Routes to the Sailing Life
A look at how five families broke free and went cruising.
|Crew: 30-somethings Tucker and Victoria Bradford, 7-year-old- Ruby, 4-year-old Miles
Boat: 1970 Cal 43
Started Cruising: July 2011
Hailing port: San Francisco, California
Short-term plans: Headed for South Pacific
Long-term plans: A circumnavigation
For Tucker and Victoria Bradford, cruising was a means to an end, a way for both parents to be home full-time with their kids. “In this life, our kids have two parents who have little to do but show them the world, read to them, hike with them and help them through their problems. This is important to us,” said Tucker.
The Bradfords began planning their cruise as newlyweds almost eight years ago, before their first child was born. They started with a 10-year plan: five years to eliminate debt followed by five years saving for a boat and for growing the cruising kitty. But about five years into their plan, they found Convivia, made an offer, and bought her. They moved aboard shortly afterward and lived in a marina in the year before casting off.
The family’s ultimate goal is to circumnavigate, but they’re not in a hurry. They want to show their kids as much of the planet as they can along the way, and they’ll likely stop to work at some point before continuing on. “We had to go,” Tucker says. “It was our time. Cruising for us is like living in poverty with panache, but we’re all fulfilled in a way we couldn’t have been in our work-a-day life in California.”
For any would-be cruising family, the Bradfords’ advice is to know when to quit. They repeat what countless others have said: You’ll never have enough money, and your boat will never be ready, so you must set a reasonable date and cast off. I asked Tucker why he thinks more families aren’t out here doing this. “I hate to say this, but I think that mostly, people are afraid,” he said. “I know I was. I know I had panic attacks. I knew we were doing the right thing, but it’s scary as hell to venture away from the beaten path, away from security. I’ll say this to anyone else who’s sure they want to do this but suffers the occasional creeping doubt—jump.”
Ruby, 7, and 4-year-old Miles have adapted well. They both knew since birth that this was their lot, so neither was caught off guard. For them, the most difficult part of cruising is the transition. “Saying good-bye is always hard,” said Tucker. “But they process it directly, big tears, lots of conversation, and then they move on.”
Learn more about this cruising family on their website.