How Traveling Has Changed Our Family (And What's Next For the Moxie Crew)

     Three years.  THREE YEARS! This summer, our family will have been on the road, on the sea, in the Caribbean and in Europe, movi...

    

Three years.  THREE YEARS! This summer, our family will have been on the road, on the sea, in the Caribbean and in Europe, moving around on the earth, full-time traveling, for three years.  It absolutely does not seem possible.  How could this stretch of time, which at first seemed so vast and expansive, been gobbled up so quickly?  The only explanation I can come up with is that the earth is spinning faster these.  Can any scientists out there back this theory up?  "Cause I SWEAR I'm right.

When we initially hatched the idea to ditch our normal lives and become full-time travelers, I never imagined that we'd be gone this long.  Back in those early days, traveling for six months seemed like a crazy undertaking of monumental proportions,  I couldn't imagine how anyone would pull up stakes from their normal lives and just...go.  But with persuasion from my big-picture envisioning husband, we decided to do just that.  We would buy a sailboat, join the live-aboard life of cruisers, and just...go.  With that kind of big financial commitment, the scope of my imagination broadened, and I could see us being gone a year...mayyyybe two.  I fully expected that at the end of a full year of sailing, I would be missing our beloved hometown of Telluride, Colorado, the brick and mortar house we love, and the happy routine we maintain there.  Man, was I wrong.

See, the thing about travel is that it changes you.  It changes you in all ways: heart, mind, and ability to imagine.  I had no idea that I would be capable of this much change at my age (when we began traveling I was 42, now I am 45).  Prior to traveling, I had been under the impression that I was a mature and fully-developed person who knew what she liked and didn't like, who could set her watch to the steady beat of her predictable, sensible heart.  I was under the impression that I coveted granite counter-tops and that having stainless steel appliances in my kitchen mean that I had achieved something great.

I thought that fancy jeans were important. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

When we cast off the bow lines and began traveling full-time, it didn't take me long to figure out that spending 24 hours a day with my husband, son, and daughter, all while exploring new environments, was the answer to what I actually wanted out of life, what excited me about living, what fulfilled me as a human, and what was truly the essence of my soul.  Within the first few months of being together as a family full-time, something inside me just clicked, and I knew: THIS is the way we were meant to live.  People have asked us, "How can you spend all of your time together and not go insane?  Don't you get sick of each other?" Honestly, we often do drive each other nuts.  But the thing is, back in "regular life", sending our kids off to school five days a week and then to after-school activities and weekend ski clubs and the dozens of other things that took them away from us all the time just always felt wrong.  I was frustrated and sad a lot of the time, without really knowing why...but now I do.  It was because being with our kids, and being together as a family, was what our hearts were longing for.  Once we jumped into the deep end of adventuring and homeschooling and figuring out life together as a 24-hour, 365 day foursome, we found ourselves living more spontaneously, authentically, and happily.  Do we get on each other's nerves, bicker and argue, and often need to take space?  Absolutely.  But it's not as bad you might think.  You get used to it.  You learn tolerance.  You learn to let things go. 

Few things have felt better to us than witnessing our kids thrive as a result of this lifestyle.  Our 8 year old Vivian, who, when we started this journey used to bury her face in my clothing whenever she met someone new, now boldly runs up to kids on the beach and says, "Let's play!"  Our 12 year old Hudson can speak with confidence and clarity on a range of subjects including all manner of sea life, fishing (from rods and reels to spear and nets), and just about anything you can imagine involving boats or motors.  They've learned a lot and grown a lot, but at the same time, they've retained their child-like wonder and innocence.  They are joyful, not jaded.  As a visiting friend just remarked after spending time with them, "Your kids know so much, and they're so mature, but they're also immature, you know?" It's true.  My kids have been sheltered from most media for the last three years.  They don't know about things that most kids their ages know.  But what they do know is how to make their own fun.  They know how to play outside all day on a pile of rocks.  They know how to combat boredom with their own imaginations. They are living what I 'd call an "old fashioned" childhood. (But it's one with Harry potter books, so therefore better).

And then...there's sailing.  Sailing and I have a love-hate relationship.  Don't get me wrong, I love sailing.  But I also hate sailing.  While I love living aboard our tiny floating home and I love the exploration, the "Hey, we woke up in a new anchorage for the 5th time this week" aspect of sailing, offshore passages and being at sea for extended periods are experiences that have fully knocked me out of my comfort zone.  To be more accurate, these sailing experiences have knocked me out of my comfort zone and thrown me onto a pile of sharp rocks interspersed with broken bottles.  Sailing picked me up, turned me upside down and shook me, then laughed in my face.  Sailing snickered as it whispered in my ear, "You many think you can do anything, but you're going to have to really work for this one, sister." And work I did. For three years, as I struggled through all types of misadventures at sea (most of them recounted here on this blog), as I grappled with self-doubt and mistakes and fear, I re-learned what it feels like to fail.  This was not a bad thing.  Failure woke my brain up, made me think and troubleshoot and problem-solve, and be, well, better.  As it turns out, I was due for some humbling.

Maybe the biggest, best change in our family as a result of traveling has been in Trav.  I knew Trav as a child, we grew up together. (To clear up the elephant in the room, yes, we are childhood sweethearts, attached at the hip since we were 16). Trav as a child, as a teenager, as a college student, and as a wild young ski bum, was always a crazy ball of happy energy and idealism.  But as we transitioned into the age of RESPONSIBLE ADULTHOOD, some of Trav's natural "Joie de Vivre" seemed to fade a bit.  Stress took over a lot of the time.  Seriousness crept in. Trav worked harder, but not happier. He fretted more, and laughed less.  But on June 13, 2015, the day we officially committed to change our lives and buy a sailboat, I swear that the crow's feet at the corners of Trav's eyes began to shrink.  He "youthened".  The daunting yet exhilarating planning stages for our travel, the search for, and purchase of, our sailboat Moxie and the leaping off the proverbial and literal dock restored Trav with his old spark.  The old Trav, the sillier Trav, the happier and more daring Trav that I had always known and loved, was back.  A lifestyle that focuses on family and adventuring has allowed Trav to be a more present, spontaneous Dad, one who's much more prone to leading a lip-synch contest or pushing the fam to skip homeschooling and hit the surf break instead.  Traveling served as a huge reminder to my husband of the ideals he has always cherished, that life is for living and that you only get one shot at it so you'd better make it count.  While we've been on the road, Trav came up with a line that's become our family motto: "Live the story you want to tell." We heed these words by trying to make every day extraordinary, and by being grateful.  We may not always knock it out of the park, but we're much more mindful of this than we used to be.  We want to live, and tell, a great story.  (BTW, Trav's crow's feet are now back.  Three years of squinting into the sun at the helm of a boat will do that to you.)

So what's next for our crew? Sigh...big changes ahead.  Right now, Trav and Hud are sailing Moxie from Bermuda to Newport, Rhode Island.  Our plan is to live on Moxie this summer, sailing around New England.  In the fall, we'll head west, back to our home in Telluride.  As I sit here, these words are very difficult to write.  I just can't believe that our traveling days will soon end.  I don't know how we'll feel, how we'll adjust.  So I'll take it one day at a time.  It could very well be that we'll decide at the last minute to alter course, change the plan.  That would be typical of us.  So who knows?  as Trav likes to say, "We'll send you a postcard when we get there."

Thank you for reading. xo
           
After 5 months in France, we returned to Grenada and began prepping Moxie for her BIG journey north.  We hauled her out and began slathering her with TLC.

Check out Moxie's new bottom paint...sweet!  It was amazing how much faster she sailed after doing this.
We traveled from Grenada to St. Martin with two great crew members to help us on the overnight passages.  Derek and Danielle brought lots of laughter, new ideas and tons of stories to Moxie.  It was such a blast to sail with them!


Danielle makes a new friend on Hog Island in Grenada.

Derek is a lashing-master! 

A couple of years ago, a new friend began following us on Instagram, an avid fisherman who once lived on the same sailboat we have, a Mason '43.  Over the years he's given Hud lots of great fishing tips and enthusiastic encouragement.  And recently, he sent a huge box of amazing gear, which included the very special reel you see in this photo. THis reel has an incredible story.   Hud is going to write a blog post about this "magic reel" and it's significance, so I'll leave it at that for now.  

Hud's first tuna!  Actually, a half a tuna (one half was bitten off by a shark as he reeled it in)!  But it was still big enough to feed our crew of six...

Tuna steaks and sushi for everyone!!! 
Our first stop was Salt Whistle Bay in the Grenadines.  When you think, "Tropical Paradise", you can picture this bay. 
Next was the idyllic island of Bequia in the Grenadines.  One of our favorite places in the Caribbean.

In Bequia, the beach and the town are connected by this gorgeous walkway.  

Hud and Viv spent an entire afternoon giving rides to local kids on our paddle boards at the beach.  When they finally got too tired, Trav took a turn.
 After a long, bumpy overnight sail, we made a 100 mile jump to St. Lucia.  Here's the lovely main street in Soufriere.
              I made Danielle get on the on the radio one day to ask a question about laundry.  The hailing protocol is very specific and feels super weird until you get used to it, that's why she's cracking up.

 Sunrise on Dominica!  We had sailed all night, got into Plymouth Harbor, but didn't stay.  Instead, we decided to make tracks for Iles de Saintes, a little island we love off the south coast of Guadeloupe so we could...

...celebrate Trav's birthday!  This was a French island, so we got to indulge in all the French treats we;ve been jonesing for since we left Chamonix.  I think 46 looks good on our Captain. 

A river hike and swim in Guadeloupe was a treat.  When you live on a boat surrounded by salt water, swimming in fresh water is always a luxury!

We hopped to Antigua, where we met up with some of our favorite people on this earth, our sailing friends who we've traveled with, off and on, for the past three years.  These are families who have been there with us through thick and thin, through a 6 month joyful stint in Cabarete, through adventures big and small.  Sv Upside Up, SV The Kraken, and SV Clarity, we love you more than words can say.   
This is what I mean about my kids learning to make my their own fun.. In Antugua, Hud and Viv met up with some other boat kids, old pals of theirs, and played for three days straight on a big outcropping of rocks.  They would play from the early morning hours until the sun went down.  At the end of one of these days, Viv came back with a homemade knife.  I love it when my kids can be kids, and run wild in the outdoors without interruption.  This is what childhood should be.

We made it to St. Martin and the provisioning for the BIG trip (ST. Martin to Newport) began!  Here's Hud in the cockpit with just SOME of the groceries.

Meet crew number 2!  Gordon and Chris are with Trav and Hud right now, currently about 100 nautical miles from Newport.  They've been at sea (with a 3 day stop in Bermuda) for nearly 2 weeks.  So grateful for our crew!  Here they are, just before taking off from the dock.

Hud at the bow, Trav at the helm....watching Moxie motor through the bridge in St. Martin and then sail out to sea and out of sight was a hard moment.  We can't wait to be reunited. xoxo

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