– Do you know how to sail? Of course not, we grew up in the suburbs of Phoenix! We still get excited about rain and small creeks! But we’re learning. We have some proficiency, and have been sailing small boats recently on AZ lakes. We took everyone out to high seas in California to experience sea sickness. Pat took several formal sailing courses and holds 4 sailing certifications. He is comfortable and qualified to skipper our boat in coastal waters and teach me along the way. We’ll be doing more boat maintenance and repairs than sailing, so that is a large part of the learning process.
– What about pirates? Aarrrrggg! It is a real threat and something to be aware of, but is not likely in every part of the world. We will not travel to unsafe areas, and will not always be alone. Many families do this, believe it or not, and we’ll meet travel partners along the way (check out http://www.sailingtotem.com/, who has been a good mentor for us). We’ll have all of the necessary equipment on board to navigate and communicate to ensure we remain in safe waters. Piracy is monitored and reported internationally. There are established risk areas that we won’t visit.
– What about storms? Learning seamanship includes learning weather, as Pat did when earning his pilot license. You respect the weather, plan for it, and know how to respond to it. Again, we will be equipped to navigate and communicate to keep our vessel safe. There are known routes that should or shouldn’t be traveled at certain times of year- another reason you become part of a sailing community that is frequently in the same waters at the same time.
– Do you own a boat? Not yet, but we’re in the market. We won’t have a yacht with a helicopter pad and hot tub, but looking for something that is seaworthy and adequate for a family of five. Through our studies we’ve narrowed it down to several models of large catamarans. They are stable, efficient, and roomy (four separate cabins, galley, and indoor/outdoor room for homework/crafts). We’re working with a dealer and we hope to have found one by early summer. Its very similar to buying a house. Most of these boats are located in Florida, so we’ll most likely start there. The plan is to spend 6-12 months preparing the boat and gaining experience, followed by another year or so in the Caribbean. After that, wherever the wind takes us. If it turns out its not what we hoped for, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
– Will you be at sea all of the time, or will you stop places? Cruisers spend almost all of their lives either anchored, moored, or in a marina. This will be true for us, but we have no detailed itinerary yet. Whatever is best for our family is what we’ll do. The kids can embed themselves in school/sports somewhere while we work, or we can be transient while island hopping. There will likely be some of both.
– How long will you be gone? It will be at least a couple of years, and it could be until the kids leave for college and beyond. We’ll do it as long as everyone in the family wants to do it. Right now everyone is on board with the idea of adventure. We understand that the kids are young and don’t fully understand this choice, but we expose them to it every day and it seems the pros vastly outweigh the cons for everyone. Hope is always adorable and happy, so its hard to say with her.
– How will the kids go to school? Homeschooling. Never did we think we’d attempt this, but that’s the plan while we’re traveling. We’ve done some research and found programs that we feel would be successful. It won’t be easy, but it will be one of our greatest priorities. Rather than just read about geography, astrology, physics, wildlife, language, culture, and history we will have them experience it first-hand. Our research has convinced us that this will be a truly amazing experience for them. They will have sailing friends and ample opportunity to socialize. They’ll have opportunities for sports, although it may be free diving and playing soccer on the beach in South America rather than at the YMCA. They’ll personally witness sea creatures, volcanoes, exotic foods, communicating without words, learning new languages, catching their own food, learning about religions, working hard, and finding their place in the world.
– Isn’t it dangerous? It certainly can be, but we’ll prepare ourselves and mitigate risks. Kids will don life vests when sailing, and be harnessed when outside the cockpit. Between proper planning, equipment, and judgement we will never jeopardize the safety of our family.
We are already well-vaccinated from our military assignments, but we’ve researched what else is needed before setting off. We will carry some type of medical insurance. We’ll take advantage of quality care when its available, and respond to emergencies as best we can. Prevention is a big part of it.
– How can you afford it? We will not be on a super yacht operated by a Captain and crew. It will be very modest, but adequate. We feel really lucky this is even an option. Living on a boat is a very different lifestyle, and will be along the lines of minimalist and conservationist. We will sell our cars, furniture, bikes, and other toys to put towards a boat purchase. It will be a used boat, several years old. We will have SIM cards/satellite internet which will allow Tiffany to continue teaching bachelors and Masters courses online with her current employers. We are exploring other opportunities for income, including investing in rental properties, contract work, etc. Pat will work whenever positioned somewhere long enough, most likely in a new field. We want to help others, and will seek opportunities to do that through our work.
– Are you worried about gaps in your resumes? Pat is not. He’s interested in doing something different next. He still has a GI bill to use and hope to find a new interest that he can make a career out of- maybe working for himself. Tiffany will continue to work initially, and maybe take a break if we venture out on a big crossing. She has some great professional relationships and qualifications that will allow her back into the community if/when she’s ready.
– Are you selling your house? No, we will rent it and have some local friends already under contract. They’re a general contractor and will take good care of our beloved house. This will be a source of income for us, a safety net, and an opportunity to return to a place we love if we choose.
– How will you communicate? When near a populated area we will have cell phone service via SIM cards. The boat will be equipped with VHF and satellite, which will give us slow Wi-Fi aboard.
We will use a mail service that receives, opens, and scans our mail to us. If located at a marina we can send/receive mail and packages there as well.
– When will you leave? We’ll depart AZ in early July to attend my brother-in-law’s wedding in Washington. After that we’ll likely drive across country to Florida to move onto our new floating home: Dessert First.