Leon Schulz, reproduced here with permission. To read more about
the Schulz family adventure, visit www.reginasailing.com
Changing ensign after one year's cruising, Hard to believe they
once had the same colours. Photo by Jessica
On a night watch somewhere on the North Sea,
I found the List. It had been compiled years earlier, long before
we left home for our sailing adventure. The List had been part
of our decision process and held "Pros" and "Cons" for taking
a break in our nine-to-five-lives, giving up our familiar living
to go sailing for a year.
I had totally forgotten about the List and
I read it with great eagerness. Had our concerns been correct?
Had our expectations been met?
This is what our outlook had been, listed as
1 Meeting exciting new people
2 Becoming a better seaman
3 Finding time to write
4 Finding time to take photographs
5 Doing exciting hikes
6 Reading many good books
7 Seeing new countries and cultures
8 Swimming and snorkeling
9 Living in a warm and nice climate
10 More stable weather with less gales
11 Chance for a change in life, doing something new
12 Practice and learn new languages
13 Filling life with adventures and something to remember
14 Living in series instead of in parallel (being able to concentrate
on one thing at a time)
15 Satisfactory having reached a goal and dream
16 Finding the "meaning of life"
17 Finding time to think
18 Finding quietness
19 Living a more healthy life-style
20 Feeling of being sufficient
21 Welding the family together
Our Auxiliary Crew Nalle Niva on watch, photo by Jessica.
Our fears were summarized in the following "Cons".
1 Often long distance to medical care
2 Living on a tight budget
3 No jobs to return to
4 Uncertainty of "life after the cruise"
5 None of our old friends or family close by
6 Home schooling with no normal teachers
7 No car - having to walk and carry everything
8 Laundry and washing up by hand
9 Sharing room with your sibling
10 Can't bring much stuff
11 Often having to part from friends
12 Difficult with kids' hobbies, such as tennis, dancing, orchestra
13 No high speed internet connection
The list was compiled by all four of us as a
family, and in no specific order. I am sure your List
would look different, but equally contain a mixture of expectations,
dreams, fears and sacrifices.
The important issue is not what stands on the
List, but that it is honest. If one part of the crew is looking
for the stormy adventure and the other one is expecting a sunny
relaxing cruise, possibly there is some room for adjusting the
By talking to many cruisers, we have understood
that it is important to have a personal "meaning" of your cruise,
a mission or a reason to go sailing. The worst one being "because
my spouse wants me to". Those projects do unfortunately not last
long, as many single-hand sailors can testify.
All participants should find his or her individual
"meaning". We have met happy cruisers who had taken up art and
painting and couldn't wait until they got to a new place with
exciting sceneries. Others collected recipes from the world and
yet others were bird watchers having collected thousands of species
they had seen. We met a French couple on a catamaran, which held
small "concerts" in marinas playing chansons for whoever wanted
to listen. Others were divers, sailing to exciting new underwater
worlds and many kids collected courtesy flags, postcards, stamps
It was fun to compare our own expectations put
in print long before we actually started our cruise and to compare
these with the outcome. I am surprised how correct our List actually
turned out to be.
Some points, we can just laugh about in hindsight,
like the requirement of constant high-speed Internet or the fear
for lacking a car. Today, we actually question the importance
of owning one and enjoyed the local buses and our hikes to the
grocery shops. Our biggest time- and nerve-consumer turned out
to be home schooling. It is difficult to be your own kids teacher,
at least when it comes to motivating for "dull stuff". In the
end, our weekly planning sessions for the school-work almost turned
into a session of negotiation. We did our best to stress the basic
subjects reading, writing, maths and English and sacrificed some
issues that their pals at home might have learnt. Our children
can't list all the rivers in Sweden, but know the 9 Azorean and
most Caribbean islands from north to south. They haven't played
in sport teams, but learnt to agree with children of the world.
They don't know the Swedish kings, but know the colonial history
of the British and French. They can't name Swedish politicians,
but can distinguish between species of dolphins. In other words,
they have learnt different things.
Jessica, Emma (from Koshlong) and Jonathan
experimenting with electronic components as school-work resulting
in various cool applications ranging from morse-communication
to telephony. Somtimes, school can be real fun!
Jessica in the engine room, working on a water pump. While not
part of school, work like this gives an insight in technical problems.
Boatschooling at its peak: Rachael from Koshlong working with
It has been difficult to keep up
with hobbies, something we will take up again, once at home. For
a year new hobbies, such as snorkeling, cooking and hiking, have
replaced our old ones, which has been just as appreciated (and
much less expensive!).
What our children did miss was Swedish food!
You bet we will enjoy Swedish meat balls and lingonberries when
we get home!
Surprisingly, Jessica and Jonathan have not
complained about sharing a cabin and do not seem to have missed
any major items they left behind. They have played a lot with
each other and very seldom have they been quarreling. Actually,
most boat kids have been very nice to each other, possibly due
to a general lack of overflow in friends. It has been a joy to
see how caring everyone has been to each other. Our children don't
know what mobbing is, or why to exclude someone from a game. Being
limited in number, every child was seen as an asset and was directly
made into a friend. Lacking trendy rules about what is "cool"
and what isn't, all children have been able to play with whatever
they liked, unknown of pals judging and looking down at playing
"childish-" or "girls'-games". Kids of all ages, boys and girls,
shared their games and were allowed to stay children for much
longer than they possibly would have at home. Soon enough, they
get teenagers and adults.
Jonathan found a new hobby in cooking, here preparing oven cooked
salmon in sweet&sour chili sauce. Photo by Jessica
Best cruising friends: Jonathan, Emma, Rachael, Chloe and Jessica
What has then been the best part of the sail?
I would say the people you meet, starting with your own family
to all the wonderful individuals you come across along the way.
We have spent all our time with our own children, something not
all other parents can say. We have made wonderful new friends
for life and the children have become very familiar with the English
language. Parting and meeting again has become a life-style and
the invisible bonds that tie us together give a feeling of having
friends everywhere, and that we can make new friends wherever
I have personally also enjoyed being able to
take one thing after the other, concentrating on the task I am
working on, instead of having millions of projects simultaneously.
Karolina just laughs when I say so, and believes it is a typical
male issue, not being good at multitasking.
How I often was seen: behind the camera. Photo by Dan on Koshlong.
What have we learnt during this
year? Well, I believe one experience is that you can do things
in very different ways. This refers not only to how people do
in other countries, but also how you can carry through a cruising
project. There was a wealth of different type of boats and people,
who all found their own way to fulfill their dream. Whichever
situation we were in, we learnt that the main issue is to stay
focused, finding work-arounds if needed, staying innovative, seeing
possibilities where others might see problems and constantly work
on improving your system or your situation.
We learnt to distinguish between issues we could
influence and things we could not. For instance, we didn't get
annoyed any longer if the bus was late or if the customs had closed
the office for the day. There was nothing we could do about it,
so it was better to take it easy!
And, we have experienced that we can achieve
much more than we could ever imagine. Even huge obstacles, such
as an ocean, can be overcome by taking one step at a time, using
common sense. We've become less frightened when it comes to changes
and will therefore, after completing this cruise, not hesitate
when new exiting challenges come our way, whatever they might
Leon enjoying a Caribbean sunset.
Photo by Jessica.
Yet, we hear from time to time from people ashore
that it must have been easy for us to undertake this one-year
adventure, while they, who were restricted, could just dream about
it. We, who had the "financial resources" not having to work for
a year. We, who had a boat... We, who were experienced seamen.
We, who did not care about our children's education. We, who..
The list could become never-ending, why we could and they
could not take a sabbatical break in life.
I am sorry to say, they are all wrong! We have
met cruisers with the most varying background and all of them
have made huge sacrifices to get away. And so have we.
The decision to break up is certainly not easy
and there are a million reasons not to interfere with a working
routine life-style. I believe most people actually don't wish
to make any amendments in their lives, they are just talking.
If you do consider to break up, doing something
adventurous like going cruising, you certainly can, but be prepared
for taking risks and making sacrifices, financially, carrier-wise
and joie de vivre.
Financially, all whom we have met have made
great sacrifices. It might take as much as 10 years to re-build
the savings that had been spent during this one year. But none
of them we spoke to regretted it. Money can be earned again, but
making these experiences, especially with your family, is never
We sold our house. We passed on our business.
We risked that we would either not like cruising at all or liking
it too much, making it difficult to re-enter into normal society.
Or even worse: some of us would love cruising, while other parts
of the family would not!
Living one's dream is one thing, but having
lived it could also become difficult. We risk to return to an
everyday-life with no more goals or dreams! Like the Olympic champion,
who becomes depressed after his achieved medal. I have heard from
other cruisers that it helps having a new project upon arrival;
a new house, a new job, moving to a new place or to plan for your
next cruise. After all, we can't just sit there thinking back,
regretting we returned home!
We have rejected our old lives to build something
new. It has taken a year to understand this. Slowly, what we previously
considered "important" got a new meaning to us. By taking our
sabbatical cruising year, we learnt to open up our senses and
are prepared to start a new life with our old one as a valuable
In very due course, we will make landfall in
Norway, our home waters and from there, it is just a short distance
to Regina's home in Sweden.
May our adventures continue ashore as well as
Beautiful sunset. Photo by Dan, Koshlong.
Article and Images © 2006 Leon
Schulz or images as credited. Our thanks to Leon and his crew
for permission to reproduce this feature.