Justin and Emmy Brown had made all of the decisions that they thought were correct to be living a great life. They both worked hard, had two kids and a house full of stuff. The problem was that they weren’t happy. They found themselves trapped in a life that they didn’t want so they sold everything down to what would fit onto a 42 foot sailboat. They went through this life transformation and began living a life of minimalism all in less than 60 days.
What they learned was that it was MUCH easier than they ever expected. We recorded this conversation when they were in a marina in Florida and they detailed exactly what it took for them to say goodbye to their old life and hello to a life on the seas.
Todd: Justin and Emmy Brown thank you for joining me today on Go Hunt Life.
J & E: Thanks for having us
Todd: Where are you at right now and what are you looking at, what is your view?
Justin: Right now we are in Merritt Island, Florida and we are looking at a lot of palm trees. We are in a bit of a hurricane hole, that is what they call it. Which is basically a place that is really protected against storms and weather and what not, and so when you’re in a place like that you are looking at a lot of trees.
Todd: Is there a hurricane coming?
Justin: No there is not one currently, but we actually went through one a few weeks ago.
Todd: Oh all right, yeah what one was that?
Justin: That was hurricane Matthew.
Todd: Any damage?
Justin: There wasn’t, we spent about a week getting ready for it, and basically prepping the boat for that and um…
Emmy: We actually, our town was evacuated.
Todd: Oh, okay so you had to leave the boat behind?
Emmy: Yeah that was kind of a weird feeling too, you know we like made the leap to sell everything we had and bought the boat and then you’re just leaving it all, and hoping that you did a good enough job and what I realized because we have never been evacuated from a living situation before…Is that you think of things to take and then inevitably while you’re in your evacuated living situation, you’re looking around and saying, “Oh, why didn’t I take this thing or why didn’t we grab those really useful things?!” You know?
Todd: What was the one thing that you wished you would’ve grabbed, but you didn’t?
Emmy: Our bad weather gear.
Todd: Oh okay
Justin: Our bad weather gear, obviously our bad weather gear is very expensive storm clothing, and the stuff is literally you supposed to be when you in a hurricane you will be protected and it was the one thing that we left.
Emmy: Well when you’re waiting for a hurricane, it is sunny and beautiful, it is like this weird thing you don’t even see what is coming almost, so you grab the important things like passports all that stuff.
Emmy: You like well why didn’t, I bring my raincoat?
Todd: So you guys are married, how old are you and do you have kids?
Justin: I am 35,
Emmy: I am33 and yes we have two kids. Our daughter actually just turned 6 on Saturday and our son turned 4 in September.
Todd: And what are your professions?
Emmy: I am a registered nurse.
Justin: I am a full-time boat slave.
Todd: Yeah, sure. Emmy, I should have asked you, you’re a nurse, but what is your daily job now?
Emmy: Well actually, it is interesting the daily job I have now is mom and I home school Tessa, our daughter. And then the cool thing about being a nurse is when we got to Florida, we kind of ran out of money so I was able to pick up a job here in Florida as a nurse so a few days a week I do that still. We thought we could do that still to bring up our cruising kitty, then we will be off again.
Todd: Alright, so take me back to your lives I guess when they were more normal, than they are now. When you had a house and kind of a normal life, how long ago was that?
Justin and Emmy: Two years, two years exactly.
Todd: So 2014
Justin: We bought the boat and settled in it Halloween of 2014.
Todd: And where were you living?
Justin: We were living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Todd: Alright and what were you doing, Emmy I’m assuming you were a nurse back then and Justin what were you doing?
Justin: I owned a small motorcycle business. I built custom, I had a small custom motorcycle shop.
Todd: Alright describe a typical week, like what did your lives look like?
Emmy: Well okay so, a typical week was we had bought the house, we had the house, we had the two kids we had each other, two cars and all that other stuff. And I was working at that point my schedule was Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, so we had to get a nanny and then my parents helped us out one day a week with babysitting, so there was a lot of shuffling the kids around and
Justin: I was working at least six days a week.
Emmy: Yes he was working a lot and those were like 12 to 14 hour days, people think when you have your own business you make your own hours, but you actually just there all the time..
Emmy: Right, yes so a week was just busy, busy, busy, we would shuffle the kids and then do it all over again.
Justin: Right and we didn’t really see each other because she worked 13 hour days and I worked 13 hour days so we didn’t see too much of each other.
Todd: Which unfortunately now is kind of the normal life,
Justin: It is, it is. Which is kind of a strange thing, it is a strange place to find yourself and yes there are a lot of people that are able to deal with that and make it work and for us it just wasn’t happening.
Todd: I like just what you said man. It is a strange place to find yourself, like somehow, like somehow it just kind of happened. When did the thought of selling everything and sailing full time happen?
Emmy: Uhm that kind of that actually happened, we would get a date night every once in a while in the mix of things and one night we sat down at a bar and I just spoke to Justin. It was our first cocktail and we spoke to each other.
Justin: Yeah I was sipping on my whiskey and she’s sipping on her drink and we just kind of quiet.
Emmy: Yeah and I looked up and I asked, “are you all together happy?” and he said, “no are you?” and I said, “no I am not.” So we just decided that night that we would have to do something drastic or we were headed in that path of just like an existence of almost like living together and dealing with unhappiness and / or eventually years down the road just breaking up. Which didn’t seem reasonable it was just like we still liked each other so let’s just try something drastic. At the time we were still pretty early in our thirties and it was well everything we have right now we have gotten in the last 10 years so we could just do that again if we had to.
Justin: Right it was the kind of thing like when we had first met, when we first we as I am sure a lot of people do, we had all these notions what kind of life we will have, what kind of parents we were going to be. Where we going to live, you know and I think what happened is between me starting the business and then with her working all the time it was just really the stress of life. We owned two houses and between doing all that you kind of don’t realize when you’re going down the rabbit hole that you’re going down the rabbit hole and you make all the choices, you’re doing everything that everybody tells you to do as an adult you know? And definitely from my part I had a kind of formative experience, when I was younger and I just didn’t want, I never ever wanted to work from 9 to 5, go to work come home and spend 80% of my waking life working for someone else. So I think what just happened was we just came to it and it wasn’t working and we were going change something, or we were going to go our separate ways and that was a very sobering moment in our life.
Todd: When you walked out of that restaurant or that bar that night, what was your plan then? Did you already hatch it out like, “we going to sell everything and buy a boat,” or was it, “Lets just keep talking and we will figure it out along the way”?
Emmy: Well we actually had two plans that we both could stomach.
Justin: Could not have been more different.
Emmy: Well I was the one that said, “Let’s just buy a boat,” we kind of mused about it before. Justin had worked on schooners up in New England when we first met, so I was like, “we could buy a boat and we could go anywhere we wanted, how cool is that? We could raise our kids on it!” Justin was like, “Lets sell everything we own here, get out the city and let’s try homesteading. Buy a smaller house, lots of land and they were both kind of oddly different and it was then when we started having the more serious conversations. I was just not ready to settle down into one spot that was so isolated that’s when we decided to try the boat thing first. We can do the homestead thing later.
Justin: Yeah, we can do that later.
Todd: What steps did you take from that moment at that restaurant to selling everything? How long of a period of time was it?
Justin: It was way not enough time (laughing)
Todd: (Laughing) okay
Emmy: (Laughing) Right
Todd: Oh okay tell me everything
Emmy: We were, Justin was like we going to have to sell our house, that is the major thing that has to go then everything else can follow shortly after. So he knew a realtor from his business and we just met him and said we thinking of putting our house on the market, we figured we would get a couple of months on the market because the housing market wasn’t so great
Emmy: our house sold like in 7 days.
Justin: Yeah 7 days and the furthest we could push the settlement date was like 90 days?
Emmy: No, it wasn’t even, it was like 60 days. And from the time it took us about two weeks that the realtor had our house listed, then it was like 60 days after that we had to be completely out. And we were like oh my god we have to find the boat.
Justin: We had to find a boat so we were like literally my parents live on a boat right now and my mom she has to know everything there is to know about boats and sailing. She is a phenomenal sailor so we enlisted their help and we had them and us and we were just like…
Emmy: Every day we possibly could we were driving looking at boats.
Justin: We were driving, we were driving all over the place, looking at boats we had all the wrong criteria. We didn’t, and we did pretty much everything wrong, from construction of idea to execution. (Speaker 1: Laughing) and it was kind of a bumpy ride, rough ride but we made it through.
So basically the steps were:
Step 1: We were going to do this crazy fool-hearted thing.
Step 2: Try to find out what information you need to know to make any decision regarding Step 1. So we basically we didn’t know, you talk about buying a boat and it sounds really easy, but boats come in all shapes and sizes (speaker 1: sure) and configurations. You know, we didn’t know basically, we didn’t even know what questions to ask, which retrospectively now you can go on the internet you can go on Facebook and you go in forums and people go, “I have this much money which boat should I get? I want to be just off shore, I have this much money I want to go the, the Mediterranean or I want to go to the Bahamas.” And like you feel, you feel there is too many people asking the questions which you can answer them all, but you asking all the wrong questions. There were just so many details, so we were trying to figure out what the right questions were that we needed to ask, we failed at that too.
Justin: We did not ever ask the right questions.
Step 3: was like cashing out and wrapping up the loose ends, that actually was like super easy and the kind of strange thing about that is there are so many little loose ends to your land life you that…stupid stuff like, “we don’t have a house anymore so where am I going to get my mail sent to?” because you still going to have mail and then like I have to be registered somewhere to vote, have to have my driver’s licence, basically all that work when you on a 60 day time line is so time consuming and those questions all like have set answers and so it really detracts from the fact that time is ticking by and then the next thing you know there a settlement on your house, you got all your stuff in the back of a truck and you are driving down to a boat that you are pretty sure it was the right decision to have purchased, are you 100% sure it was the right decision? So yeah and in the meantime the kids are like, “Where’s the house? Why aren’t we living here anymore?”
Todd: Oh man, so Emmy did you quit your job or did you work through that 60-day period of time?
Emmy: So I worked through that 60 day period of time, and then we bought the boat, and Justin sold jobs and so hear in the boating industry people are like, “oh you either pay now or you pay later”, so you either spend all your money up front on a boat or you buy a boat that seems affordable and then you start fixing it up and you have well exceeded the cost of the nicer boat.
Justin: Yeah, we paid later.
Emmy: So we decided to pay later and that was a mistake. But okay, so I actually worked for almost a year after we moved onto the boat. So I was more the apprehensive one I think, it was my idea initially to live on the boat, and then once we did it took me a while to step out of that comfort zone, of doing the thing that everyone told me to do. You know I went to college got the bachelor’s degree, I was a nurse and it was like I had a very difficult time getting my foot out of that, that land life, I guess. So I worked for another year which was fine because we needed the money to fix up the boat anyway.
Todd: It was at a, the boat was at a marina correct?
Emmy and Justin: Yes, yes
Emmy: Actually in Delaware so my commute to work extended which was…
Justin: It used to be just over an hour to work and then in the meantime like, okay here is some radio drama for you, podcast drama: We bought the boat, we bought our boat in Maryland on Halloween in 2014, so yeah we then, me and my brother in law, went down and it was about three days from where we were going to keep the boat, and so my brother in law and I we went down and sailed the boat, attempted I should say to sail the boat from where it was in Southern Maryland up to Delaware.
I got, we both got strep throat like halfway through the trip. So I had to leave the boat because I had a high fever, I couldn’t sleep, I mean it was crazy. He was sick, this was all about 48 hours into the trip and it was cold, there was a Nor’easter that went through that weekend that just lasted, it lasted for 5 days. It was cold and rainy and the boat had no heat and we were basically just soaked. So I got sick and my parents actually ended up having to bring the boat the rest of the way. So we get the boat so now we’re rounding out the first week in November, the temperatures are dropping and the boat tried to sink on us two times on that trip because of just poor maintenance from the prior owners. So we ended up having, in a span of about 30 days, myself, Emmy and my parents we all had to replace the entire electrical system, replace most of the mechanical systems, install a really nice heater, there was so much work. And in the meantime we are living in a one bedroom apartment that, you know we paying for boat storage and then we found this one bedroom apartment so we are living out of boxes in this apartment and literally sleeping on air mattresses. It was just like, the boat had to be hauled 3 times in the first 30 days that we owned it.
Todd: What does that mean?
Justin: It had to be hauled out, it had to be taken out of the water,
Todd: Because it was going to sink or?
Emmy and Justin: yeah, yeah
Todd: That’s a big deal
Justin: It was a very big deal because
Emmy: It makes you doubt your decision.
Justin: Because you doubt
Todd: of course!
Justin, You doubt. The first 30 days were a lot of soul searching but, then first 30 days go by and you meet a lot of people, you meet a surprising amount of people who just decide to up and end it all, sell all their stuff and move onto a boat. I mean I had a fair amount of sailing experience. I have a masters licence from the coast guard, I knew what I was doing on that front, but those people we have met quite a few people that have just decided that looks like a good idea, but they are completely up a creek as it were, but we even had all this information and just you are seriously doubting your life choices. You’re like, “what did I do?” But we ended up finally sorting it out so many dollars and many hours later we ended up sorting it out. We moved onto the boat and our first ever selling our house, our whole life change was spending, once we moved onto the boat it was about three months frozen solid in ice, yeah we are in a 200 square foot stage now, its freezing outside and the boat is literally frozen solid in ice. It was a very, very emotional extreme situation, for being a first.
Emmy: At the time it is like we only have up to go from here, so…
Todd: Well what was keeping you there Emmy was it your job or was there something else that was keeping you there versus head south to Florida?
Justin: Well the boat needed a lot of work so we got a really good survey. A survey is basically like if you have a house like if you have a home surveyor, what would you call it?
Emmy: An Inspector
Justin: Like a home inspector. So yeah we had a very good survey and surveys for boats, boats, everything on a boat is an wear item so the survey is going to show you what they can, but they can’t tear the boat apart, to like see things, so for instance in the first week the guy who had owned the boat before us, the people that owned it before us did not use the boat. So it just sat for a decade. That would be the number 1 caution for anyone thinking about doing this, should know that if a boat sits for an extreme period of time just be prepared, for a lot of work.
Justin: So the propeller shaft is where seal for the propeller shaft goes through the boat the owner had batteries and the battery acid was dripping on that seal.
Emmy: Yeah so basically is was as if the boat was prohibiting us from moving to Florida, so that is what we did for this past winter though. We decided that winter we were not going to, so I mean the boat prohibited us from leaving and then when you are literally frozen in ice you can’t leave.
Justin: yeah you can’t leave
Emmy: So then that experience, we were like, obviously we had to move south for next winter because no one wanted to do that again. So we changed it to Florida.
Todd: So when did you sail out for good? And Emmy I guess when did you quit your job and you guys sailed out of that port?
Emmy: I quit my job in the beginning of October 2015, and the idea was always for us to go like go to a next area and for me because my job is so flexible in that there is even like a job called “travel nursing”, where you sign like a three month contract so that was our plan then. We would sail for as long as we could and then I would pick up a three month contract, we would be somewhere that we liked for three months then we would sail out and pick a new place.
And so when we got to Florida is where we ran out of money for our cruising kitty. It was because we ended up being in places that were cold and because we have the kids there are considerations that if you were just a couple you could be at anchor when it is really cold and you could keep each other warm, whatever. But when you have two kids it’s like, “oh god, they’re going to freeze.” So we would have to pay for a for a marina, so we spent more money than we expected to.
Justin: Yeah we spent a lot more money, we did something on the way down called the Intercoastal Waterway. And the Intercoastal Waterway, is a protected inland passage down the southern east coast of the United States. So we did that because we were testing all the new systems, because we basically rebuilt the boat so we were making sure that everything worked,
Justin: and we didn’t have a ton of off shore experience, off-shore sailing experience so when we had left in the fall of last year and we didn’t, the fall in the winter in the north Atlantic is extremely rough. Like big winds, big seas, usually the winter comes from the wrong direction, so we entered the Intercoastal waterway. Well to do that it is a very, very narrow waterway in some places it is no wider than a two lane road.
Todd: Oh my gosh!
Justin: Oh yeah, I mean it is wild and you’re passing tug boats and barges. It is crazy, it’s a wild experience and an amazingly expensive experience because it is so narrow there is not a lot of places to anchor so you really do need to like…if you are not running 24/7, which you can’t do in a lot of the places, you need to stop somewhere and that will be a marina. And for a boat our size, we have a 47ft boat, and for a boat our size an average night in the marina was say $60 bucks, so $60 bucks per night.
Todd: Oh yeah
Justin: Right so $50-$60 bucks a night
Todd: yeah that adds up that is expensive.
Emmy: So we ran out of money pretty quickly. Our budget turned out not to be enough and there is like this thing that people will say, “how much money does it cost to do what you are doing?” And we always just say, “All of it.”
Justin: (Laughing) All of it! A wise man once said, “What does it cost to live on a boat? All of it!”
Emmy: Right, so don’t like, you know moving forward we know what we need to spend money on and on what we don’t, but it is basically…you find a way to justify spending the money that you had allotted for something else. A lot of the time I guess.
Todd: Okay, so it is a 47ft boat, how many bedrooms and bathrooms?
Justin: It’s got three bedrooms and one bathroom.
Todd: One bath, what kind of boat is it?
Justin: I will let Emmy tell you
Emmy: It is a Jeanneau Sun Kiss
Justin: It is a ’87 Jeanneau Sun Kiss
Todd: Have you been out to sea yet in it?
Justin: No, actually, no we have not,
Emmy: Well yeah not on this boat.
Justin: Yeah not this boat, no we haven’t on this boat. So basically the time line, because we had to stay in the Intercoastal waterway, we got to Florida, we ran out of money
Emmy: and our engine broke
Justin: our engine broke so our, the head gasket in the engine went. So we had to, we had a fair amount of repairs to do and any other jobs…we’re now here in Merrit Island and our plan is to leave by March, late. Be on the outside latest April.
Todd: Okay March, but it is a sail boat. How often do you use the sail versus the engine?
Emmy: Well on the Intercoastal waterway we had to use the engine more often than we would have liked to
Justin: Almost exclusively.
Emmy: It is kind of a pain so on days when we could get to sail it was pretty awesome, because that is why you do this because you put up the sails and cut off the engine it is like a peaceful feeling. It is quiet and you’re using nature to move you along.
Todd: And you’re not paying for fuel
Justin: You’re not paying for fuel, right.
Emmy: Yeah so we actually cannot wait, so on our way back up we are going to exclusively do the ocean because it is faster, just for speed. It was faster to shoot up the coast in the waterway and yeah the one thing I did like about kind of coming through…the boat under power that is under the engine, it only goes about 7 to 8 knots per hour which is like most people can run faster than that
Emmy: So, yeah what was really cool about it was, I said to Justin, “I feel like I am seeing America for the first time,”
Todd: Wow, that is awesome.
Emmy: which is true because you are on a like a highway sailing up to these quaint little towns that have been there for in some cases centuries and it is like this really kind of lazy pensive way to see the coastal United States. Otherwise if you in a car you would be shooting down a highway and they always put highways where you can’t really see anything.
Emmy: I would definitely recommend it to anybody that has time and money to do it.
Justin: I guess the big thing for me was that was the first time I realised that the United States is not a country, but really like many little countries. The culture, the people you get to some places basically when you get into North Carolina on the coast it is very remote.
You get New Jersey or even Rhode Island or Long Island it is like each, every place you come to has, it feels like a different culture and in some places have a different language.
Emmy: But like what really cool is, as we’ve gone down, you are always apprehensive being from one place you hear stories about other places, but everyone has been like extraordinarily kind and really just want to share what they are about, like they want to share with you what their little splice of the United States is about, that’s really cool. They have all been like amazingly welcoming to our kids.
Todd: Very cool, very cool, Alright so March of 2017 between now and then what needs to get fixed on the boat and what needs to be taken care of before you get back out on the water on it?
Justin: So basically what we have now is all the major systems have been rewired, replumbed, we have re everything. We have just finished rebuilding the engine, basically the boat now is in pretty good shape, but we need some off-shore type equipment. So there is like a thing called dodger, which is basically like a very fancy windshield that goes on in front of the cockpit where you steer and drive the boat.
My parents are actually on their way, my mom used to own a factory where she built these things so we’re going to build one of those. It protects you from the elements off shore. We also have solar panels, a solar system that we need to install because our boat has a pretty sophisticated auto pilot, that we just installed and it needs a fair amount of power so we need to be able to run off of and recharge without using the engine or generator all the time. So this solar panel installation and getting a good canvas set up going to protect us off shore, and that is really about it. I mean it’s not that at this point it’s not a lot of work really it is just very specialised.
Oh and all the glass on the boat we are going to replace all the glass on the boat. It doesn’t really need it, but before we go off shore with the kids we just want to make sure it is safe. The windows on the boat are over 30 years old, and that is really about it. We have all new sails at this point. We have all new lines, rigging. We have cosmetic stuff, but who cares about that. That’s not safety stuff we will get to, so long as we have solar power so that we can stay off the dock basically. And that’s the key, anyone who is trying to do this you have to stay off the dock. As soon as you put a line on the dock a couple of things happen: Storage for boats no matter how good a price you get it is still expensive. Like right now we are paying about what our mortgage was to keep the boat where we are at, so it is very hard…
Todd: oh man
Justin: yeah it is very hard to save money when you doing that. Another thing if you’re just starting out and you want to do this make sure your boat has amenities that will carry you through a variety of seasons. It is all well and good to say, “I am going to chase the sun.” But just the last week here, like today, ok it was 90, but the last week here in Florida ii was cool. And when the cold front came through a heater would have been nice. We don’t have a heater at the moment, but having something like that set up would be ideal. You definitely have to set yourself up so that you do not need to be on land because if you’ve gotta be at a dock, there’s no two ways about it, you’re gonna be paying through the nose to do that.
Todd: Justin it sounds like you have got extensive experience sailing. Your mom has been in the industry forever, how are you going to handle it when you’ve got an overnight passage or let’s say 2 nights…Emmy, how are you going to manage things when Justin has to inevitably sleep?
Emmy: Right you know on our way down here, we definitely practiced those sort of things and it took us a while to find our stride, like you know
Justin: When we first took off on the boat, if we weren’t going to get divorced before we for sure were then(Laughing)
Todd: Yeah you guys have made it a lot worse.
Emmy: You know it is crazy because now you are put into a high-pressure situation and you have all of this history together as a couple, you’re not used to the other yelling at you, you know to complete a task. And really there were some high pressure situations, but I think now like we have kind of because you are on such a small space, and say you have this really stressful day and then when you anchor that night, you’re not getting off the boat. You’re living in 212ft with someone else you have to get over your differences really quickly. Very quickly. So like if we get into an argument because I didn’t like the way Justin told me to do something which is insane because he has far more experience than I have, so I should be listening to him, but like I said we are also married so you know…
Justin: You got to be polite about it.
Emmy: Yeah, you gotta be polite.
Justin: It is like, “don’t tell me what to do!”
Emmy: So we kind of got over and realised that you know what is kind of said in the heat of a sticky situation is kind of quickly forgiven, because it was highly stressful for everyone involved.
Todd: High pressure, high pressure. Now logistically, let’s say you guys go from Florida to the Bahamas like how long does that take to sail to the Bahamas?
Emmy and Justin: 24 hours. That would take us 24 hours.
Todd: What, that’s not bad. Okay when you get to the Bahamas, is the plan then to dock up on the water or go to a marina? You just said like marinas are expensive
Emmy: We would anchor,
Todd: How do you get to the land?
Emmy: With a dingy, so we have a smaller boat that we kind of, it is like our car.
Justin: I think a lot, it is called a Zodiac.
Emmy: It is an inflatable boat with an engine on it.
Justin: with a big engine
Todd: Oh okay so it’s inflatable. You blow the thing up and you go to the port you are at, are you then just like tourists chilling out and just seeing the sights or like what would your plan be once you get there?
Emmy: Typically if we were leaving for our trip to like the Bahamas, it is a 24 hour trip so it is not that big of a deal. So we would probably pack everything we needed, we would probably tourists, but let’s say it took us three or four days to get there…at that point the first thing you do is all the logistical stuff.
You will make sure you have all the critical stuff, like enough water, you would make sure you have enough fuel and you make sure you have enough food. So like a lot of times even coming down the Intercoastal, we would be anchored for a few nights then we would get to land and then it is like now we to go grocery shopping, and we have to make sure our boat has fuel, and that sort of stuff so depending on how long it took you to get to the place, it kind of dictates whether you’re going to do business right away or tourism later or tourism first and everything else can wait.
Justin: Because in our situation and in a lot of people’s situation as soon as you leave the dock the clock is ticking. So basically like even if you are sailing all the time not using fuel, you are using water, and unless you have a water maker which is a very expensive piece of equipment, you need to find a way to re-up your water. And there are a lot of clever ways to do that, but for the most part you are, you always want, every time we stop somewhere the first thing you fill up with water even if you did yesterday, because you never know how long before you get it again. And you know as with anything, there is a lot of logistics. You always want to be ready to go (speaker 1: sure) as soon as you get there, the relaxing day is never the day you get there, the relaxing day is at least 1 day or 2 days after.
Todd: How much fresh water does the boat hold?
Justin: Ours holds 175 gallons.
Todd: How much do you go through a day?
Justin: Sorry I couldn’t tell you how much we go through a day, but I can tell you the 175 gallons lasts about two weeks. Two weeks that is using it how you want.
Todd: Oh okay, yeah just normal use
Emmy: Yeah like if we were at anchor we would be what we call it “water disciplined.” So like we are super conservative, because we have the hose next to the boat we can pull it up at any time we are very disciplined with our water usage.
Todd: Gotcha, okay. In the last year what has been the biggest thing you guys have learned about yourselves and even the dynamic of the family?
Justin: Yeah that is a good question,
Emmy: Yeah I think that (all three laughing) our relationship is stronger than we initially thought. When we started this adventure and living on the boat gives you these really strange perspectives because on a boat it is nothing is easy. It’s not easy to get water, not easy to get food so the daily stressors kind of make you relax when you’re dealing with land people, almost like I am super calm. Even at work I am way more calm, as you know nursing can at times be very stressful. And everyone is like, “how come you’re so calm?”
I am like, “I don’t know.” When you’re in a situation, I have been in the situation where I have driven the boat and Justin had to do something and you know the water is really bad and the weather is really bad, I am like, “oh my god. Is he gonna fall off this boat? What is going to happen if he falls off this boat? And it’s that situation where everyone’s life is at risk, it is way different from just being at work like, ‘Yeah that doctor barks orders at me, but what does he know?’ I am not going to get all upset so I think it kinds of gives you a sense of calm, and the other thing I realised, we had just visited my parents for Thanksgiving so they have this enormous house in the suburbs. This beautiful house and the members of just my immediate family, Justin me and the kids we were always in the same room together, like without out knowing it.
Emmy: yeah and you yearn for that togetherness.
Justin: Like in the house it seems huge, you feel like you’re missing…it’s uncomfortable.
Emmy: Yeah like you uneasy
Justin: yeah uneasy
Emmy: yeah like I haven’t heard the kids in a little bit, you think, “where are they?”
Todd: what’s the biggest change you have reorganised in them?
Emmy: Oh geez, I think the
Justin: I think it is kind of hard to say because we moved when, how old was Benny?
Emmy: Ben was 2 and Tessa was 4 so they kind of like, kids are always changing
Emmy: But they do go crazy when we go over to a friend’s house, especially if that friend has kids and has a designated play room, they are like ‘what’ here they have, I think that they have a lot of choice but people are like, “Your kids don’t have that many toys,” and I am, “yeah, but we can’t. We have such little space that we cannot have the Barbie mansion because it won’t fit.,” But when they do go somewhere else they are like, “oh man! look at all this stuff!” I hope we aren’t destroying them (all laughing)
Justin: I think that with regards to a big change for them…I think, when you asked the question it was the first time I thought about it, but I think they have a lot of responsibility. Their personal responsibility, individual responsibility. Ben is 3 sorry 4 years old and if there is anything out of place on the boat, he is like our safety officer. He says, “Dad, be careful. you need to wear a harness.” Or if I’m working on the plumbing on the boat he says, “Dad be careful. If that goes outside, and if you break that…” And he grabs my face and says, “Look at me, if you break that the boat will sink, make sure you know what you’re doing.”
And then Tessa at the same time she is our kind of wild child she is kind of all over the place but at the same time Tessa has empathy and sense of responsibility for others, I think is really if you see someone doing something unsafe on the dock she will point it out. And I’ve often seen her playing with a boy in the marina and I’ve seen him try and get her to do something unsafe and she kind of steps up and says, “I can’t do that because it is dangerous.” So I think that when you living in a marina environment there are a lot of dangerous things and people don’t realise.
There are a lot of dangerous things and always wear a life jacket on the dock and at first it took them time to get used to it but now when they see somebody else you know who doesn’t have one well like they will shout, “where is your life jacket?” I think their sense of self-responsibility has definitely, and they clean their own rooms, they take care of their own spaces. When you live like this everyone has a role to play, and those parts are all very integral and very important.
Emmy: Right it’s like this microcosm where everything is for the family, it’s not for the individual. So I think when the kids are on land sometimes, parents just meet their demands because it is easier where hear it is like we sailing and we both need to be in that cockpit and one of them is thirsty it is like, “you need to get your own water. I can’t stop right now,” Justin: Whereas when on land you can say, “I can get that for you.”
Emmy: Right, yeah good stuff.
Todd: Alright so my wife and I live in Austin, Texas and we actually live right on Town Lake in Austin. We do not have sailing experience at all whatsoever. If we wanted to follow in your footsteps, what are the next or first three steps that we need to take to head into your direction?
Emmy: I think I would definitely say: The first part is deciding that this is something that you want to do, and be a unified front together because when you start telling people, they are going to tell you what a bad idea it is.
Emmy: So kind of hash out all the pros and cons between you two first and then when you talk to people about it, you can say no this is a decision we made and this is what we doing.
And then I would say probably not go as fast as we did. Maybe find the boat you want first, because houses now…when I think of it you guys live in Austin and houses sell faster than boats do. Find a boat that you like, talk to the owner. People are usually pretty sentimental about their boats so if you say, “I really want to do this. Please hold your boat for me, I just need to sell my house
Justin: that happens a lot.
Emmy: people will do it.
Justin: I think that you definitely want to talk to people like us, talk to people that are doing this, that is something that we didn’t really do enough of. Basically find out what the right questions to ask, when you going through the millions of miles of boats picking the right boat you guaranteed to not pick it right the first time. Very rarely does that happen.
Justin: But just at least nail down, when it comes to the money. Everybody wants to do things as reasonably affordable or as reasonably financial as possible. You really got to try to buy as much boat as you can possibly afford as far as the condition and amenities that you have identified by the doing first thing. Talking to people who live on board, “what are the things you can do without, what are the things you wish you had that you don’t?” Because we went through an absolutely phenomenal amount of money.
We thought we were getting a great deal on the boat, and we did get a great deal on the boat, but we blew through a phenomenal amount of money getting it to what we could live on and I think that’s a big deal. Stuff people who are doing it, doing it the way you would want to do it because that may change as well, and then definitely buy the boat with as much things as much amenities you can afford. Towards the goal, the kind of sailing that you want to do. Because doing it otherwise, trying to turn a boat that was meant for one thing into a boat that is doing something else is very, very expensive.
Todd: Is your plan, you have got your YouTube channel which the videos are hilarious, awesome, great editing super funny, is your plan to monetize this, it is like what is the plan for the next 12 months, Emmy just to make more money nursing or what is the plan to make money at this point or is that the plan?
Emmy: So I think that the plan is basically…I love being a nurse don’t get me wrong, but I don’t want to have to depend on it. And because it is a stationary thing and I have to be somewhere for an extended period of time so our plan right now is to develop our YouTube channel and definitely try and monetize this lifestyle. Not only to entertain people, but give them hope like, “you can do it too.” Not necessarily just sailing, but if you’re stuck somewhere and you not happy – don’t necessarily medicate yourself, maybe do something else, you know what I mean?
Todd: there you go
Justin: We trying to develop the YouTube channel and what I think we trying to do there is and what we’ve realized through doing this is that we are not necessarily making it about sailing. But like your podcast, Todd. Once you have decided there is something wrong with your life, as big or small that wrong might be, I feel like changing those things and our experience is a lot easier in the end that it seems. And I think that our YouTube channel, we want to hit on more of those aspects and not be like, “And today we are in Corsica and tomorrow we are going to go…” It’s more of a day to day nitty gritty and what is, at the end of the day we are a family of 4 and we are just kind of messing around on boats and we would rather be messing around on boats than not see each other for 90% of the week and wake up one day when we’re 50 or 60 and be like, “oh man what happened?”
Todd: Yeah you 100% right and you guys are nailing it. That’s coming through loud and clear on your YouTube videos
Emmy: Oh, thank you.
Todd: They’re awesome. Six years ago my wife and I sold everything we owned and with 7 suitcases and moved to Mexico.
Justin and Emmy: Wow that is awesome, that’s wild!
Todd: And we lived in Mexico for 5 years in the Yucatan and we just sold everything
Justin: That is much scarier than what we have done
Todd: I don’t know but you know what you just said it earlier… it is a lot easier to do it than you think it is. You really do have and you guys have proving it with kids, we don’t have kids so it is a little bit easier and it is easier that than you think and the best advice I got was from a friend of ours that lives in Merida, Mexico in the Yucatan. When we went down there we were nervous and he said, “all of the people that do this and thrive figure out 60% of it and the other 40% they figure out along the way. You’re never going to figure it out 100% and if you trying to do that you will never do it. You’re never gonna pull the ripcord.”
Justin: Yeah you will always have a reason not to do it. A risk that you’re comfortable with.
Todd: So final question: if someone told you that tomorrow you had to go back to your old lives in Philadelphia how would you feel?
Justin: I pretty much would not do that,
Emmy: Yeah I think it would be like pretty demoralizing
Justin: yeah, that is not a life option, Todd. sorry.
Todd: I love it. Okay, show notes: you can find Emmy and Justin at bywayofthesea.com and also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and go to YouTube watch the videos they awesome. Justin and Emmy thank you for joining me today.
Justin and Emmy: Thank you so much -it’s really been a blast.