Q & A

The crew of Del Viento sits down for a question and answer session.

November 25, 2014
Santa Rosalia
This is the cemetery on the hill above Santa Rosalia. That’s Windy’s mom on the left–she came to stay with us aboard for three weeks. It was a good visit, except that we spent a full week of it at anchor in Santa Rosalia waiting for the gale-force northers to settle. But we made it up to Bay of L.A. and saw some pretty anchorages in between. And that’s our good cruising friend, Norma, between the girls. Michael Robertson

The crew on s/v Shawnigan, another cruising family, thoughtfully commented here a while back saying that they like our blog and want to recognize it. They directed us to a list of questions they want us to answer and invited us to pass on the good will by forwarding our own questions to another blog we wish to highlight. I’m not ready to do the latter at this time, but everyone loves a good Q&A, so I’ll tackle those now. (In fact, to that point, I love answering any and all questions about us and what we’re doing, so please feel free to ask away in the comments or send us and email.)

We’ll get back to our regular programing next week.

What inspired you to start your blog?


Windy actually started the blog—note that the first few posts are hers. But then she asked me to contribute and it slowly became my voice. Though she is still very involved, mostly through editing what I write here.

She was inspired by our desire to share our adventure (and our lives leading up to it) with family and friends. I was originally inspired by the idea that the blog could become an income source. But I never went down that road (until Cruising World asked to republish our content on their site for a stipend). I wrote a lengthy post examining why we share our lives so publically, but I think it boils down to three reasons: to communicate (and make connections with other cruising families), to feel relevant/influencial, to practice and improve my writing.

Eleanor kissing a long deceased puffer fish. Del Viento at anchor in the background. Michael Robertson

Who is your target audience?


Family, friends, other cruisers (especially those with kids), and I imagine the largest percentage of readers are those people who are contemplating or planning this way of living. But I really have no data to back up these metrics.

How or why did you end up with the boat you are currently sailing on?

We were looking for a heavy displacement cruising boat on the West Coast that was big enough to fit our family and in our price range. We found our Fuji 40 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico about a year before we planned to take off. I wrote a detailed post about our thinking and about our coming to buy this particular boat. Unlike most cruisers who work for years to get their boat ready, ours was virtually untouched by us when we began our voyage. We spent many months tearing it apart and working on it as we went.


What has been the hardest part of boatschooling your kids?

Aboard Del Viento, Windy does nearly 100 percent of the schooling. She has no formal training, but it’s gone very smoothly, especially relative to stories we’ve heard from others. She credits some of this ease to the fact that she was able to begin homeschooling the girls two years before we left and was involved in a supportive homeschooling cooperative in D.C. during that time. We don’t use a formal curriculum, just a hodgepodge of materials she’s put together. It can be challenging balancing conventional academic progress with opportunities for experiences, but when a whale shark is in the anchorage, it trumps school work any day.

What has been the most enjoyable/satisfying part of boatschooling?


Windy reports that it is simply the pleasure of being a partner in their day-to-day learning, of watching them mature intellectually, and being right there when they make those connections.

Do you plan on traditional schooling at any point? If so, when?

The only scenarios we imagine are a) we land in some interesting place where the girls’ attending school is the best way for them to be involved in that culture, and b) the girls request to go to conventional school, say in high school. By the way, the girls’ schooling also incorporates several learning apps on the iPad. Both girls spend nearly all their free time reading and writing and drawing—or listening to audio books.

What sea creature do you most identify with (what would you want to be?) and why? And how about the rest of the family?

I don’t really have an answer, but I polled the girls so I could put their responses here.

“What do you mean? I don’t have a favorite and I wouldn’t want to be a sea creature.” Said Eleanor.

“Those jelly guys, you know the guys that eat crabs and they suck in–oh yeah, a sea anemone!” Said Frances.

How do you divide your watch hours? Do any of the kids help?

We’ve never done formal watch hours. We do it today like we did in our twenties. I like to stay up late and Windy likes to get up early. After an early dinner I’ll be off watch until just after dusk. Then, Windy will go down and read to the girls and they’ll all fall asleep. At 2 or 3:00 a.m., I’ll be ready to sleep and will wake Windy. She’ll usually then wake me about 9:00 a.m. or so. It’s always worked well for us. Eleanor’s a bit of a night owl and she’ll sometimes stay up late with me. When she turned 10-years-old last year, she started doing thirty-minute daytime watches topsides by herself when we were under power or sailing in light airs. She’ll check the gauges and make autopilot adjustments, following a track on the iPad, and keep a diligent eye ahead.

What is your favorite recipe for your first 3 days of a passage?

Frances in Santa Rosalia. Michael Robertson

I seem to be immune to seasickness and I do much of the cooking anyway, so I spend a lot of time underway down below, in the galley. Unless it’s really rough, we eat pretty much like we do at anchor, though more often in the cockpit. And of course, what we eat depends on where we are—Alaska and the Sea of Cortez each provoke a different appetite. In Mexico we eat a lot of quesadillas and in Alaska we ate a lot of lentil soup. It’s worth noting that when we feel like it, we drink alcohol underway—beer and wine with meals and such. I don’t think this is the norm.

What is your favorite ice cream?

I am torn between Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond. If I knew I was dying tomorrow, I’d consume a gallon pint of each. Windy says strawberry. Eleanor loves ice cream, but has no favorite. Frances loves cookie dough-flavored ice cream. By the way, you can get Haagen-Dazs in La Paz, Mexico. It costs about US$8 per pint—we’ve never bought any.


In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at


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