Our Crazy Family Sailing Adventure – The Plan

Sailing boat yacht fender knots

We’ve been joking about buying a boat, filling it fun of gin and sailing around the world for years, even before our kids were born. It was such a ridiculous dream that neither of us actually meant it. So guess what we’re going to do next…..  We don’t have a boat and we don’t know how to sail but our family sailing adventure is turning from a dream into a plan!  

The Dream

While we were backpacking in Asia we talked a lot about our “next adventure”. What shall we do next? Where shall we go? Should we live in a different country? Should we all take up a different hobby or sport? Could we set up our own business? How long do we have before Sam and Evan need to make decisions about college, careers and life?  We had such an incredible year that we couldn’t imagine not doing it again.

Family fun in Sri Lanka

We had an incredible year backpacking around Asia and Australia. It brought us so close as a family. This is us in Ella, Sri Lanka.

The subject of buying a boat, filling it full of gin and sailing around the world cropped up time and time again. We fantasised about what sort of sailing boat we would get, where we would go and even what we would call it.

“Adventure Inn”, in case you’re wondering.

I remember spotting a beautiful sailing boat in Ko Lanta, Thailand, anchored in the bay of the Old Town. I thought “Oooh! There she is. There’s Adventure Inn”. Without prompting, Dez asked me later with a smile “Did you see Adventure Inn anchored in the bay?”.

And so the ridiculous, far-fetched dream of buying a boat and sailing around the world just became more and more real in our heads. But it was still only a dream. One day maybe?

The Problem

Since returning from travelling for a year with the boys, we haven’t really settled in. The boys are not enjoying school. I hate seeing them so miserable. Dez has been working away in Sweden for four days every week. This was our biggest mistake, I think. We thought we would adjust to not being together as a family. We can cope with anything, right? Well, apparently not. Some families cope well with being apart all week. Some even thrive on it. But we don’t. That’s clear now. I actually quite enjoy my job, but I miss the boys and I miss Dez.

Something has to change.

Another problem is that none of us have ever sailed a boat before.  The closest we have been to sailing was our one and only family sailing adventure in Sri Lanka, riding on a traditional wooden fishing boat.  It wasn’t really sailing but we all loved the feeling of being on the water.  Click here to read Evan’s traditional sailing boat adventure Smug Monday post.   Click here to see a cheesy video with an awesome soundtrack!

The Solution

Dez has finished his job in Sweden and is now working in London. We are yet to see if that is any better. But at least he’s coming home every night.

But the biggest change is that we have made a decision. We have a plan. It’s a bit mad and we don’t know how we are going to fund it yet. But we are going to make our dream into a reality.

We are going to buy a boat and sail around the world on a crazy family sailing adventure! 

Yay!

Ok, so circumnavigation may be a dream too far. Time and money may restrict our options for that. But we plan to sail across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and, hopefully, South America.  So at least a bit of the world.  And then?  Who knows??

The boat won’t be FULL of gin, exactly, but I think we can fit a bottle or two on board. It would be rude not to.

How far have we got with our family sailing adventure plan?

We have done lots of research on the sort of boat we want and what we can afford. It’s more complicated than you’d think, you know. It seems that there is no such thing as the perfect boat, particularly on our budget. Do we buy a home that sails or a sailing boat with accommodation?  Compromises have to be made. But where? We have viewed lots of boats for sale, in an attempt to learn more.  The list of sailing boat options is slowly narrowing.  We haven’t found “Adventure Inn” yet but she’s out there somewhere and we’re closing in.

Click here to read our Idiot’s Guide to Choosing a Family Sailing Boat, and find out how it went.

Boat buyers sign

We’ve looked at lots of sailing boats in different boat yards. This sign made we smile.

Dez and I have spent two excellent weekends in force 8 gales in the Solent, learning how to be RYA Competent Crew.  This is very different to being on a wooden sailing boat in Sri Lanka.  So much to learn.

Just being on different sailing boats, sleeping and cooking, helped us to narrow down our liveaboard sailing boat requirements.  We’re not strangers to living in confined places.  For the first nine years of our kids’ lives, our holidays involved either a tent or a very small campervan.  We’re also not strangers to boats,  having spent a fair amount of time on smelly, cramped British dive boats.   However, we hadn’t considered living on one for a year or so.  This is completely different.

Sailing in Force 8 gales in the Solent and rainbow over Portsmouth

Weekend 1 of our Competent Crew course in the Solent in March. Force 7 to 8, gusting 9. Awesome fun! A rainbow over Portsmouth in the distance.

Sailing boat in gusty winds

Weekend 2. More force 8 gales. In my opinion, no sailing boat should be at this angle. It’s just wrong, and I nearly cried. It was much scarier than it looks in this photo!

Of course the boys might not like sailing, or living on a boat. Evan might be horrifically sea sick. They might both have an irrational fear of clove hitches. So we have just come back from our first proper family sailing adventure, living aboard a 40 foot sailing boat in the Canary Islands, with an RYA instructor. Well, you didn’t think we’d risk them having their first taste of sailing in miserable weather in the Solent, did you?

We had an amazing week sailing between Tenerife and La Gomera. Sam and Evan are now qualified RYA Competent Crew. Dez and I are now officially RYA Day Skippers.  A family of sailors ready for a family sailing adventure…sort of…

And most importantly, the boys loved it!

Family Sailing Adventure in the Canary Islands

Hoisting the main sail! Much less wind and lovely, lovely sun for the boys’ Comp Crew course in the Canary Islands.

What else? We’ve watched lots and lots of awesome Youtube videos from crazy people currently sailing around the world. Check out SV Delos and Sailing Zatara, our current faves. We have bought a pair of sailing gloves each. Well, we’ve got to start somewhere. Evan has purchased a beanie hat with ‘Cabin Boy’ written on the front. Oh, and Dez has started practising drinking G&T. Because that’s what sailors do. Really, it is.

What next?

Our rough plan is to cross the Atlantic around Christmas time, 2018, so now we have a year to do, well, everything else. We need to buy a boat. We need to get much, much more sailing experience. Our RYA Day Skipper qualification gives us a basic understanding of sailing but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have things to buy, things to sell, things to rent out, money to earn and save. We have so much more to learn and lots of difficult decisions to make.

Packing up our lives to go backpacking for a year was hard work.  This time we don’t have a return date.


We would love for you to follow our family sailing adventure. You can subscribe to the website for updates. We are also on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.

We are incredibly excited about the journey ahead!

Come and join us! It will be a blast!


What’s your dream?  Living and travelling on a sailing boat isn’t for everyone.  We’re not even sure it’s for us yet!  What’s the one big adventure you dream of?  Tell us in the comments below.  Always looking for new ideas!

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Buying a boat and sailing around the world

17 Comments on “Our Crazy Family Sailing Adventure – The Plan

  1. amazing , dont forget a hammock for me for six months or so…….x

  2. I’ll put yo in contact with friends of mine that did something similar if you like??? They live in Portsmouth too.

  3. You will all have another amazing adventure together. Be safe. Will miss you again. X

    • Thanks! It’s all very exciting and a lot scarier than backpacking around Asia, but only because we haven’t done it before. Lots to learn, adventures to have! xxxxxx

  4. Looking forward to following your adventure!
    We’re just starting our plan for ‘the great escape’ with our 2 young children.
    It’s nice to find a uk based family doing the same. Many other blogs I have found, although fab, are US based.

    • That’s fantastic. How far have you got with your planning? Where in the Uk are you based? This does seem to be a very popular thing to do from the US but not too many British families doing it. Do you have a blog? X

  5. Just found your blog and feel very inspiree from what I’ve read!

    We’re a family of five based in Sweden and are in a similar situation with plans of jumping aboard our own sailboat (we don’t own one yet. Congrats on the oyster BTW) and sailing off into the sunset to (hopefully) live happily ever after. 😀

    As of now we are looking at a plan 5-8 years (hopefully less) until final departure. bythen our oldest girl will be well over 18 and our youngest in her late teens. But adult or not, the kids are more than welcome to join us and we hope they will.

    So the next 5-8 years will be spent learning, paying off debt, and working out the fine details of future income etc.

    We’re hoping to be able to purchase our own boat next year and start the learning process.

    I look forward to reading your adventures on such a similar path.

    • Hi Scott! This is very exciting! It’s really lovely to hear from people who have similar dreams to us. Good luck with your saving and learning. It seems there is a lot more saving and learning to be done than we realised so we may take a year longer than we thought! Have you sailed before or are you learning from scratch? Do you have a blog?

      • My wife has sailed more than I have. She worked on a Finnish charter boat in Venezuela (about a lifetime ago 😀 ) Together we’ve taken some intensive week courses. But I think it’s safe to say that we both fall into the novice category.

        We don’t have a blog yet but are seriously thinking of starting one. There are a lot of sailing blogs out there, but most are by family’s who already have a boat and are living the life.

        We enjoy finding those that are in the very beginning of their journey. It’ll be some time before we get there and I’m sure that it will be full of ups and downs.

        An adventure in its own right. 🙂

        • I agree. I think the journey towards the adventure is just as exciting to read about as the adventure itself, more so sometimes! I hope to bump into you on the sea sometime in the future! Good luck with your boat hunt, when you get there. 🙂

  6. Just read this through Alyson’s FB group and loved it! We are a British family of 4 who emigrated to NZ 8 years ago. My kids are 16 and 13,I’ve homeschooled them both for 6 years and in January this year we decided enough was enough! Time to do that backpacking trip that we had always talked about. We leave in November (eeekk!!) I’m starting a blog to document it and hopefully make s bit of spending money. You’re adventure sounds amazing, I look forward to reading about it. Good luck! Liz

    • Hi Liz, We LOVED our backpacking adventure! Best thing we have ever done. Your kids will see and experience so much! I’ll be following your blog to see how you get on and where you go. Good luck! Floss

  7. We too have been talking about buying a boat and sailing the world before kids and after. We nearly bought a boat the year we got married 13 years ago but it was sold. We went sailing in Marlborough Sounds on a catamaran and fell in love. We did a basic sailing course in Lyttelton harbour in New Zealand. We sailed as crew with a friend in his sluggish old Farr and actually helped him win his first race! We almost bought a catamaran in Greece but….now we’re on hold again. 4 children in 12 years, only one of which can swim but still dreaming about sailing, only we need a bigger boat! Will have to be a catamaran for us though – I like to be able to put my G&T down!

    • Lol! I’m worrying about my G&T on our boat (or rum and coke – we’ve decided to be more like Jack Sparrow). Might have to get one of those toddler cups though so I don’t spill any. Catamarans were out of our price range. You should get a boat. Avoiding peanuts would be easy on the sea. That must be really difficult for you all in Asia. Hope you are having fun in Cornwall. Beautiful part of the UK. x

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