Lessons Learned: The Sail Boat


One of the main reasons behind our first sailing trip was to test the sail boat itself. We want to make sure that we buy something that will work for us as a family as we travel. For our first adventure we sailed on a 30′ O’day. Here is what we learned:

  • Everything within Reach: Many of the ropes and instruments were out of reach of the person at the helm, which meant that this boat needed to people to sail it. Unfortunately, I was with Colby most of the time and couldn’t always help Damon with the sailing.


  • Navigation: On this particular boat, most of the instruments we either out of date, not working, or not within reach of the wheel. For our boat we want to have all of our tools within reach of the captain to make sailing easier.


  • Head room: Damon is 6’1 and pretty sure mini-man is going to be taller than him someday. They will both need a lot more head room than this boat provided.
  • Organization: This boat did not have a lot of storage, which made it difficult to put things away or to find them.
  • Layout: There was a table in the middle of the living space, which made it difficult to maneuver around. Then there were two beds – one at the front and one at the back, Both were cramped and not conducive to sleeping or privacy.
  • Air Conditioning!: Traveling in the south, it can get very hot. We got trapped motoring down a river with no wind which made it very uncomfortable for us and mini-man. For days when we are motoring, air conditioning will be amazing!
  • Shade: It can get pretty hot/cold/wet at the helm. A nice covering will make it easier to steer for long periods of time

I think we learned a lot from this first trip together. The biggest thing we learned? We don’t need a single boat for our whole adventure. We think it will be best to get one boat for cruising North America and a different boat when we head to Europ.  We are planning a long get away in October when mini-man is a little older. We shall see what lessons this trip brings.

Preparations: Learning to Swim

A big part of sailing takes place on the water (I know – DUH! – right!?!). So part of preparing for our big adventure is seeing if mini-man likes the water. If he didn’t, it could derail our plans to sail around the world.

I grew up  in San Diego and have always loved being in the water. Hoping that mini-man inherited my love of the water, we took him to the pool.

Colby First Swim

I wasn’t too optimistic, he is only three months after all. At most, I had hoped to get his feet in the water. I was nervous with him being so young that he might not  do well or that he may need lessons in order to be in the water.  What happened blew me away.

Over the next hour, mini-man went from having his feet in the water to full on swimming. At one point, we put him in his life preserver to see if it would help him, but it only held him back. As you can see in the video, he had the time of his life and the only thing holding him back was us (I’m not quite ready to let him put his head under the water). He played for hours in the water and by the time we got home he was worn out.

We have since moved his bath into the tub with one of us so he can kick and swim to his hearts delight (and bonus – it tires him out very fast!).

I am beyond thrilled that mini-man loves to be in the water. This puts us one step closer to our sailing dreams.

Lessons Learned: Sailing with a Three Month Old


I think most parents can relate that having a newborn is an adventure in-it-of-itself: the crying, the pooping, the inconsistent sleep, seeing their first smiles, first laughs, and challenging themselves to grow. All of this means having to be around them 24-hours a day. Now add in a sailing trip and you’ve got a whole new level adventure.

20150508_16103220150508_190932When we first boarded the boat, mini-man clung to me for dear life. He wanted to see what was going on but did not want to let go of me. Once we set sail, I took mini-man below deck to eat and play on his tummy (one of his favorite things to do). At this point he passed out from all of the excitement.

The next day was amazing. We had docked in Cocoa the night before and woke up to a craft fair being held right next to the dock. We wrapped mini-man up and walked around the town for a bit.

Afterwards, we hoisted the sails and sailed around the river for a bit. The wind and sun made it a great day for sailing. Mini-man had a great time. He enjoyed the breeze while playing on my lap – no more needing to cling to mommy.

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The last day was rough. We sailed a little farther than we planned and it took a while to get back to the marina. Unfortunately, there wasn’t as much wind and it was very hot out. This makes for miserable conditions for an infant, who can get hot very quickly. Half way back he started crying from exhaustion and heat. He calmed down once we got to an area with wind, but he was still miserable.

20150510_14415520150510_090207Once we docked, I headed straight to the marina’s game room – which had air conditioning. As soon as we got inside, mini-man felt better. We were able to play and eat while Damon unloaded our stuff from the boat. He was wide awake by the time we were ready to leave and played in his car seat on the ride home.

At home, Colby was asleep so we all decided to take a nap. This “nap” lasted for three hours! I guess we were all tired from our first sailing trip together.

Lessons Learned:

  • Keep your Cool: Infants can overheat very quickly. Be sure to have cold water on stand-by to create cold-compresses to lay on their back to help keep them cool.
  • Keep Hydrated: Infants dehydrate faster than adults. Expect to feed them more often that usual to help keep them hydrated.
  • One Person Sailing: This is a new environment for your little one and they will need an adult with them. So be prepared to sail with one person.
  • Sun Protection: Infants can’t handle sunscreen until they are at least six months old. Protect your little one by keeping them in the shade and dressing them in long sleeves.
  • Car Seat: This was a huge life saver for us. We could place mini-man in his car seat next to us – which allowed him to watch what was going on.

Our First Sailing Adventure as a New Family

20150508_155638Before we start sailing around the world, Damon and I thought it would be a good idea to start with a small trip to get our feet wet. We rented a 30′ O’day to sail along the Indian River, near Merritt Island, Fl. for a three day, two nights trip .

The morning we left started out hectic – Damon had a deadline at work and had to go to the office (I cannot wait for these office trips to be over). Meanwhile, I was trying to get mini-man ready so we could leave once Damon got home. So much for plans – mini-man usually has his own ideas and they almost never align with mine.

After a crazy morning with mini-man, Damon came home and we started packing up the car. Long gone are the days were we can just pack up and leave in a few minutes. Now, I am usually with mini-man to make sure he is fed and happy, while Damon runs around the house to finish packing. I feel bad for him as I am the organized one in the family and hate seeing him stress out so much to get us ready. However, he did an amazing job and we were able to leave within a few hours.


Once we arrived, we called the rental place and they informed us that we had no fridge on this boat. He suggested getting a cooler if we wanted to keep thing cool (which of course is necessary when you are sailing in Florida in May). This put us behind schedule. Once we got on the boat and settled, we missed our opportunity to leave – in order to get to the river, we had to pass under two bridges and a lock, which could only be open at certain times. It took us two hours to get passed everything and didn’t make it to our destination until 7:00p. At this point, I am starving and needed real food. We anchored in historic Cocoa (not the beach, but the town) and headed in for dinner.

20150509_11435020150510_090334We had a pretty good night and woke up nice-n-refreshed. We were missing a few things for breakfast so Damon headed into town to get some supplies while I got mini-man ready for the day. After breakfast, we explored the town which happened to be hosting a craft fair in the middle of the town that spread out quite a bit. This gave us a chance to see a lot of the town and talk to the people, which made for a very relaxing afternoon.

At this point, the wind picked up so we hoisted the sail and headed further down the river. We ended up in Dragon Pointe and anchored for dinner. Since this was our last night, Damon wanted to start back as soon as possible. We sailed as long as we could, but we didn’t get far before we had to anchor for the night.


Our last day was rough. We were far away from the marina with hardly any wind, so we had to motor back (at a neck breaking speed of 5 mph). It wasn’t too bad at first since some of the wind kept us cool. The trouble started when we got to the river. It was high noon, hot, and there was no wind on the river. mini-man got hot very quickly and started crying. With no air conditioner on board, I kept him cool with cold wash cloths and feeding him. It got better when we got back to open water and wind, but that quickly went away when we had to go through the bridges again. By the time we got back to the marina we were all hot and hungry. As soon as we docked, I bee-lined it for air conditioning with mini-man to help cool him down. As soon as we got inside, he felt a lot better. It certainly was an adventure and we learned a lot:

  • Balanced days: Don’t try to do to much in one day. It just makes things way to stressful.
  • Be flexible: Plans change. Don’t do something just because that was how you planned it.

We learned a lot more. Check out our upcoming blog posts to see what we learned about ‘Sailing and Parenting’ and ‘What we are looking for in a  sail boat.

First Foray


This weekend we are taking our first official step towards our sailing dreams – an overnight sailing trip. Up ’til now I have not spent the night on a sailboat and Damon has done some overnight trips during his training. To make things a little more complicated, we are taking our three month-old son with us fit his first sailing adventure. We think this will be a good test of our sailing dreams. Wish us luck! You can follow our adventure live on twitter @heartswelladven #heartswelladventures

Hello World!


We are the Heartswells, a young family who loves to travel and try new things. After years of traveling the country on various vacations and trips, we’ve decided to shake things up. Starting now, we are preparing to travel around the world by sailboat. It might seem a little crazy, but we think this is the ultimate adventure.

As we lead up to our launch, we will share with you some of our previous adventures, our preparations for sailing, and some fun.

Join us as we prepare for the adventure of a life time.