Wanderlust. Boredom. Frustration.
Whatever the reason, we have all had days where we wished we could pack our bags and just go somewhere; anywhere. But for a myriad of reasons (jobs, spouses, kids, responsibilities), most of us don’t do it.
Working a temp job night shift in a cubicle in Manhattan to help provide for his wife and their five children, the youngest with Down syndrome, Erik Orton knew something had to change. Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his breaks, he dared to dream, and craved a life that was full of more than just surviving day to day. Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily’s phobia of deep water, and already being financially stretched, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation as they set off on a voyage that ultimately took them 5,000 miles from New York to the Caribbean and back. Their journey that included plenty of learning and adventure, showed them the value of doing things their own way, and most importantly gave them time together as a family before their oldest daughter left for college.
And while the memoir is incredibly inspiring, and the Ortons did certainly gain a lot from sailing with their family for a year, the takeaway of Seven at Sea is not that that all of us should quit our jobs and buy sailboats. The book serves as an encouraging reminder that our lives can be what we make them regardless of what society dictates. Many of us, especially parents, tend to feel stuck in our circumstances. The Ortons show us that on a large or small scale, we can imagine more boldly than we usually allow for and dare to dream of a life that doesn’t look anything like the one we have now—and still manage to be great parents, spouses, and members of society.
“Most travel adventure memoirs are solo journeys,” says Erik Orton. “This book is not just about a largish family, including a child with special needs, on an exquisitely average budget doing something audacious. This memoir is also intended to give readers courage to customize their own lives regardless of their current circumstances.”