The year we decided to stray off the beaten path and sail the Bahamas, as a family, will forever stand out as an incredible year in our memories.
When we were mulling over the thought of taking a trip, we had several wise sailors tell us, cruising would teach our kids more than we could imagine and that the boys were at the perfect age to go now. We were at a point in our lives where we were ready to change careers, so we took the first step by making the commitment, and eight months later we were gone.
There is no way to sum up what spending a year teaching your kids and sharing the experience together as a family was like. How much we learned throughout the year, and the caliber of people we met, was far beyond what we could have possibly imagined.
We worked hard to make it happen, but we also received a river of support from so many people. We often said that the planets were aligning for us to go now. Whenever we needed help or encouragement, someone was there for us.
Now that our year is over, we look back at all the experiences we had and can hardly believe we accomplished so much. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Yes, and we will all be forever changed by the journey.
The opportunity to spend a year with our kids was priceless, and homeschooling is something every parent should be able to experience. Half the time they were getting an education and didn’t even know it. There is an opportunity to school your kids at every moment of the day. It is up to the parent as to how far to take it and how in-depth they want to teach. Those of you that have been following the blog this past year know how Logan and Cole have learned about engines, weather, charting, knots, navigation, engineering, snorkeling, fishing, nature and history, all in a classroom where every day was a field trip.
“How will the kids adjust to ‘normal life’ and going back into a school again?” is a question many people ask. They have experienced so many different situations this last year and moved fluidly through it all that returning has been easy.
Did the kids miss their friends and family? Sure they did but we did our best to keep in touch with everybody via email and Skype so the boys still felt connected.
Our favorite activities were snorkeling and spending time on the islands and beaches. As part of my closing, I want to share a few of those photos with you.
Another question people ask or comment they make is, “How much did the year cost? I don’t have enough money to take a year off. My employer won’t give me the time off”. How much it costs varies considerably with the level of comfort you want and your expectations. We adjusted our wants and needs many times until it met our budget. We decided to do with less and do without. You have to get creative with money, insurance, etc. You have to want to make it happen and diligently work towards that goal. The more you look into finances and the more creative you get, you will find options that you never knew existed. As for getting a year off from your job, we quit ours knowing we wanted to do something different when we returned. Opportunities and doors may open to you on a trip like this that you would never have known existed.
The learning curve on this trip was steep but it was doable. We all put in lots of hard work and planning and things just kept moving along and working out for us. As you followers know, there were so many instances where things just worked out for us. ‘Whatever happens was meant to be’ became our motto. There were several times when what we needed just came our way. Literally. Some of these moments gave me goosebumps when I realized what the odds were of the situation working out.
What an experience this past year has been… I have always loved trying new things, traveling to different places and pushing the ‘normal’ envelope. Even though I spent a good deal of time preparing for this trip, I was pushed to my physical and mental limits a number of times. Nothing makes you feel more alive than surviving what I call a throw-up scary night in the ocean. There were a few times when I wished I could push the easy button, but I knew when we set off on this trip that there is no easy button on a sailboat. I experienced a wide range of emotions throughout the journey from serenity to sadness, happy to miserable, and from elated to melancholy, sometimes all in the span of one day. Mother Nature dishes out a lot and garners a whole new level of respect when you are living on a boat!
Thanks to all of you for following along and for your support. Your comments, emails and messages meant a great deal to me. The support I received from all of you meant more than you know. I did not always get the time to reply and sometimes did not have internet access for long periods of time but when I did get the messages, I thoroughly enjoyed them.
Fair winds and farewell,