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S/V Namani 35' Dufour sloop - Homeport: GELTING, GERMANY

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Nadine SLAVINSKI & Markus SCHWEITZER + Nicky (3) - This family of 3 fit their first cruising adventure -- from the Med, to the Caribbean to Maine -- into a 12-month sabbatical. Back working now, they are already planning their next installment to the Pacific. More about the NAMANI family

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1. The biggest challenge you faced in getting out there?   7. How did you handle: HEALTH and SAFETY?
2. Is there a best age to take children cruising?   8. How did you handle: EDUCATION and FULFILLMENT?
3. Any modifications to the boat for your kid?   9. How did you handle: TASKS and CHORES?
4. Any advice for would-be sailing families?   10. What did you like BEST / LEAST about cruising?
5. A typical day on board?   11. Has cruising changed your family?
6. A great moment?   12. A recipe for cruising families?

Update (2015)

The NAMANI Family 5 years later...



1. What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting out there?

The biggest challenge for us was simply making the decision to go.

At the time, it seemed a gargantuan task to unravel ourselves from our land lives and go to sea. We had the dream but couldn't quite take the leap of faith – until we attended a presentation at a boat show and met a family who had taken six months to cruise the Med with their infant daughter. That was the straw that broke the reluctant camel's back: if they could do it, so could we.

Once we reached our decision, everything fell into place, and we never had second thoughts. Within six months, we were looking at boats; within a year, we had purchased our 1981 Dufour 35, and a year after that, we set sail. In retrospect, this was an excellent time frame: slow enough to prepare well but not too far away to lose sight of our goals.

2. How old was your child when you left? Is there a best age to take children cruising?

Children of all ages have much to gain from life under sail.


In addition to enjoying a truly unique family adventure and seeing new parts of the world, cruising children often develop greater independence and self-confidence than their peers on land.

Although our son, Nicky, was very young when we cruised, he still shows the influence in terms of an open mind, genuine curiosity about the world, and an optimistic, positive attitude – we can do it, fix it, or find it if we work together!

He is a self-starter with a noticeably longer attention span than most other children we know – except cruising children, who develop great imaginations since they aren't constantly plugged in to electronic entertainment.

Our son was 3 and 4 during our “sabbatical.” It seemed a perfect age at the time because he wasn't a clueless toddler and not yet in school.

However, many families cruise with infants and report how easy they find that to be, while others cruising with older children list the benefits, too.

It seems there is no perfect age for a child – just the perfect attitude on the part of the parents! If you love sailing and the cruising life, it will rub off on your children. Conversely, if you feel doubts or unease, your children will likely pick up on this and reflect what they sense.

As for older children, I gained an interesting insight from a teenager who had cruised for 3 years when she was in grades 3 to 5. Her opinion was that while many teenagers would initially miss social contact, she thinks they would quickly realize what a wonderful life cruising is. Personally, she still pined for a return to the sea and felt the experience had deeply shaped her own life.

All questions

3. Did you make modifications to the boat for your kid?

Modifications to boat : Nicky could easily reach his pilot berth bunk by using his ladder.

Taking a child to sea requires basic preparations.

For example, we purposely chose a boat with a deep, spacious cockpit.

We also made a small ladder so that Nicky could independently access his padded pilot berth with its high sides.

Nicky had two life jackets: a self-inflating one for passages and a bulky, orange jacket for wet dinghy rides. Either could be clipped to a tether.

The netting we put around the lifelines proved as useful for catching loose toys and tools as for setting a boundary for him.

We worked our way up to longer passages just as he did, from overnight hops to three-night passages, then two six-day trips, and, finally, our Atlantic crossing (26 days from Lanzarote to Antigua). Everything we did after that felt short!



4. Anything you wish you had known before you got started? Any advice for families?

Anything I wish I had known

Once we had made the decision to go and were preparing for departure, I had few doubts, but from time to time I did wonder what I was getting myself into.

It would have been reassuring to know that cruising was the best thing we ever did for ourselves and our son, to know how absolutely privileged we were to live the simple life on the water.

Advice for families

  • My advice is to go, and go now, before some health, financial or family constraint arises and locks your dreams away forever. Your children will enjoy the experience of a lifetime with the people who count most: their parents.

  • Aim for simplicity, not luxury; the former is a joy, the latter the root of frustration.

  • Your boat doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be safe, keeping the water out and the people in.

  • Prepare yourself and your boat thoroughly, and then prepare to go with the flow.

  • The close confines of your hull are not a constraint but, rather, the vehicle to a limitless world beyond.

  • Share the beauty of cruising with your family, and you will find that your joy multiplies – you will never look back.

All questions

5. A typical day on board?

A “typical” day at anchor.

Father and son enjoy a dip in Sardinia's clear waters.

During our first 3 months of cruising in the Mediterranean, we never stayed out at anchor for more than a week before going into a marina or town quay with access to fresh water and shore power/electricity.

On the other hand, in the Caribbean, we would spend more than 5 continuous weeks at anchor. When we finally went into a marina to re-provision, we couldn't wait to get out again!

What changed?

Primarily, it was our improved ability to keep our consumption of fresh water, electricity, fuel and food supplies in line with what we can re-provision/generate without tying up in a marina.

Our Aquair 100 wind generator at work (Canouan, Grenadines)

We truly enjoyed our autonomous little floating home with wind and solar generated power and the very conscious use of fresh water and electricity without feeling deprived of any luxury.

For us, the peace and beauty of swinging at anchor and jumping off the boat for a swim far outweighed the "conveniences" that marinas offer.

A typical day at anchor on the second half of our trip (in the Caribbean and US East Coast)

  • A typical day always started with us tuning in to Chris Parker's excellent weather service (www.caribwx.com/ssb.html) while getting bread baked (see recipe below).

  • After breakfast and a morning of pottering about the boat (small fix-it projects, reading with Nicky, checking the anchor visually by snorkeling), we would head to shore for an excursion. Usually we went on foot, aiming for a beach on the far side of the island or a point of interest such as a fort. We are an active family and enjoy exploring the places we visit thoroughly. The smaller the island, the better, because you get the feeling of truly having seen it all!

  • The excursion would usually end with playtime for Nicky on the beach, and this was often an occasion to play with local children or some of our cruising friends. Often one of us adults would remain with Nicky while the other would do a short errand if needed, such as visiting an Internet café or going to the post office.

  • Late afternoon brought us back to Namani for a wind-down to dinner. Markus plays guitar, so music, reading, and games were our primary sources of entertainment. We took to hoisting the dinghy on deck every night to prevent any problems, either with theft or the chance of it swamping. This was a quick job with the help of the mainsail halyard.

  • In the tropics, the sun sets relatively early, and we didn't stay up long after. However, Markus and I each woke up once or twice in the night to do a brief deck check. We didn't set an alarm because it became part of our natural rhythm to do so. That is something we miss most now that we are back on land – being in tune with the outdoors and natural rhythms.

A “typical” day on passage

Nicky, above, and Markus, below, napping while on passage.

On passage, we maintained a regular watch schedule that worked well for us: 3-hour watches at night and 4-hour watches during the day. Little Nicky was too young to take a watch.

Markus and I spent much of our off-watch time sleeping! I learned to prepare things for Nicky before I went off watch: an accessible snack, drink, and game so that he wouldn't have to disturb me when I really needed my sleep. He was very independent and considerate of our sleeping time, and we were always able to enjoy time together during on-watch times.

We were glad to have a third adult aboard for the Atlantic crossing; this made watch keeping much easier with off-watch times extended to 6 or 8 hours. This also saved the day when our windvane self-steering broke 1000 miles shy of Antigua, forcing us to hand steer.

In the future, we plan to enlist an extra crew member for any passage over 1500 miles. Nicky will be about 8 then, and we plan to have him keep watches with us, but if we were to face any difficult circumstances, we want to have another pair of adult hands to help.

6. A great moment?

One highlight of our Atlantic crossing was the day a whale repeatedly visited us, repeatedly swimming alongside as if it were investigating whether Namani's hull was one of her kind or not.

Nicky was thrilled and spent the time after the whale's visit studying his cetacean field guide.

7. How did you handle: HEALTH and SAFETY?

Keeping your kid safe aboard

Before setting off, I worried about storms and illness, all for nought.

  • By sailing along well-established routes in safe seasons and tuning in to forecasts, the worst we ever endured was barely a Force 8, even in the open Atlantic.

  • Away from the germ breeding grounds of school and work, we were never healthier. The only illness any of us suffered was the flu brought by a visitor from North America! Otherwise, we felt safer than at home and freer to enjoy the little things that count.

    Our greatest medical incident in a year of sailing occurred when Nicky managed to push a small piece of Lego up his nose! It seems that every child needs to go through this trauma at least once, whether on land or at sea! We were on St Lucia at the time and easily found a doctor who helped clear up the problem, so to speak.

    Otherwise, our only injuries came from severely stubbing our toes when walking barefoot on deck during the first weeks of our trip. After that, we developed a knack for avoiding the deck hardware!

Caring for your kid in rough weather

When the weather got rough, Nicky simply put himself to bed in his snug berth and waited it out.

After an extended period of time in quiet waters, Nicky often felt seasick on the first day back at sea, but quickly regained his sea legs. As for me, I was sometimes queasy but only truly seasick once in a year; the same holds for Markus.

8. How did you handle: EDUCATION and FULFILLMENT?

Friendships and social interactions

We spent 4 months sailing together with SEA BRIGHT, and Nicky became fast friends with Beth.


Our son was the catalyst for several deep friendships with fellow cruisers.

In Tunisia, only 2 months into our trip, we met an American cruising family on Arearea. Their older son, Dante, was a year younger than Nicky, and the boys hit it off instantly (his little brother Amory was an easy-going baby at the time).

We spent a month together in Tunisia and Spain. Arearea followed the same cruising path we did, from the Mediterranean to the Canaries, the Caribbean, and up the U.S. East Coast, although at a slightly different pace. This meant that we joined up on six different occasions over 7 months, communicating all the time via SSB radio (see August 2010 Blue Water Sailing article “Leapfrog”).

In Gibraltar, we made fast friends with an English family also cruising on a modest budget: Jo, Dave, and 5-year-old Beth aboard Sea Bright. We crossed the Atlantic in tandem, maintaining daily radio contact, and then stuck together for 3 months of carefree Caribbean cruising.

We have maintained contact with both families ever since, although we have all settled on three different continents! (See June 2010 Cruising World article “Kids Across the Sea”).


For cruising children, learning is everywhere (Fish dissection, Tunisia).

Because Nicky was not yet of school age, we had great leeway in what we undertook in terms of education.

Cruising presents endless teachable moments for the alert parent – from cetacean studies to sea shell classification, lessons on buoyancy and basic physics (kids love hoisting a variety of gear with pulleys), learning about the volcanoes smoking before our very eyes, studying the details of local currency… there is no dearth of learning opportunities at sea or on land!

Because Nicky was in the earliest stages of literacy, we helped him to keep a journal by allowing him to select a postcard as often as possible (for passages, I bought a few ahead of time, featuring sunsets, turtles, and the like). At first, he would dictate his thoughts to us to write on the card and, later, wrote the words himself. We collected the cards in a tin box. This has created a nice visual and written reminder of his many adventures at sea and on land.

A sample entry written en route from Ibiza to mainland Spain reads:

“We are out at sea. There are giant waves and a sunset and on the other side we see a little more orange. I have a dolphin shirt. We are going to the big part of Spain.”


A number of useful resources exist for those who take home schooling to sea.

One is my book, Lesson Plans Ahoy!: Hands-on learning for sailing children and home schooling sailors and another is www.sailkidsed.net.

(More below)

Cruising with older children entails home schooling – something parents should look at as an opportunity rather than a weighty burden.

Yes, it does add an extra task to the cycle of watches, meal preparation, and boat maintenance, but home schooling in such a unique setting can be tremendously rewarding for parents and children alike. Just look at any of the inspiring stories of families interviewed by Women and Cruising!

My family cannot wait to head off on our next cruise when my son can complete grades 2 and 3 with the world as his classroom.

Keeping your child entertained

Keeping a child entertained while at anchor is no issue: there is always a beach, a playground, or an excursion to draw you away from a lazy afternoon on board!

Nicky loved his Lego
and spent many a happy hour creating in the cabin.

At sea, we quickly found that our son was equally easy-going.

Before longer passages, I made sure to stash a surprise of some kind for my son – glitter glue, a puzzle, or a mini Lego set. This strategy worked so well that he feverishly looked forward to any major passage! Nicky spent hours happily tinkering below and maintained the ability to entertain himself long after we returned to land.

For the Atlantic crossing, Nicky received a large Lego set that kept him happily entertained for hours, days, even weeks!

Our cetacean field guide was an invaluable resource at sea, as Nicky enjoyed identifying species that we saw, including spotted dolphins and Minke whales.

We adults were ready for land after 26 days, but Nicky could have continued sailing for another 26, it seemed!

Yes, I am blessed with a low-maintenance child, but I do believe that the slower pace of life at sea would have the positive effect of calming all children – not to mention their parents!

Personal space aboard

We felt at home and at ease in NAMANI's comfortable cabin.

Personal space was never an issue even aboard our relatively small 35-footer, which has one forward cabin, pilot berths in the salon, and one quarter berth aft. Nicky was content with his pilot berth while Markus and I took the forward berth, or slept on the settees in the salon during passages.

During our Atlantic crossing with a friend aboard, everyone had his or her own bunk in the salon or quarter berth. Between the movement of the boat and the fact that at least one person was asleep at any one time, space never seemed to be an issue.

In the Caribbean, we had one friend visit for 5 weeks, and we all treasured the experience. One couple stayed for another fun week. It helps to have easy-going, accommodating friends! We would love to own a 40-footer with an extra guest cabin, but our 35-foot Namani is what we can afford, and we make it work. She truly is our home.


Family back home and their concerns

It was hard on both sets of grandparents to see their little grandson off to sea, an apparently dangerous venture as far as they were concerned.

I reminded them that sailing is statistically safer than driving on the highway to visit relatives!

It did reassure them that we chose to approach our first ocean crossing with an organized flotilla (we joined the Blue Water Rally on its first legs from Gibraltar to Lanzarote and Antigua). However, we now feel so confident about finding other sailors, that we plan to do our next crossing in a more ad hoc way, teaming up with cruisers we find along the way.

It was very reassuring for our parents to be able to receive regular email as we crossed the Atlantic – short messages sent via the SSB. Finally, both sides of the family came to visit us aboard the boat and in that way were able to visualize what we were undertaking more clearly.

9. How did you handle: TASKS and CHORES


Our boat, Namani, is very simple with few amenities.

We used our inflatable pool for large loads of laundry.

I was determined to stretch our budget as far as possible, so we rarely paid for laundry in coin-ops, much less marinas (we usually anchored out for long stretches at a time). Instead, we bucket-washed our laundry. I washed using salt water and rinsed with fresh rainwater collected from passing squalls.

In the tropics, you wear very little and jump in the water often, so we didn't feel that our clothes got dirty as quickly as in normal life, but neither did we maintain particularly strict standards!

We carried an inflatable kiddie pool on board (about one meter in diameter). Not only was this useful for letting Nicky splash on quiet days, we could also use it for larger loads of laundry!

We learned to make the most of our few marina visits by anchoring nearby the previous night and checking into the marina early. That gave us nearly a full day with running water and power to thoroughly wash everything on board and stock up on supplies. Then we would leave as late as possible the next day.

Clean-up and daily maintenance of the boat

We spent roughly 4-5 days working on the boat
for every month or so of cruising.

We would periodically spend several days catching up with work on the boat, roughly 4 to 5 days of work for every 3 to 5 weeks spent cruising.

To do so, we would pick a location with good shore-side facilities such as chandlers and hardware stores. For example, we found good facilities in Malta, Almerimar (Spain), Lanzarote (Puerto Calero), Antigua (Jolly Harbor), Grenada (Prickly Bay), Guadeloupe (Pointe à Pitre), St Martin (Simpson Bay), Puerto Rico (Puerto del Rey), and Florida (Fort Pierce).

For cleaning while underway, I found household wet-wipes to be indispensable and used grease-cutting wet wipes for the galley.

Feeding the family, nutrition and cooking

Over time, I got to be quite an expert on provisioning and developed a collection of simple “menus” that were practical for underway or in general in our tight galley.

Near land, fresh fruit was a daily luxury.

We had a refrigerator, but no reliable means to power it, so it took some getting used to provisioning without refrigeration. However, it was entirely worth it not to have to listen to a generator for hours or have another mechanical piece of equipment that needed maintenance and repairs.

For long passages, I bought canned chicken and long-life tofu as protein. Eventually, I learned to bake bread. Since we like a multi-grain bread, I would pre-mix the dry ingredients into zip-lock bags before a passage, so all I would have to do was add water and yeast and let it rise. That saved time and the balancing act of measuring on a moving boat!

We didn't follow a particularly healthy diet on long passages like our Atlantic crossing, principally eating canned and dry goods once the fresh produce ran out. But we enjoyed our meals all the same. Unfortunately, we were not very successful at fishing! Near land, we ate well, buying at local markets or from Caribbean “boat boys” whom we generally found to be reliable, patient, and helpful.

On our next cruise, I will certainly bring sprouts. I have also been experimenting with making yogurt and using a solar cooker, again, all in preparation for our future cruise!

10. What did you like BEST / LEAST about cruising?


  • What I liked best was going to Antigua and St Lucia.
    I just like how it was always sunny and very warm.
  • Something you really only appreciate when you get back to a land-locked life is having experienced nature 24 hours a day, every day, while cruising.

    I came to know when to expect a certain star to rise above the horizon and got a feel for local weather because I actually had the time to observe cloud formations developing. Even the somewhat scary experience of being in a lightning storm at sea was something special about our life aboard Namani.

    One particular memory for me was an overnight passage from Anguilla to Puerto Rico under a full moon – a nice east-to-west downwind run on my birthday. About an hour after the moon had moved past directly overhead to slightly ahead, we could literally feel its pull as the tide made our speed over ground pick up by about a knot. It was a beautiful and memorable night in touch with nature!

  • Another special thing about cruising was getting good at it and doing so as a family. This was something we only became aware of when friends visited or when dockside observers pointed it out to us. Without us noticing at the time, we developed a quiet confidence for many things we had been apprehensive about when we just started, from anchoring in tricky spots, to handling the boat in stronger winds, or docking in tight spaces. More importantly, we did so without losing many words; it all became a smooth routine.
  • My favorite thing was being able to live life at a pace that was dictated by us or by the weather. We shared a lovely, special time without the artificial stress of the rat race.

  • I loved the fresh air; I loved the magic of lone night watches at sea with my family sound asleep a step away; I enjoyed the way those times allowed my thoughts time to develop and extend. I loved being a partner in a family enterprise with my husband and son



  • My least favorite was getting seasick and throwing up.
  • Not having a decent beer for long stretches!
  • Time seems to smooth over rough patches, so I really can't remember anything significant!

    Even on one “bad” day in Bequia, I realized how happy I was. I had the flu, I was depressed at parting from our dear friends on Sea Bright, and then I smashed my head against a tree branch! I sat in the sand crying for a minute, but at the same moment I realized how good my life was, how this “bad” day was something I would gladly trade for the opportunity to live such a wonderful and rewarding lifestyle.

11. Why did you go cruising as a family? Has cruising changed your family? How about the transition back to land?

Why did we go cruising as a family?

Cruising and spending every day together drew our family
closer together than ever (here, on outing on Mayreau, Grenadines).

Since I was a teen, day sailing with my father, it was my dream to go cruising and to someday cross an ocean.

Luckily, Markus was convinced, too. He grew up without sailing, but picked it up quickly and eventually exceeded me as a sailor.

We worked our way up by fixing and then sailing my father's neglected 17-footer one summer. Later, we sailed in a vacation flotilla, then chartered with a skipper, and then chartered alone. We also signed on as delivery crew on a yacht from Mallorca to Malta to gain overnight sailing experience.

We went cruising as a family because we wanted to share the experience with our son. Hearing the positive experiences of so many other families gave us confidence in the sanity of our venture.

Another factor was my fear of putting off our sailing dreams until retirement. My father dreamed about circumnavigating “someday” but died at age 47 from cancer and could not achieve those dreams. Naturally, that left a deep impression on me. I truly believe in the simple message: Go, and go while you can!

Has cruising changed our family?

I personally found myself positively changed by our family sailing experiences in several ways.

I have become more flexible, less uptight.

A year at the mercy of unpredictable elements has broken my illusion that I could be master of my universe if I worried enough about it. Now, I go with the flow – a major shift for this type-A control freak. I let the little things go and appreciate what counts: love, health, and good fortune – not to mention kindness to strangers in a strange land.

Cruising can enrich the relationships
between children and dads (Serifos, Greece)

Before our trip, I would have said that I loved my son but not my role as a mother: the constant demands, the lack of quiet time and space for myself.

Was I the only mother to feel this way, I wondered? Or the only one to admit it? When we first moved aboard, I struggled with the 24-hour togetherness.

With time, however, I grew to not only love my son as a person, but to treasure the hours I spent with him. Ironically, spending more time with him had the effect of making me want more, rather than wishing for a break. My son was no longer an accessory; he became a fun, loving, eye-opening companion at my side.

In this way, I truly feel that I became a better mother during our cruise.

Cruising provides the uncommon opportunity for families to spend long hours together on a daily basis and establish a truly special bond.

This is particularly true for children and their fathers. My husband had time for fun and routine pursuits with our son every single day for a year, a priceless experience.

My mother-in-law remarked upon it immediately when we returned home and she saw little Nicky resting comfortably in Markus' lap: “This trip has been good for you.” she observed warmly. And she was right.

Cruising had been a chance for us all to work toward a common goal and thereby deepen our bonds.

How was the transition back to land?

Our transition back to land was easy in one way, because we were returning to jobs we enjoyed in a lovely part of the world that we were familiar with.

Thank goodness for that, because it proved to be very hard all the same!

Just wearing socks and being indoors were major adjustments in the beginning! We still miss cruising badly, but this has given us the focus to plan our next cruise and set a deadline for our getaway.

Keeping in touch with the many cruising friends we made along the way has been a real salvation.

We have travelled to New Zealand to visit our dear friends on Sea Bright, who have resettled there. We cruised the Bay of Islands on their compact ketch and so could relive the cruising life while catching up with sorely missed friends.

Another friend invited us to help him ready his new boat in Alaska, and we jumped on the opportunity to touch base with the cruising lifestyle again.

In Alaska, we met a family who had once cruised for three years with their young children, completing an Atlantic circuit and exploring the Med. When I mentioned that I had written a book for homeschooling sailors, the father said he needed a book on readjusting to life on land!

Alas, I don't have a good answer for that problem!

All questions

12. One of your favorite quick, handy recipes for cruising families?

No-Knead Bread

I originally hesitated about baking bread on board, thinking there was some deep mystery to it. Then my friend Laura joined us in the Windward Islands and taught me how ridiculously easy it can be.

This is my adaptation of Chris Doyle's “No-Knead Bread” recipe. It is incredibly easy and provides us with tasty, healthy bread whether we are offshore or at a secluded anchorage.

Even better than sliced bread -
Laura's No-Knead bread

Makes two loaves of multigrain bread.

  • A total of 5 cups of flour/meal:
    - 2 cups white flour
    - 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
    - 1 cup rye flour
    - 0.5 cups flax meal
  • 0.5 tsp yeast
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2.5 cups warm water

- At night, mix the ingredients and leave them covered overnight in an airtight container.

- In the morning, flop the dough onto a board sprinkled with cornmeal and leave to rise for 2 hours, covered by a damp cloth.

- Heat two pots with lids in the oven for 30 minutes at 450°F (230°C); add the dough, bake for 30 minutes, turn & take off the lids, and bake for another 15 minutes (I also used a loaf pan covered with aluminium foil with success).

Voilà! Delicious, hearty bread!


About the NAMANI family

Who was aboard?

We are a family of 3: myself (aged 38 at the time of our cruise), my German husband Markus (aged 41-42 underway), and our son Nicky (aged 3-4 at that time).

What kind of boat do you have?

We sailed on our 1981 Dufour 35 sloop, Namani. We were particularly taken with this boat thanks to its seaworthiness, thick fibreglass construction, and deep, dry cockpit.

Where have you sailed? Where did you start out?

Because I am a teacher, we worked on a school year calendar and took sabbaticals from our jobs from July 2007 to August 2008. We were lucky that both our employers were supportive in granting us a leave without pay and welcomed us back a year later.

Since we live and work in southern Germany, Italy was a practical place to keep our boat for the year before we set sail. We found an inexpensive marina in central Sardinia (paying about $2000 a year for the berth) and were able to commute to our boat in a total of six hours, door to door, booking unbelievably cheap flights (about $40 per person).

When the time came, we set sail from Sardinia.

  • First we travelled east in the Mediterranean and visited Greece before turning back west with a six-day passage to Malta. We continued on to Tunisia, Spain, and Gibraltar. There, we joined the Blue Water Rally because we liked the idea of safety in numbers and daily radio contact over the Atlantic.

  • After a short stop in Lanzarote, where we took on an experienced friend as an extra crew member, we crossed the Atlantic in a slow 26 days, experiencing everything from extended calms to Force 8 winds. In Antigua, we left the Blue Water Rally and sailed south as far as Grenada. Then we turned north again, island hopping back to Antigua and on to St Kitts, St Marteen, and Anguilla. Those 4 months in the Caribbean were the highlight of our year.

  • Then it was time to head north to Maine via Puerto Rico and the Turks & Caicos. We sailed offshore from Florida to Beaufort, followed the Intracoastal Waterway to the Chesapeake Bay and then continued offshore again to Maine (taking a short cut through the Cape Cod Canal).

  • Since then we have returned to our jobs in Germany, but regularly visit family in Maine and work on Namani.

Throughout our cruise, we made regular posts to our blog: www.namaniatsea.net.

What's next?

Our hope is to set sail again in summer 2011 for a two-year Pacific cruise. Namani has needed extensive deck work, among other upgrades like new sails, but we are confident about getting her ready for our next adventure.

Nadine Slavinski's book

Nadine Slavinski is the author of:

Lesson Plans Ahoy (Second Edition): Hands-On Learning for Sailing Children and Home Schooling Sailors

A teacher, parent, and a lifelong sailor, she holds a Master's of Education from Harvard University. She is the author of four books and has written for several sailing magazines.

Lesson Plans Ahoy! contains educational units tailored to families on boats, and is highly recommended to any parent considering cruising with school-aged children (available at major booksellers including amazon.com ).


Nadine Slavinski's website and blog

  • Nadine has devoted spare time to creating an educational website for sailing families: www.sailkidsed.net; there, you will find many resources and links to information on home schooling and fun activities for sailing children.

  • Namani's cruising blog (2007-2008): www.namaniatsea.net

Recent articles

  • "Kids Across the Sea" Cruising World, June 2010
    Two cruising families who banded together for an Atlantic crossing in tandem—with young kids aboard—have advice for other parents: Do it now!

  • LeapfrogBlue Water Sailing, August 2010
    A story of how cruising families link up, in our case, for a nine-month, 7000 mile game of leapfrog with our friends on Arearea. After first meeting by chance in Tunisia, we went on to rendezvous many more times, cruising together for a month in Spain, then meeting again several times in the Caribbean and again on the US East Coast.

  • "Back to school" Yachtpals, September 2010

  • A Swell Time in GuadeloupeBlue Water Sailing, November 2010.
    While in Guadeloupe, we sought shelter against a threatening northern swell. Did we choose well?

  • " 6 Tips for home-schooling sailors" Women and Cruising blog, December 4th, 2010