A Year Afloat With The Family - Sail Magazine

A Year Afloat With The Family

Living onboard a 50-foot sailboat with six members of your family for a year isn’t always easy—especially in a space the size of your living room. For example, what are you to do when your brother uses up all the hot water—for the rest of the day? Or when, after a bitter spat with your sister, the length of the saloon is the farthest you’re going to get away from each other—for the next two
Author:
Publish date:
cruising_northatlantic_1

Living onboard a 50-foot sailboat with six members of your family for a year isn’t always easy—especially in a space the size of your living room. For example, what are you to do when your brother uses up all the hot water—for the rest of the day? Or when, after a bitter spat with your sister, the length of the saloon is the farthest you’re going to get away from each other—for the next two weeks? And it can be tough keeping everyone’s eating habits, bedtimes, musical tastes, waking hours, drink preferences, and trips ashore in sync. (Bad moods, however, always seem wondrously concurrent.)

Of course there are compensations, like clambering up on deck in the morning and finding yourself in Europe, Africa, or the Caribbean. Or watching dolphins trace phosphorescent trails through bioluminescent algae in the midnight darkness of a moonless night watch at sea. And, for every quarrel you have, there are surely two or three moments of deep bonding through adversity and exotic experience—like that time you survived a raging gale in the North Atlantic together.

This was my family’s life for twelve months.

cruising_northatlantic_2

In late June of 2006 we set out aboard Medley, a 50-foot cutter-rigged ketch, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, accompanied by the piped strains of “Farewell to Nova Scotia” and the bittersweet hurrahs of the friends who had gathered to see us off. There were seven of us: my aunt Suezan Aikins, my uncle Sam Rogers, my father, Greg Aikins, my two younger brothers, Michael and Taylor, and my sister, Christianne, the youngest, whom we would home-school throughout the trip.

We were all sailors, of various stripes, but this would be the first time any of us had embarked on a journey of this magnitude: a yearlong, 11,000-mile loop clockwise around the North Atlantic, during which we’d visit the coast of Europe and the islands of West Africa and the Caribbean. It was my father’s dream, incubated during his days as a naval officer, to steal the family away to sea and escape the quotidian hustle-bustle, if just for a year. Of course, dreams have a way of being deferred by the tangles of mortgages, careers, and the educations of four children. But when I, the eldest, approached my final year in university, my father realized that his last chance to actually do it would soon be at hand.

At the same time, my aunt Suezan and my uncle Sam, artists and longtime residents of Prospect, Nova Scotia, were hoping to do something similar. Together they and my father searched out and purchased a boat—and the fellowship of seven was formed.

Related

Outremer45

Boat Review: Outremer 45

It’s funny the way things that work right almost inevitably tend to look right as well. Case in point: the Outremer 45, a catamaran that can’t help but turn heads with its large rig, nicely sculpted cabintrunk and narrow, purposeful bows. Better yet, under sail the boat more than ...read more

Sunset-Tyrrel-Bay

Charter: Glorious Grenada

In the wake of the hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands last year many charterers ended up going farther south to Grenada and the Grenadines where they found the sailing excellent and the vibe just fine“God must have been a sailor when he created the Caribbean,” a friend ...read more

WaterLinesNov

Waterlines: Tangled Up in Pots

I learned to sail on the Maine coast as a boy, and one of the things my elders taught me was to respect fishing gear. If you got caught up with a lobster pot, you did everything you could to get clear without cutting the pot warp. It represented a family’s livelihood and thus was ...read more

7353

Harken’s Reflex 3 top-down Furler

Furl PowerAre you afraid of flying—spinnakers, that is? Harken’s new Reflex 3 top-down furler will tame A-sails on monohulls from 44-58ft and multis from 39-55ft, and Code 0’s on 39-54ft monos and 36-50ft multis. All you do is heave on the furling line and the sail will roll up ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comDitch the stress Owners of high-freeboard yachts best boarded via the stern sugar-scoop like to back them into a slip, but the process can be fraught on a windy day or when there’s a current running, ...read more

Sun-Odyssey-490-Bertrand_DUQUENNE-aft

Boat Review: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

True innovation in monohull sailboat design can be a bit elusive these days. That’s not to say that there are no more new ideas, but it does seem that many new tweaks and introductions are a bit incremental: let’s say evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Just when it seems ...read more