Matt and Jessica Johnson are a pair of 32-year-olds who decided to leave the rat race behind and spend their days sailing around the world.
“We are a couple of Michiganders [who] had grown up without ever setting foot aboard a sailboat,” Jessica says on their website.
But their sailing inexperience didn’t deter them. They sold all their possessions, including their house and cars, to raise enough money to buy a Sabre 34 Targa boat in 2008. Three years of practice later, they were ready.
In August 2011, the couple left behind their hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Matt was working as a sales manager at a car dealership and Jessica had a career as a billing specialist for an auto insurance company.
The couple adopted a third crew member, Georgie the cat, from a no-kill shelter in 2012.
So far, the couple and their cat have explored 16 countries, including the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Peru.
Georgie is now one of the most well-travelled cats on the planet, and has taken to travelling really well. The adventurous feline has even done some swimming.
Jessica says: “[Georgie] does very well with the sailing and is more steady on her feet than we are. She loves sitting on the deck and watching the fish over the side of the boat when we are at anchor.”
“We found out she can swim when she jumped overboard in Grand Cayman. She swam around the back of the boat and climbed up the ladder.”
To make sure she doesn’t do any more unsupervised jumping when they’re in open water, Matt and Jessica make sure that Georgie is in the cockpit or below deck, secured by a harness and leash for safety.
Their seafaring life does not come without its challenges, however. While they were crossing the North Atlantic Ocean, 1,000 miles from the nearest shore, they found themselves in the middle of a storm that went on for 2-3 hours.
Wind speeds rose to 55 knots and the waves reached five meters. “We were ready to abandon ship and jump onto our life raft,” Jessica recalls.
Matt and Jessica got married 11 years ago, and they feel sailing the world has been great for their relationship. After all, when you’re in a cramped space in deep waters, there’s no walking away from an argument.
“As for being with each other 100% of the time, we don’t mind at all. We have always liked to be around each other,” they say.
“Our lives were the typical American Dream. Go to school, get married, buy a house, start a career. So far we’ve also left out the part of having 2.5 kids.”
“For too long we spent all of our weekends in front of the TV without ever doing anything productive or enjoyable. We realised this needed to change,” they add.
“We’d also been hearing stories from so many others that had been putting their dream on hold until retirement and for one reason or another (health, financial, etc.) until their dreams were no longer attainable. We never wanted that to be us.”
As for the costs of this lifestyle, the couple spend an average of $1,100 (£700) a month on diesel, docking fees, boat maintenance, insurance, food shopping, eating out, entertainment, and other general costs. They have created a price reference on their blog mjsailing.com for readers who are considering planning their own ocean adventure.
They are still getting by on their savings years later, being extra frugal and trying to save money wherever they can. The couple often opts for dinner on deck instead of expensive restaurants.
From the colourful, brimming port of their home town, to the turquoise, crystal waters of the Caribbean, the explorers have experienced some of the most beautiful locations in the world.
And it seems that for Matt, Jessica, and Georgie, there’s no going back to ‘normal’ life just yet.
Want to read more about the trio’s cruise adventures? Climb aboard their website.