Saturday, June 9, 2012

What I Know For Sure

Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA - I have been thinking a lot for the past few weeks of what I would write for my last blog of our great adventure.  How does one summarize such an incredible experience?!  All along we have gotten similar questions, "what was your favorite port?," "Did you ever have any really bad weather during a crossing?,"  "How did the kids manage?" The answers have changed during the trip as we were going along depending on what we were experiencing at the time, but now that this specific adventure is coming to and end,  I guess we do need to think about our "final answers,*"since these are the questions that inevitably will always get asked.  But, it is also an opportunity to share what we have learned about ourselves, the world and each other.  The latter may be a little more interesting.

When we first set off on this journey - when we first made the decision, then actually started the process of carrying it out - it seemed like the most wildly adventurous thing to do on earth.  We didn't really know what to expect.  Coming from a stable "landlubber's" perspective , sometimes it seemed completely outrageous, and sometimes it seemed completely comfortable and do-able. We were very humbled to learn that there are so many more people living a similar dream in such incredible ways.  We thought taking a year and half to live on a boat and travel the world with two kids was amazing, but then others would tell us, "Yes, we've lived on OUR boat for the last SEVEN years, with SIX kids, on a SMALLER boat and we have circumnavigated the globe now three times!!!"  We were very inspired when hearing the stories of others and even though there were certainly moments of doubt, it just strengthened our belief that this was the right thing to do for our family.

What I know for sure is that I am proud of Sebastian, the Captain, for being such an expert sailor, for being MacGyver and for finding a solution for any problem that arose.  It is quite a feat to successfully bring your family back and forth across an ocean.  Any time an issue arose, he would know exactly what to do, whether resourcefully finding a solution himself or leading us safely to a place where we would find a solution.

What I know for sure is that I am proud of Sofia, our creative little girl, who continued to amaze us with the projects she kept herself busy aboard, even though I know she really missed just hanging out with her friends back home:  her own paper doll line, the stuffed animals she sewed with leftover remnants of whatever she could find, the number of books she made and wrote.  I am proud of the maturity she has come to possess in interacting with people of all ages, nationalities and languages. 

What I know for sure is that I am proud of Benjie, who grew into a little young man before our eyes.  We started this trip when he was still 4 years old and what a difference from now that he is a big 6 year old!  He essentially took my place as First Mate and is the first to jump and help the Captain.  He loves doing watches, driving the dinghy and the sailboat.  This time aboard has also transformed him into a veritable fish!  

I am also proud of myself, the "reluctant sailor," who initially had a very cautious admiration of the big blue ocean and who does not thrive in a situation of financial instability.  I enjoyed meeting so many fascinating people and visiting places I never dreamed of.  And while I am not sure about doing a long crossing again, and I know for sure that I am game for living aboard again when the children are a little bigger.

After 13,000 nautical miles traveled, 21 different countries visited, new friends from over 55 boats met, 1000 gallons of fuel used, hundreds of books read, 7 Mahi Mahis, 5 blackfin tunas, 3 ceros, and 9 lobsters caught, there are a few ways this trip has changed our perspective on life:
--We definitely have a desire to live more simply.  We have learned that less is more.
--We would like to be more generous with people and our time.  There were several instances where strangers came to help us and invite us to their homes.  It was nice to be on the receiving side of this and we would love to pay it forward.
--We would like to live a more green lifestyle.  It was sad to see some of the remotest parts of the world so damaged by trash and plastic.
--We want to cherish and protect all living things. --We have gained a newly found respect for the US and the opportunities it presents to us, for having running water, and a healthy and affordable variety of food.
What I know for sure is that even with all the challenges that come with a family of four living in a small space, this trip was the best gift we could have given our children and ourselves.

Thanks to everyone who helped us make this trip possible.  Thanks to all the support from new friends and old.  Thanks to Begonia for being such a loyal vessel.  We shall miss you!

NEXT STOP:  Begonia has some new owners and we take off for our daily life back in the good ol' US of A.

* Best ports:  Sebastian says, "Horta, Faial in the Azores." Karla says, "a tie between Mindelo, Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands and  Ile a Vache, Haiti."  Sofia says, "Rabat, Morocco." Benjie says, "Bahamas."

*Weather:  I know it would be more exciting to have had some sort of dramatic and bad weather story.  But, truthfully, the only really bad crossing was from Morocco to the Canary Islands (profiled in one of our blogs from October 2011) and thankfully, we had nothing worse than that.  There is so much information available online and most importantly from our weather guru from Argentina - thanks Alejandro! - that we were able to plan our voyages to maximize good weather windows.

*Kids' reactions:  the kids did surprisingly well, keeping themselves busy. Things were made easier whenever we met other families with kids and it happened more often than we thought!  Toward the end of the trip Sofia and Benjie did start counting the days though and they were anxious to see their friends back home.  Although e homeschooling was a real challenge for the entire family, the kids learned so so much more in other areas of life.


Staniel Key, Exumas, Bahamas

Staniel Cay, Exumas, Bahamas

Staniel Cay, Exumas, Bahamas

Wadderick Wells, Exumas, Bahamas



Georgetown, Bahamas

Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

One of Sofia's many creations aboard

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Georgetown, Bahamas, school day

Typical calm crosing

Typical rough crossing

Dominican Republic
Atlantic Crossing on the way there

Saitn Martin


Horta, Faial, Azores

Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain

Aguadulce, Spain

Cartagena, Spain

Alicante, Spain

Melilla, Spanish Territory in North Africa

Rabat, Morocco

Rabat, Moroco

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Dakar, Senegal

Goree Island, Senegal

Gambia, Lamin Lodge

Gambia River, Gambia



Gambia River, Gambia

Sal, Cabo Verde

Mindelo, Cabo Verde
Cabo Verde

Atlantic Crossing Return trip

Atlantic crossing return trip


Carriacou, Grenada

Carriacou, Grenada

Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Saint Pierre, Martinique


Culebrita, Puerto Rico

Culebrita, Puerto Rico

Cayo Pena, Santiago de Cuba

Hog Cay Cut, Bahamas


Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Latest homeschooling project

Ile a Vache, Haiti