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Author: Raising Vikings

Washington DC or Bust!

Washington DC or Bust!

Cruising on a tight schedule feels a bit like going against the very principle of cruising. I mean, if I wanted to be stressed out about getting places on time I would’ve stayed on land, right? It would be like giving up your home to move your family into an RV then spending every day in rush-hour traffic.  

And yet that is the situation in which we found ourselves after unexpected hurricane delays forced us to motor north as quickly as possible in order to meet Samuel and Simon flying in from the West Coast. 

Our typical day consisted of getting up before dawn, making coffee, pulling up the anchor, then motoring for 14-18 hours before finding a new anchorage, dropping the hook, and getting a few hours sleep. Rinse and repeat ad nauseam.

Tedious? Yes. Exhausting? Yep. Ultimately successful? Barely. 

We picked up a mooring ball in Washington less than 24 hours before the boys’ flight came in. Now, I realize that “less than 24 hours” may not seem like cutting it close–I mean we weren’t exactly speeding across town or sprinting through the airport–but with potential weather problems or engine failure it sure felt that way.

Even with the overly hectic pace, the trip up was beautiful and we had some fun adventures along the way. We passed through our first lock ever while in the Albermarle and Chesapeake Canal. We saw a monkey in a diaper in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, of all places (the monkey was in the diaper, not us, in case that was a bit ambiguous). And we found some of our favorite anchorages to date: Buck Island, North Carolina; Mobjack Bay/East River, Virginia; and Point Lookout/Smith Creek, Maryland…all stunning and serene.

The highlight of my trip had to be seeing George Washington’s lifelong home, Mount Vernon, as we approached from the water. I happen to be a history nerd and a fan of our first president, and to be sailing (motoring) through his old stomping grounds filled me with emotion, if I’m honest.

Even just being on the Potomac itself felt somehow historically sacred. It wasn’t hard to imagine Native American villages scattered along its banks, or John Wilkes Booth rowing across its waters to elude capture after assassinating Lincoln, or John Quincy Adams skinny-dipping in it’s waters daily during his presidency. Okay, I tried not to actually imagine the last one, but you get the point.

A break from our travels will be nice. We will replace motoring with museums, and quiet anchorages for a bustling city. Looking forward to the change for a bit.

Dodging Hurricanes and Heading North

Dodging Hurricanes and Heading North

Almost immediately after we had packed up our California home and journeyed across the country (more on that later) to our new floating home in Daytona Beach, Hurricane Irma grew to monstrous size and decided to pay us a visit. Reported as the strongest Atlantic storm in recorded history, Irma ripped a path of destruction through the very Caribbean islands that we plan on visiting in a few months before setting her sights on Florida.

It didn’t take us more than a couple of seconds to decide to head north, while leaving the boat as prepared for a storm as we could make it (triple dock lines, removed sails, prayer, etc). We were among the lucky ones that had a car, so we headed north to stay with family. HUGE THANKS to all of our friends at Halifax Harbor Marina. We made fast friends and felt right at home among you all on H dock!

Now, we’re from Northern California–the land of earthquakes. They strike without warning and either you’re okay, or your not. Like ripping off a band-aid. We’re not used to hurricanes, though, which slowly stalk you from across an ocean like some kind of zombie horde–always moving, never resting, unpredictable, bent on your destruction. They take a bit of getting used to, and to be honest, I’m not sure I want to get used to them.

So, as I was saying, we fled north. We drove through the night and imposed ourselves for a week (two adults, four kids, and two dogs) upon Mary Jane’s aunt and cousin. The hospitality was so amazing that it was hard to leave. 

The kids plugged away on boat school, including trips to a battleship, a Civil War era fort, and an aquarium. And, of course, a late night excursion to the Waffle House, which scores low on the educational and nutritious scale, but high on the fun and tasty.

After an incredible “hurricane party” with Mary Jane’s family, we nervously went back to our boat to see how badly she was damaged. Thankfully, she didn’t have a scratch! Three sweltering days of working in the Daytona heat and we were ready to get moving, heading north to get as far away from the hurricane zone as we could.

The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) stretches up the east coast, allowing for travel along the coast when conditions in the ocean prove unfavorable. It’s beautiful, often boring, and sometimes dangerous--especially at night (which we attempted several times though each time we did we told each other, “never again!”)   Poorly charted buoys, floating logs, obnoxious power boaters, and road hog tugboats are just a few of the things you might encounter. Not to mention dolphins, flamingos, and the occasional renegade pack of jet skis racing up behind you like a chase scene from a James Bond movie.

After a few days of monotonous motoring (Ugh…why can’t we sail yet?!?) up the ICW we found that we had we had Hurricane Maria on our tail, so we ducked up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington, North Carolina, and spent another few days with MJ’s family waiting out yet another hurricane.

Our hearts are broken for all of the loss of life and property due to these storms. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other smaller islands have been absolutely devastated, not to mention the damage to Florida and other U.S. states. We passed countless broken docks, damaged homes, and boats that had been sunk or thrown upon the shore. 

We pray for all who have been affected and hope that we can find some small way to serve those in need along our journey.

For now, we are getting used to boat life little by little while relentlessly motoring north. We are enjoying spectacular sunrises, and even more spectacular sunsets, while learning to embrace a lifestyle in which the journey is as important–no, more important–than the destination.

Why Vikings?!?

Why Vikings?!?

“Why ‘Raising Vikings?’ Didn’t the Vikings raid, murder and pillage?”

So the conversation often begins.

Okay, well…yes, that’s a bit true. I can’t deny that the Vikings were fairly well known for their less-than-gentlemanly  behavior as they dominated much of Europe in the two centuries leading up to AD 1000.

One could argue that they were only doing what everyone else was trying to do to each other, but they were just much, much better at it. But that is beside the point.

Besides our strong Scandinavian heritage, the true inspiration behind our name is that by all accounts the Vikings were also phenomenal adventurers and traders. They used their secret weapon, the longship, not only as a vehicle from which to launch amphibious invasions, but also as a means to explore the far reaches of the known world…and beyond.

The Norse during the Viking Age traveled far and wide, encountering and engaging diverse cultures from the indigenous tribes in North America to the Byzantine Empire in the Med. They interacted and traded with people far different from themselves (when they weren’t killing them), during an era when staying close to home and doing what had always been done was the norm.

We want our kids to be raised in a culture of adventure. We want them to break free of what is deemed “normal” for teenagers in the West, and experience a way of life that is filled with excitement, wonder, and  learning. We want them to experience people far different than themselves, eat new foods, speak foreign tongues, and immerse themselves in a way of life that has no idea who the Joneses are, nor any concept of needing to keep up with them.

We want our kids to learn to love all people, and to learn to serve others without thought of what they will get in return. We will use our small sailboat-home to accomplish these ends during this short season of life before they are adults and off a-Viking on their own.

We are raising adventurers. Raising explorers. Raising learners. Raising Vikings.

We are a family of 7 from California embarking on a journey of discovery and adventure aboard our 42′ sloop, Elska. For us, it is time to make a change. A big change.  A change to the very core of our lifestyle, that we might live more fully and engage our planet in ways we never could from the comfort of our suburban home.

Like the Norse explorers of old, we are casting off from the safety of our “home fjord” and comfortable village for a grand adventure of experiencing new lands and cultures, taking hold of the treasures of life while our kids are young and while we are young at heart.