Routes to the Sailing Life
A look at how five families broke free and went cruising.
|Crew: 30-somethings Michael and Sara Johnson, 6-year-old Leah, 3-year-old Holly
Boat: 1985 Jay Benford 38 ketch
Started Cruising: June 2011
Hailing port: Olympia, Washington
Short-term plans: Headed for South Pacific
Long-term plans: New Zealand
In their 20s—and before kids—Michael and Sara Johnson left Seattle and cruised between Alaska and Mexico. They’ve since owned and lived aboard various boats. They enjoy the thrill of traveling the world in their home and have found that having kids along makes it even better. “Seeing the trip through their eyes makes us notice aspects of this lifestyle that we never did when we were just a couple. Besides giving them a unique view of the world, we want to instill in them the belief that they can do anything they want to do and that there’s no need to follow the school-college-marriage-house-kids-work-retirement script.”
While the Johnsons have been out only six months so far this time, Sara reports that “we’ve become much closer than we ever were while doing the whole work/school routines. And it’s not just getting to know each other better. We get many opportunities to work on being more patient and compassionate with each other since frustrations can quickly escalate when you live in a small space.”
When asked how the kids are faring as cruisers, the Johnsons report that their girls seem to like the life of perpetual travel. “They’ve really enjoyed and been fascinated with experiencing new places and cultures,” said Sara. “But we do worry about the stresses of this transient life, the lack of routine on many days, and saying hello and good-bye to friends all the time.”
Michael and Sara believe that even with a modest income, any family with cruising dreams can head out for a year or more by taking three steps. First, get rid of all debt. Second, buy a modest boat and live aboard. Third, save like crazy by thinking of every purchase in terms of whether it’ll advance your cruising goals.
“Our best advice is to ignore people who say that what you want to do is impossible,” Michael said. But he added that accepting risk is probably the limiting factor for most families. “We don’t have boat insurance or health insurance, as these would put a cruising budget out of reach for us.”
Follow the journey of the Johnson family at their website.
The Robertson family is planning to spend the summer cruising in the waters off British Columbia and Alaska.