What about Pirates?
This is one of the most popular questions we get asked.  It usually comes right after “wow”, you are doing what?!
When one says the word “pirate”, an image of Jack Sparro or Blackbeard comes to mind.   Luckily for us, there aren’t any of those kinds of pirates anymore, except in the movies and especially not along the East Coast or the Caribbean.  All joking aside, there are definitely places that should be avoided, like Venezuela and the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea.  That’s where the horror stories come from. 
We, of course, will take precautions and do our research just as we do any time we travel stateside or otherwise.   We wouldn’t travel to a new city without knowing the safe places to be and the places to avoid.  That’s just plain, common sense, right!?  We will be connected to the cruisers net, which is a tight knit group of active cruisers that post information as it happens.  So we’ll know exactly what to expect at each port.  However, If we see Jack Sparro out there, we will be sure to get his autograph.

Are you taking a gun?
No.  We are not taking a gun.  If you take a gun on board, you have to declare it at each country/port you enter.  This can be quite complicated and result in having your gun seized or locked up so you can’t use it, and you may not get it back.  We will have bear spray aboard our boat.  It has a range of 30 feet, which is much farther than mace.  If it will make a bear stop in its tracks and make ‘em cry, then it’s good enough for us.    

Are you going to buy or rent a boat?
We are going to buy a boat.  There really are no “rentals” for a long term cruise.  It would be considered a charter and therefore not cost effective.  We plan to sell the boat when we return.

Are you going to homeschool the kids?
Yes!  Actually in the cruising community, it’s better known as boat school.   Craig and I will be teaching 1st, 5th and 8th grade.  We met with the girls’ current schools and have gone over what we need to do concerning curriculum, what they will provide us, and re-entry when we get back.   Which by the way will be pretty simple and straight forward.  Phew!!
There are about as many styles of ‘boat’ school as there are families out there doing it.  We are planning on an eclectic approach.  We don’t want to be restricted by deadlines and mailing assignments in for grading.  We’ll cover all the basics and keep track of progress ourselves.
Luckily for us, 5th and 8th grade both study US History.  How awesome is that?!  So, we will start with that while we are on the East Coast.  Which means a little schoolwork over the summer.  Somehow, I don’t think the girls will mind sailing past Plymouth Rock or the Statue of Liberty instead of just reading about it.  We hope to visit as many historical sites as possible.  This will be a win-win for all of us.  It will allow Craig and I, as teachers, to ease our way into boat school.  

What are you going to do with all your stuff?
We plan to lease our house and store our belongings.  Schroeder, our black kitty cat, is going to live with grandma in California.  We will store Craig’s car and are thinking about selling my car.

Are you going to sail yourself or hire a captain?
The short answer is no, we are not going to hire a captain.  We are going to sail all by ourselves.  However, we’d like to take someone along for our long passage across the Caribbean Sea.  This could be a 4-7 day crossing.  It would be great to have another able adult aboard sharing in the ‘watch’ rotation. 
We may also hire a captain to sail the boat with us from Florida to Massachusetts in June.  The main reason for this idea is because we want to get up north in a hurry.  Going off shore and sailing in the gulf-stream is the fastest way to accomplish this.    We’d like to sail with this captain to gain offshore experience under the guidance of an expert, so to speak.  This would be huge in the way of experience for our future passages.  

Won’t you go stir crazy?
We doubt it.   We have learned from others that have ventured before us, that we’ll spend a majority of our time at anchor (or occasionally in a marina).  We won’t be sailing 24/7, 365 days of the year!  And we won’t be bound to the boat either.  We’ll sail a little (or a lot) and then spend anywhere from 2-14 days in one spot.  If we like it, we may stay longer.  If we don’t, then we’ll keep moving.  When we drop the anchor, we’ll have our dinghy with a motor that will be our transportation to and from.  We’ll be away from the boat as much as we are on it, much like it is at home.  We’ll have sights to see, snorkeling, swimming and grocery shopping to do, and friends to visit on other boats – especially if they have kids.  “Kid” boats tend to gather and travel together.

It’s such a small space, how will you cope?
While this may sound like a lot of togetherness on a very small boat, it is precisely what we are looking forward to.  The families that we have read about or talked to have nothing but positive things to say about the tight bonds that are built in these small spaces.   It won’t come easy and without pain but we look forward to strengthening our bond as a family unit.  In this world where we become more and more detached due to technology and busy schedules, we look forward to old-fashioned teamwork and communication.  Sailing a boat is very conducive for doing just that.  We can only hope that the girls will rise to the occasion and take on new responsibilities and become more resilient and independent.  We want to show them the world and see it through their eyes.  We will be relying on each other for support, strength and trust.  These are precious years of our children’s lives and we want to have as much quality time as possible.