Welcome to our mid-life crisis! These are the chronicles of Laura and Patrick, their young son Jack, and their goofball Labrador Retriever named Evinrude (Rudy), as they travelled the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico in their catamaran. We went cruising in search of a change of pace, a closer knit family, and peace of mind. We found all three and more. The fun all started in October, 2008 and nearly four years later the Mexican adventure came to an end August 3rd, 2012. With our mid-life crisis cured in Mexico, we are excited to start a new adventure - life back in America.

Patrick has since joined the Sales Team of Marine Servicenter as a boat broker. Whether you are looking to make your dream of sailing away come true, or ready to sell your boat he can help. He can be reached at http://marinesc.com/about/crew/patrick-harrigan

Candeleros Chico

Candeleros Chico
Just another beautiful day at anchor on the Baja. 2010

Dolphins at play in the bow wake 2011

Dolphins at play in the bow wake  2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Homeschooling Day

On our boat, homeschooling sets the pace of the day, almost every day of the year. We do not take weekends, most holidays or summer off. I know this seems pretty extreme, but after trial and error, we found this works best for us. Even with just a weekend off, Jack is hard to get started again on Monday, let alone any serious time off like Christmas vacation - so we just keep at it, day after day.

The holidays Jack gets are two days for Christmas and his birthday. He gets the occasional sick day, but thankfully he has had few of those except when he had Dengue Fever. When we are on a passage, or moving for more than four hours, we also take a skip. If we have visitors, or if we go home for a visit we stop schooling. This means that school is in session probably 310 days a year. The good news is that we can then spend less time each day on school, since we have so many of them.

On JaM, we take our mornings very seriously. Generally everyone stays in bed as long as they can before getting up. For me, that's around 7am; Patrick follows around 8 and Jack gets up sometime before noon, but usually between 10 and 11. Why not? There aren't usually any pressing issues that require early action. Once Jack is up, fed and ready, we start the day. We try to never do anything else before school is done. Sometimes this can be a real drag because you feel like the day is wasting away, but it is the only way to make sure it gets done. Generally a homeschooling session takes about an hour and a half to two hours depending on Jack's concentration level.

I put my own curriculum together for Jack. I did not feel that a set curriculum from a school would work at all for us. In the beginning I started with several reading programs specific to dyslexics, a Math program that I absolutely love called Math-U-See, and fiction books for reading. That is the program we started with - just reading, writing and 'rithmatic. Since that time we have added in a map reading program that encourages critical thinking skills, history lessons, a grammar program and a science program. I am the usual teacher, but when the substitute gets called in (Patrick), they cover other subjects like compass coordinates, barometer readings, latitude and longitude readings and dishwashing.

We hardly ever have internet access so I cannot use the internet as a tool for teaching, or use any program that requires internet participation. Also some programs require parents to send in school work to be corrected by the program, but that would not work for us either. That would be too much hassle. All of the programs that we have are self-contained in books or on DVD's.

Once school for the day is done, Jack is free to go about his business. It is great when there are other kids around since he is highly motivated to finish quickly, but I think he does a better job of learning when we are just out floating around on our own with no interruptions.

The next topic is "The Contract." It single handedly saved our cruising and is the secret to our success.


  1. You both look good with hair. I notice all the buildings have bars on the windows and doors. Do you feel safe? I saw the news about the 15 beheaded drug ring members in Acapulco. Hopefully they don't copy Somalia and go after the 'rich' gringos and their yachts. Be safe. Really enjoy your blog.

  2. Thanks Tom! I think it's nice to have hair again, though Patrick is rallying for the "Telly Sevalas" look again. I think I will do a blog about "safety" in Mexico - that's a good idea. Too much to say in a comment section. Good to hear from you.

  3. Hi there! I just came across your blog! we are also on a catamaran, in NZ! are you still on board? We have a couple of blogs also; www.mazuransailing.blogspot.com and a homeschooling one homeschoolingonboard.blogspot.com come along and check us out too!
    Take care, Karen Taylor

    1. Hello Karen,
      No, we are happily back in America for the last eight months, with the boat sold. Jack just finished his first year of high school and is thriving. He earns A's and B's in school and is very busy in sports and making money around the neighborhood by pressure-washing driveways.
      Good luck to you. I do not miss the effort of homeschooling but am very happy with the effect it had on our kid. He is confident, friendly, outgoing, extremely responsible, a very hard worker and we get told again and again here how mature he is. All attributes directly linked to our time on the boat.
      Thanks for reading,