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Reviews for Voyaging with Kids

Posted by on August 18, 2015

Voyaging with Kids is a beautifully designed and very comprehensive reference on cruising with kids. It covers everything from picking your boat to what to bring along, how to stay safe and healthy, provisioning in far away places, and activities to pass the time or expose the kids to new experiences. There is a full chapter on boat schooling which has some very interesting suggestions, like attending local schools while voyaging and dealing with rules and regulations of the home country.

Most important are the fantastic insights from other contributors in side bars throughout.  Because of this, you get the benefit of many experienced parents and kids from varied first-hand perspectives that provide a truly balanced view of the experience. A lot of work went into this book and I applaud the authors and editors who pulled it all together so expertly

The book also covers the transiting nature of voyaging by boat and how it influences relationships both aboard and on shore.  It provides detailed advice on passagemaking.  It even covers how to deal with the challenges unique to babies and teenagers aboard.  Finally, it deals with the challenges faced when ending the voyage and transitioning back to a life ashore and all the things that will stay with them forever and keep them grounded on the land.

Voyaging with Kids ends with interviews with and letters from former cruising kids. They talk about their life aboard and ashore, what they learned from both, and how they dealt with the transitions.  It’s really inspiring to read about the great takeaways these former kids remember and how those learnings shaped their future lives.  Bottom line, you get the sense that they became better human beings for the experience.

The book is rich with photographs of kids doing interesting things in exotic places.  It also focuses attention on the ability of children aboard to take responsibility and contribute to the tasks at hand.  They learn independence and self-reliance from an early age, very valuable traits in this passive world. They also learn what’s important in life in general and what’s important to them specifically, not like the kids in routine lives ashore who just follow along with what everyone else is doing.

The Index is very handy for looking up specific topics.  There are six pages of contributors listed, three pages of bibliography, and thirteen pages of additional resources and references used in researching material.

Voyaging with Kids is a really important addition to the cruising armamentarium for anyone contemplating life afloat.  What these authors have done is extraordinarily valuable. They’ve done enormous research to provide access to the kind of information every parent needs before taking off, and they share real life assessment of how everything actually translates into practice.  This is destined to be a bestseller in the sailing books category…the parenting bible for the cruising family.  I believe it’s the first book of its kind, and that is an accomplishment in itself.

Daria Blackwell —



A few days ago, I was given a pre-release PDF of Voyaging with Kids as a review copy. I read it over the last two evenings and I was just blown away by the wealth of information that it contains. And not just for those who are planning to cruise with kids!

Voyaging with Kids will be available through Paradise Cay on September 1 and on Amazon (including Kindle) on October 1. Click the links in the previous sentence to pre-order.

It’s written by three of my favorite bloggers — Behan GiffordSara Johnson and Michael Robertson — who have covered thousands of miles with their families. What’s more, they’ve enlisted many, many more cruising parents to contribute short sidebars detailing their experiences on just about every topic in the book. Again, a number of bloggers that I follow (and admire!) were part of the process.

Add in the fact that Lin Pardey is the publisher and Capt. Fatty Goodlander wrote the foreward, and you know it’s going to have solid information. Everyone involved in the project has put thousands of miles under their keel and knows what really happens “out there.”

I love that it’s a collaboration, as there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to most of the choices that have to be made in going cruising. They authors don’t always take the same approach. And they don’t try to sugarcoat the tough spots . . . but instead, give ideas of how to sucessfully deal with them.

Yes, the book is geared towards those who have kids (or are of an age that they may be having kids while cruising). But most of the points the authors make, or pros and cons of various paths, apply just as much to anyone who takes off cruising. Over and over again as I read the book I kept saying to myself “. . . and that’s true without kids too.” I encourage anyone who’s contemplating or actively planning/preparing to cruise to read the book, whether or not you have kids. You’re bound to pick up useful pointers!

Chapters include:

  • Getting Ready (including dealing with the naysayers, particularly those close to you)
  • Choosing a Family Cruising Boat (type of boat, dinghy and associated gear)
  • Staying Safe
  • Staying Healthy
  • Provisioning for a Family (this includes special diets and food allergies)
  • Everyday Life Afloat (a question almosteveryone has pre-cruising!)
  • Learning Onboard
  • Relationships: Afloat and Ashore (includes keeping in touch with family and friends left behind, another big topic for almost everyone)
  • Passagemaking
  • Babies Onboard
  • Teens Onboard
  • Ending the Voyage (just as big a transition for adults as kids, let me tell you)
  • Former Cruising Kids

As it focuses on cruising as a family, there really isn’t any other book like Voyaging with Kids. Reading blogs of families with kids gives some insight on some of these issues, but the book provides a more systematic and in-depth look at all of these topics.

As Dave and I have cruised, I’ve loved meeting the kids on boats nearby. And now, I’m loving getting to know even more through blogs. Talk about responsible, interesting and willing to try new things!

Most families thrive while cruising, but we’ve met a few who decided it just wasn’t for them or who just didn’t really think it through and prepare sufficiently for it. Reading — really reading and discussing with your partner and kids (if they’re old enough) —Voyaging with Kids will answer a lot of questions about “how do you actually do it?” and seriously up the chances of success.

If you have any questions as to how your kids will look back on cruising, the final chapter is for you. A dozen former cruising kids look back on their experiences and tell how they shaped their lives today.

For couples or single-handers, sure, there will be some chapters that just don’t apply. But so many do that I think it’s a useful accompaniment to other books you may be reading such as Voyager’s Handbook as it covers some different topics and provides another point of view.

Full disclosure: Lin Pardey, the publisher, is a friend of mine and wrote a back-cover review for The Boat Galley Cookbook. I’ve followed Behan, Sara and Michael’s blogs for some time and have had a fair amount of email and Facebook “conversation” with Behan. And they even mention The Boat Galley Cookbook in their book. So I might be prejudiced . . . but I think it’s just that I happen to know some really talented people who have put together a fantastic resource!

Carolyn Shearlock –



The best thing parents can do for their children these days is to unplug them from society and give them a wider and deeper perspective of the world and more meaningful way to experience the life as they grow. The best way to remove them from the bad influence of today’s tasteless movies, violent video games, and shallow peers is to take your kids cruising.


As more parents are doing exactly that, a brand-new book on the subject tells how. Voyaging with Kids: A Guide to Family Life Afloat was written jointly by a trio of sailors who have made this choice. Their collaboration is being supported by Lin Pardey who is publishing the book and has watched many cruising kids grow into extraordinary people over the years since she and Larry first threw off the docklines.


Authors Behan Gifford, Sara Dawn Johnson, and Michael Robertson each represent one half of a cruising couple that has been out there voyaging with their children for several years. They address the issues of breaking away from land-based commitments, dealing with the naysayers, and helping children make the transition. They talk about choosing a family cruising boat, safety afloat for kids of all ages, staying healthy, and provisioning for a family aboard. They specifically address issues surrounding cruising with infants and — at the other end of the spectrum — cruising with teenagers.


They also discuss how families spend their days aboard (with chores, holidays, home schooling, and great playtime) as well as relationships aboard and those they develop with other cruisers and cruising families. Just as important as transitioning to life afloat, they also cover preparing for the end of a voyage and re-entry into the hyper-society they have left behind.


My favorite part of this book is the essays by former cruising kids, those who spent several years afloat. We often wonder what has become of them. Did they get a proper education? Did they grow up properly socialized? Do they look back fondly on their cruising years? Yes. Yes. And yes. While some, once grown, have planted the anchor firmly inland, many have continued to sail or cruise as adults on their own boats. They are exceptional adults in every sense of the word and a tribute to the idea of family cruising.


This is a gorgeous book with additional interviews with and input from many other cruising families. If you know of a sailing family with the dream of cruising, buy them the book and then watch their children blossom — far from the maddening crowd — into very capable, independent, and special people

Karen Larson –Editor, Good Old Boat


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