I remember a friend who’d taught himself to play the vibraphone. He wasn’t half bad: not professional, you understand, but listenable for sure. His 50th birthday loomed and he wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. So he hired three excellent jazz musicians – you know, guys who do this for a living – and staged a live concert for a group of friends and acquaintances. “Man! That’s pushing the boundaries, don’t ya think?” I recall one guest saying to me. “I suppose so,” I replied. “Me? If I had my druthers, I’d love to take off in a sailboat and see the world.”
So, why am I sharing this story with you? Well, Riley Whitelum and Elyana Carausu are doing just that. And as I talked with them about their dream coming true, it was challenging to avoid a tinge of jealousy.
Elyana and Riley shared their thoughts with me from La Vagabonde, a 43' Beneteau Cyclades sloop on which they seek free and easy, unstructured global adventures. The two Australians have been on the ocean sailing, footloose and carefree, for over five years now. Their lust for life has gained a huge number of fans and supporters, my son Charlie, I discover, amongst them. “I was following the America’s Cup on Instagram,” he tells me. “I became linked to sailing-lavagabonde.com from there and I’ve been following their exploits ever since. Dad, they're very cool!” Who knew?
"I bought a Yacht. Now I Just Need to Learn How to Sail." Riley wrote on the sailing-lavagabonde.com website. “No, I don’t have rich parents who bought a boat for me to sail around the world in,” he adds. “For eight long years, I worked offshore on oil rigs and in the mines of Western Australia, saving every dollar possible to be able to afford a halfway-decent yacht.”
I asked these two swashbucklers about the phrase "pushing the boundaries".
Riley: “You know, a phrase such as pushing the boundaries could be taken in many different ways. A boundary is something that is put in place either by an organisation or person of authority, or by yourself, to mark a social norm or physical area that shouldn’t be passed. It could be a safety thing or it could be a conservative, reactionary thing. I don’t really like boundaries. Or queues. I guess it means pushing social norms and traditions.”
Elyana: “Pushing the boundaries to me is anytime I am able to push past that point of fear, when I want to say ‘no’ and retract. When my heart’s beating really fast, stress and adrenaline is filling my body until I feel like curling up into a ball forever! I get a real kick out of overcoming these situations. To me pushing the boundaries is also ‘living’. If we’re not doing this at least once a day, are we even really alive?”
Riley told me that his parents always used to tell him he was pushing the boundaries since he was travelling for years. He'd work 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off, and had a lot of time to travel. "Haven’t ever really had a very traditional lifestyle.”
And Elay? She shares Riley’s unconventional approach. “I painted one half of my van with elephants, rainbows and mermaids before I set off for a lap around Australia in it. I lived in that van for 5 months, sleeping parked in residential areas when my bank account was low and the beach parking lots when there were no park rangers around. I’ve always found myself to be a little out of place and different from my friends in Australia. I was a dive master in the Greek Islands and I worked on dive boats on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. I wanted to find a life I liked that was on, in, or near the ocean."
I'd say she's succeeded.
Elay pushes the boundaries in other ways too. Where lots of people love to sing or play an instrument or even write songs, she’s produced "Covers From The Ocean", an album of her tunes that’s sold on their website sailing-lavagabonde.com. It’s more than listenable.
There's plenty more to learn about these two adventuresome people in my book "Pushing The Boundaries" (pushingtheboundaries.life) to be published in 2019.