Rather than continuing writing on our journey from Connecticut to South America, I think it is time to address your need for planning, i.e. what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Each cruiser has many of the same responsibilities and many have very different issues. One essential task is to plan an itinerary. You need to consider the length of time required to accomplish your trip, from its start to your final travel destination and return home.
Just where do you start? First of all you need to plan your voyage realistically for six months, one year, two years, three years and so on. This plan should include your trip time and the time needed to return to your original home base. Just what do you need to know? Where do you start?
Are you planning to go off sailing with an open ended schedule? Do you estimate that this trip will take one year, two years, three years or more or even less? Do you plan any returns to you home from a distant harbor while leaving your boat in a slip or on the hard? Chances are that whatever your plan when you started out, it will be modified as you go along.
Most long range cruisers whom we have met along the way, ourselves included, left our voyage an open book. Yes, we did have an outline of where and how long we planned to be gone, but there was always an opening in the plans to allow for changes for many reasons.
Boat condition is a primary reason people continue on or turn back. Comfort, health and stamina of your crew and skipper, set the tone and harmony for all and has a most important impact on everyone’s mental state and physical comfort. Do you push onward when everyone is tired or do you all relax and take each day as it comes?
Comfort, rest, conditions on board, weather and wind directions, sleep, loneliness, and congeniality play a part in how you and your crew interact on a day to day basis.
This description describes a group or captain with a friendly crew. Another alternative is the “Mom and Pop” scenario which is perhaps the most common format of today’s cruisers.
Most of the cruisers whom we met along the way were middle aged, retired from their landlocked life at work or home and eager to try life at sea. We have met several couples who were traveling with children, who brought their school studies and plans with them. Time was set aside each day for school work and homework. The children were very conscientious and attended to their studies before they left the vessel each day. After study time, they rounded up a group and put together teams for board games and physical games such as basketball, golf, track, swimming competitions, soccer, football and the like. The students were very serious about their homeschooled lessons as well as physical education.
Each student had an education plan suited for his age, grade, and ability. There are several companies which offer homeschooled lessons. You can check on line by looking for on board schooling lessons for all school age students. There are several and with some investigation on your part, you should find one that fits your needs and expectations. Do not let this get in the way of traveling with children as their life at sea is a life time experience of is own.
Along with the required school lessons you can add, navigation, study of night skies, mathematics, using time and distance problems, which should be enhanced by living the experience of boating. You can add geography, history, botany, and the language of the islands you visit. The kids will benefit from a non-traditional education experience with the many on line resources available for family instruction.
Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron.