The Cruising Woman’s Life: Contributors

I had an idea bouncing around in my head for months to do an interview with several other cruising women to get their perspectives. The more women I met with intriguing stories and loads of knowledge and information, the more this idea blossomed to do a collaboration-style blog series, with input from a lot of other cruising women. The response was amazing and this is a way for me to acknowledge all the wonderful people who contributed to this series.

A huge thanks to the following women for taking the time to answer my questions and opening up about their experiences and boat life perspectives!

These are the women who contributed to our series:


Abyni @AbynisInstagram At 15, Abyni is the youngest crew member of S/V 11 Purple Monkeys and contributor to our family cruising blog Oh Sail Yes.


Alexandra @SVBanyan
My name is Alexandra. Adventurer, blogger and photographer of Sailing Banyan/Six Wheels and a Keel and our Facebook Page

My husband and I left Halifax (Nova Scotia) in July 2012, setting sail southwards on our 40 foot Jeanneau. We spent the last four years cruising the Caribbean Islands, basing out of Grenada for Hurricane season. Last year we were driving to do something different during H-season, so we pointed our bow Northwards, enjoyed the Bahamas and stored our boat for the summer in Florida. Then a new Adventure began. We downsized once again into a 25 foot MoHo (Leisure Travel Van, Unity). We have spent the last four months Adventuring on land, touring Canada and parts of the United States.

We Live to Adventure, and we Adventure to Live. It’s the Trip of our Life. Join us!


byn always oh sail yes

Byn @OhSailYes I am part of the crew of S/V 11 Purple Monkeys and one of the main contributors to the host blog for this series, Oh Sail Yes. I am passionate about documenting our family life and traveling adventures through our YouTube channel, Patreon & Instagram My goal is to show the ins and outs of this lifestyle, not *just* the sailing parts, but the dynamics of having a family of 4 (or 5  or 6 at times) on board.


Barb Lienhard sv Melinda Kay1
Barb @SVMelindaKay


Barb @HartsatSea I began blogging while we still lived aboard in Maine. During our first cruise from 2010 to 2015, I blogged often about our experiences as cruisers with topics ranging from the ever present “Boat Repair” to “Travel and Adventure” to “Life”. The latter included both the wonderful and the annoying or challenging, because Life happens whether one is at sea or not. Generally, I am able to find my funny in each of my posts, as having a sense of humor is essential to life at sea.


Question 6 Zaniboni

Carly @SaltyKisses We are a family of 5 that loves to travel. My husband has always worked on boats and enjoys sailing, I’m not much of a sailor and consider the boat as a vehicle for all of us to discover the world in. We sold our 65’ steel beast and are in the process of downsizing to a 48’ aluminum sailboat. We’re not too sure where we plan on travelling to next, we’re going to hit the Bahamas this winter and keep going. I’m Australian (husband is American) and I’ve dreamed of sailing to Australia to catch up with all my old friends and introducing my kids to the other side of their family.

@SVMahi discovered her love of the ocean after numerous yacht deliveries between Florida and Michigan.   Dreams of cruising followed, but it took some time to get husband Joe on board. Once he was, the planning began.  They scrimped and saved, paid off the house, saved for the boat, and adopted their grandson, Ethan, along the way.  Next came early retirement, buying Mahi, a Taswell 43 cutter, refitting her, and setting off. Follow their adventures at

If curious, feel free to check out my creative blog.  During our travels, I plan to continue creating and drawing designs (sold at Digitech Patterns) while on board the boat, plus draw the occasional cartoon when the mood strikes.  With my new Sailrite machine on board, who knows what I will make.   Stay Tuned….



CJ Grabenstein @SVRagnarok We bought our 1983 Aloha 34 “Ragnarök” in February 2014. Check out previous posts for the 2+year refit. We left Knoxville TN in July 2016 down the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway. Now follow our journey as we head south!

I am CJ.  I will always be a TN girl, go vols! But it’s time to travel and see the world. I love all things that have to do with water, including fish, whitewater, scuba, and sailing. I am also a nomadic gypsy mermaid, which is why it only makes sense to go on this crazy adventure! I enjoy blogging about our adventures.



Char Lynn @SVFirstStep The photo is me and S/V First Step in San Carlos, Son., Mexico
I had kayaked up for a margarita and crab tostada at Soggy Peso. I love this place so much, I have the coordinates tattood on my leg. You know….as if to say “If lost, please return to…”



Cheri @SVConsort

I’ve always wanted to be an explorer, but I never could have imagined, growing upon the Texas prairie, that I’d do it by sea. This dream kind of snuck upon us! Since deciding to try sailing as a way to see the world, we have sailed in Guatemala, Mexico (both sides), and The Bay Islands of Honduras as crew for friends. Eventually, we found our “perfect” boat in Guatemala on the Rio Dulce after an extensive search, and sailed her back to Texas from there. Since then, we’ve completed our fit out, crossed the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, sailed through the Bahamas at a leisurely pace, and are now in the Dominican Republic for hurricane season, deciding where to go next.



Cristol @JCSailing



Crystal Bleecher @LetitBreeze 


Duwan Dunn


Jenny Durnan @SVRocketScience All I ever wanted out of life was adventure. I grew up in inland Germany. In high school I was jealous of people who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their life. Because – how do you make a career in adventure? I went to university and got a boring degree. About 6 months before I finished I went to visit a friend in St. Thomas, USVI. We met this guy in a bar and my friend invited us to go sailing with him. 10 years later we’ve done a lap through the Caribbean, went through the Panama Canal and to Costa Rica, shipped our boat to Seattle where we lived aboard for 2 years.

Then we decided it was time to cut the lines again. We sailed her to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which was our home base for 4 years. We sold her and bought a new boat – a super fast carbon fiber cruising boat named Rocket Science, in San Francisco. We have since sailed her through the Panama Canal , up to Newfoundland, back to Florida, back to Newfoundland and this summer we made the big hop to Ireland.
My DH is a fisherman, so he works 6 – 8 months per year. The rest of the time we go cruising. I did make a career in adventure, I just never thought it would be that of a professional sailor bum!


Katy McKinney @S/V Klickitat II
My husband and I have cruised for five seasons so far, the first four in Mexico and last year from Chiapas, Mexico to Panama. We are on the boat for six months, generally November – April. When we began, neither of us were sailors AT ALL – though fortunately my DH had the necessary skills to get us started (being a pilot, a climber, a mechanic, and a specialist in off-the-grid living.) The first season was simultaneously terrifying (for me) and magical, the rest somewhere in between.


Kerry Preston @YaNevaKnow My name is Kerry Preston, I lived aboard our 48 ft Chris White Atlantic catamaran YouNevaKnow from Sept 2010 to October 2015, we sailed from Capetown South Africa to the Caribbean, up to the Med for two seasons then back to the Caribbean up through the Bahamas into the USA for hurricane season 2013. From there we sailed down to Panama, through the canal and across to Tahiti. Hauled out the boat October 2015 and returned to Australia. It was the best five years of my life – learned and experienced so many wonderful things, it made me a stronger, better person!


I left a high pressure, high stress career as a top producing Real Estate agent in the summer of 2015 to move aboard our catamaran “Sail Pending”. Get it?  Sale 2 Sail. 🙂 Our family of 3 moved aboard with almost no sailing experience and have sailed the entire Eastern Caribbean Island chain. We plan on sailing through Cuba and the Western Caribbean in 2016/2017 season. We have not regretted the decision and have not looked back; our only regret has been not doing it sooner!! It’s pretty amazing out here!!



Laura @FortunesAfloat  After living aboard, cruising to Mexico, and skippering a bit in the 80s, we settled down, started a business, had some kids, remodeled some houses, and traveled the world via jet airplanes. It was my idea to retire, get another boat and go cruising again. We love traveling and this is just a different way to see more of the world. Two years out and we have already traveled about 8000 miles and through 20 different countries.



Lisa @MVPrivateer We cruised for a year when our boys were 9 and 11.  What an amazing, bonding experience.  It was challenging, but also everything we hoped it would be.  Sounds corny, but I remember one particular moment of clarity.  I was shaking out a floor mat over the side of the boat while moored near the Pitons in St Lucia.  I just remember thinking, there is no place I would rather be – this is what I was meant to do.
Five years later we cruised again with our sons for a year.  Now they are in college and we sold the house and live aboard full-time.  At this point I don’t even know why I keep coming back.  It is just who I am, what I do.  I love living on the water and the sense of community with other cruisers is awesome.



Liza @SVInspiration  Two Boats, No house. This is my idea of a perfect life. My husband and I keep one boat in the Caribbean where we spend our winters, and one boat in Toronto where we spend our summers. We are full time live-aboards, between the two.

Four years ago we “retired” and began our permanent life aboard. My husband had lived on his boat in Toronto, ON, Canada, for 12 years prior to that. (He did this year ’round, I might add!) When we met in 2007, one of the first things he mentioned was his plan to retire in a few years, and sail south. I immediately jumped on that, saying that I too, had always dreamed of sailing south, and that I would drop everything and just go! And that’s what we did: Gave everything away except what could be used aboard our boats, and went for it!
It’s a simple life. Sometimes a hard life, but worth ever moment. Having everything we need on each boat, we can fly to and from each boat with simply a knapsack on our back. In the past four years, this humbling experience has taught me so many life lessons. It has made me a better person. And a very happy person. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, with the one I love.
Hoping that my words provide you with some Inspiration!
Melinda Burnett @BurnettsAhoy We are a family of four cruising the Caribbean, Bahamas, and the Med for two years.  By the time we finish, we will have crossed the Atlantic twice!  The best way to explore our blog is to click on the “Explore” button in our main menu.

Melinda Taylor

Melinda Taylor Skipper of a Hans Christian 43 ketch which I sail with my husband Bryan. We currently have the boat in Kota Kinabalu and plan to sail to the Philippines at the end in October.
I’ve been living the cruising life since 2004, single handing my old boat Absconder up and down the NSW/ Queensland coast. I crewed on several Australia to New Cal and NZ to Pacific Islands trips, did a few deliveries then skippered to Vanuatu.

Not long after I was swept off my feet by Bryan and  in return swept him away on my current boat.

We did the Sail 2 Wonderful Indonesia rally last year, which was an absolutely fantastic adventure.

Love cruising in Asia and have my sights set on Japan.

Melissa Kenshalo @SVSlowDancing We began sailing on Chesapeake in 2005 on a 34 ft. Catalina. We became full time cruisers in 2012 on our Island Packet 44. Our journeys have been full of fun and laughter.



My Name is Nike, I am in my mid 30s and I am from Germany. I bought my boat Karl around three years ago in Panama and circumnavigated the western Caribbean, 2/3rds of it single handed and have crossed into the Pacific recently to go and explore a new ocean. On my YouTube Channel White Spot Pirates I share my ups and downs of trying to become a single handed sailor in the documentary Untie The Lines with the goal to inspire other people to set out and chase their dreams.

You can also follow me on my White Spot Pirates Facebook Page, Instagram, Patreon and my Blog


Rhonda Simpson Wizniuk
Rhonda @PartyofFive Rhonda was born in Edmonton, Alberta Canada on July 2, 1975. She was raised on the north side of Edmonton where she lived until her early 20s. Rhonda worked for EECOL electric for over 10 years before moving on an accepting a job with Lafarge Construction. During her tenure at Larfage, Rhonda was exposed to many new roles and responsibilities that helped shape her adventurous side.  Although she was initially apprehensive about this adventure, she readily agreed that their “Normal” life needed some shaking up! Rhonda’s initial exposure to the cruising lifestyle happened during their delivery trip from Centrifuges Cuba to Isla Mujeres Mexico. That trip captivated her with the beauty of the cruising lifestyle. The rest is history.


Sarah @YoginiSailor I was born and raised in a small farm town in Midwest America and from as early as I could remember, counted the days when I could leave as I was sure there was a big interesting world out there. I sure was right! I managed to fight my way to live in the United Kingdom for 10 years which gave me an immense amount of memories, experiences  and amazing friends. I had a long career in psychology before I decided that I hated it but had no idea what to do with life. So I went travelling, fell in love with sailing, returned to London to sell all my possessions and now live a simple life on the Caribbean sea. That was all just over a year ago. The last 14 months have given me answers to the meaning of life (for me) and brought me peace. A peace I hope everyone finds in their own way because life has never been so incredible.
Sarah Gayle The Artistic Sailor


@SVSmitty Being typical “Type A” personalities, most of our adult life has been spent dedicated to our careers. I was an accountant that mostly worked in either public accounting or the real estate world.   My husband was a geologist that worked in the consulting industry cleaning up petroleum and chemical spills.  We are now disenfranchised with the idea of defining ourselves by our jobs so that will be the last I write about them.  Instead we are trying to fill our lives with experiences and fun. We sail with our Aussie mix, Summer.

We purchased our first boat, Splash (1980 C&C 24) in 2007 from my aunt and uncle who had owned her since 1984.  Splash was a great boat to get me back into sailing and introduce this beautiful mode of transportation to my Bride.  In 2010, we sold Splash and upgraded to Smitty. We left Hingham in September of 2015. We are now actively out cruising in the Caribbean somewhere.  Hopefully we are getting blog posts up about our adventures but who knows what the internet is like where ever we are.

Susie @Wanderings I am a long time sailor who left the UK in 2013 for a second cruise, we didn’t make our intended destination due to a major accident in the Atlantic but instead are now circumnavigating and have reached the Pacific coast of Australia.

Suzanne @SVRockhopper

Tammy Swart @ThingsWeDidToday  Bruce and I met crewing on a racing sailboat in Corpus Christi Bay.  We dated for a long time, him being a confirmed bachelor in his 50s and I being recently divorced… but eventually the embarrassment of calling him “my boyfriend” prompted him to propose and I, of course accepted.  For more than a decade we worked slowly toward paying off our debt and saving money for going cruising someday… One day we had to finally decide… Are we doing this or not?  Another few years more and here we are.  Out here doing what, in my opinion, only a special few people ever get to do… We left home on September 30, 2013 and aren’t done yet!  I don’t know how many years we will have or even what our future plans are but we’re enjoying the heck out of cruising and being together.  All of our happiest times are when it’s just the two of us and we never know what each day will bring.

We had a few women who preferred to stay Anonymous… so to my anonymous ladies, Thank you for your input as well!


Part 1: What Makes it Worth it?

Part 2: What Would You do Differently?

Part 3: What has been your most surprising experience?

Part 4: Where Would You Revisit?

Part 5: What is Your Favorite Physical Activity Onboard?

Part 6: What were the biggest struggles for you in your first year? How did you deal with them to get through?

Part 7: What Technology is Essential for You?

Part 8: What is your best piece of advice for people who are getting ready to take off on a cruising adventure?

Part 9: What Was Your Scariest Moment?