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A Cruising Way Of Life On The Horizon


This month we had a chance to catch up with Mads and his partner Ava who have spent the last 5 years lovingly renovating their Warrior 38 sailing boat, Athena. Berthed at Gosport Marina, the inspirational duo will be setting off to Ireland in March to begin their new cruising way of life...

1. How did you find Athena and what made you fall in love with her? 

When I was looking for a new boat, I had three criteria. I wanted a boat with a deck-step mast, a full or modified encapsulated keel, and standing headroom. I searched the internet for months, then one day, I found Athena on the website, Boat Shed. She had all three criteria and was within my budget. However, she was in a small town in Scotland called Kirkcudbright. I got in contact with the broker, and within two weeks, I was on a plane to Scotland to check Athena out. I made an offer. Then, about two months later, a few buddies and I sailed her to Denmark.
I love Athena’s lines, especially her 80’s style fiberglass dodger. It makes me feel like James Tiberius Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise.

2. Did you have a timeline for the refit and were there any hurdles along the way? I appreciate COVID-19 must have slowed things down with getting in supplies. 

The original plan was to rip up the teak deck, paint it, do an osmosis treatment, and paint the interior. After finishing those projects, I wanted to set sail and complete the other projects along the way. However, then our biggest hurdle came up. Athena’s structural members had high moisture readings, and they would need reinforcement which meant ripping out the entire interior that I had just rebuilt. At the same time, that’s when Ava came into the picture. I knew I could handle sailing, living, and fixing Athena’s structural member simultaneously; but I didn’t want to put Ava through that. That’s when I decided to go ahead and gut the interior and rebuild from the bottom up. In the end, I’m glad we made that decision. We got to build the interior exactly how we wanted it, and structurally she’s safe and sound. One might even call her a tank now ;)

3. What’s been your biggest achievement so far with the refit?

There have been many high points with the refit so far, but the most significant achievement has been putting Athena back in the water after four years and then sailing her to the UK. After putting in so much work, seeing her in action for the first time was nerve-wracking but also exhilarating.

4. Can I ask how and when Ava joined you on your journey?

Ava and I “met” virtually via somewhat funny matchmaking by Ava’s brother-in-law. Ava had started taking sailing lessons with her sister, Nina, and brother-in-law Julian. As one does when you start sailing, Julian began to watch sailing channels. As I have been told, as soon as he saw Sail Life, he knew Ava and I would be a great match. They started watching Sail Life together, and soon Ava sent me an email. If you ask Ava, it took an eternity for me to respond to her email, but I had to make sure she was a real person! When I answered, we immediately clicked; we both shared a similar dream of traveling the world and living a life far from ordinary. We emailed, texted, and face-timed for six months before we met face to face. I flew out to LA, and the rest was history. Then, this past July, Ava moved to Denmark and we set off for the UK.

5. Your end goal is to be a full-time cruiser. Is March the beginning of your adventure? What are you most excited about….

All the sailing we have done so far has been about getting from point A to B. We are looking forward to slowing down and taking our time. We both love to travel and learn about the people and places we visit. Cruising allows us to take our time and get to know each area. March feels like the beginning of that.

6. We know you’ve spent a period at both our Brighton and Gosport Marinas, what’s your experience and thoughts of the Premier family?

We have enjoyed our time at all the Premier marinas, especially with the staff. Most of our time has been in Gosport - it’s starting to feel like our little home base. The team and every Premier team have been nothing short of incredibly kind and welcoming. We also love the ease of being a part of Premier Marinas. We were in Chichester recently whilst a friend let us use their woodworking shop. All we had to do was notify the marina well in advance so they could accommodate us.  

7. You share videos every Sunday on your Sail Life channel, how do people sign-up and what can they expect to see going forward. 

Yes, if the internet gods allow, we post a video on YouTube every Sunday at 8pm GMT. You can subscribe to our channel on YouTube and if you click the little bell icon you will get a notification when we post a new video.

Also, you can follow us on Instagram (@SailLife_) or look us up on Facebook for real time updates. 

Starting mid-March, we will be sharing our trip to Ireland and all the preparations to get Athena ready to cross the Atlantic next winter. Of course, there will be plenty of boat projects, because as many boat owners know, boat work is never done!