The couple Christian Coqui and Sabrina Kuttruff-Coqui from Stuttgart, Germany, travel on their yacht Moya (Motiva 39S) with two very young children, Joshua (5 years old) and Jonathan (3 years old). For the first time, Christian and Sabrina went on a long voyage in Europe when the eldest son Joshua was not even two years old, and the youngest Jonathan was only three months old. Two years later, the family moved on a boat permanently to travel around the world. After resting in the Caribbean, they went to the Pacific Ocean. If you are also planning, or just dreaming of traveling with your young children, but are still not sure how you will handle it, the ideas of Sabrina and Christian will definitely inspire you to take this step!
How to decide on a family trip around the world? Christian Coqui, Sabrina Kuttruff-Coqui, Joshua & Jonathan
Christian's yachting life began at his sports club at the age of 21 when a crew member asked him to join them on a sailing trip. This instantly hooked him, and after several exits to the sea, he already received a skipper's license and began to go on a charter with a crew. Sabrina, while still a schoolgirl, had a silly dream that she applied for a job as a deckhand in a brig, but she never did it. She got her first yachting experience in Australia while studying at a sailing school. However, when she returned home, she was unable to integrate yachting into daily life, living hundreds of miles from the sea and not knowing anyone who was involved in yachting. By a happy coincidence, the couple met aboard the yacht, of which Christian was the skipper. They married and spent their honeymoon charter in Italy and have since become passionate cruisers as they charter boats as often as possible ...
“Naturally, we have been thinking about a longer trip for a long time and finally started looking for a boat, which was a rather difficult ordeal when you live far from the sea and have a newborn baby. When Joshua was 2 months old, he went on board for the first time... A year later, we were the happy owners of our first and only yacht Moya, a reliable steel sloop, which we then equipped for ourselves, for long journeys.
When Jonathan was born in 2015, we decided to take some time off and embark on our first long cruise. We were very fortunate as we were both able to take maternity leave to travel and spend some quality time with our kids exploring the European Atlantic coastline. Three months later, we set off from the Baltic Sea to Portugal to see how things would go with two babies on board on such a rather long route. Despite the fact that traveling with children has nothing to do with our previous yachting experience as a couple, we really enjoyed exploring nature, visiting new places and showing children our amazing planet. And so, two years later, we went to sea again with long-term plans. "
At this point in the journey, Christian and Sabrina are following well-studied routes. They sail west on the least hazardous route that many cruisers have explored before, avoiding the lower latitudes and hurricane seasons.
“On our way, we constantly assess the risks and weigh what is acceptable and what is not. Our risk assessment may differ from the views of other sailors, but it is the basis for most of our decisions. Due to the huge diversity on our amazing planet, we travel relatively quickly. There are so many things that we would like to show our children before they go to school. This does not allow us to take very detailed photographs of the places we have visited, but gives a more general overview of how our planet lives. At the moment we have no idea if we will make a full voyage around the world, but after crossing the Atlantic Ocean we decided to go to the Pacific Ocean.".
The main reasons the couple chose their current boat are very simple and practical. Since they were planning a family trip, safety was their top priority when they bought Moya... What the boat would be made of was definitely a key factor, and since they couldn't afford aluminum, they had to accept the higher maintenance factor of the steel hull. The hull was built by a Danish shipyard Motivaand the rest of the boat was designed and built by experienced and knowledgeable previous owners.
“These people have spent years optimizing the interior and implemented partially unconventional solutions, many with redundant systems in place. We loved their way of thinking and the fact that they carefully selected the next owners for their precious boat, which they sold for personal reasons. "
Even though the boat is only 39 feet long, living on board can be said to be quite comfortable for a family of 4, with plenty of storage space and pleasant living space in the deck saloon that they loved at first sight. Besides good seakeeping, other key factors include a center cockpit, a long keel with a protected propeller, and sturdy armament. Although an even more important factor was a great desire and courage to accomplish our plans!
"The Moya is a solid and safe boat, but it was not ready for long voyage when we bought it. We have installed a wind turbine, solar panels, weather vane, watermaker and SSB receiver. We also updated our navigation, communications and security systems and added a liferaft, MOB, satellite phone, Wi-Fi antenna and AIS transmitter.
Our watermaker is our favorite because it gives boundless freedom to our minds. We don't need to think about when we need to refill our tanks, what quality the water can have, whether all our tanks are full enough to shower or wash the dishes. We can simply decide where we want to go instead of depending on the availability of water. The watermaker is especially useful for us, as it produces 50-60 liters per hour, and running it once or twice a week is sufficient for our purposes.
Another irreplaceable thing is a weather vane. We originally bought it as a backup to have an independent system from our electronic autopilot. In practice, however, it seemed that it takes over most of the control during transitions, since it works mechanically without consuming electricity, which we often have to save. It also handles well upwind travel, while the autopilot can have problems in such conditions. The only thing we regret is that we didn't install more solar panels or a diesel generator, as electricity is often limited, especially when we run a desalination plant that draws a lot of energy. "
Since Christian and Sabrina bought Moya, they have visited Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Curacao, Venezuela, Colombia, have crossed the Panama Canal and at the moment are located in French Polynesia. And before that, they went on charter in Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Australia. In total, they sailed in the Baltic Sea, North Sea, English Channel, Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Pacific Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea and Sea of Marmara. At the moment, Christian has several tens of thousands of nautical miles behind him., Sabrina has a little less.
Christian's worst day at sea was a few years ago when he helped with the ferry of a new sailing yacht from Slovenia to Turkey in the winter. He walked along the Adriatic to Bari, then crossed the Ionian Sea to Greece, and continued on to the Dardanelles and to the Sea of Marmara through the Aegean Sea. Since it was winter, snowfall, strong stormy winds and rough seas accompanied him most of the way. The weather didn't bother Christian too much, he even enjoyed getting the experience of yachting in harsh conditions and with a more experienced skipper. However, when they were overtaken by a thunderstorm in the middle of the dead of night, his comfort level dropped significantly. While at the helm, he heard thunder, followed by lightning striking the water next to the yacht.
“The scariest moment is waiting for the next lightning, as you never know if it will hit the boat. Of course, it was wonderful to see and feel the power and power of nature, but I would rather not see her again. "
As for Sabrina, she is absolutely sure that her worst day is still ahead. And so far, her most exciting moment has been the surf approaching Hog Island, on the southern coast of Grenada.
“We were walking in shallow water off the coast of Grenada, and when I saw this approaching wave, I thought that it would land right in the cockpit, where the children are playing. They were wearing life jackets, but I experienced a powerful adrenaline rush, imagining the water everywhere and how it knocks me off my feet. Fortunately, the wave hit the stern, and Moya did an excellent job with it, continuing on its way. "
Despite such situations, there were many more amazing moments. Christian, Sabrina and the kids met amazing people along the way. They recall a Moroccan fisherman who raced towards Moya just to greet them sincerely and give them advice on how best to approach the harbor; or poor Cape Verdeans who offered local fruits for free instead of selling them; and in St. Vincent, a boy sailed to their yacht in a small rowing boat, on which was a small basket of bananas and coconuts, which he proclaimed as his little supermarket, telling them funny stories along the way; or a stranger who just helped them figure it out after seeing their bewildered faces while trying to pay the National Park fee in Los Roques, Venezuela; and a German couple in Curacao who borrowed their car so they could stock up on provisions ... "None of these people ever asked for anything in return!"
Nature itself rewards travelers no less! Christian and Sabrina love swimming with turtles, climbing through lush valleys to waterfalls, diving exploring the seabed, to name just a few of what they saw and did.
"There are days when I just like being on the night watch." Says Sabrina. “Sometimes, in a light sailing breeze, the sky is so clear and there are so many stars shining that you can no longer highlight any of them, you just look at the Milky Way as a white spot. I feel so tiny, but in the absolutely correct place in the universe, no matter how insignificantly small. "
Christian and Sabrina have no concrete plans yet, but after French Polynesia, there are plans to travel to New Zealand or Australia, or head north to Indonesia. Christian would like to make a northwest crossing between Greenland and Canada and then return to Europe, but Sabrina is not very enthusiastic about the idea.
Their favorite cruising area is the Aegean, both in Greece and Turkey. Every time I visited here, the yachting conditions were close to perfection: a little swell, but strong winds. And the distances between the Greek islands and the Turkish mainland are ideal for short day trips, and still leave plenty of time to explore the islands with their rich cultural heritage. You can choose between anchorages in remote bays, mooring in a marina or small fishing villages, all of which are equally good. The locals are very nice people, and the food is simple and tasty, well, there is simply nothing to complain about.
As for the favorite anchorages, definitely Francis Cay in Los Roques, Venezuela. This small anchorage is protected by reefs and is therefore very quiet and peaceful. If you jump from the boat, you will dive into aquamarine, translucent water, and on the shore there is a white sandy beach with a cute little restaurant, and the rest of the island is uninhabited. For children, this place is ideal for playing in shallow water, collecting seashells and watching small lizards.
“We use various navigation and weather applications such as Weathertrack, Navionics, Google Earth, OpenCPN, also, of course, we use Noonsite almost every day and some cruise guides make our life so much easier and our favorites are definitely Atlantic Islands and Reeds Nautical Almanac... And for planning transitions, we use World Cruising Routes Jimmy Cornell".
There are a trillion reasons, including some risks, why you shouldn't take a cruise, especially with kids. Usually, these reasons are successfully operated by people who have never stepped on board a sailing boat. In any case, with every risk comes also a chance that you can only explore to a certain extent when talking to qualified people with cruising experience. Only when you take the risk will you know what the cruise life will bring you personally.
“We always love coming to new countries as there are many new things to learn. Each time we learn something new about nature, culture or people. Sometimes we see significant differences from what we are used to, for example, different religions, and sometimes very slight differences, such as street signs of a different color. All this allows us to realize that differences from local customs are not only possible, but also common for most parts of the world. Cruising is an almost endless source of new experiences that expand our minds.
We also really appreciate that we travel eco-friendly, we depend only on the strength of the wind and on beautiful, unspoiled places that are hardly accessible by other means of transport. We consider ourselves privileged parents to be able to share this experience with our boys and explore and experience our stunning planet with our children. Being close to our two little ones 24/7 can sometimes be difficult, but most of the time it is the greatest gift to watch them grow and develop into impartial, happy people. ”
“Before going on a round-the-world trip, I often asked myself if we would be able to keep our children safe on the boat, if they would not be bored, especially during long crossings” Says Christian. “I worried a lot about how Jonathan would handle everything when we went on our first trip when he was only 3 months old. I tried to read family blogs to get ready to sail, but I got bored as the answers to my questions were often hidden between other information. I finally decided to stop worrying and just try everything the hard way.
So, I found that going into the transition with a child was less difficult than I originally thought. Until Jonathan even started crawling, he was happy whenever we were around. While we were on the move, he most often sat in the cockpit, tightly secured in his chair, or rocked in his crib, which we installed in the cabin. We never left the harbor in harsh weather, but when we crossed the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, we almost always had the wind in our bows. Moya and we walked against the harsh seas. The boat was often tilted and swayed. "
“Feeding an infant and changing diapers can be challenging under these conditions. You need to find your place on the boat and adjust, ”says Sabrina. “The U-shaped rug on our bed worked best to keep the baby from rolling, but the smell is really bad if you're feeling a little sick. During that period, we mostly moored in marinas to take a walk on the shore, as it was not easy for me, with a child who could not sit yet. Previously, we had to take a stroller ashore with us, now we wear a shoulder strap when we go hiking, or we take scooters to get around the city.
As children love dinghy, we also changed our habit of berthing in the marina, and most of the time we are anchored, which is much better for boys as they can jump right into the water when they get too hot or have too much energy. We are very fortunate that the boys do not suffer from seasickness, so we can focus on our daily tasks.
Before we set off across the Atlantic, we discussed whether it was necessary to take on board an additional crew, to provide additional watch and household duties. The limited space of the already little privacy on board, and the fact that we would have to take a stranger, led us to we decided to cross the ocean as a family of four.
Of course, this meant that we rotate each other throughout the night. I went to bed with the kids right after sunset, and my first shift started at 11 pm, and the second shift at 5-6 am. Often the boys would get up at dawn and share my morning shifts with me before we all had breakfast together when Christian got up. During that time of the day, we often played board games or read books.
During the day, we did not have a fixed watch schedule. Since we were mostly downwind, we had plenty of time to go about our business between the obligatory observation of other vessels every 10 minutes. Playing board games, Lego and magnets, reading, drawing, dancing, cooking, baking, diaper washing, fishing, while watching the navigation and radio - time went by very quickly. And when the weather was harsh, the children listened to audiobooks and slept, just like children behave on land. Fortunately, they never feared or suffered from insomnia. When Christian and I had to work with the sails, the boys had to stay inside and they mostly played in Joshua's cabin, where all the toys were. A when children play on the deck, we observe all safety measuresincluding life jackets, radio beacons and life nets.
Cruising with children is certainly very different from 'adult' yachting, sometimes a little tedious, but equally enjoyable and perhaps even more interesting. "
Blog: SY MOYA
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