Divorced and sailboat cruising with kids

Cruise the web for cruising families. You’ll see some differences: large families of four kids or more, sailing on a large catamaran; small families with a single kid, voyaging the world on a boat not much bigger than a daysailer.

They cruise in Fiji, Australia, Mexico, the Med, northern Europe and along both coasts of the United States.

In most cases, cruising families are made up of two married or committed parents and the children they have had together. And it makes sense. Balancing a weather-dependent cruising schedule with parenting plans, custody arrangements and divorce decrees requiring travel notifications is a formidable challenge indeed.

Our family has to manage all of those factors. My kids are from my first marriage. My husband is their step-father. Our boat is in Puget Sound and my kids’ dad, J, is in Portland. We have a 50-50 parenting plan.

And we are making it work so far. Here’s how:

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Finding culture and crowds at Roche Harbor

About a week before we got to Roche Harbor, I found an announcement on San Juan’s paper of record that the resort was curtailing its Fourth of July festivities this year.

There would be no games or parades. No bar entertainment, and attendance was being limited in a variety of ways to reduce the crowd size for the normally packed July 4th weekend. The tone of the announcement was full of regret and apology, blaming the party-pooping on COVID, of course.

Honestly, the idea of smaller crowds at Roche Harbor for the 4th was just fine with me.

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Our Summer 2020 cruising plan

In June, we got rid of 85% of our stuff and moved out of our house in Southwest Portland to move full-time onto our boat for the summer. We will spend three months sailing the Salish Sea with our kids. Our tentative plan is to explore:

I left my full-time job in April and am transitioning to freelance writing and editing in the fall. My husband will continue his current job, which he can do remote almost 100% of the time.

A view of the Coal Harbour Marina in downtown Vancouver, B.C.
A view of the Coal Harbour Marina in downtown Vancouver, B.C.

Downsizing for the future

My kids are from my first marriage, and they spend 50% of their time with their dad (big thanks to him for agreeing to let us take the kids for the summer!) He is based in Portland, so we aren’t leaving Portland completely. But once we return from our trip in the fall, we plan to split our time between Portland and Seattle. We’ll be in Portland when the kids are with us and in the Puget Sound area on our boat when they are with their dad.

I’m going to miss that kitchen. Thankfully, the cook is coming with me!

Part-time cruising the Salish Sea

Since getting our first boat four years ago, and our current boat, Polaris, just in the past year, we’ve only been able to take it out for a week at a time. Still, we’ve seen so much: Orcas, gray whales, sea lions, otters.

We’re so excited to dedicate the summer to exploring this beautiful and rich body of water. I thought that cruising was something I wouldn’t be able to do until I was much older, certainly without kids in the house anymore, and probably closer to retirement.

This is the beginning of something new. Something, for now, that is only part-time. But something big, indeed.

Thank you so much for following our journey!