|You wake one morning to find your entire living
space is not much larger than the average jail cell. Your only water source
is a pump sink attached to a 14-gallon tank that needs frequent refilling.
Your food sources are limited; cooking is confined to a two-burner alcohol
wicking stove. Your news from the outside world comes solely from a VHF
radio and your limited space and resources are shared with another person.
Sound like getting trapped in a fallout shelter? Or snowed in during a
It sounded like heaven to Susan Monajati who decided, along with then
boyfriend David Reno, to sell all her belongings to buy a 27’ boat
to sail from the Long Island Sound to the Bahamas and back.
After enrolling in diving lessons and reading every possible book on
the subject of sailing, Sue and David set off to Northport, New York
to meet their new boat, The Albin Vega. This single sail sloop was a
beauty, but had weathered more then a few storms and was in need of repair
before their journey could begin. Rolling up their sleeves, the pair
worked with instruction manuals in one hand and tools in the other to
render the ship sea ready. After nearly three months of hard work, their
work was done and it was time to hit the high seas.
The pair soon encountered an entire counter-culture of people who live
their whole lives on boats. “This was one of my favorite elements,
everyone had an interesting story. One of the most interesting was Paul
Johnson, a yacht designer. He was at least 60 and had been living and
travelling on sailboats his entire life. Crossed oceans several times,
lost at least one boat on account of a vicious coral reef. We met him
on a dock in Florida and he invited us to visit his boat that evening
for more conversation.” This pattern of camaraderie was repeated
countless times along the way.
Other trip highlights included an encounter with flying fish. “Crossing
the Gulf Stream was almost a surreal experience, the waters are so deep
and so clear, that the water actually looks indigo/purple. Plus, there
are flying fish everywhere. At first you think they're small birds, but
the closest stretch of land is over 20 miles away. Then you see these
little fish leave the water and fly-- literally fly-- for what seemed
to be about 20 to 40 feet. They look almost like hummingbirds. It was
Nine months from setting sail the trip had come to its end, but the
life lessons lived on. “One of the most important things I learned
was about living self-sufficiently. A good part of each day was spent
taking care of basic needs. You focus on the simple but required things
you need to survive each day.”
This shift in how one looks at life lead to another change in Sue’s
life; she decided to turn her passion for photography into a full time
career. After settling in Mountain View, CA, she soon started her own
business as well as teaching other adults about photography at the Palo
Alto Adult School.
So what’s next on the agenda for this adventurous soul? “Well,
right now we’re saving for a house. Then right after that another
View Sue’s photography work online at www.susandaricereno.com