A sailors’ tale

Antoine and Laurane

By Antoine and Laurane,
budding young sailors about to sail the ocean blue

Lots of people dream of setting off on an adventure. For our family—the Dumais-Guimonds—the adventure started 13 years ago when our parents first met.

PART 1

But first, let’s talk about us

Our names are Antoine and Laurane. We’re twins—brother and sister—and the youngest in a blended family with 5 kids. We live in Ste-Flavie, Quebec, right at the gateway to the Gaspé Peninsula. Our crew is made up of our captain, Christian, who is a computer tech-nician at the Cégep de Rimouski, and our admirable admiral, Sophie, our mom, who teaches high school students with difficulties. And then there’s our lookout, Calypso, a four-year-old golden-doodle.

Getting our feet wet

Back in the fall of 2008, our parents purchased a tiny Tanzer 22 on a whim. They called it Le BercEau. They  had just met and had hardly ever sailed before, but they loved the freedom. After we were born in 2010, we  naturally went along with them. We spent our summers at Lake Temiscouata, camping, cycling and sailing. In 2015, our parents sold the Tanzer, which had become too cramped, and bought a Mirage 33. They named it the Escapade. We have since sailed the entire St. Lawrence River, with our home port being the Rimouski marina.

All this time, without us knowing it, our parents were getting us ready for our next trip, which we will be embarking on in August.

They stopped saying, “One day we will sail away…” and instead set a date: 2022-2023.

In fact, Mom and Dad started preparing four years ago. They asked their bosses for time off, watched hundreds of videos by other adventurous families and attended online lectures. They also read a ton of reference books and bombarded other boaters who had made the trip or had similar experiences with questions. They even enrolled in courses and completed internships.

Last year, after one conference, they decided to change boats. That’s how we got the Callipyge I. It’s a Corbin 39. They wanted each of us to have our own cabin. We’ll be  almost 12 when we sail the East Coast down to the  Bahamas. (“Besides, kids our age need some privacy!” — Laurane.) So now we are gearing up for an entire year of exploration.

Christian, our captain!

©Photo: Sophie Guimond. Christian, our captain!

Calypso, our lookout!

©Photo: Sophie Guimond. Calypso, our lookout!

The first waves

It takes a lot of planning to leave for such a long time. Our parents have to think about what the entire family will need. We need to prepare, too. This trip will bring big changes to our daily lives as teenagers.

First of all, we will be leaving our school and friends behind. Our parents will teach us a little every day, depending on what we’re doing and where we are. We will be starting our first year of high school on the boat. Right now, Mom is making arrangements with the ministry of education so that we can continue our education. Since she’s a teacher, she already knows the program. In fact, she says we will be the two luckiest students of the year!

We will miss our friends a lot. Even though we’ll be able to talk to them through social media, it won’t be the same as seeing them every day. Our parents try to reassure us by telling us that we will make new friends, but we’re worried that moving around so much will make it hard to keep them. Mom suggested we make a notebook with all the contact information of our land and sea friends. Of course, the first three addresses we add will be those of our older sisters, who won’t be coming with us. Keeping in touch at our age is important!

Mom and Dad gave us another important job to do before we leave: deciding what we want to bring with us. There’s just one rule: it has to fit in our cabin. (“A cabin is not very big!” — Laurane.) The only exception is our mode of transportation. Our parents said they would find a spot for our longboard and scooter. Thank goodness! Making a packing list takes a lot of thought. Do we really need it or does it make us feel good? If the answer is yes, it comes on board! It’s a pretty good system.

The good news is that our house and all our things will still be there when we return. Our parents are only selling the cars, and one of our older sisters will be living in the house while we’re away.

Laurane

©Photo: Sophie Guimond. Laurane

Antoine

©Photo: Sophie Guimond. Antoine

Another thing we are doing to get ready for the trip is  planning our route and the places we’d like to see. We’re also making a list of things to do along the way, such as watching an NHL game in New York or Florida. We’re also planning to visit Times Square in Manhattan and New Orleans. When we get to Florida, we might visit Orlando. But our big reward will be the beaches and turquoise waters of the Bahamas at the end of our trip. Between schoolwork, playing tourist, helping to sail the boat and life on board, we will be quite busy. Besides, as our parents say (especially our dad), we’ll see when we get there!

Right now, we only have a vague idea of what to expect, even though we sailed all last summer and lived on the boat for nearly two months to prepare. We know it will be hard and that we’ll have to find new activities. (“I’m going to be a chess master by the end of the trip!” —  Antoine.) (“You  have to admit that we’re lucky; in the meantime, I’ll  be  working on my English so that I can make new friends!” — Laurane.)

If you’re interested—and if you want to practice your French—you can follow us on our Facebook page “Escapade en famille”. We’ll be posting updates of our adventures with the help of our parents all year long!

Christian, Laurane, Antoine and Sophie

©Photo: Sophie Guimond. Christian, Laurane, Antoine and Sophie

In closing, Mom and Dad also wanted to say a few words.

As Laurane says, we are indeed very lucky, but we have more than just luck. We also have a touch of madness and the ability to pick up and go. We also have a supportive family that’s helping us make this dream come true. Our other three daughters, who are now young adults, have agreed to not only let us go, but also to meet up with us somewhere south of the 45th parallel. We are also lucky enough to have grandfathers with sea legs who are always happy to help us maintain our sailboat.

A few years ago, we joined an amazing community that supports and helps one another. We’re far from being the only family to set off on a sailing adventure. Each year there are dozens of Quebec families who do the same trip we are about to make. In fact, we have encountered several of them right on the St. Lawrence as they were heading out or making their way back. Some are first-timers, like us. Others have made the trip a habit. These people are young adults, retirees, couples, families… all making their dream come true. Their boats were small, big, new, used… whatever works for them. Some were leaving everything behind, with no set return date. Others had planned everything to a T. We’ll share our experiences with you once we’re underway and as sailors say, “fair winds and following seas.” Until next time!

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