We’ve spent the last six months living on our old yacht and sailing up the West coast of Mexico and the Gulf of California. Our style of boating involves muddy anchorages, wild islands, slow sailing and self-sufficiency. We generate our own 12v electricity, filter our own water, buy local food from local producers and sellers, row our dinghy and sail whenever we can find a puff of wind (rather than motor). We recycle everything, use all resources sparingly, try to contribute to local communities and leave as light a footprint as possible wherever we land. We call it Barefoot Boating.
Our boat is a vintage yacht built by Westsail in 1974 and in quite a neglected state when we found her in 2008. Over the last seven years we have worked in our holidays to bring her back to sailing form and create a welcoming home. We have tried to restore rather than replace, reshape rather than discard or destroy. She is still a work in progress and we are keeping to these principles as we slowly sail, explore and work on the boat in a new rhythm of life.
Living slowly and sparingly has brought us an abundance of benefits. We are living in the ocean and have time to observe, learn and connect with the creatures of this amazing world, from cornet fish and boobies to dolphins and whales. We find we naturally adopt mindfulness as part of our daily rhythm, sitting on deck washing clothes by hand, sailing slowly watching boobies trying to land on our mast, mediating in our bunks at sunrise listening to whale song.
When we anchor off an inhabited coast, we take time to get to know the community there (weather permitting.) We listen to their stories and see how we can learn from each other and work together to improve life in hard times.
Reshapers work continues as we sail. I’ve found that writing for education and transformation, developing e-courses, assessing students and learning from people we meet are all possible from a boat. We are actively developing partnerships with local projects that we can support, more news of a special water project and women’s co-operative in our next update.
Visiting England to spend time with family, friends and colleagues prompted me to make further connections between our sailing life and Reshapers work.. The connection between mindfulness and mental health is well evidenced, but can we develop mindful creativity? We’ve always adopted reflective practice and experiential learning, can these form a model of barefoot education?
These questions will shape my work for the next year as we sail in the Golfo de California and down the coast of Central America. Where will the wind and tides take us? What will we learn from the stories and images we find there? What projects will we be able to support? I’m very excited to find out and hope you will join me on the voyage.