The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

There Be Adventurers

I recently wrote a post on spreading happiness, inspired by Tassio and Claudia’s website. Well, their website inspired me in another way, as well.

So much of what I read/hear/see in the media lately seems to suggest that young people are screwed and can only look forward to dead-end jobs and a lifelong economic struggle. Though I believe this holds true in many ways and for many young people, it’s not the whole story. Tassio and Claudia link to a number of websites created by young people like themselves who are traveling the world (not necessarily by boat), creating art, trying to live sustainably, spreading optimism, and having adventures. So if you think that young people aren’t getting out there anymore, look closer.

Do you know of any other young people out there doing cool things? Please share their stories with us. I believe that these young people are doing us all a big favour by making the world a more exciting, adventurous, positive, and dynamic place and we need to support them in whatever way we can.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dick Stevenson

Phyllis, If anything fuels our wanderings, it is enthusiasm. And we find that the more you go down the age scale, generally, the more the untainted enthusiasm grows. Children add another lovely boost to the enthusiasm level. Enthusiasm is contagious. For those of us who feed off enthusiasm, it is a joy when we share anchorages with these young singles, couples, and families. Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

John Peltier

Unfortunately, the majority of what young people are exposed to tells them that they should focus on obtaining money and toys. That is what drives their entire lives. In doing so, they miss out on everything else.
Even though I was fortunate enough to land a well-paying & stable career, I chose to give it up after ten years so that I could have my own adventures, live free & simple, and learn about the world in ways that are otherwise impossible. I’m still trying to figure out my contribution, but I know it will come to me and I look forward to joining the likes of you cruisers who value your stories and memories more than your clothing & cars. We still need young people to work 60-hour weeks, and some of them enjoy it, but it’s not for me!

Matt Marsh

Oh, there are young folks out there doing adventurous stuff, all right. In the last few years, I’ve had university-age friends head out for teaching projects in sub-Saharan Africa, biological research in the Canadian Arctic, mountaineering in the western USA, development projects in Central America, teaching English in China, and a solar car race across Australia. And that’s just one group of friends from one school.

None of us are particularly thrilled about employment prospects at the moment, but we’re all getting by, and quite a lot of us have plans (some pragmatic, some idealistic) to try to fix “the system”, once we’re on sufficiently stable footing, so that the current mess won’t happen again. But that’s another story.

Jon T

Oh yes there are!

I have one person in mind who is an incredible adventurer, sailor and all out wonderful person who is so incredibly humble and modest that no one has ever heard of her. Apart from bicycling from Europe to South Africa at a young age, she sails incredible voyages and walks amazing walks too (even after physical injuries that would make most of us stop in our tracks). She writes beautifully and I hope one day she shares her stories with the world. But at under thirty, she doesn’t see a need for any such sedentary activity for a long time to come…

Long may the world have such adventurous risk takers!

Gary Schwarzman

Besides taking our own children cruising from a young age, we have had great experiences with other kids. After our daughters had grown and gone off to start their own lives and careers, Beth and I found opportunities to invite our nieces and nephews, or the children of friends, to join us on cruises.

The best experiences were those when we had a couple of kids for six weeks or so in a summer. With various younger relatives we have sailed Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, the Caribbean and the Baltic. But shorter cruises also work. Sometimes children of friends came aboard for a few days that included an overnight passage from Cape Cod to Maine (with the kids helping to stand night watches, of course!) after which their parents drove up to join us and let the kids show off what they had learned.

We try to have the trip start with a day or two of sailing to get oriented, then a new challenge, such as a night passage. By that time the kids are an integral part of the crew. Of course it’s not just about the sailing; there’s the experience of new places and possibly foreign cultures, the self-sufficiency and shared responsibility of boat life, long hikes, water play and all the rest.

One non-obvious lesson we’ve learned is that it is much easier to have two kids than one, and more fun for everyone.

As the years pass these children grow and we have less contact with them, but we often have been pleasantly surprised to learn how memorable these times were for the kids, and how important their brief cruising careers were in their growing up. And we loved the experience.

Abel van Staveren

hi Phyllis,
here is another inspiring website of a young sailing couple. I’m quite optimistic when I hear the views and values of the younger generation. Our planet might be saved after all.




Hi Abel

Great link – people very much after our own heart, and we wish them well. Many other good stories in the other comments too, so perhaps there’s hope yet!

One thing that has disappointed us a little so far has been the lack of children cruising. Very few British families so far, more French, Dutch and Norwegians up until now – and good for them. I know from my own experience how much kids get (and add) to sailing and how it alters their outlook on life – for the better in most cases.

Best wishes


Abel van Staveren

Hi Colin,

Regarding kids cruising, I do have a feeling its on the increase. Dutch sailing mag “zeilen” runs a feature every year on the “leavers” i.e. people going cruising for extended periods. They organise a meeting day and interview all participants. The magazine has kept stats for more than ten years of doing this and its interesting to see the trends.
more younger people rather than retirees, more kids, larger boats, but more older boats probably as a function of younger people on smaller budgets going cruising.

My favorite sailing magazine is Lattitudes & attitudes, from the US as it captures the essence of cruising. It has a monthly feature on cruising children where kids write in to tell their story. The column is called sea urchins. Recommend all children who’s parents just sprung this crazy sailing plan on them to read a couple of those, as its written by their peers. Then they will probably realize its a too good an opportunity to pass up.



PS great to see Terra D’agua cruising an alu lifting keel boat like you and me. Mounting about 45 kilo’s worth of zinc anodes on this weekend before she goes back in next Wednesday.

John Harries

Hi Abel,

Just noticed your last sentence. Maybe you were joking, but if not, be aware that more is not better with zinc on an aluminum boat. Too much zinc can actually do damage and will also make the boat blow paint.

To find the right amount of zinc for your boat you need a good meter and a silver anode.


May be Abel has a huge alumine boat …

Paul Mills

Hi all,

The lack of kids cruising from the UK is something that we really notice; and those that we do hear about tend to be in ‘warmer climes’.

The Uk seems to be heavily under the government cosh of school attendance, and the ‘well known’ and ‘researched’ fact that even a week away from school will ruin your academic life chances (yeah right…). We cruise each summer term with 2 boys , 6 and 10 – yesterday; and they and we get so much from it. For it to happen we took the approach of being firm with the school/education dept; we TOLD them what we ARE going to do – and then asked how we could make it work for them…. including taking our kids off role is that helped. Our boys teachers are great and we liaise over curriculum and work – and email stuff back to them. However, this year, we have joined the ‘traveller’ (gypsey) category for the education dept as this they now fits what we do….. I have to say I am fine with that and enjoying doing a romantic gypsy impression, though the boys say I get it confused with my pirate one!

Our boys do love making friends wherever they stop and had a couple of great beach plays last weekend on Loch Fyne. Luckily they also get on well together… . This year they ahve both got into emails and pictures home to their mates as well, and enjoy the envious replies.

The ties and binds of modern life are something I think we all need to pull against and test – and ask ourselves are they real… or just a convenient construction of our joing social consciousness?

Off to look up Latitudes and Attitudes on the web…



Hi Paul (and Abel)

Thanks for the interesting explanation which bears out my impression even further afield. And I’m right with you on the heavy hand of officialdom in the UK that weighs so heavily on any attempt to be ‘different’ – what became of the nation of Drake and Raleigh?

Good point,too about ‘Zeilen’ and what sounds like a very interesting piece of coverage – maybe that’s another reason why we’ve met so many Dutch families on the move.

Best wishes


David Nutt

There are many, many young people around this planet doing cool things. It seems as if every young generation is denigrated by their predecessors but the world keeps turning. David Nutt and Monica Balanoff have started a program called Seas of Peace ( in conjunction with Seeds of Peace ( This is their second summer bringing Palestinian, Israeli, and American youth together for 3 weeks of working, sailing and conflict resolution. This summer they will be sailing on Spirit of Massachusetts, a tall ship managed by Ocean Classroom. These kids are all graduates of the Seeds of Peace summer program in Otisfield, Maine and have shown a continued effort in the peace and dialogue process. It is incredibly exciting to see the energy, the compassion, and the dedication of these kids to not only their future but to the future of their countries and the political process.
After the program in the summer of 2011 David and Monica spent the winter months on the West Bank in Palestine teaching and working with former Seeds and Seas to continue the process. They are back in the States now in the final weeks of preparation for the program this summer.
I must add a disclaimer as John and Phyllis do; David is my oldest son and grew up doing a circumnavigation. Monica spent a year on the school ship Concordia and she too did a circumnavigation. It was these years that taught them the challenges and the rewards of life aboard ship. They are both graduates of Dartmouth College.
And as has been said a thousand times before: “Brother, can you spare a dime?”


Hi David

Once again a good and inspiring story of young people who think of more than themselves, and recognise that you get out of life what you put in.

The sea is truly a good place to learn some humility and much more about yourself, and it’s clear from the example of David and Monica (and so many others like them) that the time spent on their circumnavigations was not just spent enjoying themselves – good for them!

Best wishes


John Harries

Thanks to all for the great comments on this post. We are heading out on a short offshore passage and so will be out of touch for the next couple of days.


A friend’s daughter worked herself into a chef job at a game ranch. Who said youngsters do not have it?
Check her blog:


Great website guys -I’ve come late to this conversation, but I just had to share the blog of a friend of mine who saved up to buy an old cruising yacht, fixed her up and is now living a dreamy life sailing and diving (currently) through Central America.
And he’s a helluva writer.
Check out

(TradeABoat mag Aus/NZ)

John Harries

Hi Ben,

Thanks very much for the link. As you say, a really good read.

Wilson Fitt

David Welsford is another young adventurer who has been sailing around the Caribbean for the past few years. He seems to have a particular ability to get past the yachtie beach bars and develop connections with some of the local folks.

I haven’t met David but have a strong connection through his boat, Lizzy Belle. It was built in 1967 for my father and named for my grandmother. My father died soon after, when I was still in my early teens, and I ended up being the only kid in high school with his own sailboat. I learned to sail and navigate Nova Scotia waters the hard way (literally in some cases) and had many adventures including a trip to the Bahamas in 1974/75 ($1,800 for ten months away, those were the days!). After I sold the Lizzy Belle she passed through several owners and fell into disrepair (near death I would have said) until rescued by David and his father and taken out on new adventures. It’s very pleasing to see.