How My First Sailing Trip Changed My Life

30.01.2018 Natalya Walker

Many people dream about starting an adventure and doing something different. It takes courage but rewards are literally life-changing! We are thrilled to share with you this inspiration guest blog by a sailing couple Cally & John, where they talk about how sailing changed their lives. It may just be the encouragement you need to bring change to your life too. 

Your Typical Traveller

In 2012 I was 22 years old, just out of university, working full-time and saving all of my annual leave up to take my first solo trip.  I planned two months to backpack around Costa Rica and Panama and my trip and plans probably looked identical to every other solo backpacker travelling across that part of the world.   I had few ideas of what I wanted to see and do and otherwise just let my whims carry me from one destination to the next.  I explored a few well-known towns in Costa Rica and took my PADI Open Water Scuba course in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.   

While on these adventures I met a travelling couple, who told me about the best part of their trip: a sailing trip through the indigenous islands of Panama in the Caribbean, called the Kuna Yala.  As someone always looking for an adventure, and knowing that the best adventures are not necessarily in the guidebooks, I took this advice and booked a sailing trip with the same company that organised their trip.  

That sailing trip on the Mani Moana with my gracious hosts, Sophie and Pedro, taught me so much about life.   Looking back on it today, that decision to experience the world of sailing has completely changed my life in more ways than one: 

Living Simply

Aboard the Mani Moana we had few luxuries.   This boat had the bare minimum, but it taught me that the bare minimum is enough.   

The showers were cold and the water was limited.   Each day we would swim in the warm ocean and we would wash our hair using salt water and biodegradable shampoo.   We would only use fresh water as needed to rinse the salt from our skin and hair, keeping our showers to less than 30 seconds.  

We would eat local food when we wanted fresh food and catch whatever fresh fish we could.   Where we need to supplement our diets, there was always canned food.  However, when your days are full of adventure you stop thinking about what you are missing and learn to enjoy a warm and filling meal instead.  Not only was I always satisfied with our meals but I was so impressive at the creativity it inspired in the meal preparation.  

This may seem like a small realisation but it definitely made me reconsider the luxuries in my everyday life and whether or not I really needed all those things to be happy.  

Exploring the Less Beaten Path

Exploring uninhabited islands and snorkelling alone on beautiful coral reefs made me realise how many places on this planet are ready to be explored that have not yet been bombarded by the tourism industry.   It left me craving to find these places and really dictated the way in which I would travel going forward.    Life on a sailboat means you are free to explore where not everyone can, it means you have wild dolphins randomly join the adventure or feel like the only person taking in a beautiful sunset.  It is something that once you experience you can never go back from, and you will never want to. 

Alternative Lifestyles

You can go college, get a job, buy a house and follow the path that is expected of you, or you can be inspired by those breaking the mould and dare to break the mould yourself.   This realisation led me to leave my small Canadian hometown and move to Sydney, Australia.  It led me to take trips I never otherwise would have, learn to be myself and follow my heart instead of what I thought was expected of me and it made me more open minded in every facet of life.   Every person I met on that sailing trip had a different story: from raising kids on a boat, to living on a boat while pursuing the same land-based goals as I was, to embracing lifelong learning by taking on a new part-time hobby.   No single way is the best way to live your life and you just need to figure out exactly what works – the sky is the limit!  

Make Time to Disconnect

Leaving behind the world of internet connections and social media can give you endless time to think.  This may seem like a downside but instead you can use it learn about yourself, learn about a new hobby and generally reflect on life.  You do not realise how much you pass the time scrolling through social media, messaging friends and idly passing time until you do not have that available at your fingertips.   Instead, immerse yourself in your thoughts and in the people around you and see where that takes you!

You Can Change Your Own Life

Taking that simple holiday made all the difference in my life.   It gave me the courage to move to Australia, it led me to a solo scuba diving trip where I met my current partner and it encouraged our decision to buy a sailboat to sail around the world.   Though we have just bought our boat and have yet to really learn the fine art of sailing – you can follow us as we learn at – we have already made a big step in living a life with no regrets and plenty of adventure.  Now, I’m not saying you will change your life in the same way, but passing time on a boat away from the world will give you the time to reflect and think about your life and, who knows, you may just make a big change too!

Interested to learn more? You can follow Cally & John's adventures on their blog or their Instagram page 


How My First Sailing Trip Changed My Life
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