Saying goodbye to the life and the steady land that you know to set sail for three years is an adventure most only dream of, but for a few joyous individuals, this is their reality.
A new trend that took the world by storm — before the pandemic hit — was international travel by sailboat. People are ditching planes for boats as a means of cheap, in-depth travel.
One of the first big notices in mass media of sailing was when Sally Gardnier-Smith spent a year sailing to her freshman orientation at Eckerd College the following fall. We read and watched as she sailed accompanied only with her best friend, Ellie, a seven-year-old cockapoo from October 2014 to July 2015. She sailed the U.S. Eastern Seaboard to Florida’s east coast, then east to the Bahamas, west to the Gulf of Mexico and on to Florida’s west coast.
I sat down and talked with Third Culture Kid (TCK) Cassidy Grant, who spent three years sailing the world with her family of 10 people.
We sailed from California down the West Coast to Panama then across to Galapagos. From there we hit half-a-dozen small island countries and finally ended up in New Zealand where our boat is dry docked. We flew home after that.
Cassidy talked about the incredible maturity that came out of sailing that she would not have gained as a holder of airline frequent-flyer miles. As the oldest child on their travels, she found herself immersed in an adult world, one where emotional and mental maturity are held as values above all else. She gained these values quickly as she was thrown into a world of problem solving and was made the co-navigator alongside her stepfather. The two charted the entire course for the family’s three years on the water.
School while abroad is always the question at hand, and when confronted with the question, Cassidy smiled and admitted in the beginning they definitely tried to homeschool. After a while they dropped the strict homeschooling and allowed her to learn from her surroundings, a form of “unschooling” or learning what the student is passionate about. This proved fruitful as she learned Spanish in Panama, spearfishing on remote islands and communication skills in every setting she was thrown into.
Most travelers are avid flyers and find great joy in a US$1,000 flight to Ibiza. In Cassidy’s case, her family was able to live off of $3,000 for a family of 10 each month because of sailing. This changed the game. Sailing provided them not only with a cost-efficient form of travel, but also with a place they could call “home” at all points. The children each had their own corners and spaces crammed with their favorite books and posters, plus a kitchen they all knew their way around.
Sailing is not only a trend, it is a chance to explore unknown islands, bond with fellow boat mates and learn the ways of the sea firsthand.