Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. My entire family would spend weekends on Lake Mead water skiing and hanging out at the various beaches on the lake. I loved being on the water in the summer time, nice cool water in the desert heat, and listening to sound of his ski carving through the morning glass! After graduation from the University of Texas, Austin with degree in Electrical Engineering, I moved to San Diego and worked as an engineer at General Dynamic for 5 years. Then one day, out of the blue, I received a call from my college roommate. “Yo Ken, let's go backpack around the world for a year!” A few months later I had left General Dynamics and caught a plane to Japan, my first stop on what I thought would be a World backpacking tour. I still believe that was the best decision of my life! Traveling changed the way I thought about other cultures and about myself. 9 months later I returned to California broke, and with a bit of credit card debt, but my outlook on life had been changed forever. I went to Los Angeles and worked on Satellites at TRW, then took another job selling parts to the Southern California engineering community. After 3 years in LA I returned to San Diego and joined a few friends that started a company called KSA. We worked together for over 25 years building KSA. I would say it’s more fun to start and build a company, than to run one. Together, we started another company, QPAR USA, and then I also tried creating my own product, a pet feeder. Though there was no big successes, thankfully there were no big failures, just a lot of learning experiences.
I would say, it’s just nice being in Southern California where I could spend the weekends at the beach surfing, and spend nights playing basketball at the UCSD RIMAC center. Robert and I would boast of the night, played ball together from 6:00PM ’til 12:30AM. We won 14 games in a row without a loss on the A court. I couldn’t walk the next day.
After Zivile and I had been married for about 6 years, we discussed making a big change, and travel the world together. First we talked about renting our home in Encinitas and travel by plane, and various ground transportation, but over time a sailing vessel entered the discussions.
My sailing experience was minimal - before taking the helm of Aquarius in January 2017. It totaled two sailing courses including just 8 days of sailing, and 5 years crewing on several sailing vessels during local San Diego races. The last few years of my racing career my friends Karl and Christina purchased a 37 Hanse and named her Alacrity. Our best race was the 2016 San Diego to Ensenada race where Alacrity placed 1st in Cruising Class. All aboard, Captain and Crew, had an awesome time during the race!
Most plans are not realized without some major event, or events, to push them to reality. In my case, there were several events that all happened within 6 months. Zivile was made redundant at her corporate job, a close friend passed with cancer, and then the doctors warned me of a few health issues that might be life changing in the near future. Both Zivile and I pushed plan forward, and it quickly became reality when we left the US on January 24th, 2017.
Zivile / Isabelle
I was born and raised in Lithuania – one of the three Baltic States by the Baltic Sea in Europe, where I spent most of my life. Being 100% Lithuanian, I have a very unique Lithuanian name Živilė, which in US and the rest of the world is very unusual and hard to pronounce. After a while I would end up being called Z or Isabelle. Isabelle was much more acceptable and at some point I gave up teaching people how to pronounce my name and explain where it is from and what it means. Sometimes I make it easy for myself and others and introduce myself as "Isabelle" :)
In 2009 I went to Miami for few months and there I met Ken and “got stuck” in beautiful California, San Diego, where he lived.
What’s funny - I always considered myself as career driven – I’ve got my MBA and was always striving for better careers and positions: started as Product Managers Assistant, then became Product Manager, then wanted more challenge and freedom to travel and started my Commercial Real Estate career, which I loved a lot and had some success. Then the 2009 crash came and that was the time for my vacation in Miami… Where I met Ken.
In the US I did Residential Real Estate, which after all I decided “wasn’t my thing” and got a job at Cisco Systems where I was working as a Business Development Manager – again, I loved it and I think I did pretty well.
Also, for the last couple of years I did Career Coaching part time, which became a catalyst for me start conversation with Ken taking this time for sailing. Saying all this, although I am very career driven, I am absolutely sure that taking this time off for sailing will give me more unique opportunities in my future endeavors.
I recently realized that all my life I lived next to the water – river, lake, or the ocean – max 20 minutes walking distance and I must say I really love water… Although I have never been privileged or lucky enough to be sailing from young days, I like swimming, diving and simply just watching the water.
My other hobbies are traveling (70+ countries visited so far), spending time with my friends, reading, walking, and yoga. Also dancing :)
Below are my 5 top reasons for taking off for and jumping on a boat – me and Ken each wrote our “WHY’s” as we knew when there will be tough days we will be able to look at it and remind ourselves about it. Personally I named 17 reasons and here are the Top 5:
Live the life, not just try to “keep up with the Joneses”
Travel, explore, enjoy – what we both love to do, not just couple of weeks in a year to escape the routine, but in a full capacity
Meet and spend more time with interesting people
Be more mindful, understand what I want, not what’s been “pushed onto me”
Have a healthier lifestyle
Sailing experience: My sailing experience is absolutely minimal - in 2013 I took Basic Keelboat sailing classes for a couple of weekends and sometimes I would join Ken and our friends for sailing races, although I always found that stressful and not as much enjoyable as relaxed sailing…