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Dream Sailing / Jamie Van Jones Set Sail To Live The Salty Mermaid Life

Jamie Van Jones has made some decisions and she’s on her way to embarking on a sailing adventure with her husband that has been 7 years in the making. As we speak Jamie and her hubby are on their way North from Australia to Indonesia. They aren’t sure how long we will go for but will sail for the next 8 months to avoid Cyclones.

Apart from living their dream the couple will be doing a lot of citizen science projects that include turtle and whale monitoring, plastic pollution and reef health checks and sea bird counting to raise awareness around eco-living and the health of our oceans.

Jamie is a surfer, an ocean lover and environmentalist. She is on the path to inspiring people to live amazing lives that are lighter on our planet and we’re stoked to bring you her series of stories from the high seas as she makes her way into the outerknown.


My dream is on the verge of coming true.

We have just moved onto our 36 foot Sailboat – Charade – aka ‘Lady C’. My husband and I have said goodbye to life on land, and we are a couple weeks away from setting sail. We are heading north from Fremantle, West Australia and are planning on sailing for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years (we will see how we go). We will take 3 months to go up the WA coast, stopping at amazing locations along the way, and then we will have 3 months in South East Indonesia where we will be exploring, surfing, and living a simple life on our boat.

Whenever we tell people about our trip, they say – “Wow that’s amazing” and “You’re So Lucky”. I even hear, “I wish I could do that”. So much of the time I want to say “You could totally do it too, but it takes a bucket load of effort to make it happen.” We are extremely lucky, but it was also a very conscious decision we made to pursue this dream and make it happen, which has taken a lot of hard work.

Seven years ago I had never even stepped foot on a sail boat.

Then, I met this guy that loved sailing and surfing. Our first date ended with a kiss on board his new sailboat. It was a small boat on the Swan River in Perth. We spent our first months together getting to know each other as he taught me to sail. That boat, and that man, made me fall in love with sailing – and the dream of where it could take us.

Seven years on, that guy and I are best friends and just recently got married. We have been through a lot together and the whole time we have talked and dreamed of setting sail on our own boat up the coast to tropical waters. What a dream it is. As an environmentalist, surfer and passionate lover of the ocean, the ideal of setting sail was romantic, foreign, and so appealing.

Looking back on it, the dream to sail has been the cornerstone of decision making for quite a number of years. It has taken a lot to bring this dream into reality. There is nothing that I regret, but it just proves to me, undoubtedly, that if you want to make something happen you have to give it your all, commit to it, and be willing to make sacrifices.

Here are a few of the ways life has had to get harder before the dream could become reality:

We went from living beach side is Costa Rica, surfing every day,  to deciding that we needed  to get back on track to pursuing the sailing dream.

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In a matter of days I went from daily surfing and yoga, to being in an empty ‘derelict’ rental house back home, which was all we could find. I was on my own, with my partner working away, I was unemployed, slightly lost about what to do for work and feeling very out of place. But it was all in aim of a bigger goal, which at the time was really hard to see as we had no boat and didn’t know the next steps to take.

We lived so that our dollars would go to our savings account so the boat of our dreams could be bought. We chose to give up any luxuries, and chose to save as much as possible. I even gave up drinking coffee since it was eating up too much money. We also lived knowing that in a couple years we would be setting sail, this meant not buying things that we couldn’t take with us on the boat. Avoiding consuming and only buying things we really needed and buying them second hand, this was fine, since it aligned with my eco values. We furnished our house with second hand goods, most from verge side collections and I only bought a handful of second hand items of clothing over the past couple years.

Not buying things was not a big deal, the worst part over the last couple years was the separation. Base, the sailor husband of mine, worked away to pay off the boat of our dreams, and I worked hard on my own business (Online Eco-living education) to create a location independent source of income to keep funding our dream as we go. We both wanted something more, something different for our lives, but for three years it required working away from each other and being apart on and off to both get to where we really want to be. This took a massive toll on us both personally, and so many times we asked ourselves ‘Is this dream was really worth it?’

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Having no sailing experience except for the casual sailing we did on the river, meant I did what I needed to do to learn as much as I could about life on a boat. I put myself in situations that were uncomfortable and unnerving.  I jumped into working  on a charter sailboat – two months full time live aboard and six months part time. I also spent a year and a half volunteering with Sea Rescue to learn how to handle panicky situations on boats with ease. I took to studying a commercial captain’s ticket to learn what I needed to command and navigate a vessel. I threw myself in the deep end in a very male dominated industry. I had little boat experience when I started, but loads of determination.

The overall aim over the last couple of years has been to pay off the boat we bought two years ago, have enough savings to live off, and ensure that we were confident enough to set sail. My partner is a great sailor and an amazing water man. My skills, which I worked on over the past seven years, needed polishing, But I have been working on it

Now, we are a couple weeks away from leaving, I thought this would be the easy downhill slide to living the dream.

NOPE.

We have had a house to pack up and move onto 36 feet (we have opted for no storage unit, besides a couple boxes in friends sheds, and few in our car), the rest of our belongings were given away or sold. I never thought material possessions mattered, but giving it all away pulled on some emotional strings I didn’t even know I had. We are only keeping what we really value, but the process has felt like pulling teeth at times.

Getting the boat ready and the provisioning is a full time job.

Thinking about everything you will need for the next 6 months is intense, since running out to the shops to get something isn’t going to be an option very often. We have to be very self-sufficient. I have been planning this for the past couple of years – everything from learning to make bread in a frying pan, to how to make my own dish soap, laundry detergent, and toothpaste  that is natural and ocean-friendly, as well as learning how to preserve food for us to take.

The big thing that keeps coming up for me in the last couple weeks before leaving is fear.

When it comes to leaving land and heading to sea, there is a lot to get my head around mentally. Are we prepared enough? Do we have the skills? Will we manage our relationship in such a small space? The weather, storms, pirates… The list goes on.

Having these fears run through my mind is all pretty full on, but I know it is all part of this big journey I am on.

What I constantly remind myself is that I am choosing this adventure. I am choosing to live life to the fullest. I am choosing to simplify, get back to what I love – surfing, and really embrace being connected to nature and the elements. Following my heart, pursuing this dream has some costs. I know life at sea will be very trying and difficult at time, but it will all be 100% worth it. With everything I have already learnt and experienced over the last number of years, it already is worth it and we haven’t even set sail yet.


Jamie is a surfer, passionate environmentalist and sailor. She shows how you have live an amazing life that is lighter on the planet over at www.jamievanjones.com and her sailing trip  can be followed on www.saltytimes.com  Facebook: Saltytimes or Instagram @saltytimes.

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