Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Making Dreams come true in 2012 with Kelly Waterhouse
Kelly Girl Waterhouse grew up in Minnesota, practically in the middle of a corn field next to one of the 10,000 lakes within the state. Not afraid to get her toes wet, she relocated to Seattle, Washington shortly after graduating from college in the early 90’s. It was there she met a man named Kelly, who became her husband and taught her how to sail in the briny waters of the Puget Sound. That is when their vision to cruise the world began.
During their journey, Kelly Girl kept journals and wrote travel logs that covered over 30 countries. Her website kept land based fans posted with stories and photos of the trip which tracked their locations around the globe. The author’s narratives of the voyage have been published in Latitudes and Attitudes and Latitude 38 sailing magazines and travel blogs.
Kelly & Kelly Girl are accomplished world circumnavigators, sailing to 30 countries covering over 35,000 nautical miles. They shared a journey that many people can’t imagine or even know where to begin in order to live it themselves. To put it in perspective the feat they accomplished is to compare it to this, less than one percent of the population in the United States has completed a running marathon, consider what the statistics are for circumnavigating the world.
Sailing The Waterhouse: Swapping Turf for Surf, reveals the couple’s challenges of transitioning from a land-based life to living on a vessel and their first ocean sailing experience.
Interview Questions & Answers for Sailing The Waterhouse: Swapping Turf for Surf -Vol.1 Before the Boat
Q. You had a normal middle class life, living the American dream. Why did you decided to leave it?
It was a gradual decision for both of us. It seemed we were working to pay for our high mortgage payments and other items we purchased on credit. One day my husband and I asked the question what were we working for. That is when we decided to work towards our dream of sailing the world. Plus we knew we have a limited shelf-life on this earth and wanted a challenge.
Q. Sailing the world is a big dream. Others want to run their own business or travel to Europe. How did you two pick circumnavigating the world as your dream?
That is a good question and I don’t think I would have picked this dream. It was my husband, Kelly’s dream. He grew up sailing with his grandparents in San Francisco Bay. That is where his love of sailing began. He would read novels by solo circumnavigators like Joshua Slocum and Bernard Moitessier. Like many of us, as we grow up we lose sight of our childhood fantasies. Just after our honeymoon, Kelly bought an old 22 foot Catalina sailboat and taught me how to sail on it. Sailing around the Puget Sound sparked his dream and to his surprise, I wanted to share in it.
Q. So how did you get this dream started?
We scaled down our lifestyle to reduce our credit card debt. No more fancy dinners out, we canceled our expensive cable package and sold our cars and purchased old vehicles to get rid of a car payment. Once our credit card debt was gone we sold the house. All the equity we had in that was put toward are $40,000 boat.
Then we moved onto the boat. In the marina our slip fee was a fraction of our mortgage so we were able to save money for outfitting the boat for offshore passages and cruising money.
Living on a 35 Foot Boat
Q. What is it like to live on a small boat?
Well imagine living in a large walk-in closet. Its small and you can only put things in it that matter.
You would think that living in small quarters would be difficult, but we adapted to it. We were more organized and thought about the things we brought into our environment. I didn’t have room for knick-knacks or a large wardrobe. We weren’t going to Costco for the 24 packs of paper towels or toilet paper.
We also spent more time talking and reading since cable TV didn’t exist on the docks. This was a wonderful part of living on a boat, our time was our own without distractions.
Q. What is it like living on a boat in a Marina in the Northwest (Everett, WA)?
Cold! Well, at least 10 months out of the year.
Actually it is a simpler life than living on land. There is no garden or lawn to maintain, you don’t have to worry about getting the trash out on garbage day and cleaning the boat takes less time than cleaning a house.
But a simple life does not mean easier. Our car was parked in the parking lot which meant long walks to the boat and it was exposed to potential thieves. We didn’t have a washer or dryer on the boat, (most don’t) so there were long walks on the dock to the laundry facilities. That goes for showering too. We didn’t shower on the boat, so we would walk in the cold weather with wet heads from the showers. You learn to toughen up on a boat. Nothing comes easy.
Q. You said living on the docks was cold. What did you mean by that? Didn’t you have heaters on the boat?
During the winter we used a couple of space heaters on the boat, but wouldn’t leave them on while we were away at work. When got home, the boat would be just above freezing and getting the boat warmed up to 60 took hours. We would go to bed in sweat pants, hats even gloves.
Q. Would you live in a marina again?
Yes, but I would pick a warmer location or a boat with a big heater.
Preparing for your first ocean voyage
Q. Your husband grew up sailing and then taught you how to sail but neither of you had sailed in the open ocean. How do prepare for that and weren’t you afraid?
To be honest, yes, there was some fear of sailing offshore with no land in sight; especially when my husband would have us watch movies like White Squall and Perfect Storm. But we prepared ourselves by reading about how to handle our vessel in heavy weather and learned what was needed in order to ready our boat for high winds and rough seas. Just stowing items that could fly around in the cabin and reducing the amount of sail are just two key factors in surviving foul weather.
Q. You did experience heavy weather off the Coast of Washington and Oregon. What was that like?
At first we had light wind for 24 hours then it gradually started to build within 24 hours to 35 knots with gusts over 40 knots. This was our first experience of heavy seas that would knock our boat around. We would come up on a crest and surf a bit down it, and then a side wave would smack our rear causing our vessel start sliding sideways. Then our boat would correct itself by straightening out, but within a few minutes the same motion would occur. This was unnerving. The wind howled, the boat creaked and groaned, sleep was impossible. I just remember fear and exhaustion, but as we lived through it and got used to the intensity, the fear gave way. I realized the boat was keeping us afloat and we just have to ride through it.
Q. How long was your first passage?
It took us nine days to get from Washington to San Francisco Bay. We didn’t break any records, but gained a lot of confidence in our sailing skills.
About the Book
Q. The title of your book is, Sailing The Waterhouse: Swapping Turf for Surf. Who would want to read this book?
When Kelly and I first started to fantasize about sailing the world, we devoured as many travel and sailing books we could get our hands on. Reading about other people breaking away from the constraints in their lives to do something out of the ordinary was empowering.
I feel my book can be that inspiration for others to do their thing. Whether it’s tacking a year off to backpack in Europe or driving an RV south of the border, whatever dream you have, there are people out in the world doing exactly what you are dreaming about. You just need to find how you are going to do it.
Q. Sailing The Waterhouse takes the reader from leaving your home to living in a marina to California. Do you have another book covering the rest of your voyage?
Eventually Sailing The Waterhouse will be a series of four books which will cover different regions and major ocean passages in each. So if there is a part of the world a reader is interested in, they could read that book or read the whole series. The next book should be out by early Spring.
Living Your Dream
Q. So many people have dreams, but few really get the chance to experience them. You and your husband lived your dream, what is it like?
I will say that planning the dream was the most thrilling part of it. We could let our imaginations soar with our ideals of anchoring off a small Polynesian island with warm crystal blue water to swim in. That part of leaving the dream did meet our expectations. Traveling to exotic countries and soaking up the culture is was thrilling. But in your dreams, there still is reality. Dealing with corrupt foreign officials or a pushy vendor is highly irritating. Things would break on our boat that needed fixing or experiencing bad weather on a passage is not comfortable.
Yet overall, the small hardships we faced were fleeting. We lived our dream for a brief period and I wouldn’t hesitate to say we will live it again. The second time around, we will be more prepared.
LISTEN TO THE RECORDED AUTHOR INTERVIEW ON KWOD RADIO.