Erik Orton Emily Orton
Erik and Emily skillfully show it is possible to live big on a shoestring budget while giving their family an astonishing education in adventure, creativity, purpose, and grit. Linda and Richard Eyre, #1 New York Times Best-selling Authors of Teaching Your Children Values
Working the night shift as a temp in a high-rise cubicle, Erik Orton knew something had to change. He felt the responsibility of providing for his wife and their five children the youngest with Down syndrome but craved a life that offered more than just surviving.
Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his sunset dinner breaks, Erik dared to dream. What would it be like to leave the hustle of the city and instead spend a year on a sailboat, somewhere beautiful, as a family? Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily s phobia of deep water, and already stretching every dollar to pay rent and buy groceries, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation. Sure, they would miss their friends, they could go broke, they could get injured or die. Worst of all, they could humiliate themselves by trying something audacious and failing. But the little time they still had together as a family, before their oldest daughter left for college, was drifting away. The Ortons cast off the life they knew to begin an uncertain journey of 5,000 miles between New York City and the Caribbean, ultimately arriving at a new place within themselves.
A portrait of a captivating and resilient family and a celebration of the courage it takes to head for something over the horizon, this is a deeply compelling story told alternately by Erik and Emily for all those who dream of leaving routine in their wake.
Aimee on Goodreads wrote:
I mostly enjoyed the book and the family’s adventure learning to sail and finally dropping everything to go on a 10 month cruising adventure. It wasn’t preachy, predictable or formulaic. I learned a fair amount about what is involved in a project like this, from preparation, equipment and critical decision making. In some aspects I felt the storytelling was uneven and could have been helped by better editing. Time jumps and lapses were a bit disconcerting and could have used some smoother transitions and connections. The family did not sugarcoat their personalities, but that also made some of them less sympathetic characters, a bit spoiled and self-centered. I wasn’t exactly sure at times why some agreed to go on this trip at all. The family and couple ricocheted from Kumbaya to nearly divorced.
I was also not impressed at times with their attitudes toward the Caribbeans they had to deal with. They bought a boat sight unseen, were woefully ignorant of boat and engine maintenance but blamed the systems and people they had to call upon to make the boat functional. I spend some time each year in St Martin and found their prejudices wholly unwarranted. A lot of their problems were self inflicted. If you go to the Caribbean expecting American schedules and service you will be disappointed. And it’s a small island. Everything must be shipped in so, yes, nothing is cheap.
In the end I finished the book but didn’t find it great literature or a story I couldn’t live without. I kept reading hoping something worthwhile was going to happen, but it seemed to just fizzle out as an ending. It’s not a book I’m passing on to family and friends, a usual standard.
3.5 stars, rounding up
I have never wanted to live on a boat. Ever. And after reading this book? I'm even more convinced that I would never, ever want to live on a boat. But, it takes all kinds of people to make this world go around and I like reading about people who are different than me, who have different dreams and go for them.
This book is told from alternating perspectives of both authors, Erik and Emily Orton. I'm really glad it was that way because it was Emily's insights that really connected me to this story. Maybe that's because I am a woman? A wife? A mother? I'm not sure but one thing I do know is that Emily is a saint among women. She supported her husband's dream and helped bring it to fruition. I mean, five kids on a boat? Doing school and balancing chores, meals and everything else? She was the glue that held everything together and I really came away from the book with a healthy admiration for her.
The pacing of this book is slow, but there were interesting things that kept me going. I think the Ortons are a great of example of daring to dream and making those dreams become reality. My dreams may not be the same as theirs, but I love the reminder that with planning, hard work and determination, dreams can come true.
Content: mild peril, an instance or two of mild swearing
- I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.