sad story of what happens when the dream of sailing away to a new life in the sun goes wrong. A combination of escapism and lack of skills combined to push a family to the brink of bankruptcy and divorce before they had even left the shores of England.
However the series, called "My Family's Crazy Gap Year" had another episode, and its instructive to look at that to see what went right, for the Lawrence family did manage to sail all the way from Cowes to Sydney.
Maybe that word Cowes gives a clue: this family had done a lot of homework and were very well prepared. It wasn't explained in the program but the web site gave some history, and they had sailed as a family for over a year, starting with the inter-coastal waterways of the American east coast, and then sailing back to Britain.
So when they set out they knew the ropes, knew their boat and knew what to expect. Interestingly they didn't have exactly the same motivation: for Jason the skipper it was about achieving the goal of sailing around the world, while for his wife Amanda it was more about the experience, the cultures they meet and the beauty of the Pacific islands.
Of course even with preparation there were hard times. The first few days crossing Biscay were bumpy and the skipper was worn down by a combination of responsibility, worry and lack of sleep. The latter wasn't helped by having two youngish boys on board, and one of the key skills to learn was how to manage their energy and occupy the time. One mechanism to control bad behaviour was the ability was the good and bad mark board:
For me it was striking how Jason was able to relax as his knowledge and experience of the boat deepened, and this changed his motivation. Maybe this was something I could relate to: at the start of a voyage the worry about what can go wrong dominates and it is only later that the tension eases. And as it did his motivation aligned more with those of Amanda and it strengthened the family unit.
It could be argued the boys would have benefited more if they had been a little bit older, but they certainly grew into it:
I wasn't sure about their choice of catamaran as always felt a mono-hull would be more secure in a blow. But then looking at this picture its hard to argue:
Just remember to do your homework.