By Elizabeth Hynes/Sail Couture
Our friends didn’t really believe us when we said we planned to quit our jobs, get married, rename a sailboat Honeymoon, and attempt to sail it halfway around the world to Australia.
Even to me, it did sound a little extreme (to say I was in over my head would be putting it lightly), but my husband had been sailing his entire life. I was all for living a life-less-ordinary, so we went for it! Little did I know I would return home almost a year and a half later with a bun in the oven and a new idea…
Oh, and did I mention I get seasick?
When we first set-off I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the passages. The idea of heading offshore for multiple days was definitely concerning. Over time, I realized I wanted the personal challenge and the sense of accomplishment that would come with finishing each passage, and before I knew it I was stepping off the boat onto a dock in the British Virgin Islands completing my first nine-day passage.
Sailing is actually only a small part of cruising around the world. About 85% of the time we were anchored in a beautiful place just waiting to be snorkeled, hiked, fished, or photographed. We spent a few months in the Caribbean, a couple of weeks in the Galapagos, nearly a month in Bora Bora, and eventually we finally landed in Australia.
Our longest sail was 20 days across the Pacific Ocean—nearly three weeks at sea—without seeing anything manmade except for an oil tanker on night 11. Being literally in the middle of the ocean on a small boat is an amazing thing. We felt insignificant compared to that vast body of water, almost as if we were the last people on Earth.
At the end of our 20 days at sea, we arrive at the Marquesas Islands, a majestic group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia. These islands are extremely isolated and in many places untouched from the time of European exploration. It was like being transported in time and space to another world. The people are proud and value their heritage. We saw many instances of preserving their culture. The local elementary school children practiced their native dances at recess and many of the local families invited cruisers like us into their homes for traditional meals. Often the ukulele (or something like it) was played and songs were sung.
The islands are breathtaking. Natural wonders abound including 1000-foot waterfalls that cascade over sheer volcanic cliffs and towering mountains that disappear into the clouds. I will never forget my time there and hope to one day return and see what, if anything, has changed.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. My husband became quite proficient repairing diesel engines and power generators while I learned how to cook with difficult-to-find ingredients and how to pack for a 16-month trip in one suitcase.
Over the course of the trip, I learned the value of versatile, easy, stylish pieces that look amazing and can be dressed up or down. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was creating the concept for Vacay Style.
In the end, my husband and I learned to work hard and appreciate our short time in these beautiful locales. We also learned to live life at a slower pace: We read books, we watched the sun rise and set, we explored the world around us.
Toward the end of the trip I was ready to return to work, ready to be challenged mentally, and ready to have our first baby—I was already three months pregnant. My husband and I both got our corporate jobs back, we bought a house, and had three little boys in three years.
Six months ago, I took that nugget of an idea and I launched Vacay Style to bring my vision for an easier way to look fantastic on vacation to life. There is a special offer to introduce Vacay Style to Sail Couture readers – use code SAIL15 for 15% off your order. Hurry though, it’s good now through July 30, 2016! View the collection here.
For now, we are happy as landlubbers can be, busy with career and family, but we dream of one day circumnavigating the oceans with our sons and showing them a different way, a slower way, to live life.
Elizabeth Hynes spent her career in the fashion industry, most recently as a merchandising director for Banana Republic. She created Vacay Style as small collection of items that could create multiple outfits in easy-travel and wrinkle-resistant fabrics, which can be dressed up or dressed down and paired with a single pair of shoes.
All photos credit Elizabeth Hynes.