We are the family Jefferies. I am Philippa. Married to Ben. Parents to Olive – 4.5, Alfi – 2. A while ago, we took to the sea. To live, adventure and be together. To feel more free. Our destination was south and west to the Caribbean. This is us aboard Dhanu not long after we left. To me, this feels a world away from where we are now.
Since then, quite a lot has changed…
I guess you could call this blog a sailing blog but it isn’t really. But when this adventure started, I was a novice sailor. I really could not sail. 5000 miles later, the same is not true. I am expert at all matters involving children on a moving boat. I am especially good at convincing the kids that the big bouncy boat ride was FUN and all part of the plan.) Sailing is not in my blood. It was not part of my childhood. I grew up in one of the most landlocked parts of England. The coast was far away. Nonetheless I always loved the sea.
As it turned out, I married a sailor, he had a boat. She was called Dhanu. A real beauty. Simple and bespoke and low tech. But she did not fit easily into our ratty racey lives. There never seemed to be enough time. Even after we left the big smoke and moved to the coast to be near nature and open spaces. Then the babies started coming and as they did, so too, an obvious type of future, mapped out and certain. We felt like space and time were closing in and free will and choices could get lost in some kind of work-kids-chores-mortgage-vacuum. So we decided to get out. To use the boat. To run away for a bit. To go on an adventure. To take an extended holiday (more fool us). I didn’t really think too much about how it would actually be, I was just up for an adventure in whatever form. Whilst there were lots of thought and chats given to risk assessing and what would we do in this scenario and that scenario, I did not give very much thought to how I would actually feel at sea. My first night at sea was in the English Channel. My second and more nights at sea were in the Bay of Biscay. Every overnight passage after that, got longer; 5 nights; 9 nights; 16 nights. Small fry to those big ocean goers out there…but for me, a big deal. I jumped in at the deep end. My ignorance was sheer bliss. My reflections upon all of this form the basis of this blog.
Why do this? In the life we left, I worked as a criminal defence lawyer, a legal aid lawyer.
As a legal aid lawyer, I drove an old car, I wore hand me down suits and packed my lunch box everyday. We lived in a tiny terraced cottage in Topsham, Devon, UK. Then as now, we lived a modest life. So lest you be thinking we are smug trustafarians or that I have a cache of ill gotten cash, wrong. Nor is this some comfortable gap year. However glamorous sailing away sounds, we were a normal family with ambitions greater than our budget. Granted we are in the unusual position to be relatively young, in possession of a yacht and Ben to fix it. But we were / are doing this on a relative shoestring. I chose the wrong law to have multiple zeros in my account. But I did so as I believed in what I did. Providing a voice to those accused. Guiding them and holding their sticky paw through proceedings. I worked hard and I was often very challenged in what I did. Intellectually usually. I enjoyed it. I rolled with the punches as I thought I was doing something ‘worthwhile, important, meaningful’. Which equated with the expectations of my education, family, class. But I had hit a ceiling. That is not to mention the legal aid sector was set in the government’s bullseye in an era of cuts and more cuts and to hell with providing fair access to justice. What I am saying is that despite having a ‘Good Job’, and working my proverbials off, the rewards were not always advantageous to our lives. They were not financial either. We got by, as is reflected in our modest life and boat. To live and work in the UK as a parent to small children means that nursery costs will abosorb all, if not all, of one parent’s earnings. For me (and many others) once childcare was paid, there was nothing left. This bizarre situation meant there was no financial incentive to work, at all. The cycle of working to get money to pay the nursery so you can go to work was circular and ridiculous. Strange maths. It was time to leave. If we were going to work our nuts off for nothing, we may as well do it on our terms. Whilst our kids were small and portable and (we assumed) compliant. So we departed UK shores, knowing we would have to work along the way. We were hardly going cruising.
As for Ben, he has always done what he loves. Wood and boats. He is a shipwright. HMS Victory, Warrier and teh infamous Cutty Sark have all been improved by his hand. Not to mention Dhanu. Our boat. She is the end result of his life’s work. Dhanu is our most prized asset. She is as much part of the family as any of us. She is everything to us. She has proved herself to be an amazing boat. Strong and beautiful and cosy and reliable. See The Boat. We have all come along way together.
The kids, well they are what they are. Cute, funny, wild and free. Yet as all parents know, also demanding, furious at times…all consuming and unrelenting in their need for attention. But they didn’t call themselves into being, we did…so like all parents everywhere we must step up to their plate and wipe off the smears they leave on themselves and us, compensating ourselves with the funny things they say and the free thinking they demonstrate and the unconditional love they evoke.
And so it can only be that this blogs evolves with us. Who we are now, is not exactly who we were then. There is less fluff. We are leaner in many ways. We are more open. We are more free. We know more. We have tested ourselves. We know what we are capable of. I personally feel we are more remarkable and more unique now than ever before. More so than was possible in my conventional landed life. It is an ironic fact that as we have less stuff, less convenience, less money, no credit; we actually feel like we have more choices and more options. I prefer choices, ideas to stuff. I know choices and ideas can’t magic up food or money and so on, but neither can stuff. I think of all the stuff we have locked up in storage, and it makes me feel heavy. I don’t miss it. I am not trying to preach or tell you anything about how to live or how to be happy. How could I? No. This blog is simply about our life and our choices. It is about a not so young mother of two putting to sea, a great unknown, with her salty husband and two weeny kids. To seek a life with more meaning. With more value. Where the real stuff seems uppermost and not lost under the clutter of modern materialist living. If that sounds appealing then I appreciate you reading on…(start at Aug 19 2014?!)
As to where we are now…? Check The Daily Post page and calender for archived posts…