Couple who resides on sailboat share ups and downs of living at sea

Couple who resides on a sailboat and travels the world full-time shares ups and the downs of living at sea – which includes not having any time away from one another, often fearing for their lives, and struggling to make ends meet

  • Ryan Ellison, 40, and Sophie Darsy, 35, decided in 2016 that they wanted to say goodbye to their lives on the land to move into a sailboat full-time
  • Now, the pair has shared the highs and lows of residing on a yacht, admitting that the ‘unpredictability’ of ‘boat life’ leaves them longing for a life back on land
  • Ryan and Sophie explained that they sometimes get sick of one another, since they’re the only company that each other has for months on end 
  • And whenever a tropical storm hits they are left fearing for their lives, with Ryan stating, ‘I want to be in a house that doesn’t move and isn’t trying to kill me’
  • They earn money through sponsorships and ads, while Sophie also works as a consultant on the side, but the high ‘boat maintenance cost’ makes things hard
  • Sophie admitted that leaving her previous life behind was hard, as she had to cut her wardrobe down to just a few bags and say goodbye to her friends and family 

A couple who resides on a sailboat and travels the world full-time has shared the ups and the downs of living at sea – which includes not having any time away from one another, often fearing for their lives, and struggling to make ends meet.

Ryan Ellison, 40, and Sophie Darsy, 35, had been dating for three months when they decided they wanted to say goodbye to their lives on the land to move into a sailboat together.

They purchased a 40-foot boat for $95,000 in 2016, which they nicknamed the Polar Seal, officially set sail in 2018, and have been living on it ever since.

Now, four years later, the pair has shared the highs and lows of residing on a boat, with Ryan and Sophie explaining to Insider during a recent interview that although they have ‘more lows than highs,’ the highs are ‘so high’ that it ‘makes the life worth it.’

A couple who resides on a sailboat full-time has shared the ups and the downs of living at sea – which includes often fearing for their lives, and struggling to make ends meet

Ryan Ellison, 40, and Sophie Darsy, 35, had been dating for three months when they decided they wanted to say goodbye to their lives on the land to move into a sailboat togethe

They purchased a 40-foot boat for $95,000 in 2016, which they nicknamed the Polar Seal, officially set sail in 2018, and have been living on it ever since

However, the couple did admit that the lifestyle has put a strain on their relationship and warned others, ‘Don’t ever go into this life thinking that it’s going to save your relationship. Because if anything, it wears it more than life on land.’ 

Ryan and Sophie explained that they sometimes get sick of one another, since they’re the only company that each other has for months on end.

Sophie revealed, ‘You become everything for your partner. So Ryan is my romantic partner but he’s also my best friend, and my confidant, and my therapist, and my nurse, and my colleague.

‘You have to fill all the roles for each other and it doesn’t always work to jump from one role to the other at a moment.’

She added that the ‘unpredictability’ of ‘boat life’ often leaves the pair longing for a life back on land.

‘There are so many nights that we are sleeping and we are up in the middle of the night because something is moving on the boat, or something doesn’t feel right, or you are stressed because this tropical storm is coming,’ Ryan shared. 

‘There is just a lot of days where I’m like, “I want to be in a house that doesn’t move and isn’t trying to kill me.”‘

Sophie added, ‘It’s so inconvenient to live on board and everything is so inefficient and takes so much more time.

‘Two weeks ago we had a tropical storm come over us. For a full 24 hours, we didn’t sleep.

‘It’s very intense to live on a boat and to travel the world. At the end of the day, we are all social creatures and I long for my group of girlfriends who I go to brunch with every Sunday.’

In a previous interview with Forbes, Sophie opened up about struggling to leave her previous life behind when she moved onto the boat – which meant she had to cut her wardrobe down to just a few bags, quit her job in the corporate world, and say goodbye to her friends and family.

‘We also had to downsize our lives. Of course, we quit our jobs, but that was the easy part,’ she told the outlet.

‘I had to cull my wardrobe down to a couple of duffel bags – there isn’t room on board for twenty pairs of shoes. 

She explained that the ‘unpredictability’ of ‘boat life’ often leaves the pair longing for a life back on land

Whenever a tropical storm hits they are often left fearing for their lives, with Ryan stating, ‘I want to be in a house that doesn’t move and isn’t trying to kill me’

Sophie opened up about struggling to leave her previous life behind – cutting her wardrobe down to just a few bags and saying goodbye to her friends and family

The couple often shares glimpses into their life on the yacht via Instagram , where they have racked up more than 22,000 followers

‘The hardest thing was saying goodbye to family and friends. There’s no internet in the middle of the ocean, so staying in touch with our closest circle was going to take more effort than it had when we lived on land.’

Simple things, like going to the bathroom, are much more work for them as they have to flush the toilet manually, which means they have to ‘pump the waste away’ each time they go. 

They earn money through sponsorships and ads, while Sophie also works as a consultant on the side. They estimate that they take home around $5,000 a month, which makes paying for the boat’s upkeep hard

‘You literally have to have a workout, every time that you want to go pee,’ Sophie said to Insider, adding that every four months, they also have to go inside the tank to clean it out, including ‘all the dirty bits.’ 

The couple often shares glimpses into their life on the yacht via Instagram, where they have racked up more than 22,000 followers.

They earn money through sponsorships and ads, while Sophie also works as a consultant on the side. They estimate that they take home around $5,000 a month, which makes paying for the boat’s upkeep hard.

‘I would say the first thing we discovered is that the sailboat dream of it being free or cheap was not true,’ Ryan admitted.

Insider reported that it costs $500 to $1,000 a month to dock the boat. They also have to pay for food, bills, and insurance, as well as cover the ‘maintenance cost of operating the boat’ – which is between $10,000 and $20,000 a year.

It reportedly costs $500 to $1,000 a month to dock the boat. They also have to pay for food and insurance, as well ‘boat maintenance’ – which is between $10,000 and $20,000 a year

And while there are certainly a lot of negatives to living on the ocean, there are some positives too, like getting an opportunity to travel the world and see all sorts of new places

Another plus side is all the connections and friendships that have made over their four years on the water

Sophie told Forbes that she and Ryan are in couple’s counseling, which helps them work through their disagreements.

‘We’re human and we’re a couple, so we disagree sometimes,’ she said. ‘Also, being in somewhat dangerous circumstances can be stressful, so there are occasional tears. And there are so many learning moments.

Despite their being ‘a lot of solidarity’ on the sea, the couple added that the ‘spontaneity’ of it makes it all worth it

‘I have a history of anxiety and depression, and Ryan and I both tend to push through any strain to achieve our goals, which occasionally leads to overload and exhaustion. 

‘So we started counseling … and it really has helped us be better partners, and to achieve our goals as sailors and as people.’

And while there are certainly a lot of negatives to living on the ocean, there are some positives too, like getting an opportunity to travel the world and see all sorts of new places.

According to the couple, arriving to countries by boat rather than plane helps immerse them into the culture immediately, since docks are often flooded with local fisherman.

‘When you’re a tourist and you travel by airplane, it’s very easy to segregate yourself from those realities of places you go,’ Ryan explained.

Another thing they love about living on the ocean is some of the beautiful sights that they’ve gotten to witness, including ‘bioluminescence’ fish, dolphins, and stunning sunsets


According to the couple, arriving to countries by boat rather than plane helps immerse them into the culture immediately, since docks are often flooded with local fisherman

 They do take breaks from their sea life – up to two months a year – but now, they are looking to purchase a permanent residence on the shore so that they can find a better balance

‘For us, it’s just impossible because when we land in the place, sometimes we don’t get to do the tourist stuff right away. We get thrown into the culture very quickly.’

Another plus side is all the connections and friendships that have made over their four years on the water. 

Their lifestyle forces them to form bonds quickly, however, after growing close to someone they may go their separate ways and not see each other again for years.

Despite their being ‘a lot of solidarity’ on the sea, the couple added that the ‘spontaneity’ of it makes it all worth it.

Another thing they love about living on the ocean is some of the beautiful sights that they’ve gotten to witness, including ‘bioluminescence’ fish, dolphins, and stunning sunsets.

They do take breaks from their sea life – up to two months a year – but now, they are looking to purchase a permanent residence on the shore so that they can find a better balance between land and sea.

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