Working long hours day after day can wear anyone down, but Matt and Jessica Johnson decided to ditch the daily grind completely and live out their dreams and sail the world!
Matt was a sales manager, and his wife Jessica worked at an insurance firm in Michigan. They learnt to sail as a summer hobby in 2008 and never looked back.
Now both 32, Matt and Jessica quit the rat race and set out on the open seas in 2011, selling all their belongings to fund the trip. They’ve since been to 16 different countries around the Caribbean and Latin America, and crossed the Atlantic twice. Their cat Georgie joined them in 2012 and has accompanied them to 13 countries. Here’s how they did it.
Here’s how they did it:
1. When did you know you wanted to quit your jobs to sail full-time, and how did you go about it?
We knew we wanted to quit our jobs and sail full time back in 2009 when Matt first found out about the option while researching about sailboats and sailing. It was a lifestyle we never knew existed, and although it initially started as an idea of only sailing to the Bahamas and back for a season it grew into a four year plan that we’d still like to extend.
2. What is it like to live on a boat? Talk us through your day…
At the moment we are rebuilding a boat in Florida so our days exist around boat work from 9-6, 7 days a week. While out cruising though we are pretty relaxed and our schedule can change day to day based on where we are.
Normally we like to sleep in and have a lazy morning. Sometimes I’ll work on editing photos or writing a blog post while Matt is on his computer researching random boat related things, a favourite hobby of his.
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After lunch we’ll plan our activity for the day. If we’re in the Caribbean it might include snorkeling or fishing; other islands are good for hiking. If we’re in a big city we like to aimlessly wander and explore. In the evening we’ll get together with other boating friends if we’re in the same harbour, or if we’re on our own I’ll cook dinner on the boat and we’ll end our night with a movie. Go to sleep, wake up, and repeat the next day.
3. What are your next destinations?
Our next destinations include a wide variety of locations and climates. To familiarise ourselves with the new boat we’ll keep her in the Caribbean for a year, visiting places like Dominica, Colombia and the San Blas islands. From there we’ll make another Atlantic crossing to visit the high latitudes of the Baltic Sea before crossing the Atlantic once again, much further south this time, to end up in the Patagonia region of South America. From there, who knows?
4. What’s the best advice you could give to someone who wants to do what you do?
Stay determined. It can take years of planning, saving, and fixing up the right boat, but trust me, it is worth it in the end.
As [American radio personality] Earl Nightingale would say: “Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
5. Have you ever had a moment of self-doubt? What happened?
We did have a little self doubt, back when we were in the Cayman Islands, of all places. We had been cruising for 9 months and were still adjusting to the lifestyle, but we had also just been rushing ourselves through the Caribbean in a mad dash in order to make it to Guatemala in time for hurricane season.
Everything felt rushed, we weren’t fully enjoying our stops because it would be time to leave just as we were settling in, and we were still taking on fairly large boat projects. Once we did get to Guatemala though, everything changed. We had a sense of a schedule back, time to really get to know an area. We made some amazing friends which we spent all summer and autumn with.
6. What are your #LifeGoals?
We don’t necessarily have life goals – we found out that plans have the ability to change fairly quickly and it’s best to go with the flow. We’d like to do this as long as possible, but if something else piques our interest we always have the option to try other things or ways of living.
By Reenat Sinay