Bonjour friends. Get ready to fall in love with this sailing family. This weeks Inside a Traveler’s Walls family of four and a cat (yes, they took their cat on the boat) are going to make your heart sing. I have to admit that once I read their profile I was ready to set sail today. The fact that they don’t have to make reservations, pack and all that junk to have an adventure is incredibly tempting.
Terrapin is an older gal. She’s not the hot busty blonde at the end of the bar. She’s the old gal with a little dried milk in her mustache that you’re trying to not make eye contact with, but we love her. ~ Sailing with Terrapin
Good job Aimee for being resourceful in your pursuit of uniqueness for your girls rooms. I think many people believe that they have to spend a lot of money to create a home while they are traveling and this is not the case. You just have to be creative. I was excited to hear about the amount of storage they have on the boat. We are fairly simple travelers, but it would be nice to have storage like that when we venture into the world of a floating home.
In no particular order our favorite parts are: quality family time, constant exploring, homeschooling our children, being part of the cruising community, being less of a consumer, and watching our girls discover this awesome world at such a young age. ~ Sailing with Terrapin
Wait until you read about how special and creative their holidays are, hey, even the cat gets a tuna cake. But, best of all I love how Emma has her own day. There is such beauty in celebrating the important moments in our lives.
I cannot even imagine how cool science must be for these homeschoolers. I am sure they never run out of resources. Plus, I like the idea of schooling only a few hours a week, but doing it everyday. It is impressive how they set sail with enough curriculum to last them until 9th grade. I feel like I have all I can do to plan for one year at a time. Good job parents.
Ok, enough of my chatting, grab your coffee and get comfortable. It’s time to be inspired by this sailing family.
Introduce us to the people in your sailing family?
We are Aimee, Phil, Jessica, Emma and Murphy (the 16-year-old cat). Most people know us as SV Terrapin. Phil and I are the instigators of our current adventures aboard our family boat. Jessica is our eleven year old daughter whose passion for animals has her constantly on the look out for animals both above and underneath our boat. Emma, our 10-year-old adventure seeking daughter wakes every morning excited to see what the new day will hold. Murphy has been with us since we were dating. There was no way he was getting out of this family adventure. He probably wishes his 9 lives were up 4 lives ago!
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We traded a large Southern California home and all of our possessions for our 45 foot Dufour sailboat. We’ve been sailing through Mexico since January. Once hurricane season has ended we will sail south through Central America and make our way through the Panama Canal. Once we cross into the Caribbean, who knows?
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
We were sold the American Dream and with it came mortgages, hours of commuting to work each day, hiring nannies to raise our children, and missing out on quality family time. We had often dreamed of an easier life with more time for family but it wasn’t until we were brushing our teeth getting ready for another long day of monotony that Phil suggested that we sell all of our possessions, quit our jobs, buy a boat and set sail. Two days later I agreed to his idea and we’ve never looked back.
What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
When we first bought Terrapin she needed some serious interior updating. Our boat is almost as old as her Captain. In an effort to create unique cabins for each of our daughters, I repainted each one, added vinyl stickers and some of their own artwork. I replaced all interior and exterior fabric with fun, bright colors and added splashy throw pillows. We have small nooks where we keep some of our all-time favorite seashells.
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
I wouldn’t say we have a favorite room per se. Our favorite feature of the boat is the beautiful holly wood throughout it. Most newer boats are made with less wood and are built using more fiberglass and plastic. We love our original wood, especially after a good cleaning…she shines brilliantly. We also love the cockpit as it is where we tend to gather at the end of the day for family “happy hour” where we talk about our day and watch the sun set . We don’t have a least favorite room as we feel like our boat is perfect for our family.
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you became a traveling family?
We were led to believe there wouldn’t be enough room for half of what we were considering bringing with us. Our boat has a ridiculous amount of storage space. We are currently in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico for the summer to escape the Sea of Cortez heat and hurricanes. We had to buy lumber in order to build shelves to hold everything we brought with us as the apartment we are renting for the summer didn’t offer as much storage as our boat.
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
Remember that ridiculous amount of storage space I just told you about? We can easily travel with important household items like school supplies, plenty of cooking utensils, extra bedding and enough toys for an entire village. We don’t value household items such as TV’s, microwaves, hair dryers, or washing machines, therefore we don’t own them. Heck we don’t even have a freezer onboard, which means no ice cream for the kids and no ice cubes for adult beverages. Small price to pay for the life we live.
What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living now that you are a sailing family?
Nothing. Nada. The best part about how we live is not being permanent or stationary. Living on a boat gives us the freedom to go where we want, when we want. No reservations needed, no bags to pack, no hotels to book. Don’t like the beach we’re anchored at and want to see what’s around the corner? Great, let’s pull up anchor and move our entire home to a new spot.
What is the one item your children carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Emma has a special blanket she’s slept with most of her life. Although it often smells like a dirty sock, it comes with us…everywhere. Jessica has a couple of small stuffed animals she isn’t willing to part with. The only toys allowed on the boat are the ones we sailed off with. If they want new toys onboard, they’ll need to agree upon which current toys gets donated to make room…they’ve never been able to agree.
Do you have a pet joining you in this journey? If so, has this been complicated? Any advice?
Murphy (aka Captain Fluff) is our 16-year-old cat. We have deemed him the World’s Most Tolerant Cat, as he quickly became accustomed to living on a sailboat. It only took him a few weeks to gain his sea legs, he now sits in the cockpit with the rest of us while we sail. Being 16, plump and lazy, he has zero desire to leave or attempt to leave the boat. We’ve never had to worry that he would want to swim with the fishes. Within minutes of catching fish, he’s up on deck waiting for his fresh-cut. The only drag about bringing Captain Fluff with us, is the cat box. Living on a boat, in a yurt or in a mansion, it wouldn’t matter, cat boxes suck!
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
Something we learned quickly about cruising is that the cruising community is tight. Really tight. People you’ve never exchanged words with have your back, just because you both cruise. Need a part for the boat? Need help making a repair? Need advice regarding anything about your boat? Ask a fellow cruiser. One simple question about a broken water maker leads into different cruisers offering to come over to take a look, help repair, drive you into town with a borrowed car from another cruiser, lend you their spare part till yours come in or let you buy a spare part off them. The reciprocity within the cruising community is remarkable.
If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?
space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
I almost hate to admit it but, the four of us unanimously would choose above average internet. Having our own private cabins allows for plenty of space, we really don’t need more.
Washing dishes is part of our daughter’s chores. I like to see them washing dishes as a “thank you” for cooking them the meal they just ate. Having a dishwasher wouldn’t relieve me of any work. Living on a boat provides plenty of natural light, sometimes too much!
If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
I would have to choose a Swiss Army Knife. Everything on our boat serves a purpose and on rare occasion serves multiple purposes. We don’t have anything just for looks.
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
We love celebrating birthdays, we even celebrate the cats birthday, who’s ready for a slice of tuna cake? The other tradition we celebrate is “Emma Day”. Each year we celebrate the day we adopted Emma and she joined our family. It’s a special day for all of us.
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
Any decorations for celebrations are made by the girls. Our girls love-making holiday or birthday celebrations with their vast amount of construction paper, crayons, glue, colored pens and anything they find outside.
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
Favorite part? That could be really hard to narrow down. In no particular order our favorite parts are: quality family time, constant exploring, homeschooling our children, being part of the cruising community, being less of a consumer, and watching our girls discover this awesome world at such a young age.
Many sailing families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Any place that the four of us are sharing is home to us. It wouldn’t matter the space we are sharing as long as we are together, we are home.
What makes you love the place you live?
Terrapin is an older gal. She’s not the hot busty blonde at the end of the bar. She’s the old gal with a little dried milk in her mustache that you’re trying to not make eye contact with, but we love her. We’ve made Terrapin our own with some personal touches, and she’s our home. Terrapin takes us places safely and has never let us down, and for that we love the place we live.
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes or becoming a sailing family?
Regardless if you choose to venture out into the world on a boat, bicycle or RV give yourself time to adjust, especially if your adventure includes children. We researched for years about cruising on a boat, read books, listened to podcasts and spoke with other families but nothing had completely prepared us for our own experience. Don’t make any drastic plans (like calling it quits) till at least 90 days after you’ve left. Living on a boat, challenges every aspect of how things are done from your former life. We quickly learned that sleeping, eating, brushing our teeth, laundry, etc was all done differently after we set sail. It’s not easy, especially when everyone is trying to adjust all at once. Be patient.
How do you educate your children?
We have chosen to educate our daughters with homemade curriculum. As a former high school teacher and research scientist, together we share the task of educating our girls. Schooling consists of 15 hours per week, Sun-Sat. Part of our girls schooling requirement is for them to write in their journals everyday. In addition to giving them writing practice, their journals serve as mementos from this experience, written in their own words to share at a later date with their own families. We chose books of local history for the girl’s social studies. They have truly enjoyed learning about Mexico’s history while living here. We use Saxon Math as it’s the same curriculum Phil and I grew up with, therefore it’s easier for us to teach from. Having sailed off with enough material to teach from 4-9th grades, we don’t own too many heavy textbooks, didn’t want to sink the boat. The majority of our material we found online. As schools fight tough budget battles, teachers post textbooks online (as schools can no longer afford to place a hardbound book into each students hand) in a pdf format. A quick Google search will reveal plenty of textbooks posted online ready to download. We have years worth of textbooks on our hard drive that we load on our daughters Kindles as they progress.
How does your sailing family make a living?
We are currently living off savings.
Quote to ponder: Don’t make any drastic plans (like calling it quits) till at least 90 days after you’ve left. Living on a boat, challenges every aspect of how things are done from your former life. We quickly learned that sleeping, eating, brushing our teeth, laundry, etc was all done differently after we set sail. It’s not easy, especially when everyone is trying to adjust all at once. Be patient.
Wow! What an amazing sailing family. Congrats on passing on the “California” American dream and venturing off into the unknown Nance family. You are truly an inspiration.
Ok, who wants to come back in their next life as their cat? I know I do.
Interested in living like Sailing with Terrapin? WorldTowning’s services can help make this sailing families story ‘your reality’ and we can do it all stress free. We will be there will you every step of the way.
Inside A Traveler’s Walls is where we feature families living in less traditional and unique homes (tents, boats, camper vans, yurts, flats, etc). If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled, please contact us for details.