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27 January 2008 | Exumas, Bahamas
27 January 2008 | Exumas, Bahamas

Back Story

20 November 2015
This was a response to the question of taking off with young kids that was asked on the Cruisers Forum. Thought I'd share it here.

Great question! Barnikiel provided a very wise response. I'll throw our two cents in here.

We employed a hybrid process. When we did sell the house and take off our girls were 1 and 4 (4 and 7 when they crossed the Pacific). We were in our early to mid 30's.

Our hybrid process? For the decade before we took off we shared a Huges Northstar 40 with a friend who was in a similar business. For those years we would each go sailing for about 2-3months on then off. In the off time we would manage and grow our respective business' (we were never partners) while the other cruised. The rule was "leave the boat and the business better than you found it".

What we learned from this was that after about the 8 week mark both my wife and I were itching to get back and do something different. Just endless "cruising" without purpose "which is generally a destination for us" just got old. Please don't hang me from the gallows! Just sharing our experience :-)

So this went on until Madison arrived (found out we were expecting in Grenada but that is another story). We sold the boat, built "the" house and settled into "life". That lasted about 3 years until she got the bug. I found her one day sitting on the floor of the playroom staring at the world map on the wall and we had the "conversation". That turned into selling the house and taking off.

The hybrid part is that we kept the business and worked over the next two years to get it running by itself more or less so that we had a steady income and something to return to which we did after 10 years in 2012. Hybrid is also about doing different experiences and living in different places at different times of the year-see the "mobility home concept" :-)

After buying the boat we spent a season in the Bahamas after doing NOTHING to her short of general service. We went back to Alaska for that summer then the next season we added all the bits and pieces we knew we needed, tested them for another season and took off.

There were MANY anxious nights discussing if we were doing the right thing (see poem below written by Becky)....MANY. As many others have said in hindsight we would not change a thing. (that's not totally true but true enough) :-)

We ended that part of our lives in 2005 in New Zealand with the realization that the girls needed more and that the magic part of the globe was behind us for the time being. We immigrated (legally), bought a home in Opua, made great friends and memories. After 7 years however Alaska called and for a variety of reasons we decided in was time to go "home".

What we learned was that we love the variety of life, time cruising (enough to really be "in it", time with family and home, time on the road in an RV (we did 3 cross country trips over that period) and the blessing of having a regular income that did not require us to be there 24/7.

There are many paths to this lifestyle and yours will fit you and be yours and it will be right. The hardest part indeed is casting off those lines and heading out. Here's a poem my wife wrote before we left for Mexico and points south:

THE RIGHT THING - a poem for sailing Mom's
by Becky Berger, S/V 'Ohana in Exumas, Bahamas
Mother of 2 little girls

Last night I cried.
The tears just kept flowing and I couldn't stop.
I panicked
Are we doing the right thing?
A beautiful house with cozy beds, soaking tubs, newly planted gardens
Neighbors who wave and smile as they pass by
Good friends
Computers humming with 24-hour internet access
Cable TV
Stainless steel appliances, washing machines, microwaves
Scheduled playdates, Gymboree, music lessons, soccer practice

Leaving it all

Traffic jams
Kids screaming in the backseat
An organizer so jammed I can't close it
A house so big I can't clean it
Running on the same treadmill - scenery unchanging
CNN buzzing with the same stories
Books on the shelf unread, waiting
Glancing wearily at my husband, too tired to talk

I sleep

This morning I woke to a brilliant sunrise
Coffee brewing on the galley stove
He was sitting with the girls, giggling and waking them with kisses
I stole a smile from him as I walked out on deck
The cool breeze awoke my senses as I sat at the bow with my warm mug
I pan our surroundings - coconut palms, white beaches, a sailboat, an old wooden dock
Breathing and stretching, I listened
Waves slapped gently against our hull
A seagull calls, breaking the silence
Clocks and schedules gone
Days spent together
We talk. We laugh. We share
I am alive and life is simple
And then I decided...

We are doing the right thing


Enjoy every moment!
Vessel Name: Ohana II
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter Legend 40.5
Hailing Port: Anchorage, Alaska
Crew: Paul, Becky, Madison and Kelsey
Started this back in 2008 and abandoned quickly for other options. Time has gone by and we're back! After many adventures across the Caribbean and Pacific aboard Ohana we are back on it aboard Ohana II. The idea was to find a simple inexpensive boat that Madison and Kelsey could sail. [...]
Ohana II's Photos - Main
These are some photos that accompany the article of how we handled finances while cruising.
7 Photos
Created 25 September 2023
21 Photos
Created 27 March 2016
Just pics of great evenings with great friends.
54 Photos
Created 12 February 2016
Some basic pics of her interior et al.
41 Photos
Created 3 February 2016
A few pics of our first family catamaran that we owned and loved for a decade.
29 Photos
Created 2 February 2016
Round two with our Kelsey! She got the best of New England!
16 Photos
Created 21 January 2016
Highlights from 40 days sailing with our oldest daughter Madison Anne. Check out her blog at:
15 Photos
Created 14 November 2015