Brain Tumor Pushes Full-time Sailing Dream Aground

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It all started with a hot springs swim beach in New Zealand and a headache like none he had ever had before, a full-time sailing dream put on hold, maybe to never happen again. Boats run aground more often than we all might think. Then there are other things that run aground symbolically. Things like engine problems causing you to be stuck in a marina for two months. Things like high winds causing 13 foot high waves resulting in a call to the Coast Guard.

Full-time sailing can do that to you. And you just go with the flow. Buck up and learn from all of it. It’s a part of life, running aground. But running aground because of a brain tumor? Now that is not a normal part of full-time sailing, let alone just life in general.

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Meet Danielle and Conor

If you remember, we spoke with Danielle and Conor back in late 2020 right before they were quitting their jobs and getting ready to move onto their sailboat in New Zealand. Click here to listen to their introductory story. They were so excited for the adventures that lay ahead. They had a business venture – documenting everything within their sailing lives, including beer of course, and their dog Pivo. They successfully started Sailing Pivo on YouTube, and to this day, sailing or not, it is still going strong.

But then life as they knew it, after only a few short months sailing full-time, came to a screeching halt.

From Full-time Sailing to a Brain Tumor

This is their story of their struggles when it occurred for the first time before they knew what was going on, throughout the entire ordeal including brain surgery, as well as afterwards as they try to heal and build a new life. One that no longer involves full-time sailing, their mutual long-time dream.

When it comes to a brain tumor, everything changes. Not just perspective on life, but who you are can change, too. Not because of the different perspectives but because the brain physiologically changes the way you think and react to life.

We talk sailing and beer, of course. But more importantly, we delve deeper into how Danielle and Conor have coped with such a drastic shift in their lives. They are still learning how to grasp the severity of all that took place over the last year. And still learning how to adapt.

Not only did Conor have a brain tumor, but they also had to transition from full-time sailing life to a “normal” life in a house with a “normal” job. And both of them are looking at this transition differently.

“My sense of adventure is gone. I just want a nice safe comfortable place where I’m not about to die.” (Conor)

“I’m very adventurous still.” (Danielle)

“We’re at a point now where we both want very different things so we’re learning to lean on something other than mutual goals (like what it used to be) and now we can lean on mutual respect for each other to move forward.”

(Conor & Danielle)

But they are both also positive about their future. It may be different than what they were planning on, but really, when does life ever go how we expect it to go? One thing they do know, is to follow the advice of fellow sailors.

“Go small, go simple, go now.”

(Lin and Larry Pardey, sailors and writers)
Danielle Conor Pivo on sailboat Sailing Pivo New Zealand
Conor, Danielle, and Pivo (photo courtesy of Sailing Pivo)

Stay Connected with Sailing Pivo

Danielle found herself picking up her camera throughout everything. It was her journal. She documented their story with compassion, emotion, and integrity. Be sure to subscribe to Sailing Pivo on YouTube. There are no plans of that going away anytime soon. In fact, keep your eyes and ears open; I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a documentary out there in the future.

We’ll see you soon!

  • Calling all beer media, marketers, podcasters, influencers, and enthusiasts to the Beer Now Conference held this year in Asheville, North Carolina, August 18-21. Click here for all the info and to buy tickets.
  • And be sure to get your tics to Camp Carpe Diem, the coolest adult camp ever, held this year in Brevard, North Carolina, October 20-23. Click here for all the info and to buy tickets.

Want More?

Meet Danielle, Conor, and Pivo from Sailing Pivo

We first talked to Danielle and Conor right before they quite their jobs and moved onto their boat to sail full-time. Before the tumor. Before their dreams were forever changed. This is their story.

Do It Now – Don’t Wait for the Pain Point

We talk a lot about following your dreams and not waiting because life is short and shit happens when you’re not expecting it. Like a brain tumor. This is our recipe to doing it now. Whatever it may be.

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Shout Outs:

Danielle and Conor, thank you so much for hanging out with us over Zoom and chatting some really serious stuff. Your openness towards us and each other on some emotional topics was much appreciated. For as much as we wish none of this ever happened to you, it has also made you even more inspirational (whether you like it or not), more adventurous (adventure is how you define it), and more experienced in life (whether you want it or not). We know that your dreams of sailing were cut short, but we are grateful that your spunk (Danielle), while keeping it real (Conor, maybe a bit too real, but we get it) are both intact, and you’re still willing to share your experiences with us and the world. Sending you love across the seas!


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