One of the delights of sailing around the world is the children that you meet - not the children in the local ports, but the children on boats who are home-schooled, socially skilled, intellectually advanced, responsible and mature beyond their years. However, this is not widely known among 'land lubbers' which is why British/American sailors Kim and Simon Brown are having such a hard time.
Britican - Kim and Sienna Brown - .. .
As widely reported this week in the mainstream press, American sailor Kim Brown, 39 and her British husband Simon, 47, have faced criticism for potentially putting their toddler in danger by taking her on their three-year, round-the-world sail.
The Browns, in their ten-year-old 56ft Oyster, Britican (a cross between 'British' and 'American'), are setting off from Gibraltar this week to sail around the Mediterranean before making the 2,700nm Atlantic crossing in November to reach the Caribbean.
Aside from going on annual flotilla holidays with SunSail, Kim and Simon didn't get serious about sailing until they purchased their first yacht, Selene, a 346 Moody in 2011. Moored on the south coast of England, in Port Solent, the Browns were able to increase their sailing skills by practicing in one of the busiest waterways in the world - The Solent.
They plan to educate their daughter, Sienna, during their travels and say that yes, their yacht will be stocked with medical supplies in case of an emergency.
However, writing on her website, Kim said she feels there has been an air of condemnation about their decision to take a young child on such a long voyage.
She has written: 'People ask, 'Is it safe for you to sail to certain locations with your daughter? Will she wear a life jacket? Can she swim?'
'And then we get a few questions regarding health risks such as, 'What happens if Sienna gets sick? What will you do if she needs medical attention? What if she gets malaria?'
'For the most part I think people are genuinely interested, but I can’t help but feel that some of the questions are asked with a tone of condemnation.
'Friends and family can’t say, or don’t have the courage to say, 'are you crazy - how irresponsible can you get?'
'Of course, I could be way off the mark on this, but I sometimes feel judged when people shout at me, 'But what about your child?''
Oyster 56, long range cruising yacht, showing her pace - .. .
The couple gave up their jobs and sold their six-bedroom house in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, to buy the yacht and fund their three-year trip.
Simon, who is originally from London, had been working as a PE teacher while Kim started up two successful currency exchange and property businesses. US-born Kim grew up in New York state and regularly went boating on Lake Ontario.
Once they are away from the furore that taking their three-year-old on their voyage has engendered, they will come across other long range cruisers, and will find that there are many, many children benefiting from their years at sea with their parents.
Bon Voyage to the Browns from Sail-World Cruising!