U.S. Family Has Been Sailing Around the World for 9 Years

If you could drop everything and sail around the world on a sailboat, would you? That’s what the Gifford family did. This American family of five sold their home in Washington state back in 2008, and has been living on their sailboat and sailing across the globe ever since.

Parents Jamie and Behan decided their hectic suburban life was moving to quickly, so they sold their belongings and bought a 47 foot Stevens sailboat that was built in 1982. The couple live on the boat with their three children, daughters Mairen and Siobhan and son Niall. The name of their sailboat is Totem.

Since departing Washington in 2008, the family has visited over thirty different countries, crossing the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand and Australia and then up through Indonesia to India, then Madagascar and around the Cape of Good Hope and onwards to the Caribbean.

The sailboat Totem gets all of its energy from three solar panels and a wind turbine, which is filled up with good sun and trade winds in the tropical climates. Their washing machine is a five-gallon bucket which is shared with everyone, and a solar oven sits on the deck which is large enough to roast a full chicken.

This floating tiny house comes with two bathrooms, or heads, and three bedrooms. Siobhan and Mairen share a cabin in the forward part of the sailboat, while the parents have their cabin in the back of the boat. Despite the adventurous life this family has, they are surviving on a poverty level income, making just $25,000 a year. This comes from Jamie working as a sailmaker and Behan wrote a book about the families experience, which has led to other freelance writing gigs.

The kids are homeschooled, and all three prefer the life on the water, not even remembering what life on land was like. They all like to draw, read and write, but also play computer games, cards, play guitar, and hang out with other kids they meet on other boats throughout their journey.