Happy first month of 2020! Sorry for not posting this trip report sooner, but we’ve been busy Googling catamarans for sale…
During the first week of January, the Stealth Wealth Family made a life-changing trip: we sailed with the host family Trio Travels on their catamaran, Saltair3. The trio – Brad and Krista along with their son Cole – have been offering unique sailboat charter experiences that blend exploring and learning for the past couple years. To date, they’ve hosted more than a dozen families on Saltair3.
They’re more than qualified to host sailing newbies like us. Brad and Krista have been sailing for a couple decades. Not only that, but they come from a background in the hospitality industry, having owned both restaurants and B&Bs. For the past 8 years, they’ve been cruising with Cole (now 14) almost full-time. Only in the last couple summers have they decided to retreat to their homeland of Canada for some non-sailing time.
We first learned of this opportunity through Trio’s Youtube channel and decided to bite, as we’ve recently become interested in the potential of new challenge and mystery of live-aboard sailing. What a perfect way to try it out and see the life, especially how it works for a family of three.
Arranging a trip of this nature requires coordination of many moving parts: when we wanted to go vs. where they would be at that time and what the weather is supposed to do. Based on these variables, they offered to host us on the Pacific coast of Panama in the Pearl Islands at the beginning of “summer” (the dry season).
It couldn’t have worked out better. We got lucky with virtually no rain during our week aboard. We encountered some high winds that would change our destinations slightly each day, but all was manageable. Luckily we hadn’t stayed with the original plan of cruising the Caribbean side of Panama, as the area was being beaten by extremely high winds during the beginning of January!
So how was the charter structured? On the first and last days, we sailed almost an entire day. We got to see the inner workings of the boat, how to raise the sail, how to steer, and how to manage the constant movement. Dawn happens to be quite prone to seasickness, and she was particularly worried. With exception of the first night (which was spent at a rolling anchorage), she managed fine with a bit of prophylactic medication. No barfing occurred. Win!
How about the other days? We spent time observing the technical side of sailing from Trio while also adventuring to different islands. We snorkeled in amazingly emerald clear waters. We saw manta rays jumping from the surface and sting rays vacuuming the sea floor. Dolphins raced us at the bow of the boat during one of our crossings. Trent reeled in multiple tunas!
Many fears and worries about pursuing the idea of sailing ourselves were answered on this trip. Could Dawn’s seasickness be managed? Is Trent too tall to comfortably live on a catamaran? What’s it like to sleep in humidity without air conditioning? Would Aspen even like it?
We all loved it and want to look into cruising on our own catamaran someday ourselves. In fact, Aspen didn’t seem phased by any of the rough seas or hot weather. She had to deal with not having the exact foods she wanted at the exact times she wanted to eat them, but that’s a lesson she needs to learn for any travel adventure. She did remarkably well for a 4-year old living in someone else’s “house” and operating on someone else’s timetable.
The experience was new and exciting but at the same time slightly familiar: the cruising life, anchoring around other boats with families each night, chatting at sunset about travel and boating repair stories… it reminds us so much of our years of rock climbing and traveling in RVs, meeting and connecting with other climbers from all over the world, extremely diverse in background but united in our common love for all things climbing.
While we got lucky with some of these conditions, we also got to see the unpredictability of this lifestyle. Being Questioners by nature, we constantly peppered Brad and Krista with so many questions about why they were doing things. How does the navigation system work? Do you trust the water maker? Why did you decide to sail to this island today vs. that island over there? How do you choose an ideal spot to anchor the boat? (Spoiler: it involves not only wind and wave intensity but also sea depth plus tide predictions and topography of the ocean floor.) There’s so much to learn!
The only real requirement to sail with Trio is that you have a modicum of good health. You don’t have to be a perfect swimmer, but you should have some swimming ability. They will accommodate your dietary needs (as they did ours) with ease, and the food was excellent! We probably didn’t warn Krista enough about the sheer amount of food that Trent can eat, and yet – as she’s been conditioned to roll with the punches through years of sailing – she handled it fine. We joked that we’d be remembered as the family that ate them out of house and home but drank none of their alcohol.
Krista has an uncanny ability to create good tasting food with sometimes limited resources (in fact, this serves them well in their summer food truck business). Trio will teach you as much as you want to learn about sailing, or set you up for complete relaxation: calm swims, naps on the trampoline, moonlight hammock sessions etc. We spent most nights chatting with them for hours about all sorts of things. And Aspen is completely in love with Cole, who played games with her every day despite a 10-year age difference!
Speaking of Cole, he’s simply the most adaptable, universally relatable, well-adjusted kid we’ve met in recent times. A product of homeschooling combined with the rigors of cruising life, he interacted with us (adults) and Aspen (a young child) seamlessly. The close relationship he has with his parents is inspiring, encouraging, and belies your typical screen-glued, “F-you” 14-year old narrative.
If you’re a family of 4 or less and you want a very unique travel experience in an ocean environment – unlike any canned Disney cruise, all-inclusive resort or hotel – we can’t recommend sailing with Trio enough. We’ve talked before about how we prefer to slow travel and revel in the challenges of new experiences while we’re abroad. It’s a common tenet of those in the FIRE community to do hard things, and sailing is hard. In a very good way. It’s the complete antithesis of the stereotypical retirement life of recliner chairs and golf courses.
Added bonus: everyone wants to find ways to unplug these days, and you are somewhat forced to unplug on this trip. With limited data at sea and so much to do and see and learn, you won’t even miss your phone! Just compare Dawn’s phone usage stats for the week before and during sailing (below).
The price of sailing with Trio will depend on how many people are in your party and how many days you choose to sail. However, we can tell you that it was much less (maybe 30-50% less based on a cursory search) than a commercially outfitted charter, and yet what you get out of it is worth so much more. If you want more details, feel free to leave a comment below or just contact them through their site.
Have you ever sailed? Tell us about your experience!
(Note: This is not a sponsored post, nor are we affiliated with Trio Travels. We just love them and had a great time!)