A Bainbridge Island family set sail ten years ago on a voyage that would take them to far-flung ports and bring them much closer to one another.
After a decade of exploring, they're back in town, planning their next adventure.
“Doing something like this isn't about getting a rest. It's about experience, it's about seeing things,” said Jamie Gifford.
After losing his mom, Jamie and his wife Behan quit their full-time jobs, took their savings and their three kids, and set sail on a worldwide adventure in their boat, Totem.
“The adjustment for the kids took about, I think, 48 hours, something like that. The adjustment for Jamie and I took a lot longer, we had very busy lives and jobs and de-programming from that took quite a bit of time,” Behan said.
The Giffords thought they'd spend a few years at sea and have the kids home in time for high school, but there was just so much to see and do, and they journeyed on, through the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, to Africa, Asia, and Mexico.
“The hardest part by far is to be away from people we love,” Behan said.
They said it takes hard work and sacrifice to make their lifestyle happen. There's constant planning, severe weather, unfamiliar ports, and occasional mechanical problems.
The kids are homeschooled on the boat, but they get to visit important cultural and historical sites for lessons.
Life on land is far more routine, as they're discovering during their few months visiting family in Bainbridge Island this summer.
“It's weird. Everything is convenient and easy and right there and not hard at all, you can take the car to the store, you don't have to walk half an hour to get there," said Mairen Gifford, 16.
“I sleep much better on the boat. I miss my rocking cradle. I miss our simpler lifestyle. Being back in the U.S., things move very quickly. Everything is sort of shiny and new,” Behan said.
“That’s just not who we are anymore,” she said.
The Giffords are already planning their next journey. Even after a decade, there's still so much to see.
“It's so great to have this time together as a family. How lucky are we?” she said.
Follow Sailing Totem’s travels here.