By Saturday 2nd December almost half of the ARC+ family boats had now completed their big transatlantic adventure in Grenada. After 14 days of ocean sailing, the parents of the 42 children taking part on 19 boats in the 2-stage rally, finally have time to relax and take stock of their ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ achievement.
Ikigai is the Reason for Being
Laura Blom-Sipkens, from the Netherlands is Mum to three children: Keke (8), Zeger (10) and Bruun (12), who had arrived with husband Bastiaan and crew member Rinse, the previous evening after 14 ½ days of ocean sailing aboard their van de Stadt Samoa 47. The family's own special ‘reason for being’ had been found when they purchased the Japanese-named Ikigai after searching for a suitable boat to carry them safely on their year-long bluewater cruising dream.
“We bought the boat especially for this adventure,” said Laura when she visited the ARC+ office to hand in their YB tracker and to check out the programme in Grenada. Together as a family they have done a lot of sailing back home, where they live near Amsterdam, but after reading a book written by a family who had joined ARC+ a few years before, it motivated them to take part: “We originally signed up for the non-stop ARC to Saint Lucia, but decided it would be better for the children to split the crossing and to stop over in the Cape Verde Islands. We’ve all really loved the fact that there’s been so many children in ARC+. The kids have made so many friends in the rally and are now waiting for them to also cross the finish line. They can’t wait and are very excited to be here!”
Safety, Social and Schooling
“The safety aspect was the main thing that attracted us to the rally, as well as the social aspects and camaraderie; especially as we had the kids. We really liked the fact that someone would be watching/followings us and would be able to help if need be. Being together with the other family boats; communicating with them during the crossing, and hearing about their own experiences too has been great. Knowing that there are some options if something was to go wrong, that they might be able to help, was a fantastic incentive.”
“The children have been fantastic during this final leg to Grenada, with the lighter conditions. They have managed to do a lot of school work and it’s been really good. This was impossible on the first leg down from Las Palmas to Mindelo as they were seasick with the stronger winds and rough conditions. They will do a presentation to their school friends when we eventually arrive back home next year,” explained the Mum of three.
When asked about tips and recommendations to pass on to other parents thinking of doing a similar adventure, she said: “This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done as a family, and we’ve seen so many challenges along the way in the build-up the event, but the thing to remember is that it’s actually just sailing at the end of the day. I think you don’t have to worry or do too much with the children because they are so creative. They got more creative along the way during the long passages and amuse themselves with little things. I actually think it is much easier taking on such a big sailing adventure with the children, than we expected.”
Highlights for the family included the starts: “which were really impressive with all the boats leaving together, and of course, arriving in Grenada. Also just being on the ocean and having this experience as a family has been really extraordinary,” exclaimed Laura.
The family have one year off and have to be home by August 2024, before which they will cruise for a few months in the Caribbean, before they make the decision of whether to ship the boat back to Europe, or take Ikigai to Eastern USA. Wonderful choices.