• close family • small boat • big world •

To Go or Not To Go: Factors in Making the Decision

June 18, 2013

by Paula

We voyaged in the late 1990s for two years and came back expecting our first child.  Since that time, we always planned to head back out with our children.  Life had a way of passing by more quickly than we realized, and we found ourselves with two tweens before we knew what hit us.  Work and school and activities piled up and we didn’t manage to work sailing into our daily lifestyle.  We finally woke ourselves up to realize it’s now or never – it’s time to head out and voyage as a family.

Really?  Is that really the right decision for us and for our kids?  Thus, started a two-year debate and decision-making process that was not exactly fun and games.  Both of us have very different decision-making styles – which can at times balance out and at other times drive us both crazy.  I can be ready to jump into decisions while Greg is much more inclined to analyze and process.  I make things happen and he makes sure they are the right thing.  Great, right?  Well, this one was not so easy a decision, so it took months of “what are we doing?” every day to reach the plan of how and when to voyage.  Our main concerns are as follows:

Social. The social situation for the kids will be less than ideal.  The majority of people out cruising are older adults.  The lack of peer group will be evident, and the kids will miss having friends to spend time with. Skype will make it easier for them to keep in touch, but they will not have the social interaction of peers on a regular basis.  In addition, the circumstances of existence on a boat reduce the opportunities for certain kinds of independence.  There will be fewer chances for the kids to be away from us as parents, and develop their sense of personal autonomy.

Depth vs. Breadth. While the voyage offers a chance for a depth of experience, it does reduce the breadth of activities they could have.  Cash will miss soccer and wrestling, and he won't play in a school band or have private music lessons.  Our increased time will give him the chance to go deeper with his guitar and piano, but he will not have the breadth of musical experience that he would on land. 

Financial. This is not the most prudent financial decision.  We are making this decision knowing that it will mean working longer into retirement years.  And what will those jobs be?  Coming back after a sabbatical might mean that finding work could be difficult.  Our ages (in our 50s) might add to the difficulty.  This is a scary prospect.  Selling our homes might mean that owning a home won’t be possible for some time. 

Return to Land. Where? When? How?  We are hoping that this voyage shakes things up for us, and we might come out of it with a completely different perspective as to what we want out of life.  If that’s the case, our return to land could be something we can’t plan for now.  Do we return to this area, or do we start over completely elsewhere?  That’s a bit scary – but also exciting.  Exploring our options from the sea might not be easy, and our financial situation might limit our options.

The bottom line is that there is just no way to predict the future.  Can parents truly know how to do the right thing for their children?  Is there actually a “right thing?”  Maybe it is enough to offer love, care, and ample opportunities for learning, and let the rest of it fall into place.