Living on a Sailboat in Cornwall....... Follow Your Heart!

Living on a Sailboat in Cornwall....... Follow Your Heart!

Follow your heart sailboat graphic

I often have to pinch myself. I am actually living my dream. Living on a sailboat in the stunning county of Cornwall and making and selling things I make from treasures I find on the beach!

Exciting as this is, there are even more exciting adventures ahead. I thought I would introduce myself properly and explain how I got to this place, where my adventures may take me and how my vision for Nauti By Nature fits into this.

4 years ago I made the decision to leave the land behind and become a sea-gypsy in a sailboat called Mako Pirate. A compact little girl at 26 feet, but perfectly formed with everything a lass (and her shipmate when he was home from the Navy) could ever need.

Hunter Ranger Sailboat in a marina in devon

Mako is a Hunter Ranger 265 made in Essex in 1994. She is hull number 1 which means she was the first of her model made. She was the actual boat at the London Boat Show in 1994 when Hunter launched the model, and was the boat that featured in the brochure. At that time she was called 'Positive Karma' but a subsequent owner jumbled up the letters and created the name 'Mako Pirate' which was an omen as far as I'm concerned as my middle name is Pirate!

To understand my decision to make this leap in 2018 you need to wind the clock back two more years to the summer of 2016 when out of the blue my 18 year old daughter Molly was diagnosed with a large brain tumour! I know right! So unexpected and devastating for her and the whole family. The year after that diagnosis was a whirl of uncertainty, brain surgery, rehab, radiotherapy and recovery in all senses of the word. It was a time that I prefer not to think about too much, but my daughter Molly is one of the strongest people I know! This is a good news story. She made an excellent recovery and despite facing many challenges in her everyday life she is now studying art at college and living independently in her own flat.

Steve Jobs summed up my reason for making a change better than I can....

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important - Steve Jobs"

Before Molly's diagnosis I had a sense of invincibility. A certainty that my time on earth would follow the expected path. That I had years to fulfil myself. That family trees are linear and everyone gets to walk their path to their old age. That's what always happened in our family. Serious illness happened in soap operas and in the news. On that day in Torquay Hospital in 2016, that assumption evaporated.

So fast forward to 2018, my son Sam is moving in with his girlfriend, Molly has moved into her own flat with her dog Piggy. I am in a dazed state of recovery myself and coming to terms with what just happened to us. I was living in a house overlooking Torbay and watching the boats sailing on the ocean every day. I moved to South Devon from a Lancashire mill town five years earlier, drawn by the ocean. I have always been pulled towards water and come from a long line of Yorkshire fishermen and canal folk.

An opportunity arose to buy a sailboat. I saw Mako and fell in love with her instantly. I actually fell in love with her copper kettle first!

The romance of the idea took hold and my heart started to believe in possibilities of adventure. Unfortunately my bank balance didn't have the same dreams and I realised it was unrealistic to be able to rent a property and pay for a sailboat too. Sailboats are expensive! They need constant maintenance, they break for fun, and they need somewhere expensive to be tied up to. 

I contemplated the idea of moving onto Mako full time and giving up life inside four brick walls. I thought it was probably reckless madness. I didn't know anything about sailboats, I didn't know anyone else who was living on their boat, I didn't know if you were allowed not to have an address on a street.....what could possibly go wrong? I obviously thought.....yes I'll do it!

Mako came from Mylor in Cornwall on the River Fall and we sailed her to Torquay to her new marina berth. On the way she spent a night alongside a bigger sister Lord Nelson in Dartmouth.

I lived two wonderful years in Torquay Harbour until the lockdown of 2020, which  was challenging for many liveaboards due to Marina facilities closing and restrictions on being in public places etc. So in Spring 2020 Mako left Torquay and sailed around Berry Head to her new berth in Galmpton near Brixham. 

sailboat on the ocean

A glorious 18 months were spent on the River Dart at Galmpton. We met some amazing people and basked in the glorious wildlife and raw beauty of the river. Kingfishers, swans, swimming with a seal, egrets, oystercatchers and of course swallows. 

Which brings me to Gwennel (Cornish for swallow). It became apparent that boat life suited me, and my partner Mike joined me in it during lockdown and loved it also. Mako is a tardis, but minimalist as we may be, as two adults living full time in 26 feet we were pushing her boundaries!

"We're going to need a bigger boat"!

As lovers of traditional sail, we both had romantic notions of an old wooden boat. As previously mentioned, boats are needy and with a wooden boat you can multiply that by at least ten. We had begun to develop the notion that we may like to cast off the lines and set sail in bigger waters in a couple of years. Retire from our jobs and see the world. So what vessel for that adventure? Something traditional but without the maintenance of a wooden boat. Then we found Gwennel. The wisdom of traditional sail in a much younger fibreglass hull. That's like knowing what your gran knows but with the body of your early 20’s! Built in 1999 ironically in Mylor, Cornwall where I found Mako, she is a Heard 35. Thirty five feet long with much more living accommodation and fantastic ocean going capabilities. A beauty. This is her stopping off in Torquay on her way from her home port of Poole to Galmpton boatyard.

Gwennel is our future forever home. She is currently in the boat yard on the River Dart where we spend our weekends building, sawing, sanding, painting and the can see the joy on my face!

In September 2021 we left Devon due to Mike's new Royal Navy posting to Helston. We sailed Mako back to Mylor in Cornwall where we are currently living on her in the marina. We hope that Gwennel will be joining us here very soon - certainly by the winter - when we will move onto her and begin to plan the next part of our adventure. The sad part of that is that Mako Pirate will have to find new loving owners. She has housed us handsomely and has been our happy wonderful home for the last four years. She will make her new family a wonderful home or weekend/holiday boat. We have the excitement of moving onto Gwennel to look forward to, and a heck a lot of hard work to put in between now and then.

For now we are enjoying our life in Cornwall on Mako in the week and Galmpton at weekends at the boatyard. I particularly am enjoying the wild swimming and sunrises at Mylor. 

Looking to the future.....2023 will be the year we do cast off the lines and set sail to seek adventure. Mike will retire after 23 years in the Royal Navy and I will leave my job. We will both be 50 so what better reason to start a new chapter! 

Nauti by Nature will become my sole income, and I am working hard to make the business successful alongside my regular job at the minute. The business is fuelled by my love of beach combing and spending hours walking the sands looking for nature's bounty which can be made into pretty jewellery or beautiful beach chic home decorations.

My previous location in Devon was very bountiful, and Cornwall is not disappointing either! But I look forward to exploring exotic beaches in for'n parts, finding treasures I've only seen in books and pictures, and continuing to fill my webshop with treasures I have made. I include a What3Words location with all my jewellery advising the 3 metre square in the world that the treasure was found. I started this knowing my locations would become further flung over the next few years and I always think knowing where your beach treasure left the ocean to come to you is so romantic and exciting! Hopefully it's not just me!

I look forward to scouring the world's beaches looking for nature's treasures to post off around the world to their new owners. Subscribe to follow my beachcombing adventures which I will continue to document via this blog. I know it's old fashioned these days but I like it :)

Thanks for reading 

Melinda x

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