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Gulf of Maine NY
MA RI CT
St. Augustine Jacksonville
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Turks and Caicos
San Juan Mayaguana Acklins I.
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It would become a platform for learning about science,
weather, navigation, and self-reliance, in addition to
learning about people, places, and culture,” she added.
Back in Boulder, the Besemers spent the next few
years reading all they could about trawlers. When
Ayla was in second grade, they booked a one-week
charter with The Moorings ( www.moorings.com) on a
Mainship 34 trawler in the Abacos. This was their very
first boating experience as a family and they all loved it.
Wanting to experience boating in a foreign country,
the following year they booked a two-week charter
on a Moorings powerboat in Greece. Ayla relished the
experience of being in a foreign country. Now that the
last hurdle had been crossed, it was time to make the
decision. In 2008 they decided to go for it.
Taking into account the cost of an ocean-capable
trawler and operating expenses, they made the decision
to sell their house in Boulder. David arranged a
one-year leave of absence from his job to begin their
voyage. Kathryn and Ayla looked into home-schooling
resources and ultimately chose the Calvert School,
known for high-quality education programs through
the eighth grade.
After further evaluating trawler models, the Besemers
settled on Nordhavn. They looked at a used, 2006
43-footer that had only recently been commissioned
and had less than 200 hours on the engine. It was also
equipped with TRAC stabilizers. Its draft and lower
height gave them good access to the cruising areas they
planned to visit. “As soon as I walked aboard, I knew
this was the one,” said Ayla.
Their offer on the 43 was accepted on August 2,
2008—all according to plan. They took delivery in
Stuart, Florida, and the insurance company gave them
two weeks to depart the state, as it was in the middle
of hurricane season. The family spent the first week
on orientation, sea trials, moving aboard, and finding a
captain to help them move the boat out of Florida and
into Chesapeake Bay.
New to boating, they decided to stay within the
coastal boundaries of the eastern United States and
experience a wide variety of cruising conditions to
familiarize themselves with the cruising lifestyle. In
addition to learning all they could about boating, the
time would also be spent learning how to observe,
record, and transmit their experiences with camera,
video, writing, and building a blog audience (www.
After waiting out the hurricane season, they left on
their first voyage. They spent a month transiting the
eastern ICW with two runs offshore, the last a 40-
hour trip from St. Mary’s, Georgia, to Port Everglades,
Florida. “I was glad to experience the ICW, but it was a
lot of work, and progress was slow,” said David.
The first lengthy offshore trip for Three@Sea was
from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas. The boat
did not have a satellite weather receiver on board
at the time and they experienced stiff easterlies and
head seas, which David described as “the worst we
had encountered up to that point.” Ayla pitched in,
“Yeah—sea, sky, sea, sky.” Dave immediately ordered an
Iridium satellite phone, which receives multiple email
weather predictions, giving them the ability to check
the weather in real time on a regular basis.
During the next four months they cruised the
Bahamas through the Exumas, as far south as
Georgetown. Much of their time in the island chain
was spent snorkeling and diving, with Ayla increasing
her devotion to the ocean while observing sea life
from just inches away. In Cape Eleuthera, the Besemers
were introduced to The Island School, a private
school with emphasis on the environment and
sustainability. Ayla developed a presentation, Save
Our Seas, to share with the students and was
honored to make her first presentation on the
environment while visiting the school.
By the end of March 2009, Three@Sea had returned
to the United States. Having been gone for four months,
the family missed the clear water and slow pace of