We had a pretty full on season with back to back guests this summer, and we were thrilled that our last visitor was Emily’s brother Josh. Since leaving uni he’s been travelling pretty much full time, living in both India and China and seeing more of the world in between, so Emily doesn’t get to see him as much as she’d like.
We loved being able to take him to some parts of the world he’s never seen, like Rhodes town and the beautiful island of Symi. And we got to stop off at some lovely little anchorages along the way.
As he’s travelled he’s learnt a whole load of interesting skills that he was happy to share with us while on board, like some expert pizza making, yoga sessions and some incredibly useful and decorative knots (check out his highly rated bracelets on his Etsy shop!)
He’s been kind enough to share his experiences to help out anyone looking to crew on board a sailboat – one of the best ways to start a life at sea for anyone wanting to give up their life on land.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Josh and I’m lucky enough to be Emily’s brother. At the moment I most like to spend my time climbing cliff faces or trying to stand on my hands.
Over the last few years I’ve been living and travelling around Asia, teaching school children about the great outdoors and taking time off for rock climbing trips wherever possible.
During the COVID epidemic I’ve been a bit stranded in England, but at least it meant I had the opportunity to visit Hot Chocolate while I’m in the ‘local area’ as it were!
What were you most worried about before you came?
Obviously the pandemic is at the forefront of many people’s minds right now. Although I consider my circumstances low-risk (under 30, in good health) I won’t pretend I was immune to the related anxiety.
Emily and Adam were moored at Rhodes when I visited, which was basically untouched by the pandemic – but there was still travel through international airports and close contact with many people involved!
What were you most looking forward to?
It’d been over a year since I’d seen my sister; I was really excited to be reunited with her. Not only could we spend some quality time together, but I’d get to experience how she’s been living the last few years and understand first hand all the things she’s told me about.
What was the biggest difference between life at sea and on land?
Emily and Adam can’t afford to fit a water maker on board and they also can’t afford to go into expensive marinas or onto town quays, so we had to be pretty frugal with fresh water.
Supply runs with the dingy, filling 5L bottles with a funnel from the beach shower was a very new experience! By swimming in the sea multiple times a day I found I didn’t really need to shower and just embraced the salt life.
What was the scariest moment on board?
I would say it was when the boat started to drag anchor in strong gusts in the middle of the night and almost smashed into the rocks. I would say that but I was basically half asleep, still in bed, and had very little idea of the saga taking place on deck so… I’d say I didn’t really have any scary moments. It was pretty chill!
Which aspect of living on a sailboat did you find hardest?
Although it was fine for the short time, I think the lack of space started to get to me. Many of the ways I keep myself entertained require a bit of empty, uncluttered space that doesn’t wobble – stretching, yoga, etc. – and that’s hard to find on the boat. Practicing handstands was out the question!
Was there anything you wish you’d known before you came that could have prepared you better?
I wish I’d know just how little I needed to bring with me. For a ten day visit I managed to fill a 35L backpack, and even that was too much. I basically lived in my swim shorts so most clothes went unworn.
What essential item are you glad you packed/wish you had packed?
I wish I’d bought some polarised sunglasses. I realised pretty quickly that the intensity of the sunshine made them indispensable and having polarised ones makes a big difference in sailing as you can see beneath the surface of the water so much better.
Thankfully there were plenty of pairs onboard for me to borrow, but according to Adam there might be a Nancolas family curse around destroying perfectly good sunglasses simply by wearing them…
Did you learn anything new from sailboat life?
Through having to be frugal with fresh water I definitely learned something important. Not just on the boat but in my daily life. I had very little idea before the trip just how urgent a situation the world is in regarding fresh water resources, even in the UK where water seems endless and we think we’re immune.
Do you think you could live on a sailboat full time?
No way. As much as I love the ocean, I’ve discovered I’m a man who needs solid ground under my feet!
Rock, stick and leaf….What rocked? What memory will stick with you? What will you happily ‘leaf’ behind?
When the wind was gusting… the boat rocked! But seriously, Hot Chocolate is a beautiful vessel with a lot of character and the hard work that Emily and Adam have put into looking after her really shows.
The amount of work; the skills, knowledge, intuition and hard graft involved with living on a sail boat will definitely stick with me. I learned it’s not a life for the faint hearted!
I actually left behind some hair bands, collapsible water containers and an HDMI cable that I was asked to bring out to the boat. Does that count?!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, and thanks so much for all your help on board (especially with Tiny Cat!) We all miss you and hope you’ll come out again soon – this time we promise more time on land, but we can’t promise a water maker I’m afraid!
We hope this has been useful for anyone hoping to get into sailing. If you have any questions then ask away below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!