A(Liv)e and Well – Home After a Year of Bluewater Cruising
Have you ever thought about just going out sailing, aiming for the horizon, without looking back… The Edholm family did just that: In June 2021 Sanna, Jonas, Axel (then 14), Alma (almost 11), and Atle (almost 9) left Sweden on Liv, their Arcona 400, for a year at sea. Their 12,370 nautical mile journey took the family of five all the way to the Caribbean and back.
Is an Arcona yacht a viable choice for this type of adventure?
“Absolutely! Despite being one of the smaller boats in the ARC, she was one of the faster ones. More importantly, the build quality of the Arcona yachts is high – and really that’s what you want when you are stuck in a squall, with the wind gusting 45 knots, in the middle of the Atlantic.”
“It should be mentioned that we did some modifications and additions to the boat in preparation for the adventure – you can read about it in ‘Liv(ely) Preparations‘, but the most valuable things were installing a lot of solar panels, so that we always had enough energy, we had more energy than we needed. Salt and chafe are you biggest enemies when living in a boat like this, so the water-maker we installed was put to heavy use – no one was allowed into the boat after a swim without a proper hose down first!”
You made this journey as a family. We are dying to know – what did the kids think?
The kids may only be year older and a few inches taller, but as they head back to school, they now have a wealth of new experiences and many new friends from all over the world.
“Actually, we think of it as three crossings – we sailed non-stop from the Azores to Falmouth on the way home, just a casual 1200 nautical miles, just the five of us. That is something we would not have been able to do last year, but thanks to everything we learnt during this year, that “crossing” was actually the easiest,” reflects Jonas.
“Alma cooked every single meal, and Axel took all 10pm to 2am watches. He now wants to pursue a career in yachting and work on superyachts.” says Sanna.
What do you wish you had known before you left, and is there anything you would have done differently?
“I wish I had worried less, worried less about what could happen. You quickly realise that it is easy to ask for help from other sailors – there is such a wealth of knowledge in the community – and it is amazing to see people from different boats helping each other out. There is nothing that cannot be fixed along the way.” says Sanna, and continues…
“I also wish I had packed fewer clothes. We had no trouble doing laundry anywhere, even in the Caribbean. In general, you can make do with a lot less ‘stuff’ than you think, most things you can buy along the way should you think you need it. The one thing we were happy we brought from Sweden were birthday gifts: there were birthday parties almost every week, and gifts, as it turns out were hard to come by. Gifts and tasty canned food, everything else was easy to find in abundance.
“In retrospect, our biggest regret, if you can call it that, was not having a more durable main sail. The one we brought was too much on the performance side and was too fragile for the crossings. We had to repair it multiple times, and it was a constant worry that it was going to break again.”
What advice would you like to pass on to others considering doing the same journey?
“To sail across the Atlantic, you don’t have to be the best sailor, but you have to be good at living on a boat!” Alma exclaims, and Jonas continues her train of thought “Many race sailors are used to pushing a boat constantly, sailing at close to a 100% – that is not what this is about. Knowing how to perfectly trim the jib is not as important as feeling comfortable sleeping in a rocking boat or knowing how to fix things around the boat.”
“We know the ins and outs of Liv, and we feel entirely comfortable handling her in almost any weather. We know how everything works and when something is wrong – and that comes from experience sailing her – so that is my most important piece of advice. Do not just buy a boat and go across the Atlantic. Spend some time in more confined waters first and get to know your boat.”
Jonas summarises, “With that said, be prepared to fix the boat. Any boat is subjected to a lot of wear and tear during a crossing, way more than when you cruise at home.”
“We got a great piece of advice from another crew, and that was, to get to know as many other people as possible, as quickly as possible – so do not be shy to make friends.” comments Sanna, “Also do not be afraid to make it up as you go along, try different things, and figure out what works for you. Different families and crews like different set-ups, you must find what works for you!”
The million-dollar question – would you do it again?
“In a heartbeat!”
“For me, the crossings were tougher than I had imagined, but it got easier as we got more experienced as a crew – we have learnt so much during this year and we are a much better team now.” Says Sanna, “It is so cool to develop and grow as a family, and as individuals. We are so proud of ourselves and the kids, that we dared to embark on this journey. I am convinced that we will have made memories that will last a lifetime.”
Countries/overseas departments visited: 18 – Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, the Azores, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenadines, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda, St Barth, Sint Martiin, Saint Martin and the BVI’s.
Spreading Swedish Fika across the world: We made over 50 “Kladdkakor”, a Swedish king of mudpie – we even had to buy new baking trays!
Homework completed: 0 – at the beginning of the trip we faced a lot of resistance when the subject of school came up. However, when the kids realised that all other kids were also ‘forced’ to do their work before they could head out and play, things went a lot smoother. We scrapped the concept of homework; all work was done ‘in the classroom’ – the only thing that carried to the outside world was practising English.
New Sports Learnt: Scuba Diving (Alma), Wing Foil (Jonas), Wakeboarding (Axel, Atle, Alma).