All photos provided by Tanya Roach
I’ve been very fortunate to have connected with many amazing people in the sailing community thus far. There are so many sailing blogs and YouTube channels whose adventures and stories inspire me daily. One of the blogs/channels, that has quickly become one of my go-to favorites, belongs to today’s feature. Introducing, Tanya Roach.
Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Tanya Roach has lived and worked on four different continents in the past seven years. She and her husband Aaron are avid travelers. Prior to joining the liveaboard life, Roach and her husband originally had the idea to convert and old school bus into a tiny home. However, they were living in Boston at the time. Anyone who has lived in or been to Boston knows what a nightmare parking is. The idea of the school bus seemed impossible, so the couple began to research other ‘tiny space’ living options.
They eventually came across the liveaboard community in Boston’s Constitution Marina and began researching the idea of living on a boat. Within a month of making their decision to live on a sailboat, they purchased Gypsy Days, a 1980 Newport MKII, in June of 2017. She was on the hard for five months while they fixed her up to keep them warm and safe during the Boston winter. Gypsy Days went into the water in November of 2017 and thus began their foray into liveaboard life.
They had planned on staying in Boston for a few years to save money to potentially upgrade to a bigger boat for cruising. In May of 2018, Roach found out that the company her husband worked for was dissolving and that he would receive a retention bonus and a severance package. They took that as a sign to move their three year plan to a three month plan and begin prepping for a September 2018 departure.
Through the process of buying a boat and adjusting to tiny living/liveaboard life, Roach also had to learn to sail. With no prior sailing experience, she and her husband spent the summer of 2018 in Boston learning to sail. They had their first solo sail on July 27th, 2018, and cast off the lines at Constitution Marina for a final time on September 2nd, 2018. They spent the next six months cruising down the East Coast of the US, bound for the Bahamas.
Roach and her husband are currently in The Exumas, Bahamas and have finally settled into cruising life. The past six months have been full of many adventures, countless learning experiences, amazing sunrises and sunsets and meeting the most amazing people. It is so inspiring to see how far Roach and her husband have come after having only a few months to learn to sail and prep for a life of cruising. I have really enjoyed following their journey and I take great inspiration from how quickly Tanya has been able to learn and adapt to this lifestyle.
Check out Tanya’s interview below and be sure to follow S/V Gypsy Days on:
When did you first get into sailing? My father is a commercial salmon fisherman back in British Columbia so throughout my life, I would spend summers fishing with him. Though these experiences helped me become used to life on a boat, in a way, I was always the deckhand, never the captain so basic boating skills like helming, maintenance, and everything else were never things I practiced (or cared to learn, to be honest). After my husband and I moved to Boston, we wanted to live small and there was a huge liveaboard community there, so we decided to buy a sailboat (with neither of us ever having sailed). He took a few lessons at the community boat club and once we moved aboard, we met countless friends and mentors who helped us learn on our own boat last summer.
Tell us a bit about your boat, SV Gypsy Days. Gypsy Days is a 1980 Newport 30 MKII. Newports are more common on the West Coast but she is pretty similar to a Catalina 30. We originally purchased her as a liveaboard boat so she is actually very spacious for her size. Most of the interior is original with beautiful teak and less beautiful upholstery. She has been the perfect learner boat because she is a manageable size, we don’t mind beating her up a bit, and she is very steady.
What were your ‘must haves’ when it came to buying your boat? When we originally purchased Gypsy Days, we wanted a good learner boat (easy to handle, not too big, not too heavy) and a good liveaboard boat (spacious, well-laid out below) because she was supposed to be our training wheels before we upgraded to a larger boat for our future travels. When we were boat shopping, we really had no clue what to look for, what to look out for, or anything like that. Our basic requirements were: 35 feet or less, $7000 or less, enough headroom that my husband wouldn’t have to stoop (he’s 6’1), companionway steps that weren’t too steep (for our dog), and preferably a good engine. She had all of the above!
What is the best part about living aboard? The worst? The best part of living aboard, especially now, is being able to take your home with you to amazing places. If I want to go to the beach, I don’t have to worry if I packed my bathing suit because it’s always with me. You also can’t beat the sunrises and sunsets over the water. Another perk is being able to save money. This was more true when we were living at Constitution Marina because we were both still working full-time and paying a fraction for our slip compared to the place we were renting before. Even now, while cruising though, we can anchor, have solar power for all our energy needs, and can catch some of our own food – all of which cut down on costs for this trip.
Living aboard is definitely not all beautiful sunsets and white sand beaches, though. It’s a small space so the second anything is not put away, it looks super messy or you’re tripping over things. Doing basic chores takes so much longer (dishes, laundry, grocery shopping). But I think the worst part is being at the mercy of the weather (specifically the wind). A cold front can come through a trap you in a place for a week or more or you may have to move away from a wonderful anchorage because the wind is going to shift and you have to find a place with better protection. You may want to head to a new destination, but the wind just won’t cooperate for you to sail there. You definitely have to always be vigilant about upcoming weather.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the liveaboard/cruising lifestyle? If you want to do it, just do it!
-Read and watch as much as you can so you truly know what it’s like. Don’t just make a decision based on the pretty photos, actually read about the struggles people have had. I absolutely think the benefits outweigh the difficulties but you may not.
-Be very clear about what you can and cannot live without. If you absolutely need to shower everyday, be sure to find a boat that will accommodate that, and don’t let other people make you feel bad about the comforts you want to enjoy.
-Start hanging out in the communities (yacht clubs, racing clubs, marinas) and become a sponge. Liveaboards and cruisers love to talk about their lifestyle and most are super open and helpful.
-Take all advice with a grain of salt! Everyone will have an opinion and what worked for them, may not work for you. Ask tons of questions and then make your best determination based on the information you have received.
– Be sure you are safe and learn and understand your limits. Everything else can be learned along the way.
– Just because you want to liveaboard and cruise now, remember that it doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. You may liveaboard for a year and have a great time, and then decide to move back to land. That’s totally fine! Again, don’t let other people make you feel lesser about your decisions.
– Have fun and just always be open to learn!
What are your future cruising plans? We are going to finish up here in The Bahamas by the end of April and then head back to the Florida Keys to pick up more supplies and re-provision. In May, we will sail to the Dry Tortugas and then take on crew to cross to the Yucatan region of Mexico. From there, we plan to head South along the coast of Mexico and Belize, and then hole up along the Rio Dulce in Guatemala for hurricane season. At that point, we will reassess our desires and priorities and see where we go from there!