Louis Theroux is a BBC documentary fimmaker who exposes facets of life previously hidden to the average citizen. Most Americans, like us, have probably never heard of him because he typically exposes the absurd realities of fringe groups in the U.S., such as prostitutes, meth addicts, prison inmates, white supremacists, religious extremists, survivalists. And now, liveaboard sailors. He recently visited Wondertime to see what life is like for a family of four living and sailing on a 38-foot yacht. This is the second of three parts.*
(Sara and Michael are sitting across from Louis at the back dinette with cups of coffee in front of each.)
Louis: Where are the girls now?
Sara: They are in our bed. Watching a movie.
Louis: You have a move theater in your bed?
Sara: No, no! (laughs) Just a TV screen velcroed to the wall with a hard drive full of movies attached.
Louis: It’s actually pretty posh here! I’m kind of surprised.
Michael: Yeah, it’s not exactly camping. Though everyone thinks it’s like that.
Sara: We pretty much have all the luxuries here. Except a shower, I sure miss that.
Louis: Oh yeah….where do you take a shower?
Sara: We have to go up and use the marina ones. In the tropics we used a sunshower. That was like camping. But at least it was hot and we swam all the time. Just had to rinse off basically.
Louis: That doesn’t sound very UN-luxurious either! (laughs)
Michael: No, I guess it wasn’t! Pretty blissful, actually.
Louis (face serious now): So, were you ever in any huge storms?
Michael: No, not really. We had a few big blows at anchor but otherwise we managed to time the weather really well. Nothing over 35 knots while sailing.
Louis: Weren’t you afraid for your children though? That they would drown in a terrible storm at sea?
Sara: Yes. Often.
Louis (matter of factly): And yet you chose to do it.
Sara and Michael: We did. (look at each other and laugh)
Louis: What’s so funny?
Sara: I guess…it’s that life in this big city seems much more dangerous now. Kiwi drivers are crazy. They even sue pedestrians they hit to pay for damage to their cars. I actually have a game where I see how many times a day I can get honked at, you know, for hesitating at a green light or forgetting my turn signal or something. But don’t get me wrong, outside of their cars New Zealanders are the nicest people we’ve ever met.
Louis: You sound like you might be a little bored.
Sara: Sometimes. Sailing might be terrifying at times but it’s never boring. I get so tired of the day to day routine life. The kids do too. We miss all the time we had as a family together. The girls love to explore beaches, swim, snorkel. We all love to travel, it has been so amazing to experience all the different places and cultures that we’ve been able to.
Louis: Interesting. I guess I’m still trying to figure out why you guys do this? I love to travel too but it seems just absurd to me to be honest, to roll around at sea, eating crackers for days on end, stuffed in your bunks like battered prawns when you could take first class jets around the world for pretty much the same amount of money. Why?
Michael: I just hate working for the Man. I like to do my own thing, on my own terms.
Louis: Aren’t you working for the Man now?
Michael: Well, yes. But I’m just saving up for when I won’t have to work for the Man for a while.
Louis: So you’re not done then? Auckland isn’t the finish line?
Michael: No, Sara and I compared ourselves to addicts the other day. We know it’s probably better for us to just settle down, save up for the girls’ college, save for our retirement. But it’s just that what’s over the horizon is so tempting. We can’t stop wondering what’s over there. And being able to see it while being right in our own home too is just an awesome feeling.
Sara: We’re going to be in New Zealand for a good long time though. They said we could stay permanently, recently. So we will. For now. It will be a whole other experience doing some longer-term cruising with the girls when they are, say, 12 and 9. They will appreciate the places we visit so much more. Holly was only two when we left Washington! She had no idea that sailing was even weird. Besides we’ll be able to leave them home alone at those ages, for a few hours at least. Go and drink with our friends. Just kidding. Sort of. (laughs)
Louis: It sounds like you might be a little afraid of commitment.
Sara: Maybe so. But at least we are having fun. Most of the time. Isn’t that what life is about?
Louis: Hm. Maybe it is.
to be continued…
*Not really. This is a work of fiction. But if Louis did interview us I’m sure it would have gone just like this.