Some facts before we start: Sailing around the world and working toghether
Names: Lise and Johan Levin
Where are you from: Vasteras in Sweden
What do you do for living: Running a sunreef 70 catamaran
Lise and Johan came to the academy one day and I could see they wanted to get to know me better and were courious about how I was doing, where I was from and we had a lovely chat before starting with their Spanish classes. Working 24/7 on a boat and sailing together, Lise and Johan Levin are a couple I admire in every single aspect. They are a team, professionally and personally and they absolutely rock! In this interview they will tell us about:
- How to travel the world
- Advantages and drawbacks of working together as a couple
- What ocean life teaches you
- What is their definition of success
1 When did you first think about traveling/sailing the world and how long did it take you to make this wish a reality?
It all started with us meeting a new friend that talked a lot about buying a sailboat and going out sailing the world. I did not think much about it but Johan got it into his mind that this was something he wanted to do.
I said a big No from the beginning, it sounded way too dangerous and not something normal people could just go out and do. Johan brought home lots of cruising books for me to read and after reading a few I started to be more open minded about the idea. This was 1993 and we had just stopped competing in snowboarding and were looking for something new to do and beaches and warm weather sounded like a good plan instead of snow and cold slopes. In June 1996 we left our hometown in Sweden on our 25 feet sailboat with the plan to sail around the world in 2 years’ time.
2 What steps were needed in order to start this completely new journey? What were you most afraid of?
First, we needed to read up on sailboats. Neither of us was sailors but had windsurfed and been a lot on water so understood winds and sails. We found an old cute little sailing boat we could afford and spent 2 years preparing the boat, learning to sail and understand all the equipment and knowing every tiny space on the boat. We read up on where to go, which countries were safe and which seasons you can sail in which ocean because of bad weather and hurricane seasons. We sold our apartment to get money for the trip and stayed in Johan’s parents’ summerhouse to save money. I was most afraid of getting into very bad weather. Being out in a big ocean in the middle of nowhere and totally dependent on the boat and our own decisions.
Sailing around the world and working together
3 You and your husband ended up working together as a team and living together on the same boat: what are the advantages and challenges of working with your couple 24/7?
For us it has always felt like an advantage. We have been together since high school and started with snowboarding just after and traveled together competing in that. Then we sailed around the world in our 7.6 meter boat for 3 years and got married when we came back because if you survive together on that small space we thought we probably can get through most things as a couple. We also started building our new sailboat in the spring of 2000, and if it is something that can break up a marriage it is spending all your free time in a shed with polyester smell and glasfiber sanding itching on your whole body. But since we did it together we never needed to argue about spending too much time on the build and we both worked very hard and understood what it took to be able to finish and get sailing again. Same thing with our job. We were running an optometrist shop so spent all the days together as well, but for us being able to discuss what happened during the day which customers we had only made the job easier.
4 When traveling, you make new friends and probably lose touch with many of them when you move to the new destination. Do you still enjoy making new friends? How do you deal with connecting with so many people and then having to leave them [without suffering too much;)]?
That is one of the good and bad things with cruising life. It is very fun to meet new people and in the cruising community it’s very easy. Just to go over with a question to your neighbor, maybe you are new to the place and can’t find the supermarket, and you will get chatting and soon you are invited onboard for a coffee. Sometimes its nice to be able to just sail away and have that short contact, and maybe you meet up again in a new anchorage. But sometimes you meet really nice people that you would love to spend more time with and you still need to get going. Some you manage to keep in touch with but some you lose on the way. Guess that’s part of the sailing life and you just have to get used to it if you want to live in a traveling community.
5 What is your advice for young people who want to travel the world? Or maybe to the ones who would like to start traveling? [We have both type or readers in our community]
Just do it. Don’t over plan! There is a saying plans are best written in the sand at low tide. Be prepared to jump on new things that show up along the way. Don’t be afraid of hard work in between. Do have a backup if everything goes to crap but otherwise enjoy the day as it comes.
6 What did life in the ocean teach you [that no other jobs would]?
To depend on yourself. You need to plan what to put onboard the boat to survive for a couple of months without any stores. Food, water, tools that you need to fix things when they break because on a boat they do constantly. Help others when you can, next time it might be you that is in trouble.
7 Many (young) people would say your job is a dream job. What would you tell them?
I would say in between it is fantastic. You live on this amazing boat and get to see beautiful places and meet a lot of different people. But you work very long days and sometimes two, three weeks in a row. And it is not a fancy job. You clean bathrooms, make beds, cook, serve, and entertain guests. You have to be ready to work very hard.
8 After working in different fields and with so many different people and traveling the whole world: How would you define success?
For me success is when you work hard and finally succeed. Like learning a new kite trick. You can work on it for weeks and finally one day everything works out and you can do a strapless front roll on the surfboard that from the beginning seemed hopeless. The smile and happy feeling you get that is prove of great success!
Lise & Nika