Not many people can say they decided to leave conventional living behind and pursue a dream to travel the world, but a friend of the brand, Rachel Moore—who had previously modelled for us in 2016—has done exactly that. She and her husband Josh Shankle took some time to plan and save before purchasing their boat, a 1984 Tayana Vancouver 42' blue water cruiser they named Agapé. It is a word that means selfless, unconditional love, which Rachel and Josh have adopted as their guiding ethos with their relationship toward each other, the people they meet, and the planet they call home. Since 2017, they’ve made trips along the coast of Mexico, to Central America, including Guatemala and Panama, and most recently, spent time on the Galapagos Islands before heading west across the Pacific on their long-term journey to travel around the world.
We caught up with Rachel while they were docked in French Polynesia to learn more about what led her to this point, her travel experiences, sustainable living on the boat, and the philanthropic activities they engage in along the way.
Let’s start by having you briefly introduce yourself.
I was born and raised in Southern California, about an hour north of Los Angeles. I am a passionate scuba diver and underwater photographer. I love traveling, practicing yoga, reading, and rock climbing.
What are some of your core values and philosophies?
My goal in life is always to be growing. I like to joke that I am relentlessly curious, which sometimes drives the people in my life a bit crazy, as I am always asking the hard questions. I want to become a better human, a better steward of this planet, and a better wife, friend, daughter, and sister. I hope to continually grow in patience, kindness, love, and generosity.
When do you feel truly alive?
For me, it’s when I’m in the ocean. From scuba diving with sharks to swimming with whales and crossing oceans, my life is bent on chasing after new adventures in the water, and I have spent my entire life building a life that’s close to the sea. From the age of 7, I knew I wanted to become a diver, and I got my first job at 14 to save up for my level 1 dive certification. The ocean constantly surprises me and teaches me something new, and although I am extremely comfortable in the water, it keeps me humble. It’s the place I feel most alive and most at peace. Just slipping below the surface and feeling its embrace is like going home.
Would you please outline the steps you took—from idle fantasy to concrete reality—in making your dream of sailing the world come true?
When my husband and I first married, we had less than $1,000 between us. We were broke but had big dreams. Luckily, we didn’t have any debt and started working on a budget and saving money right away. The first step was seeing how much money we spent every month/year and determining if our spending aligned with our goals and values. From there, we were able to reevaluate where our money was going and start saving towards our goal of buying a boat and travelling the world. We are very goal-oriented people, and breaking down our dreams into small, achievable steps works well for us. The smaller the steps, the more possible it is for us to reach our goals.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of how you live your life now?
I enjoy how simple and slow life is. At first, it was a challenge to slow down and not feel so busy, but the longer we are gone, the more I’ve come to appreciate a slower-paced life. Going grocery shopping or doing laundry can sometimes take an entire day. Our expectations and goals have changed a lot over the years, and now we prefer to live simply and with less, to have more freedom and time.
What do you miss most from back home?
I definitely miss my family and friends the most, but thankfully technology has come a long way over the last few years, and even in remote places, we can still maintain contact with our loved ones.
Do you have any exciting tales from life on the sea?
We have survived a small tsunami, storms, almost being hit by lightning, running aground on an uncharted reef, crossing dangerous sandbars, navigating uncharted rivers, and so much more over the last five years. My favorite experience, though, is probably of surviving on an uninhabited atoll in the middle of the Pacific for a quarter of a year when COVID first hit. We had just arrived on this small, remote island when the world shut down. We were told via communication on our satellite phone that we were to stay put and not move. Our planned two-week stay turned into three-month-long confinement. We had no internet, no access to groceries or fresh provisions. There were no services of any kind; we had to rely entirely on ourselves and our boat. Eventually, our watermaker broke, and we had to capture rainwater. Our outboard engine died, so we paddled our dinghy to shore. We ran out of fresh food, so we spearfished and got very creative with all the ways we could eat fish and coconuts. When we ran low on propane, we built an oven on the beach. In the end, even without so much, we thrived. We truly came alive! I learned a lot during those few months, but my greatest lesson was just how little I needed in life to be happy.
Was there an ‘aha’ moment when you realized you wanted to pursue this lifestyle? What was it?
I knew as a child that I wanted to see the world. One of my earliest memories was when I was in primary school and asked my teacher to show me my hometown on a globe. She traced her finger around the circumference landing on LA and said, “You see this dot that says ‘Los Angeles’? Well, we live just above it, but you can't see it.”
I thought, “I CAN’T SEE IT!” I realized at that moment that everything I had ever seen in my short life I couldn't see on a map. I began to grasp just how big our planet is, and that moment sowed the seed of wonder and discovery in me. I made a New Year's resolution at the age of 18 to visit one new country every year, and since then, I’ve been able to achieve that goal (except the last two years because of COVID).
How important is sustainably living your life to you?
Sustainable living is one of my greatest goals in life. We use the sun to power everything on our boat, including running our water maker that turns salt water into pure, clean drinking water. We always try to buy food grown and harvested locally, and we try to buy only what we need when we need it. I usually like to buy clothes second-hand or invest in pieces that are well made with sustainable or recycled materials that will last.
What are some of the day-to-day practices you follow to minimize your environmental impact footprint? And what are some of the more big picture/general things you do?
We try to eliminate as much single-use plastic and packaging from our lives. That means buying primarily unprocessed foods and looking for products with less plastic packaging. We are constantly aware of how much waste we produce as there is not much space on a boat to store it, and there are no trash services that come and take it away for us. As I said, we also try to eat locally grown and harvested foods, make our power from the sun, and harvest fresh water from the sea. We've also significantly reduced the amount of animal products we consume.
What does MPG's approach to producing responsibly-made clothing mean to you?
I am proud to work with and wear MPG, especially seeing MPG's commitment to responsible fashion and prioritizing sustainability and ethical stewardship at the core of their values. Every year they are innovating and becoming more sustainable.
How important is philanthropy to you?
We chose the name Agape for our boat to remind us to live each day unconditionally. We try to love each other, our boat, and the people we meet with unconditional love. We have been given much in life, and we want to live with hands wide open, giving and serving whenever we have the opportunity.
Can you describe some of the volunteer work you’ve done so far?
While travelling through Central America, we loved spending time and volunteering at the different children’s homes and orphanages along our voyage. We would love to adopt someday but living on a boat makes it almost impossible. We try to serve the children we meet in the communities we visit and hope to grow our family through adoption eventually. And now that we are in the Pacific—where there is not the same need with children—we have been volunteering more with environmental and ocean conservation groups.
The following appears on your website: ‘We usually work with and contribute to orphanages, as we feel a calling on our lives to children in need.’ Can you expand on why you focus on helping children specifically?
I recognize that most of what I have and where I am in life are pure chance and luck. I was lucky to be born in America, with loving and supportive parents, and receive a good education. I was fortunate to be born with the looks I have and the opportunities they have afforded me. Sure, I worked hard and made choices that led to some of my success in achieving my dreams, but most of where I am today is because of pure chance. I feel a responsibility to use my privilege to help others, especially children that have not been afforded the same luxuries in life.
What do you most enjoy about MPG apparel?
I like that the clothes have become more sustainable and are very well made. I’ve had some of my pieces for over half a decade now!
How do the designs fit your aesthetic?
I love how clean and simple most of the designs are and that the fabrics are always super comfortable.
How do the garments’ technical features—such as moisture-wicking, breathability, 4-way stretch, etc.—enhance your workouts/exercise sessions?
I’ve been living in a tropical climate for the last few years, and having fabrics that wick away moisture and sweat makes life a little more comfortable and enjoyable, especially when working out.
Are you able to wear your MPG both as part of your active and everyday lifestyle?
I wear my MPG pieces hiking, practicing yoga, going for walks, or just relaxing on the boat. The garments are so comfortable it's easy to live in them.
Do MPG apparel’s technical aspects meet the needs or enhance your everyday life experience living on a boat, and how?
I love how comfortable and durable all my pieces from MPG are. We don’t have room onboard for huge wardrobes, and we are pretty hard on the clothing we do have. We live in the sun in a salty environment, and most of the time, we dry our laundry in the sun. Not only are my MPG pieces super comfortable, but they last even with how much wear and tear I put them through.