept telling sailing stories about the Pacific Islands, Southern California, and the Mediterranean. There was only so much I could listen to before, I insisted that we started creating plans for a bigger boat, one that could take us further and fit a quiver of boards.
As soon as we set the plan to buy a bigger boat and sail to Indo, I quickly tried to catch up in experience. I worked on a boat in North Western Kimberly region as a deck hand for 2 months. Did a boat delivery down the coast. Joined my local volunteer sea rescue to gain experience and worked for them for a year, rescuing boats in local waters. What’s amazing is no matter how long you have sailed for, you always get new experiences to learn from when you’re living on the water. The ocean can always dish up a new challenge!
Will you work on your travels? Jamie, what’s an “eco-lifestyle coach”? And Base, what do you do?
I run my own business doing environment consulting and eco-living education. I have been transitioning my business to be completely online. As an Eco-Lifestyle Coach I share easy ways, and inspiration for people to live lighter and take better care of the planet. I run online courses and have the majority of the business set up so that I can keep things going while we sail. I won’t have Internet all the time, but I will work with an assistant on land to keep things ticking over.
Base is a Hydro Geologist – he finds and monitors ground water. Moving towards a change of lifestyle means he can apply his career to other areas, like looking at water issues on remote islands. So many islands have fragile fresh water sources that are being impacted by sea level rise. As we sail we will look for opportunities for Base to use his skillset to help communities and organisations with water management.
How did you tackle the preparation for a trip like this? Make lists? Consult maps? Are you leaving in April because that’s how long it’s going to take you to prepare?
We have been dreaming about this trip for about 6 years. It became a reality when we found and bought Charade 2 years ago. We have been slowly planning and chipping away at making this trip happen. The lists we have are pages long, and may never get all ticked off before we leave, but we are tackling one project at a time to make it happen.
We have been researching our passage plan, studying charts, scouring Google earth for surf spots, and figuring out how to dehydrate and preserve food. Our favourite way to prep is by meeting other sailors and chatting to them about their missions and lessons they have learnt. Talking to salty sailors is always a good way to get more excited for our upcoming mission’s.
A lot of sailors have blogs where they share their experiences that we can learn from. When someone has installed solar panels and documented it, we can read about what they did and then give it a go ourselves. We are blogging as well to share what we are learning along the way.
What are you hoping to find out on these remote islands?
The biggest thing we are looking for is a different lifestyle. We both want to live simply and do things we love like: surf, be outdoors, explore, and have adventures. We want to get back to what really matters and live life to the fullest. Of course we are looking for remote waves, and beautiful anchorages! Places where we can jump off the boat into turquoise tropical waters and eat tropical fruits all day long. But the journey to get there is the part we both know will be the most rewarding.
We can fly to Bali from where we live in a couple hours, for not that much money. Travelling by wind power, exploring new places, and feeling 6 years of work come to fruition is going to be much sweeter.
We are also going to be adding to the trip by doing some small science projects along the way. We have contacted local experts and will be keeping records on the bird life, whales and other marine life along the coast. We are even going to be using a micro plastics trawl net to do some monitoring of plastic pollution.
When you are living on a boat after a while it becomes your whole world. You get into routines of waking up, going on watch, spotting whales and sea birds, checking the fishing line, watching the clouds, and monitoring the sails for the conditions. You become fully connected to the environment and nature.
There will be challenges with the WA coast, being one that gets hit with large swells and strong winds, and there will be times when we will have to raise to the occasion. When you are on a boat you live in the world of tides, winds and waves and always have to be on to it, you don’t get to just disconnect and go home. It’s an epic way to live, and we can’t wait to make the switch to boat world.