OK, so it’s about time that we told you a little more about ourselves, I’ll go first:
As you may have gathered from reading other sections of the site, my name is Leonard, Leonard Skinner. I’ve heard all of the jokes before about the Simpson's, and yes, there was a band with a similar name.
What I do when not playing with boats is teach engineering to teens and drama to children. I have sort of fallen into a third job of late through the Faoin Spéir project, and this is writing. I figured it’s a practical way to earn a living on a boat and so while I wouldn’t yet say I’m a writer, I am working towards it.
As far as the Faoin Spéir project goes, I guess I am make good use of my engineering background in the restoration and refitting. You’ll find a short video of my design for the forward section of the boat here. What can I say about my sailing skills? Not a lot really, I sail our Achilles 24 regularly, and gave up using an engine a long time ago. I sail the boat engineless for 2 reasons, primarily because it’s an outboard and I’m just too lazy to bother hauling it to and fro and secondarily I can be a bit of a nerd about sailing puzzles. In terms of experience, I can say about as much as about my skills, but all of these will grow over time. I was once told that the most important thing to know about sailing is your limits.
What draws me to the whole project? Perhaps it’s a mid-life crisis, although I’d doubt it. Perhaps it’s just time to stop drifting through life, and go out and explore, the world it’s people and ourselves.
Let’s see, what else do you want to know? I’m 41, and have one excellent son (I know I have to say that), and while I’m on the subject, he’s a musician so I can’t miss to opportunity to do a little promotion: have a look at www.DavidSkinnerLive.com . If you want to know more, you’re going to have to ask...
Now for something about Mary...
My name is Mary and I am Leonard’s partner. I grew up in the landlocked county of Tipperary in the republic of Ireland. I was never on a sailboat until I met Leonard, I know none of the technical stuff about sailing but I love being out on the boat, I love the freedom, I love that we are miles away from shore and all the hassle and responsibility of business and living and all that goes with it. I love the peace and contentment of sailing the boat. Don`t get me wrong we have had tough sails too when I have been scared and my kids have been scared but we have managed to get home safely under sail. I dislike the Achilles 24, (apologies to all Achilles 24 lovers) it is more a racing yacht and I find it wilful and skittish and I don`t know enough to sail it, my kids can and Leonard can so I am playing catch up.
On the other hand I love Faoin Spéir, she is a tried and trusted solid boat and I feel safe knowing she has already sailed from the US Pacific coast to here. My contribution to the Faoin Spéir project is increasing my physical capacity for sailing, becoming fitter and more capable of sailing. Leonard and I consider all the aspects of making Faoin Spéir our home and how that can work for us. I spend time considering the transition for us from land to sea and what needs to be addressed. I have twins, eleven years old, a boy and girl who will be approaching thirteen when we sail so as you can imagine there is a lot of chatting and planning needed with them. I think any family who has ever emigrated faces the same issues, but the slight difference for us is we will be on the move, of no fixed abode. They have concerns about losing touch with friends and loved ones, we search for real solutions to these genuine concerns.
Why do I want to do it, why uproot my children and disturb their lives so much, disturb my own. I feel there is a big world out there with millions of people, their cultures and their traditions and I want to experience that. I want to explore and experience the world and challenge myself; I want to deepen my relationship with Leonard and my children. I want my children to grow up strong and aware and independent and educated in the broadest possible way. I want the world to be our home.
So what else is there to know about me? I am old enough to be past a mid-life crisis and then some! I have spent time in religious life, I have worked with old people, been an assistant to nurses and social workers, taught literacy to prisoners and volunteered in homeless projects, youth clubs, parish groups, community groups. I have spent most of my adult life working with children and teens as a teacher and a professional counsellor. I have been a trainer of adults, community groups, teachers, counsellors. I am currently self-employed, am involved in an amateur drama group, make jewellery, design costumes and make them, paint and draw, and I am technophobic.
I love arts and crafts and playing board games and Tipperary hurling and my kids and Leonard and music (though not necessarily in that order. What will I miss most on board? I will miss counselling, close friends, Tipperary hurling, family and my home.
Here we are at the beginning of the whole Faoin Spéir project, on 0° W, the prime meridian at the Greenwich Observatory.