Elena’s Backstory

I was born in a small village at the bottom of a valley near Bergamo, Italy. My family’s house isn’t far from the Alps – the Orobie are just a half an hour drive away. So I grew up hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter, but all I could think of was the ocean.

For years, every summer, my parents would drive our camper all the way from Northern Italy to Bari (about a thousand kilometres South) to jump on a ferry that would take us all the way to Greece.

We’d then spend three weeks exploring the Greek islands and peninsulas. It’s probably then that my love affair with the sea started. I learned how to dive from a rock near Cape Sunion, near Athens. My dad would stay in the water by the rock to make sure the cheeky crabs living on it wouldn’t pinch my toes.

Since then, I’ve travelled to the sea as much as I could in my spare time and tried a few water sports – snorkelling, kayaking, scuba diving, freediving and surfing. They all put a big fat smile on my face. My favourite experience though, was swimming with a giant pod of wild dolphins in the open water in the Red Sea. That was one of the highlights of my life. Playing with the adults and being inspected by the calves was simply incredible.

In the meantime, I graduated in journalism, moved to the UK in 2010, did a Master’s in Public Relations in Bournemouth and built a career in digital marketing between London and Manchester. I’ve always dreamed of living somewhere warm by the sea, but I thought my job and the expensive visas were keeping me from it.

When I met Ryan, he was in a mountaineering and climbing phase. As I’ve always been an outdoorsy person, I got involved in some of his rocky adventures. Since then, we’ve been spending most of our free time in natural places.

It wasn’t until we started climbing sea cliffs and went on holiday to Elba, Italy, that I realised Ryan did like the ocean too. Once we both went back to the sea, we realised how much we loved being there, and how much we longed for it.

So we started thinking of this crazy idea, of quitting our jobs and sailing away, on a hidden wild beach in Majorca, Spain. On a lazy afternoon, dreading the thought of jumping on the flight back to England, we realised we weren’t happy with the standard life – career, mortgage, kids, retire at 70.

Why do you have to sacrifice all your time and money for all those years, just to be able to make your dreams come true when you’re too tired or ill? We weren’t having it.

The last straw was losing my childhood friend Marica to a car accident, weeks before her wedding, in 2016. I realised then that I needed to live the life I dreamed of and stop putting it off.

My job can be done anywhere in the world. Without rent and bills, we don’t even need to make that much money – just enough to eat, repair the boat, buy some petrol and save for the future.

We decided to try a different lifestyle – a frugal life in which we enjoy what’s truly important and free ourselves from useless things.

Most people try to make a lot of money quickly to retire early. Why not make little money and enjoy life now, while you can?

I’m so very excited to embark on this new adventure. It might be the worst thing we’ve ever done, or the best. We might love it or hate it. Hell, we might even fail. But at least we’re trying to make our dream come true – we’re finally truly living!

  • Jessica Y.

    I love your blog, it’s so inspiring!

    1. Sailing Kittiwake

      Thanks so much Jessica!

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