Mac and Jenny Fraley never imagined themselves living their lives on the water.
Mac Fraley, a Crystal Lake native and 2004 Crystal Lake Central High School graduate, had some experience on the water with nearby lakes and considered himself a water person, but making the change full time was never in the plans.
Their team is rounded out by their dog, Disco, who joins them on their sailing ventures along the west coast of North America.
This past April, the three completed a trip from Craig, Alaska, to Anacortes, Washington, where they were based out of at the time. The trip took six days and five nights with only three-hour shifts to sleep. They sometimes went as long as 36 hours straight with no sleep during the first three days.
“You really welcomed the next person came to relieve you of your watch and then just dive into the bed and put your head down,” Jenny Fraley said.
The Alaskan waters were moving rapidly, crashing into the boat, as they started their trip, but they subsided through the middle portion of their journey.
Overall, the trip was 750 nautical miles from Craig to Anacortes. They went straight from Craig to Neah Bay, Washington, in one shot to start. Neah Bay is the northwest corner of Olympic Peninsula, which is about 106 nautical miles southwest of Anacortes.
The pace was comparable to a light jog, Mac Fraley said.
“The sense of accomplishment you feel when you pull into the bay and finally drop the hook, just to see, like you’ve done all of that. It was awesome,” Jenny Fraley said.
Video blogs of the trip can be seen on the couple’s YoutTube channel, Cruising Maya. The two are very active on social media, documenting their trips on Instagram and Facebook, as well as on their own website.
A suggestion from Jenny Fraley in 2016 during her husband’s job hunt was the first seed planted in what would become the full-time and life-changing endeavor.
“Wife says, ‘Let’s get a boat.’ You don’t say no,” Mac Fraley said.
With limited experience living aboard, the couple had to learn quickly and adjust to the many changes the lifestyle entailed – including getting used to a 200-square-foot living space and having to shower with bags.
“We quickly found out that we were not ready in terms of our skills at all,” Mac Fraley said. “We had much to learn.”
The boat that the couple purchased is 40 years old and required some work before they could even set sail. It was another three years before any of the actual sailing would take place – not only in terms of skill development but courage as well.
Mac Fraley compared setting sail for the first time in 2020 to jumping off a high diving board. The worst part about it being at the top with all the nerves that come from the unknown, he said.
Now that the two have experience under their belt, it’s much easier to focus on enjoying their trips and figuring out their next adventures.
“Every day is different,” Jenny Fraley said. “I just love how it’s constantly new experiences, new places, new people, wildlife. It’s just – it hits all the marks for us.”
They’ve seen a whale just 100 feet off their boat while making dinner. Near Puerto Vallarta, a recent destination, they could hear whales breaching at a time when the humpback whales come south to have their babies.
“It’s really pretty neat,” Mac Fraley said. “The ability to move now to wherever you’re traveling with your home. That I think I can report back that, that we’re home. We’ve lived on the boat for four years now and it’s like, it’s definitely home.”