This family went around the world on a sailboat for 6 year
Here is one of the most inspiring travel stories: that of the Gendron-San Emeterio family, moored in the Azores for the beginning of their life project under sail on the not lesser Liberté Sur l’Océan.
Maria, of Mexican nationality, had in fact never set foot on a sailboat until a few years ago. In 2020, his father dies suddenly. Which leads him to reflect on the meaning of life, which often follows a mad pace on a daily basis. Additionally, the collateral damage created by the pandemic has her questioning her career as a wedding planner.
Michel, meanwhile, has long cherished the dream of long-term sailing. Twenty years ago, he even owned a small sailboat, sailing the popular Lake Champlain. The longer we wait, the more difficult it is to carry out this kind of major project. So I quit my job as a manager at the SAQ,” says Michel.
The family with four children, a whole logistics must be put in place. It is only Tristan, 9 years old, who makes the decision to participate full-time in this family project. The older ones choose to stay in Quebec, newly professional. Sailing holidays are certainly taking shape for them.
Ready for the big start
From a sailboat cruise in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine to admire one of these famous sunsets, to a family experience on Bras d’Or Lake in Nova Scotia, followed by a long weekend on the St. Lawrence… the flame for sailing is lit.
For this family of three team members, it is essential to follow the full range of training available in order to feel confident. Despite the health restrictions in place during the pandemic, Michelle Cantin, founder of the nautical training school in Quebec, takes them under her wing and organizes a whole program for them (including three weeks of private training on the St. one of the hardest places to navigate in the world), in order to achieve their goal of leaving on the scheduled date.
On October 18, 2021, the anniversary of the couple’s 12th anniversary of meeting – the crew dives and leaves Canada to travel around the world for at least six years. “Everything has actually gone very well in the 19 months leading up to this date: sale of the house, sailing lessons up to ICC certification, study every weekend, 25 exams and first aid courses and survival. So we were ready for that date, sitting on the plane to the Azores.”
The pandemic will ultimately have been positive for them, giving them the time they need to better prepare to leave.
Why change your life?
Spontaneously and with sparkling eyes, Maria and Michel share with me that they wish so much to discover the world, the geography and the peoples who inhabit it, in order to “introduce travel” into their daily lives. They also want to learn other languages.
This family went around the world on a sailboat for 6 years
I no longer wanted this life of consumption and strong social pressure. We had to slow down the pace to finally enjoy real life. The wealth of experiences we are already living and those to come is also our legacy for Tristan.
This family travels the world with their children before they lose their sight
Michel adds: “I no longer wanted this life of spending 10 hours in the car a week for work. I rather wanted to follow the rhythm of the wind and the nature that surrounds us”.
These meetings that mark
Travelers fall in love with this sailboat, an Océanis 42.3 by Bénéteau. Unearthed on Facebook, this one is actually in the Azores. Due to sanitary restrictions, they visit it by FaceTime, with the help of a local inspector.
It was also love at first sight for the current owners of Marinade (former name of the boat now called Liberté Sur l’Océan), a retired Quebec couple. The latter began their world tour at the age of 60 and finally settled in these Portuguese islands. An invaluable bonus for the new family of navigators: the former owners are present at each sea trip.
There are also those coincidences that are written in the sky: “We had the incredible good fortune to meet a 71-year-old Portuguese navigator, who did two round-the-world solo tours (there would only be 10 people in the world who would have achieved this feat.) He seemed so happy to tell us his stories, a real encyclopedia !
A host of new learnings
About a year before leaving, they make the decision to homeschool Tristan, in an effort to adjust to their new coming reality, with online school helping many with the transition. “I even organize a video every month to present to my class in Quebec,” Tristan tells us, listening to our conversation with one ear.
But the beauty of this kind of long-term journey is, among other things, that they can take their time, not only to discover the places they visit, but also to follow the right windows in terms of the climate (also essential for insurance ).
During the days at sea
The travellers’ road map, pinned to their Facebook page, shows the beginning of a journey of at least six months in the Azores. Then, they want to sail across the Mediterranean, to the south of Europe. By following the easterly winds, a crossing of the South Atlantic is necessary, despite the lot of challenges it can bring.