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It’s a rare breed of people who have the guts to leave everything behind to pursue a dream. Most waffle, afraid to leave the comfort of a job, a home.

But when Maryl Ikaria discovered sailing in the San Francisco Bay area, there was no turning back. She would do everything and anything she could to live out her passion on a small sailboat, even if only part-time.

Even if she basically had to become homeless.

Why Maryl decided to quit her full-time job for a small sailboat

The small sailboat Maryl chose is a Catalina 38

Instagram/sailing.novaturient

Just a year or so ago, Maryl still worked in IT technical support, a career she’d had for 17 years. And it showed in her body. She had chronic pain and developed a severe case of repetitive strain injury in both arms.

She couldn’t brush her hair or turn a doorknob, and would often wake up at night with her hands tingling and burning.

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“I did my best and was grateful for my job, but I wasn’t happy. I tried hard to be happy, sitting at the same desk typing away all day every day, but I just couldn’t fake it anymore,” she said. “I took the injury as a sign that change could no longer wait. I took some time off work to rest and heal my arms and thought long and hard about my next step.”

She brainstormed new careers, wondered what would give her the most joy.

The answer was sailing.

So she quit her job and decided to search for a new one more aligned with her passion, and landed the very first job she applied for in the sailing industry.

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“Financially speaking, leaving my job in IT was the scariest thing I have ever done,” said Maryl. “It was like leaping off a cliff. I’m making a lot less money now, and clearly, my lifestyle has changed.”

How she ended up living on a boat part-time

Woman gives up everything to live on a small sailboat and pursue her sailing passion

Maryl behind the wheel of a small sailboat, where she now lives part-time

The income hit Maryl took when she quit her IT job meant she couldn’t afford sailing and an apartment. So she decided the apartment had to go.

“One of the people I work with had been trying to sell his Catalina 38,” said Maryl, “and he approached me about a possible partnership. We worked out a deal.”

To prepare for her move onto the small sailboat, Maryl had to downsize a great deal. Her sisters rented a Uhaul and promised to keep her stuff in case she ever needed it again.

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“Watching it all leave in a UHual felt like extraction, like it were snagging and tugging and threatening to tear away bits of me as it went,” said Maryl. “Even though it was painful, I was always conscious of the fact that I had chosen this and remembered what I was trading it for. Now everything I own, all that remains, is either in my car, on the boat, or in a half-full 4×5 storage locker in the city. I don’t miss anything that I gave away. I never think twice about it.”

But Maryl doesn’t have liveaboard status for her sailboat, so can only sleep on it a few nights per week.

The other four nights she spends living in her car, a transition she said wasn’t easy at all.

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The tough parts about living in a car waiting for liveaboard status

Stealth parking and sleeping in a car in the San Francisco Bay area isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

Maryl said living in a car has pushed her far beyond her comfort zone, and can sometimes be challenging. She made this YouTube video about her first experience stealth camping.

“I label myself an introvert and value secluded space away from the eyes of others where I can go to recharge. I don’t get that while vehicle-dwelling,” said Maryl. “The hardest part about urban stealth is feeling so exposed all the time and never really being able to fully relax. Wherever you are, you’re in public, and even though you are in public, you are very alone. I have to plan my every move in order to be discreet and avoid being noticed. When I am crawling into bed, I have to move slowly so the car doesn’t wiggle. I feel like I’m sneaking around all the time. I don’t like that feeling.”

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So far, she hasn’t heard that dreaded knock on her car window, telling her to move.

Another big challenge of living in her car is waiting to use the bathroom.

“When I wake up in the morning, I have to hold my bladder until I get to the gym,” Maryl said. “I’ve learned to ration my evening water intake, otherwise that 15-minute drive to the gym can be very uncomfortable.”

Maryl has big dreams for her newfound boat life

This sailboat doesn't quite have liveaboard status, so Maryl sleeps in her car 4 nights per week

Instagram/sailing.novaturient

For the next few years, Maryl plans to continue working where she is now, and sail as often as she can. She’s busy taking sailing courses and then wants to pursue her captain’s license.

“Eventually, I’d like to be a sailing instructor and charter captain. I still have a lot to learn,” said Maryl. “Ultimately, I want to circumnavigate. This is deeply important to me. But, I don’t know the timing on this because some things are up the air financially. Right now, I honestly have no idea how I will pull it off. But, I will keep dreaming and working at it until inspiration strikes!”

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She’s sharing her journey on Instagram, her blog and on YouTube, hoping to embrace change, or intentionally creating desired changes and coping with undesired changes.

“If it inspires even one person who’s yearning for a big change to take the leap and make their dreams come true, then even better,” Maryl said. “I want people to know that there are creative ways to change your life for the better, and sometimes you just have to muster up some courage and take the leap, and try different things.”

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She said even though she sleeps in her car four nights per week, she’s never been happier.

“I feel like the stigma of feeling homeless should get me down, but it doesn’t. I’ve never felt freer. I can change my life whenever the present one doesn’t suit me. We all have that ability. There’s no such thing as no way out.”

I’ve never felt freer. I can change my life whenever the present one doesn’t suit me. We all have that ability. There's no such thing as no way out.'Click To Tweet

 

5 essential sailing books I love

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