AdventurePlex Family Sets Sail for Three Years!

While most of us would never dream of embarking on such a challenging adventure, the Leonard Family from Hermosa—Scott, Mandi, Griffin, Jake and Luke—are enthusiastically living their dream by spending three years traveling around the world on their 50-foot sailboat, Three Little Birds. Scott and Mandi feel this will be an amazing experience for their three sons to be exposed to other cultures. Modern technology made this “interview” possible—all while Mandi and the boys were battening down the hatches for Hurricane Irene in the Dominican Republic!

ADVENTUREPLEX: In planning this voyage and at the first phase of it, what are you learning as a family about each other and yourselves?
MANDI: “The trip has really taught us that every person in our family is important to make this trip successful. The boys are needed every time we anchor, moor or dock the boat. Each member has a specific job, and the boys are learning that we depend on them in the same way they depend on us. It is a great learning experience for all of us.”

AP: What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced so far?
MANDI: “Funny you should ask! My greatest challenge so far has been preparing for Hurricane Irene, which as I type this, the hurricane is rolling through. Scott, our fearless captain, flew back to Hermosa for a week of work meetings the day before the hurricane was predicted. The boys and I, with the help of some incredibly gracious and generous local captains of neighboring boats, got the boat battened down for the hurricane—a LOT of work! This was a great learning experience for the boys and me. We rely on Scott’s boating expertise and his uncanny intuition of what to do in emergency situations, so it was good to go through this drill without him.”

AP: How do you and your family plan to eat healthy and stay fit?
SCOTT: “I think there is this misconception that the US is so healthy, but it is quite the opposite.  We have so much processed food, salt in everything, hormones, preservatives, etc.  On the boat, there is much less of those items, so we eat better on the boat.  As for exercise, I personally do much more on that boat than I did at home.  We tend to walk much more as we don't have a car, and we explore more as the places we visit are new.”

MANDI: “We have three paddle boards on the boat as well as two kayaks, two surfboards, snorkel gear and there is always swimming. The boys and Scott are big water polo players, and Scott bought a floating water polo goal. He is going to conduct PE every morning with a few water polo drills. I brought some Pilates and Yoga videos and will fit it in when I can!”

AP: What do you think you’ll miss most during the next three years?
MANDI: “Of course we will miss our family and friends the most in the next three years. We are trying to plan destinations for people to come meet up with us.  Another great help is having satellite service on the boat. We will pretty much be in constant contact via email, Facebook and our boat phone. We love the fact that we have a 310 area code and the calls are free for anyone who phones in!”

SCOTT: “Other than family and friends, (this is so materialistic, I hate to admit it!) I will miss the Lakers and our season tickets to UCLA football. I will miss concerts. Other than that, a good handcrafted micro beer is impossible to find.  With my iPad, I still get all the same news every day that I read in the states.  And since I am still working with quarterly trips back to the office, I get to check in with everyone every three months.”

AP: What do you think is the biggest consideration when sailing with children?
MANDI: “Safety, safety, safety! It just takes a split second for someone to fall overboard while we are underway. We all wear life jackets during open water sails and our jackets are equipped with ‘man overboard’ alarms that sound very loudly all over the boat if someone hits water. Additionally we have all gone through emergency medical training through a company called MedAire who supply boaters and private planes with training, equipment and assistance with medical emergencies. They are also there to assist us during any medical emergency 7/24 via our satellite phone, and their doctors and experts can talk us through any emergencies.”

AP: How will you and your family benefit from this adventure?
MANDI: “There is nothing like being on the open ocean and slowly traveling to your next interesting destination. Not only is exploring the destination an adventure, but sailing there makes the journey an adventure as well. We want to teach our children and remind ourselves to enjoy the moment, learn from the experience and respect the uniqueness and differences of places and people we visit.” 

SCOTT: “For me the dream started as an adventure to sail around the world, but now it is about being back to basics and feeling really self-sufficient. This is less of a sailing trip than an experiment in simplification of our lives as a family.  But at 43, as someone who grew up sailing and surfing the California coast, I still get excited when the dolphins swim with us for a little bit. There is something about being in the middle of the ocean, having the dolphins play and jump in our bow wake, like they are saying, 'Welcome! Isn't this place great?' that is impossible to put into words.”

The Leonard Family hopes that their story inspires you to go and live your dreams, and to establish a balance between work and life!