Routes to the Sailing Life
A look at how five families broke free and went cruising.
|Crew: 40-somethings John and Toni Grippo, 13-year-old Leo, 12-year-old Teresa
Boat: 1996 Gemini 105
Started Cruising: Off and on since 1994
Hailing port: San Diego, California
Short-term plans: The Pacific coast of Mexico
Long-term plans: The Pacific coast of Mexico
For the past 18 years, John and Toni Grippo have mostly maintained a lifestyle whereby they work hard for six months in the United States, then play hard for six months in Mexico. For the past couple of years, their Mexico playtimes have been aboard Popoki, a 1996 Gemini 105. They had a previous boat, and during times between boats, they went camping or took road trips, including a jaunt down to Panama and back.
In California, John works as a journeyman lineman, and he has no trouble getting work maintaining and updating the state’s aging high-voltage infrastructure. In Mexico, he’s a sailor, surfer, and all-around waterman. Toni homeschools both their kids—no matter what country they’re in—and otherwise manages the two teenagers and Kit Kat, the family’s 7-year-old Akita.
Unlike some of the other cruising families, the Grippo children have never known another lifestyle, so for them, there was no transition. “I’ve noticed that at the five-month mark, wherever we are in the world,” said Toni, “both kids start talking about when they’re going on their next trip or when they’re going back to the States. I guess that means they’re attuned to when it’s time to move on to another part of our life.”
Toni sees an upside to the transient life they lead. “I’ve often remarked that I feel more American when I’m out of the States, and Mexican when I’m back in the States. I see the advantages and disadvantages of both countries and cultures. I hope that our kids are also seeing these things and that their observations and experiences improve any area of the world they’re in—just as I hope that John’s and mine do.”
Their advice to those who wish to follow in their wake is to get disciplined about saving and spending money. “John and I have always worked to save the money for our next trip. Lots of cruisers do it this way. They sail when the weather is good, then return home only to work and save for the next cruise.”
Follow Popoki and her crew on the crew’s blog.