The dream comes alive in many ways. For some, it’s a lifelong goal to go cruising. For others, they may find their inspiration living vicariously through sailing vloggers. Then there are those who are always seeking the next adventure. Maybe it wasn’t a lifelong dream, but an accumulation of hard work and planning, with a passion for the thrill. Enter Brown and Eileen Councill. Citizens of the world who have spent the entirety of their marriage globetrotting by foot. With tired feet, it was time to take the leap of a lifetime and start floating.
You have to start somewhere
“I had never walked onto a liveaboard catamaran before we got back to the States from living in China for the last four years,” Eileen reveals, “We had so many people tell us that we should charter before we buy a boat.” But Eileen and Brown were confident in what they wanted, and they didn’t need to prove it. As the saying goes— when you know you know!
The Councill’s found themselves the perfect boat, a new to them 2015 Leopard 44, "Blown Away", which they purchased through The Moorings Yacht Brokerage in St. Lucia, and their life on land was history. “We don’t own anything in the United States, so we are free, completely free. Our boat is the only thing we own,” Eileen explains. "Buying a six year old Leopard that was fully depreciated made a lot of sense to us because then we would have plenty of $$ left over for upgrades to turn our ex charter boat into a world class blue water cruising liveaboard. Check out www.sailingblownaway.com for more information about our boat and upgrades."
With a little discipline, anyone can do it
Brown continues, “We both worked in education, and you don't make a lot of money in the that business, but we've been careful, and we've been socking it away. And we've gotten to the point where we don’t have to keep working. Our expenses are relatively low and we're going to be living off the grid. It’s a simple lifestyle that we're living, but it's our dream.”
Submerging into the lifestyle
Whether finding inspiration through sailing YouTube channels, or meeting other cruisers at different destinations they stumble upon, the sailing community is where most liveaboard sailors find their inspiration.
We've been pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the cruisers are that we're meeting. I think because we have the same ideas of strategy and adventure. The people that get out on their boat and sail the world have that common thread of wanting to do something outside the box,” Eileen continues, “And when it comes to sailing vlogs, I think just watching the videos helps us learn about the different issues that people face and also the challenges and benefits of traveling, and the great things about being on the boat. It makes it real and it makes it seems possible.”
Brown adds, “And it's attainable in all different ways, all different lifestyles and income. I just wish we would've gotten started a little earlier, but better late than never."
The learning curve
Brown and Eileen were as green as green comes when they first took the plunge into their new lifestyle, and they have thoroughly enjoyed learning together every step of the way. Eileen recalls, “I still remember the moment when the boat was officially ours, we were handed the keys and we didn’t even know how to turn the lights on. I think we were both petrified because we thought, 'Now what do we do?’.”
Brown continues, “It really started sinking in, exactly what had we gotten ourselves into. And neither one of us is big at DIY projects around the house. We’ve really had to learn a lot about that. That's the one thing that people don't realize is just how much you have to familiarize yourself with so many things that are totally alien to you; it’s extremely humbling.”
Although the Councill's didn't have any formal training prior to purchasing the Leopard 44, they were able to learn about sailing and living aboard with a hired captain, who assisted the couple in getting from St. Lucia to Antigua; they agreed that this time and financial investment was invaluable, though they did recommend seeking some kind of training prior to moving onboard. Eileen explains, "We took our sailing lessons on our boat, and loved that, but we would recommend sailing courses prior to your boat being handed over. It would have been nice to have a general idea of how the boat runs and where things are located." Brown agrees, "No matter what you know, you've got to give yourself a lot of grace and be patient and realize the learning curve is going to be steep; a good sense of humor is essential. It has been a very humbling experience."
The pieces fall into place
Once the boat was purchased, the Councill’s had to find insurance. And for novice sailors, this can be a discouraging process. Luckily with a little help and advice, the couple was able to find good insurance with one requirement, a yacht captain sign-off. Now that the training is over, the couple is ready to see where the winds will take them, and as with all sailors, the long-term plan is to circumnavigate the globe.
Brown smiles, "We want our story to encourage others to step out and follow their dreams. Don’t listen to people who tell you it's impossible. As Mel Robbins says, 'Proceed as if success is inevitable.' And that's what we want our story to be about. Don't wait! At times, it is frightening, but there's no greater satisfaction that comes when you achieve an ambitious goal. Our story could be everyone's story.”
Follow along on Brown and Eileen's adventures!