Sharing our *BIG* Secret

Taking the next step and sharing our big secret.

“It was a strange and heady place to be: one foot firmly planted in the conventional land-based life we’d built, while the other stepped with increasing weight into that place where dreaming, planning, and doing converge…
Our big dream was dismissed or unknown by many around us, and so we discussed everything with the fervor, secrecy, and excitement of a young couple planning to elope. We shared an absolute purpose and intent in the way we marched closer toward the biggest voluntary life change I could imagine. Yet throughout that period, the pedestrian aspects of our lives masked the focus and energy we gave to our cruising future…
That duality of mindset–tending to the everyday demands of career and house and cars while simultaneously preparing to abandon them all–is an interesting state of being, and just one aspect of getting ready to go cruising as a family.”

–from the book Voyaging With Kids


The above quotation perfectly describes how TJ and I have felt over the last several months as we began researching, planning, and preparing to sell nearly everything we own to set sail for the Caribbean next year.  While we have been living in excitement, knowing this is our next move as a family, we have also been harboring it as a deep secret.  However, we believe it is now time to share our *BIG* secret with those around us.  We realize it will be a mixed bag of emotions and opinions but we are prepared to face the scrutiny together.  Our families know about our move, our friends who have been close to us during this process know, and now it is time for others to know.  We are moving (clearly)…to an island….by a catamaran sailboat.  Confused yet?  Check out our original post to get the back story on our move.

Anyway, we are moving from our land-based life in the country to the island life in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands via sailboat.  We are becoming minimalistic when it comes to material objects and putting our little family of three (and our two dogs, of course) on a sailboat to both live and cruise in the Caribbean.  The liveaboard lifestyle is one that has been calling TJ’s name since childhood and we both wanted to move to the islands long before Vivienne was even a thought in our lives.  Our original plan was to move to the U.S. Virgin Islands after I finished grad school but once I found out I was pregnant our plans temporarily changed.  Becoming liveaboards only became a real option for us over the last six months and it took a lot of research and networking with other liveboard families with small children before I realized this could be our reality, too.  This is absolutely doable, just very unconventional for the land-based, landlocked place where we live now.  Some of you may be questioning how much sailing experience we have, which is a very valid concern, so let me address that:

  1. TJ grew up sailing competitively in high school and college, as well as spending six months sailing the Caribbean once before.
  2. I really don’t know anything about sailing but once we purchase our catamaran we will not throw the lines until I can sail, anchor, and dock alone.
  3. We will also not set sail until we have rehearsed man overboard, fire, and abandon ship drills so much we could do them in our sleep.
  4. We WILL heed to the weather and not sail unless the weather is safe to do so.

Our primary concern is Vivienne’s safety, education, and socialization while cruising the Caribbean.  There are numerous ways to keep toddlers safe while sailing or living onboard a sailboat.  Lifeline netting for the deck, a harness and tether while underway, and of course life jackets to name a few.  As for education and socialization, that is precisely why we will be living at a marina at St. Croix during the school year so Vivienne can attend school with other children.  Many families homeschool while being liveaboards but at this point in time that is not our intent.  The school birthday cutoff is January 1st on St. Croix so she will probably start school sooner than if we stayed in Ohio but we will make that call when the time comes.

Aside from the sailing and toddler safety concerns we have received, we have also received much support.  We decided to tell our families and friends by sending out postcards of a photo we took on our recent trip to St. Croix.  TJ’s 90 year-old grandmother was so excited for us and told us how great it is we are doing something like this while we are young and able.  My nearly 93 year-old grandfather sat with this look of amazement as he carefully thought of questions to ask concluded by saying, “Well, you certainly have researched and thought of everything.  This is great.”  We also received a photograph of our friends who are missionaries holding our postcard saying they are so excited for us.  The husband told TJ the week prior to receiving the postcard he had been telling his wife TJ dreamed of living on a sailboat and cruising.  (We saw that as another sign from God this is the right direction for us.)  My friend who is in the Peace Corps in the Caribbean commented on how great it is TJ and I found each other because we both want to live this crazy, adventurous life and that is hard to find; usually one person wants to live that way and the other does not.

We love our friends

Don’t get us wrong, we will 100 percent miss our families; it has been so nice to have my family close but there comes a time when you feel a calling so strong you cannot ignore it.  This is that time for us. Now is our time to pick up and follow God’s call to abandon the life we know and step out on faith.

We are ready to follow. 

Par la Foi,
The McKelveys

~~~All things are possible for those who believe. -Mark 9:23~~~

P.S. For more on our story check out other posts to gain even more background on this move.

2 thoughts on “Sharing our *BIG* Secret

  1. Lane, TJ and Vivienne!
    I am soooooo excited and extremely jealous of you and your family! What an amazing journey, and though I am not 90, GO, go far, go fast, go with God while you are young! And OOOHHH the amazing education Vivienne will have! Life is a journey, and there is nothing better than the journey with God and the ones you love next to you, no matter where it takes you! I can’t wait to see pictures! I would go now and skip the Ohio winter!

    Scot and Carrie


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