with @thegreenertwo // Lil + Haydo
What made you decide to take the plunge & live full-time on a yacht?
Hayden: In 2016, my mates and I went on a surf trip, on a yacht, around the Mentawai Islands, and that kinda put into our minds that this was something we could work towards doing ourselves. So a year or so on, a few of us mates ended up buying a project yacht together to do just that. But, unfortunately, we never completed the project and sold the boat before we were able to get it into the water. At that point, though, Lily had come into my life and took to the dream pretty hard, too - convincing me not to give up and that we could make it happen together. After that, we worked our a$$’s off to save up for a yacht that’ll get us around the world. We bought our boat in 2020, just before Covid hit, so although we haven’t been able to chase waves, we’ve had an absolute blast sailing, exploring and free diving our way up the coast. Hopefully, next year we’ll be able to chase waves. If not, surely 2023!
What were you doing before living on the ocean? Did you have careers that you felt lacked something?
Lily: So, a few years ago, I was a dancer based in Sydney. I absolutely loved my art, but I found that I wasn't in the suitable mental space to pursue (what I found to be) a challenging and competitive industry. So, I decided to leave the industry, and then I found myself in tourism.
I enjoyed working in tourism too, but I always had a big hole in my heart from quitting dancing, which could never be filled by tourism.
The job I had in tourism was a pretty creative role, and I did really enjoy it, but I found that I struggled to work alongside a few people in my workplace. I found that a lot of coercion and lack of accountability was demonstrated by a few senior "leaders", and that didn't really sit well with me.
In the end, I went crazy from caring too much about trying to change things. I couldn't ever shut off from work. All I could talk, think and dream about was work. It was draining, but I couldn't let it go until I realised WHY I couldn't let it go.
I couldn't let it go because I felt that I was identified by my job. You know, when you meet someone for the first time, one of the first things they ask you is "what do you do?".
So I felt like I needed to be proud to answer that question and that if I wasn't, then I somehow wasn't successful or proud of myself. Or worse, had a shi*t identity!
It's backwards and not at all how someone should think.
I only realised how unhealthy a situation I was in once I could look back at it. I think being at sea has really made things clear and put life into perspective. It's also filled the hole in my heart that dancing left and encouraged me to keep dancing, even if it's just for fun and not as a career.
Hayden: My story isn't as long as Lily's haha. I have been a carpenter for many years, but I've also worked in the social media realm and freelance photography. I really like all my jobs, but nothing can compare to living out here on the ocean.
Being out here is a big reset. When out here, the little worries don't exist anymore; the ocean's vastness, beauty, and absolute power really put life into perspective and makes you appreciate this beautiful planet we're on.
How often do you come to land for essentials, what do you gather & what do these days back on the mainland look like for you?
Lily: We last did a full provision in June, down in Port Macquarie, over 5 months ago. We don't like coming to the mainland - haha. Since leaving Port Macquarie, we've come to the mainland twice. On those 2 times, we bought a few fresh veggies that we could fit in our backpacks but didn't do an entire stock up by any means.
A full provision for us is pretty intense. It usually takes about 2-3 days for us to buy, prep and store 6 months worth of food. We shop for fresh organic produce at local markets and grocers and freeze, dry or preserve in oils/brines etc., as much as we can possibly fit on board! We also buy canned and jarred foods for backup.
What do you guys aim to do differently to make your lifestyle more sustainable?
Lily: This is something we're actually really excited about! We're going to upgrade our solar panels to create more power to run more electric cooking appliances instead of primarily using gas. We are also working out how we want to grow herbs, mushrooms and spirulina on board. We've dabbled with herbs in the past but with little luck. We are, however, keen to try again and hopefully have a flourishing mini garden in a few weeks/months!
What are your biggest challenges living on your yacht? Any do’s & don’ts in tough weather conditions?
Lily: Oh, definitely the availability of fresh food. We're such big foodies, we love local farmer markets, and we struggle not having those around for months at a time. We're pretty good at storing and preserving our food, but it never hits quite the same spot or gives us as much energy as fresh organic food!
Hayden: Hmm, there's a few do's and don'ts, haha, but the first couple of things that spring to mind would be around safety and communication - and being irrational… which admittedly I can be guilty of being.
When things get wild out there, you're concerned about the safety of yourself and, most importantly, the person you love. So it's easy to get flustered and panic, which means you're not thinking clearly and a lot more mistake-prone.
I mostly just try to do everything because I don't want to be putting Lily in any dangerous situations. But in reality, that's worse because we're better and safer when we work together, and Lily really is more than capable of doing anything and everything on the boat.
Trust and having a rock-solid relationship is another huge thing. Often, your safety will be in the other person's hands, so you need to work together really well, not just yell and scream at each other. And granted, with more experience, you also learn how to understand and deal with not-ideal situations as they emerge. Just, stay confident and calm, and have trust and a good relationship with your partner/crew/friends/whatever the situation is.
And that's it. That's Sailing 101 ;).
What do you love about The Sunday Coast Rugs? How do they compliment your lifestyle?
Lily: So, a golden rule many live-aboard yachties have is "everything needs to have at least 2 purposes", because we're generally space limited.
So, we use our Sunday Coast rugs for just about everything - we use them as picnic rugs, bedding blankets, casual chilling blankets or as throw overs when it's chilly. And, because they're super lightweight, we can take them anywhere - up mountains, to the beach, to other boats, wherever!. We literally use them every day, and best of all, sand even doesn't seem to stick to them - it's a real winner!
What are some of your best memories since living on your yacht?
Hayden: Ah man, there have been so many unreal memories. It's hard to put the finger on a few. But, we recently visited Lizard Island, and that was a wonderful experience. Aside from the beauty of the island, we were surrounded by the most incredible community of sailors.
Our days consisted of tai chi, yoga, bird watching, hiking, learning guitar, learning to foil board, abseiling, slacklining, using our pois and pixel whip, visiting the research station, collecting coconuts, and of course, snorkelling. And while we were snorkelling, we learnt to look for animals and things we wouldn't usually observe. It's kind of like being at a community school where everyone is there just kinda teaching and sharing what they know and love. It was really incredible.
We'll always cherish our little Lizard Island family, that's for sure!
How much would you recommend someone save before living life on a yacht? Are there ongoing costs? And how do you guys earn money living this awesome lifestyle?
Hayden: This is such a tricky question to answer. Everyone has very different ideas of what they'd need if they were living on a yacht. Some people won't live on the ocean before spending at least $450K on a nice catamaran, whereas other people will find a $20K or less project yacht and make it work.
There are definitely many ongoing costs, so yeah, that's definitely something to be aware of. They say you can expect to spend 10-15% of the purchase price per year on an already well-maintained vessel. But that would still very much be a ballpark figure.
To make money while we're travelling, we do a bit of social media/photography/copywriting work and marine trimming. We have a portable industrial sewing machine onboard and a lot of fabrics, clears, zips, bindings etc., so that we can do little jobs and repairs on our travels. We haven't really been doing that well with our online work over the last couple of months though, because we've very seldom had internet 😂.
But to make actual money, we need to pick up work over the summer/cyclone season. So, we've just pulled into Cairns, where we'll wait out this season, get "real" jobs, and work our butts off (and hopefully also check out some sick waterfalls!). Usually working hard for half the year gives us enough money to cruise for the other half.
We see you started your full-time travelling in a troopy before changing to a yacht. If you had to pick one for the rest of your life, which would you pick & why?
Hayden: Sometimes, we still miss life on the road. We loved our Troopy travels, and it's so good being able to move somewhere quickly. But I think we belong at sea. We find a lot more fulfilment in being out here; even though it is a heck of a lot harder, it makes it more rewarding. Plus, we get to check out some very rarely visited places and reefs!
What's your ultimate dream travel destination?
Lily: The goal has always been the Pacific Islands - hitting all the destinations such as the Lousiades, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga. But obviously, the world isn't really in a position for us to do that now, so we'll keep watching what opens up and checking out our incredible backyard for the time being.
Your 3 main essentials when living on a yacht? (for each of you)
Lily: A freezer that can be constantly run (for storage of veggies), a menstrual cup, and although it’s not an item, I found having had laser hair removal treatments before moving aboard made life a lot easier. You can’t really shave in our bathroom (probably most boat bathrooms) because you don’t want to risk blocking the bilge pump.
Hayden: I agree with Lily on the freezer, but the other 2 things don’t really apply to me, haha! Fishing gear is also essential, as fish is one of our primary food sources. And spare parts for everything!
What's your favourite location so far whilst at sea?
Lily: These questions are always the hardest. We can’t really pick one spot, but we’ve really loved Lady Elliot, Lady Musgrave, Heron, Great Keppel, Middle Percy and Lizard Island in terms of islands. Our favourite reefs have probably been the Ribbon Reefs - some sections are badly damaged, but parts of them are unbelievable! We also love visiting sand cays. In particular, we really liked Taylors and Walker Cay - they had some pretty decent reefs surrounding them too.
What do you have to do before landing and travelling between different islands off Australia? Do you need to apply for permission or pay any docking fees?
Lily: It varies from island to island. In most places within Australia, you can just pull up and visit without any dramas. You can't typically enter any resorts, but there will usually be a cost associated if there is the option to. Some islands are owned and occupied by Aboriginal people or privately owned; in both cases, you need to get permission before checking out these islands.
Other islands, such as Lord Howe, Norfolk, Cocos Keelings, Thursday etc., I'm pretty sure have quite a few additional requirements, such as biosecurity.
And then, there are also some islands and areas of the ocean that are pink zones, so you literally can't enter the area at all, and there's a hefty fine if you do.
It sounds complicated when writing it out, but it's pretty quick and easy these days to research the places you want to go before you go to them. There's also some really good user-fed apps, websites and Facebook pages with reliable information (just send us a DM if you ever want a link to these sources).
Feel free to add any other tips/recommendations/thoughts :)
Lily: If you’re interested in sailing, don’t be afraid to head down to your local yacht club or marina and ask if they have any social sailing evenings. Most of them do, and usually, you can jump on a boat for a small fee or free, learn the ropes, and get to know some really good quality people and sailors!
And also, instead of asking someone what they do for work as a conversation starter, ask them what makes them tick or what they enjoy doing as a hobby.
Hayden: If you enjoy reading, I’m currently reading “First Lady: A History-making Solo Voyage Around the World” by Kay Cottee. It’s an incredible book. She was the first woman to perform a single-handed, non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation of the world! It’s super impressive, and her level of commitment is truly admirable.