Monday, April 01, 2019

Seven People Crammed on a 38-Foot Catamaran for a Year? April Fool's! Or Not ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"I didn't care whether the kids liked sailing or not.  I wanted them to like being a family."
--Emily Orton (from an uncorrected proof of Seven at Sea)

In an effort to downsize, minimize, simplify, and focus on the things that matter most in life, my family and I have decided to sell our houses, get rid of all our stuff, and buy a boat.  The six of us will be living on a 38-foot catamaran for a year while we sail around the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and anywhere else that takes our fancy.  We'll be leaving behind jobs, friends, school, and most of my books (gasp!) for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience real family togetherness while exploring new places and testing our gumption on the open sea.  Never fear—I will continue blogging from the "road".  At least when I have Wi-Fi.  And access to new books.  Or maybe I'll just write my own story.  Sound good?

Yeah, right!  April Fool's!  I'm not actually crazy enough to do something like this.  Not even a little bit.  You know who is bonkers enough, though?  Erik and Emily Orton, a couple from New York City.  Back in 2014, they felt like their lives were being overtaken by the inconsequential and mundane.  Despite the fact that they and their five children—aged six to sixteen—lived in a 900-square foot apartment, in which the children were homeschooled and Erik worked, they wanted more togetherness.  The family took sailing classes, bought a boat, and headed to the Caribbean.  Ten months later, they returned to New York sunburned and happy, a strengthened family who had gone through a difficult and unique learning experience which earned them confidence, experience, perspective, and unity.

In Seven at Sea, Erik and Emily recount the adventure with all its ups and downs.  Their account is personal and intimate as they write honestly about what went spectacularly wrong (constant boat repairs, inclement weather, injury, conflict between family members, etc.), and what went gloriously right (meeting other cruisers, seeing new vistas, family time without distraction, etc.).  Like any travelogue, parts of this one feel redundant and dull (did I mention all the repairs?), while other sections are more exciting.  Overall, though, Seven at Sea makes for a compelling read.  Not gonna lie—the Ortons didn't convince me to sell everything and sail around the world with my family, but it was interesting to learn about why and how they did it.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I don't read many books like this, so I'm not sure what to compare it to.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for non-graphic references to sex and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Seven at Sea from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


  1. We knew Erik and Emily back when they got their first piano. Cool!

    1. Really? That's awesome. They seem like very interesting people.

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun to read but definitely not something I have any desire to do. I like the idea of getting away from it all and focusing on family time but I also like the idea of getting away to my own corner once in awhile!

  3. So not the experience for me, but when I was 12 my parents, my brother and I took three months travelling to many developing countries while my dad did research. No cell phones (obviously), a couple school books, and us. That's it. What an amazing adventure!

  4. I love travel memoirs like this! Maybe because I never do anything quite so adventurous in my own life.

  5. Oh wow! That's seriously brave- I could handle the togetherness, but not on a boat. Repairs. Sharks. Water. Storms. Sharks. Nope, nope, nope!

    I do enjoy reading this kind of memoir/story, though. A few years ago, I read Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson, who took her kids and husband and went on sabbatical to her ancestral village in Croatia. Not something I would do (although we still have family living in the same area my ancestors came from in Norway, which blows my mind), but I love reading about families who do take this kind of plunge. Super cool book!

    (Link to the book I mentioned: )

  6. I seem to recall seeing them on one of the morning shows talking about their experiences. It sounded amazing, but I agree, not for me. Great review.


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