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November

2016

Inside A Traveler’s Walls: Lyndy Atkinson

Birthdays, INSIDE A TRAVELER'S WALLS

Lyndy AtkinsonLyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

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Lyndy Atkinson

Lyndy Atkinson

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Lyndy Atkinson

Bonjour, friends! Have you missed Inside A Traveler’s Walls? I know I have! Let’s do this!

Just a quick note, welcome new followers! I know a lot of you are curious about our future business. I promise it will be worth the wait. January 2017!!!

If you are new here, I would like to introduce you to our weekly series “Inside a Traveler’s Walls” where we feature families living in less traditional, unique homes. If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled, please contact me for details.

Purchasing her was the realization of a 20 year dream of ours. ~Lyndy Atkinson

I am excited to introduce you to the Atkinson family who currently call a harbor in Sydney home, but not for long. This family comes with years of experience and a load of great advice and insight. Did you know you could have a herb garden on a boat? I must confess I was hanging on their every word, it is no surprise that we plan to be cruisers one day. Inspirational, to say the least.

Finding out she was terminally ill before she had even reached her 60’s was a real jolt for our family and made us even more determined to live our life to the fullest. ~Lyndy Atkinson

There are some surprises in this post as well. First, this is pretty much the biggest space they have lived in! Also, Lyndy Atkinson has something on board that she has had for 22 years and she can’t live without it (no it’s not a boyfriend)? And then, their pet(s), this is a new concept and one I like. Folks, there is so much to share, truly. It is almost hard to write an intro without giving away all the goodness. Can you tell I’m excited?

At night we will put on some Pink Floyd and lie out on the trampolines together with the star chart looking for planets and satellites. It’s just magic. ~ Lyndy Atkinson

Once you finish this read I think you may be rethinking some dreams. Her last few paragraphs take you right into her heart, their why and the positive experience this has yielded for the children. Big, huge, dream stuff here friends. Dreams that became a reality. It is magical.

So, enough of my chatter. Grab a cup of coffee, a comfy seat and get ready to be inspired.

Introduce us to the people you live with?
I’m a 40 something mother of two who loves her kids to bits, loves cooking, and being organized. I’m happiest when I’m with my family on anchor.

My husband – “The Skipper” – is so much more than that. He’s also a qualified engineer. He is one of the most extremely competent and knowledgeable captains I’ve worked alongside with over 25 years’ experience on the sea including one Pacific and 11 Atlantic sea crossings under his belt (most of those with me.) He’s always reinventing himself with study and is currently brushing up on his celestial navigation skills. First and foremost he’s a loving husband and father; he’s also just a really nice guy. He is currently manager/skipper/engineer aboard a private charter yacht out of Sydney Australia. One thing I love about The Skipper is how supportive he is of the girl’s unschooling education.

We’ve known each other for more than a quarter of a century and been married for 16 years. We travelled together extensively for 12 years before we had kids, working together on super yachts owned by some of the richest people in the world. We were fortunate enough to travel and live in places you wouldn’t normally visit including the Galapagos Is, the Marquesas, the Azores and Bermuda. We cruised up the east coast of America all the way to Maine, all the way south in the Caribbean to Grenada and all the islands in between. We’ve cruised the Mediterranean coast including Corsica and Sardinia, and in New Zealand on Larry Ellison’s private yacht Katana whilst he was in Auckland for the America’s Cup in 2002. We worked together on several refits during this time on super yachts as well as chartering both privately and with paying guests.

It was always a dream of ours to cruise with children especially after we saw other families and the effect cruising had on their children and their family. Home schooling became necessary as a result. We have two precious little girls to share this life with and after sending the eldest to school for a year and finding it lacking, we pulled her out and decided to educate her ourselves. When our second daughter was born it just made sense to keep doing what was already working so well.

Our eldest, Lily, has an interest in marine biology. She loves Horrible Histories and listening to The Story of The World CD’s. She’s a keen fisher-woman, loves Minecraft and is a big fan of unschooling, so much so that she wrote me a report on it and how it could work for our family. She loves our life afloat and can’t wait to go cruising again. She is kind, funny, generous and polite and reads everything and anything she can get her hands on. She loves to bake regularly, tend to our herb garden (yes we have one!) and has a desire to one day own acreage where she wants to be self-sufficient growing her own food. She supports Sea Shepherd. She’s against the culling of sharks and thinks plastic bags should be banned. She’s our little Bindi Irwin. She looks like me.

Our youngest, Sayuri is cheeky, fast and active. She swings off the boat like the best Cirque de Soleil performers and runs FAST. She loves writing stories, making movies, singing and dancing and keeps a daily journal. She’s a great cook, which is handy because she eats more than we do, no one knows where she puts it! She doesn’t really remember living in a house, has never been to school and she learnt to read despite my best efforts to ‘teach’ her how. She has a flair for fashion and interior design and shows this skill off in her cabin by decorating constantly. She’s mighty, funny and fierce and this lifestyle is perfect for her. If she went to school I’d be getting letters from her teachers for sure. She’s not a conformer. She looks like her Daddy.

Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We are currently living on our boat in Sydney at a marina on the Pittwater. Our boat is a Lagoon 400 catamaran which we purchased brand new in 2011. It was delivered to Sydney harbor by ship from France where they are built. When the girls first got onboard we let them unwrap their own beds, it was pretty exciting. We named her Katsumi which is Japanese for ‘Victorious Beauty’. Purchasing her was the realization of a 20 year dream of ours.

Katsumi is the 3 cabin version of the Lagoon400 with two bathrooms and galley up. It’s pretty big for a boat, 40’ or 12m long and 24’ or 7.3m wide. The girl’s cabins and bathroom are on one side and we have the other side. We have made a few modifications since we purchased her. For example we’ve extended the cockpit roof by adding a stainless steel frame and Sunbrella bimini which enables us to have extra shade from the sun and rain in the seating area. The black shade cloth off the back now protects our tender from the sun and gives privacy whilst not blocking out the view entirely. We also had black shade cloth screens made to go around the windows which means you can see out but you can’t see in during the day, it also blocks the sun. We’ve added air conditioning, TV’s, fans, some extra window hatches and a washing machine to make life more comfortable. My husband has become obsessed with the extra netting left over from repairing the trampoline out front himself and has used it to make more efficient use of storage lockers both forward and aft. We also have a herb garden.

Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
It was always a dream of ours to bring up children on a boat having worked in the marine industry and being around boats for most of our lives prior to having children. We met many families living aboard and just loved the lifestyle and the affect living closely with family had on the children and the family as a whole. We had also travelled a lot and wanted to continue doing so with our children, hoping to take them around the world before they reach adulthood and go off on their own. I prefer boats and the ocean as a means of transport to travelling by plane or car, but that’s not to say we don’t like them either, it’s just that the ocean has a bigger pull for us. Plus this way we get to keep our home on our back.

As for the type of boat we purchased, we had always wanted to live on a boat and a catamaran offered the most comfort for us. This boat will not win races. However it has lots of storage, space and opportunities for privacy. My mum was diagnosed young with brain cancer which she fought for three years, amazing considering how aggressive her cancer was. Finding out she was terminally ill before she had even reached her 60’s was a real jolt for our family and made us even more determined to live our life to the fullest. We bought our boat the year she was diagnosed.

What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
Not much we can do about furniture as it’s all built-in but we can add furnishings! Art work on the walls has to mean something before we’ll buy it. Most of the prints I’ve had framed that hang on our walls are from our travels before we had children and prior to buying the boat. They hold fond memories. The girls personalise their cabins with their art work, choice of bedding and so on. We can’t really have too much stuff so we have what matters to us. I am always on the lookout for better storage solutions and things to keep it looking homely whilst always remembering that when we go to sea it has to be able to be put away if it’s a flight risk! I’m currently on the lookout for throw cushions for the saloon (lounge area,) that will double as outside cushions as well. I want something unique so it doesn’t happen quickly!

Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
Favourite space is out the back. Katsumi has a great aft deck area with seating for at least 8 plus a lounger. Santa brought the girls hammocks last year which are hung up in this area as well. We opted to have the large dining table option out here as well as inside because we eat out there often. I love it when we’re on anchor and the girls are swimming off the back. I can sit out there with a good magazine or book and take advantage of the view, watch the kids play and enjoy the weather. The herb garden adds to the view!

It’s followed closely behind by the foredeck which is huge on a cat and includes a large trampoline – great if you’re lying down on it when looking for dolphins whilst underway or just to enjoy a cool breeze. There are also two bow seats. I often perch on one of these when the girls put on an impromptu show! We also have a large black shade tent made for this area for sunny days on anchor. At night we will put on some Pink Floyd and lie out on the trampolines together with the star chart looking for planets and satellites. It’s just magic.

Least favourite? Probably where I’m sitting right now! It’s the navigation station desk. I just don’t get why it needs to be here! There should be a bigger lounge instead or just more storage. We’re actually thinking of removing the desk when we take the boat to Thailand and reconfiguring it to add a more comfy seat. We will leave the radio, wind instrument and CD player there for the purists shaking their heads. If I’m going to be looking at charts however, they don’t fit on the ‘chart table’ anyway.

What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
That we would go cruising shortly after! We are really keen to go and totally intended to go cruising within a year. It’s been almost 6 years since we bought the boat and my husband’s job should be finishing soon, we will leave after that. Yes we’ve been up and down the east coast of Australia a few times and enjoyed visiting some beautifully remote places, like Lizard Island but it’s not the travelling we want to do, it’s not cruising, and that’s what we want most of all. It’s happening though, next year we will be out of here and we are all so excited about it!

As for living in a smaller than traditional space, it wasn’t a shock for my husband and I at all. The house we lived in before the boat for 7 years was the first time since we were in our 20’s that we’d lived anywhere long term in a house anyway. Prior to this we spent years working on super yachts and our cabins on those boats were always small. The rest of the crew areas are shared on a super yacht, so in comparison on here we actually have more space than before!

What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
My stove top pressure cooker! I use it probably 3-4 times a week and it makes me out to be a professional chef. Everything I make in there comes out amazing and compared to conventional cooking, takes no time at all. I’ve owned it for about 22 years and it’s still going strong. If it dies I will replace it, but it has aged better than me so I don’t expect that to happen any time soon.

What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?
I definitely do miss our friends when we leave and we miss having family close by. However, we are looking forward to meeting other cruisers when we get going and having plenty of gatherings on beautiful beaches at sunset! Through the blog I keep (www.homeschoolahoy.com) we’ve already met several families both around Australia and overseas that we look forward to meeting one day. We look forward to meeting even more over time. We do manage to keep in touch with family through Skype and Facetime so good internet and phone are pretty important to us.

What is the one item your children carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Not sure really?! Last year we bought the girls Nook ereaders which they now can’t live without. It means that we can carry fewer books onboard and still feed their voracious appetites to read. They have favourite teddies but that’s about it. Our youngest barely remembers living in a house; she’s lived aboard since she was 2. She loves to make her cabin look ‘pretty’ and often redecorates.

Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?
No pets, although we did have a fish bowl full of guppies at one stage but I just couldn’t live with the guilt of keeping them out of their natural ‘habitat’ and in a little bowl. It just didn’t seem fair to them. I know, I’m hopeless! We consider all the fish in the ocean our pets and do our best to look after them by watching what we put down the sink and being environmentally aware. We do have two unofficial pets here in the Pittwater though, our ducks! Well at least we thought they were OUR ducks till we found out they were stopping by all the live aboard yachts nearby asking for food regularly. We have named them Jemima and Billy and we know when they’re coming as Jemima is really loud and usually honks when she’s under the hull so it reverberates through the whole boat. She keeps going till she sees us so there’s no hiding.

It’s only complicated because Jemima is a bit of a pig and usually won’t let Billy eat so we have to be cunning when we feed them. They like oats. It was also a challenge when Jemima got a bit feisty and decided to come onboard one day when we refused to feed them despite her yelling out the back. She climbed onboard and we were shocked to see her stroll up to the closed glass ‘front’ door and honk loudly at us through it. It was hilarious but she obviously got the hint, she doesn’t come onboard anymore and keeps to the water instead. My advice would be control your urge to feed the cute ducks, they can get very impatient!

What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
I LOVE 2nd hand or charity stores for clothes, educational resources, books and household items. We got the girls bikes from the piles of council pick up on the side of the street and since our marina is in a wealthy area, we call it rich people’s rubbish! No shame here! We’ll probably return them to a pile when we go. As for stuff for the boat I keep an eye out for things I need from the charity shops, and I’ve been known to shop at Kmart and Target for bedding and furnishing. There’s just not that much that we need so it doesn’t happen often. I am not a fan of Ikea, I’ve never found one thing in there that I would consider buying. I do love Howard’s Storage World though for storage solutions, and Aldi is fantastic if you’re on a budget.

If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?
space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
Easy! We already have enough space and natural light. I’ve no need for a dishwasher so it would have to be above average internet! We use the internet a lot as a resource for learning. The girls are being (un)schooled onboard and whenever we need to answer something quickly we Google it! I guess it’s because when I was a child, my questions were always answered with the phrase ‘look it up.’ We don’t have a set of encyclopedias on board although I’m looking into electronic versions. The internet is the greatest resource from YouTube to Wikipedia and we use it daily. You just need to know how to sift through for the right information.

If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
Pressure cooker! Able to make things look nice with little fuss or fanfare! I don’t like ‘stuff’, I prefer a more simplistic look. To add to a peaceful feel we have incense burning occasionally and one little Buddha statue to hold it. Everything used to decorate has a purpose and/or special meaning. So my decorating is like the pressure cooker because I’m able to make everything taste/look fantastic with little effort!

How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
Christmas time we have a tree (yes we do!) it’s just not that big and it’s not real. I love to keep the tradition from my childhood of having a roast with all the trimmings (and I mean all) on Christmas Eve. I play cheesy Christmas music as well. It just wouldn’t be Christmas for me without it. The girls are always stunned that Santa is able to find us no matter where we are. They loved the shredded coconut ‘snow’ on the doorstep that Santa left everywhere since he must have stopped in the tropical north before he came to us.

How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
We have a Christmas tree with a 12v power plug and it lights up. We put tinsel and decorations around the saloon, the girls hang stockings on their doors and have a large felt Advent calendar to hang in their hallway. Outside we have a heap of coloured solar fairy lights which we leave up year round. They come on at dusk and off at dawn. It’s pretty anytime of the year so we leave them there.

What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
Put simply, freedom. Especially since the girls are home educated – it means we can go when and where we like. I love the feel of being on the water all the time.

Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
I am a Taurean and that means I crave stability. This conflicts with my love of travel! Instead, I’ve become very good at making anywhere we are feel ‘homey’. We have lived in a lot of places over the last 25 years and always managed to make it feel like home, even if it’s as simple as bringing our own incense. I don’t need ‘stuff’ to feel like a space is home, in fact too much ‘stuff’ makes me feel very claustrophobic. As a result I have regular clear outs to avoid it. I just need these three crazy cats I live with and I’m all set.

What makes you love the place you live?
Ah gosh, my family, the views, the gentle sway of the boat at the dock or on anchor, the mobility,the space and comfort, the sound of the water on the hull, the fish, the sweet smell of the sea, the happy kids, the romantic sunsets and sunrises…! I could go on and on. It’s all good!

Can home be a person, or an idea?
Home can also mean family and I miss my mum terribly since she passed away three years ago. My husband’s family lives in Thailand and extended family live in Western Australia so we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like. I guess wherever our family is, we consider to be home for us too.

Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
If it feels like something you want to do then do it. Don’t listen to naysayers, even if they talk from experience because their experience might not end up being the same as yours. If you’re planning on doing it long term, really consider hard what you decide to keep in storage as it’s not a very good solution long term and if you don’t need it on board you probably don’t need it at all. We’ve whittled what we have in storage down to one small trailer load and have saved hundreds of dollars on storage as a result.

A boat’s mobility means you are able to change your view, location and follow the weather! It also provides great learning opportunities for children. Don’t worry about the small space, once you’ve sat in your lounge chair or you’re in your bed, how big does the room really need to be? All the negatives are far outweighed by the positives. We think of it as fancy camping.

Anything else you would like offer?
Traveling with your kids is a great idea even if you can only do it short-term. (Short term to me is a year, not a vacation of two weeks for example, although any travel is better than none.) Children learn so much more about themselves, their family and a culture through actually being and doing than they will ever achieve simply watching videos and being told. They will also learn so much more from you, their parent or guardian who is learning alongside them. Being together as a family, makes it all even more rewarding.
(ok, side note here from Jessica. LOVE THIS!!!! and totally agree)

Traveling on a boat can be an adventure on another level. Children have the opportunity to learn many skills alongside a loved one, be it sailing, safety, navigation, geography, technology to name a few, or simply the art of being in a team. How you choose to educate them is up to you and there are many choices! Don’t get stuck on the idea of school at home though, or you may well miss valuable learning opportunities.

Finally, don’t think that you need to have loads of money to set sail and cruise. If you’re happy with very little you will get joy from experiences rather than things and experiences don’t need to cost much. We’re not supposed to settle in one place with a big mortgage and fancy car where you have to work all the time to pay for it. I have to believe there’s more to life than that. It might not mean selling up and buying a boat to travel is for you and that’s cool too, but that’s what works for us.

Wasting time thinking and worrying about your dream rather than just doing it comes with a high cost however.

What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?
We’ve only just begun! This was never a short-term thing for us and we can’t imagine living on land. My husband says ‘they will take me off in a box’. We love living aboard a yacht and the kids love it too thankfully. Probably helped that we started them off young! We are planning on leaving sometime in 2017 to begin cruising Australia’s east coast first. Once we’ve exhausted that we will continue to cruise north, eventually leaving Australia for Asia and beyond.

How do you educate your children?
The girls are currently registered in Australia for home education. We (un)school them however, preferring to keep their education more interest lead whilst still keeping them aligned with state regulations. For the last three years we’ve had them enrolled in many local classes both after school and with other home schooled children in subjects such as english, math, physics, science, drama, singing, pottery and art. They also take lessons in swimming and play touch football in season. We’ve cancelled all but art and footie for the rest of our time here now so that we can move more to the type of unschooling we will be doing once we go next year. We tweak our ‘program’ often to keep it right for us but for the most part the girls choose their interests and I help them explore what they’re interested in. We occasionally look at workbooks, downloading worksheets if they feel like it and watching YouTube videos about a subject. They read a lot so the Nook ereaders are really handy and our eldest is addicted to Horrible Histories!

How do you make a living?
For now we will be living off our few investments which although is not much, it is enough to keep us in lentils and coffee. My husband is highly qualified in the marine industry as a skipper and engineer, he is also trained to teach what he is qualified in, so we will send him off to do some casual boat deliveries and teaching or whatever if the time comes that we need to ‘feed the cruising kitty’. In the meantime I hope to try to build our blog “Homeschool Ahoy” to bring in enough income – wine money or hopefully eventually enough to feed us! We don’t need much money to cruise on as we live quite frugally. You tend to have quite a bit spare when you don’t value trinkets and expensive meals out.

Quote to ponder:
Put simply, freedom.

If it feels like something you want to do then do it. Don’t listen to naysayers, even if they talk from experience because their experience might not end up being the same as yours.

Contact:
www.homeschoolahoy.com – how we un-school/home-school and boat-school while cruising on a sail boat with our children.

Breathe. Process. Walk. Think. Repeat. I know it is a lot to take in at once. Magical, right? The great thing about this life is we all have the power within us to live the life that is authentic to our desires. What are you waiting for? Have the talk with your partner. Get the kids involve. Dream big and do it. My friend Pat says, “If it does not work out or you don’t like it…your old life is always there, you can always start again. It is not going to be the end of the world.” Go for it!

Bisous,
Jessica

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