The Crew

The Mollymawks are an ordinary boring family.

WARNING! This piece was written yonks ago and is very out of date. The children mentioned are all now adult, and the girls have jumped ship. The dog is in her dotage, and we have accidentally acquired a Ship’s cat, called Fish. However, the basic sentiments expressed here hold true and it presents an accurate, if somewhat hypey picture of our cruising philosophy.

Mollymawk’s crew are an ordinary, middle class, middle of the road family of nobodies who come from an ordinary small town in a cold, grey, over-crowded country in the northern hemisphere. Or at least – two of us come from that cold, grey, crowded country. The others come from the sea and from the lands of sunshine and happiness.

Captain and Chief Engineer : Nick
Admiral : Jill
Chief Communications Officer : Caesar
Mutineer : Xoë
Ship’s Naturalist : Roxanne
Ship’s Dog : Poppy
The wind takes us wherever we want to go.

’s life revolves around the ocean and the seasons. We go wherever we want to go and we stay as long as we feel like staying (or as long as the immigration people will let us stay…). We travel on the wind – we do our best to avoid polluting the sea and the skies with any noxious fumes – and the weather and our whims are our only masters.
Money is always a problem of course, but we get by. We work when we have to or when the opportunity arises. The skipper is a first class mechanic and he recently worked for Rolls Royce… sweeping the floor. The remainder of the crew are artists, naturalists, website designers, and writers either of books or of software.

Nice! But we’re not yet ready to moor up in one place.

We don’t have a house; and we don’t want one. The idea of being permanently moored in one place is frightening. When we are at home in England we live in a 1970s camper van called Tigger. Yes, even when we’re at home we like to keep moving.

[Edit: Since this was written we have long since sold Tigger and bought Lance – an old ambulance. We have also inherited the Schinas family home…! This three-bedroom house on the south coast of England has been in Nick’s family since it was built, at a cost of £600, in about 1916. It appears to offer this bunch of barefoot nomads the opportunity to ascend into the class of ‘landed gentry’, who cruise on the profits of letting out a home. However, in the century since Great-Grandma bought the house, nothing much has been done to maintain it; and thus, all that ownership has so far brought us is huge amounts of effort and the cost of a new roof, new plastering, a new boiler… etcetera.]

Living On Sunshine (And The Sea)

Making new friends in Cape Verde

Some of the Mollymawk team’s favourite things are sunshine, islands, big whales, making new friends, red wine, sprouted mung beans, foreign languages, music, and the ocean.
The scariest things in our world are rogue waves, storm-force winds, immigration officers, and the thought of running out of water or being run down.

Our pet hates include motoring through the calms, tying up in a marina, and anchoring downwind of a fish-paste factory or an oil refinery. We do our best to avoid all of these. Motor yachts we dislike on principle, and jet-skis bring us out in a rage – particularly when they drive small circles around our boat or pile into the side. If it comes to it, we’re also none too keen on quad bikes, fast cars, or on any other vehicle or vessel dependent for its locomotion on infernal combustion.
Mind you, steam engines must have been even worse.

Primate displaying primeval behavioural trait

We aren’t Luddites. Plainly, man’s big mistake was in coming down from the trees, but we realise that it’s too late to do anything about that now. We don’t try to live our lives in the last century. We have computers and a GPS (although we still prefer to navigate by the sun and the stars), and by the use of modern technological wizardry we can harvest enough power from the wind and the sun to be able to light our cabins with LEDs and run electric drills, a sewing machine, and a DC welder.

We don’t have enough power to run a washing machine – and even if we did, it would waste too much water. So we have to do the laundry by hand – hauling the water out to the boat in five-gallon jerrycans, boiling the kettle to heat it, and slooshing everything around in a big black tub. It’s a bit of a bore, to put it mildly; and we don’t like putting soap-suds into the sea. So we try not to wear too many clothes.

The Sea People

American cruising yacht in the Canary Islands (Note the solar panels and wind generators; that’s the way to go!)

Don’t run away with the idea that the Mollymawks are unique. There are lots of people like us out here. There are liveaboard cruisers of almost every European nationality, including the Eastern-block countries, and there are plenty of people from America and Canada and even, occasionally, from Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, and Israel.

Junior members of the cruising community

Some of the other yotties don’t play by exactly the same rules as us – some of them have fancy boats and lots of money; some of them like motoring so much that you wonder whether they really know how to sail; and most of them are not travelling as a family (there are fewer families out here than there used to be) – but they are all part of the same community of Sea People, drifting around the oceans on their own private whim.

Lots of folks dream of going cruising but they have nightmares about heavy weather or about being on a lee-shore. Those things are just the car-crashes of this lifestyle; they don’t happen every day. When the Sea People wake up in the night in a cold sweat it’s not with the thought of the anchor dragging or the mast coming down. Not usually, anyway… Rather, our pet horrors are of cars swishing past a wet pavement, of watching the telly instead of the clouds, and of dragging a trolley around Tescos and queueing at the check-out to give them our money.
One man’s backyard is another fellow’s jungle, hey?
Every now and then we return to peer through the bars of the cages in the zoo, but stick us in suburbia full-time and we’d curl up and die before the year was out.

Mission Statement

So far as the rest of the world is concerned, the Mollymawks are a family of drifters, but in reality we are on a mission. Ever since the skipper first met his mate (long since promoted to Admiral) we have been on our way to Tierra del Fuego and the Chilean canals.
At one time we almost made it. Full details of that journey and of the misadventure which ended it can be found in A Family Outing in the Atlantic.  [EDIT: After 27 years, we finally made it to Tierra del Fuego; and having spent so long getting here, rather than just whistle through, as anticipated, we spent three years hanging out.]

Settling down in a new village – but only for a fortnight

Clearly – bearing in mind how long we’ve been NOT getting down to Patagonia – cruising, for the Mollymawks, is more about the lifestyle than the destination. I guess the nearest equivalent in land-locked terms would be a stone hut on the mountainside and five acres of farmland – but even then you’d still be subject to somebody’s law and order and to their rules about what you can and can’t build; and if you didn’t get on with the neighbours your only recourse would be to put your home on the market and look for another mountainside.

Then there’s the sailing. For us, sailing isn’t just a means of carting our home and ourselves from one nice place to another, and it isn’t just a pleasant way to pass a sunshiney day. For us, sailing is quite simply one of man’s most wonderful inventions – vastly superior to the wheel, the stone axe, the micro-chip, the potato chip, or anything else that you care to name.

Introducing a new friend to sailing – the neatest ever means of transport and the coolest way of life

What else have we ever invented that looks so beautiful and, at the same time, works so wonderfully well?
And where else does man mesh with the elements in such a perfect a way?

A Window On The Cruising World

Cruising is a groovy kind of lifestyle

This website is an online scrapbook in which we report on our travels and adventures, review items of equipment, and broadcast outspoken ideas and opinions about the cruising lifestyle. Sometimes we even let you know where we are, or where the boat is – which is not always the same thing – but we don’t do that very often because we realise that you couldn’t give a hoot.

The website has been up and running for around ten years now, and it had a predecessor – The Mollymawk Times – which the children wrote and published and printed and sent out to friends and family. If you would feel more comfortable sitting in your easy chair, with the “magazine” in your lap, feel free to print out a copy’ but just don’t print any of it out in anybody else’s magazine. The writings, photographs and entire content of the website are subject to copyright – so if you want permission to reproduce something, please get in touch.

The website works in the same way as your email inbox, or any other news website, with the articles piling up on top of one another chronologically. The oldest ones will be at the bottom of the list.
The photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. To get back to the text click again on the picture.

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