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By LORI and RICH BOREN
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By Lori and Rich Boren
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By Lori and Rich Boren
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By LORI and RICH BOREN
BY DIANNE HARDISTY, Californian staff writer email@example.com
Bombarded by dire economic news and our consumer confidence shaken, who wouldn't want to get into a sailboat and head off into a Pacific Ocean sunset?
That's exactly what Rich and Lori Boren and their two young children, Amy and Jason, did last September. The Bakersfield family climbed into their 36-foot sailboat, pushed away from a mooring at Port San Luis, near Avila Beach, and began a multi-year high sea adventure.
But it wasn't the sour economy that prompted the Borens to wave goodbye to their family, friends and jobs in Bakersfield. It was a dream.
"I wish I could tell people that I saw the bad economic times coming and that's why we picked up now to go cruising. But that wouldn't be true," wrote Rich in an e-mail from his boat Third Day. "We started our plan to leave three years before we actually left and the economy was sure roaring along then!"
To understand why the Borens set sail and why they likely will keep sailing for at least one or two more years, you need to know more about this adventurous family.
Rich was born in Bakersfield. Lori moved to the city when she was a young child. Both graduated from Bakersfield High School. They met while attending Bakersfield College.
Lori continued her education at Stanford University, where she became a physician assistant. Rich went on to earn a bachelor's degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in biological sciences.
The couple returned to Bakersfield, married and began their careers and family. Lori worked for local physicians. Rich worked for a Bakersfield environmental testing company. After a few years, he joined a start-up environmental firm based in the Midwest. Along came Amy, who now is 11, and Jason, 10.
Filled with work and child care, Lori's schedule was very hectic. When Rich worked for the Bakersfield company, he tested equipment all around California, including on offshore drilling platforms. He was often away from home.
When they had free time together, Rich, Lori and their children were drawn to the ocean. The Borens first bought a 26-foot sailboat. A few years later, they traded up to their 36-foot Pearson 365 Ketch, which now is their home. They named the boat Third Day from the Book of Genesis reference to God's creation of the seas.
Weekend and vacation cruising led the family to a more serious discussion of embarking on an extended adventure.
Lori's dream was "to have us all together," she explained when the Borens returned to Bakersfield in July for a brief visit.
The Borens certainly are now "together." They are squished into a vessel only 36 feet long and a bit over 12 feet wide. The square footage of the cabin is equivalent to the master bedroom in the couple's Bakersfield home.
Every nook and cranny of the boat is filled with supplies and equipment. The only private space -- the only "room" with a door -- is the bathroom.
They admit to having "bad" days, when they wonder why they left their comfortable northwest Bakersfield home and close-knit, extended family, which includes two sets of grandparents, brothers, sisters and cousins. But for the most part, they say cruising has been wonderful.
SCHOOLING AT SEA
Family members and friends at first were skeptical.
Fran Gwinn, Lori's mother, admits she and her husband were concerned. A retired Mercy Hospital nursing supervisor, Fran eventually warmed up to the idea. Her husband, Vern, who retired from PG&E, is an amateur radio operator. He and his wife speak most nights to the family and arrange telephone linkups with family and friends when the Borens are sailing out of Internet range. They also have a satellite telephone to use in emergencies.
The family can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a Web page (www.svthirdday.com), which features videos, photographs, a map to track their progress and daily blog posts. The Web page also contains Google ads, which provide some income for the family. Otherwise, they rely on their savings and rent payments from their Bakersfield house to cover their expenses. Preparing for the trip, the Borens paid off their mortgage and other debts.
"They really planned and saved hard to do this," said Mary Ann Boren, Rich's mother. "Richard is our first born. He has always been very happy, positive, independent and headstrong. I never saw him as a child walk a straight, conventional line. We support them and love them and trust them."
Both Fran and Mary Ann have been concerned about Amy's and Jason's educations.
"Because I taught school for 17 years, I would feel more comfortable if the children were in a public or private school situation," said Mary Ann, a retired Rosedale Union School District teacher.
As Rich and Lori did exhaustive research to equip their boat and set the cruising itinerary, Lori thoroughly researched home schooling programs.
"Home schooling is the hardest thing about cruising," says Lori, who has taken on the primary responsibility for keeping her children at or above grade level. Consulting with Bakersfield teachers and home schooling advocates to select a curriculum, Lori spends hours each day completing lessons with her children. Book-learning is augmented by outdoor experiences -- from fishing and snorkeling excursions to trips on shore.
Both grandmothers say they are pleasantly surprised by the progress Amy and Jason seem to be making.
Home schooling is Amy's and Jason's least favorite activity. They say they would rather be fishing, swimming or hanging out with their cruising friends. They have encountered many children cruising with their parents and keep in touch through the boat's radio and Internet. The children say their mother is a tough teacher who generally ignores their whining pleas not to do class work.
For the most, part Amy and Jason give a thumb's up to the cruising life. They say it is exciting, fun and they now better appreciate the advantages they have in the United States.
After leaving Port San Luis, the family sailed south to Catalina and then along Mexico's Pacific Coast. Although their initial goal was to reach Costa Rica or the Panama Canal by this summer, they slowed their pace to explore Mexico's coastal towns and islands.
As the hurricane season loomed, they ducked into the Sea of Cortez, sailing to its summer-sizzling northern region in hopes of hiding from storms. When the season ends in November, they will continue south to Panama.
Rich and Lori have learned that there is no such thing as a set-in-stone itinerary when you cruise. Aside from equipment failures that can slow the pace, becoming a slave to a schedule means sights worth savoring would be missed.
So the initial plan to sail through the Panama Canal and eventually over to Europe was dropped. The backup plan to complete the "Great Loop" -- through the Panama Canal, north into the Gulf of Mexico, up the U.S. East Coast, into the St. Lawrence Seaway and down inland waterways -- is being reevaluated.
Rich now says when the family reaches the Panama Canal next year, they will evaluate their money and decide how everyone feels about cruising. If anyone wants to go home, they will turn back. Otherwise they will either keep exploring around Mexico and Central America, or go forward into the Gulf of Mexico.
One thing is certain -- at least as certain as the Borens can be -- cruising will end when Amy and Jason reach high school age.
"We aren't going to keep this traveling circus going indefinitely," says Rich. "We don't want to become permanent hobos."
When the family left last September, Rich wrote on his blog, "One of the hardest things about casting off for us wasn't the boat refit, renting our house, or even putting all of our possessions into storage. [It was] saying goodbye to our families."
Now Rich believes coming back will be harder than leaving. When cruising you are the masters of your fate. Your very survival depends on your skills, quick wits, hard work and sometimes courage. "I will probably have to become my own boss, form my own business."