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The Frequent Five Questions

Our friends on land like to ask questions about our trip.  Some are more reasonable than others, but here are the top 5 questions we get (in whatever order I remembered them)

1: What about pirates?!?

Easy one.  For better or worse, we won’t be encountering any pirates but we haven’t ruled out finding buried pirate gold!  To find a pirate we would need to go back in time, or see them in a movie, or sail to the coast of Somalia.  Actually, there were two “pirate” robberies last year off the coast of Venezuela, but we won’t be heading that far south.  

2: How are you going to homeschooling? (Also asked as “are you crazy?!?”)

This is a totally legit question, whichever way it is phrased.

A few months ago, before she new about our trip, Madeleine had a great insight that supported our plan to homeschool: “Why do I have to go to school for so many hours and so many days? I could do all this learning a lot faster at home!”

Our kids will be missing out on 1st and 3rd grade.  Fortunately, both parents read at least at a 3rd grade level and one of us can handle 3rd grade math, so we feel confident to teach that.  The kids will also have writing assignments, research projects, and museum trips.  Plus cooking, opportunities for art, diesel engine repair, sailing physics, and hopefully immersion in spoken French and Spanish.  

At the end of the 3rd grade curriculum, Oregon requires Madeleine to take a standardized test.  Beyond that one hoop to jump through, there are no other formal requirements for our kids to take a leave of absence from public school.

3: How can you afford it? (most commonly asked by people who are also considering a similar trip)

We think most anyone can afford it if they want to go.  Some folks can only afford is an older boat, some may be able to buy brand new.  Maybe it’s a “cozy” boat, maybe it’s a megayacht. Maybe you pay to stay in marinas, or maybe you anchor out for free.  You can pay someone to fix your boat when it breaks, or you can take the time to fix it yourself.  Budget does not determine if you can or cannot go, you make that choice.  There will never be a right time nor enough money, so we decided that now was better than later (or never).

But really, how can we afford it? We are renting out our house, and fortunately rents are strong in Portland right now, which helps.  And we bought an 11 year old boat on the flat part of the depreciation curve, so hopefully we didn’t overpay as we need to do well when we resell it down the road.  We’re independent contractors, so if/when we run short of cash we can pick up work.  

I am tracking the monthly costs of this sabbatical.  I’ll post most of that separately if you really want to know what it costs.  But keep in mind that your expenses will be different based on your means, goals, and priorities.  

4: Do you know what you’re doing?  Do you even know how to sail?  

No, and not really.  I have a lot of experience on other people’s boats, and Gretel has taken some classes.  We’re a little nervous about the sailing part of this trip, but 95%+ of the time we’ll be safely anchored somewhere.  So it’s really that 95% of the time that we worry about most: planning adventures, working through school, dealing with rainy days, looking after the kids’ safety.

5: Won’t you miss your family and friends?

Yes!  We will miss our family and friends dearly.  We are working on a plan to be home for the Holidays, and family or friends are certainly welcome to come visit the boat! And as Madeleine explained it, “We are going to miss our friends but we are going to meet new friends too!”

Bonus Question #6: What about those hurricanes, are you Ok?!?

Yes, we are safe and sound in Grenada.  Down here at 12 degrees North we are far enough south to have been missed by the storms.  We will stay in this area until the end of hurricane season in November.