Skip to main content
02 Nov 2023

From Retail to Setting Sail: Gavin and James' Sustainable Boat Life Adventure

From Retail to Setting Sail: Gavin and James' Sustainable Boat Life Adventure
Gavin and James decided they needed a change. They went from living the conventional life, complete with boring careers and the responsibility of being homeowners, to setting sail on their 28-foot Etap sailing yacht as full-time liveaboards. It wasn't a "year out" for them; it was a commitment to embrace a fully sustainable boat life. While the journey wasn't without its challenges, financial and emotional, they are now living a fulfilling and sustainable life on the water. They couldn't be happier with their decision, and looking back, they wouldn't change a thing...

Their transformative journey began in August 2022 when they left behind their successful careers in retail management. Their house underwent a transformation of its own, becoming a holiday let, as Gavin and James handed in their notices and moved aboard their Etap sailing yacht in Scarborough Harbour.

Over the summer, they turned their racing yacht into a comfortable cruiser suitable for living. Then, in September 2022, they set sail. Their initial plan was to head north towards Scotland, but life had other ideas. Upon arriving at Whitby, their first port of call, it seemed as if everything that could go wrong did. Engine problems plagued them, and a quick fix was out of the question. Every engine issue imaginable had manifested, leading to a complete strip-down and rebuild. This setback cost them time and money, delaying their journey by six weeks.

By the time the engine was fixed, it was mid-October, and the winter weather was creeping in. Gavin and James faced a critical decision: continue their adventure or return to Scarborough, postponing their journey until the following spring. They chose the path less travelled – to sail through the winter. With no fixed base, they explored various marinas in the North East, including Hartlepool, Seaham, and Sunderland. In December, they arrived at Royal Quays Marina near Newcastle, where they secured a three-month winter berth.

Living aboard their sailboat through the winter, they experienced marinas freezing over multiple times. But their hearts were warm as they celebrated the best Christmas Day ever, surrounded by the comfort of their tiny yacht.


In late February, they hauled out their boat for the first time. Beneath the surface, they discovered more "nasty surprises," including rigging issues. Once again, this delay consumed their savings. It became evident that if they continued on their original sailing plan, they'd run out of money by summer's end, forcing them to return to their old lives. That was an outcome neither of them desired, so they had to adapt.

Having built strong relationships with Royal Quays Marina, they assisted with marketing programs and decided to take an annual berth. This solution was more cost-effective than paying visitor rates everywhere, allowing them to work on their boat while gaining a steady income.

Seeking a sustainable way to continue their journey, Gavin and James secured part-time jobs in the marina. Gavin works in the bar, and James serves as a berthing master. Working part-time provides them with the perfect balance between earning and sailing. Their disposable income goes toward boat repairs and upgrades, facilitating both living and learning.

We absolutely love our jobs and our new life and sometimes have to pinch ourselves that this is real and that we did this is just 12 months! We have learned so much about sailing and boat maintenance and are so excited for what's to come. Once we feel ready and the boat is ready our future plans are to sail to Scotland and also the south coast and would like to travel over to France and possibly further. 


James' interest in boats is evident from his RYA Shore-based Day Skipper, Yachtmaster, and Sea Survival certifications. He gained sailing experience by crewing in club racing with Scarborough Yacht Club, braving the cold winter waters.


Gavin, on the other hand, is relatively new to sailing. He began learning on their first boat, "Pandemonium," a 22-foot Pandora International that they rescued and restored. While it was a beautiful boat, they soon realized they needed something a bit bigger to accommodate their dreams.

Gavin and James document their journey on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, where they've cultivated a vibrant online community. Their inspiring story invites you to join them on their sailing adventures.

As their remarkable voyage continues, Gavin and James inspire us all to pursue our dreams and never be afraid to embrace the sea of change!

View all News & Articles

Join the BoatLife community...

Be the first to hear about all the exciting happenings at BoatLife! Sign up for our newsletter to receive...

Exclusive deals
VIP offers and discounts
Updates and information
All the latest news from our exhibitors

Rest assured, we value your inbox space and will only send you relevant content!


Sign up today:

* indicates required