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Living the Dream: Family of Five Takes to the Cruising Life

Some people dream of leaving the office behind to live a life at sea. The Conway family has stopped dreaming and started sailing.

The Conway Family (L to R): Porter, Riesling, Erica, Chris, Bryson

Chris and Erica Conway recently packed up their family and moved from Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey to the Patronus, a 47’ Beneteau 473. Sailing with a Quantum® Fusion M™ in-mast furling mainsail, a Quantum® cruising asymmetrical, and Quantum® headsails, they’re introducing their children to life along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean.

Chris, a successful businessman, active father, and lifelong sailor, has enjoyed years of competitive sailing, including races with his family, a collegiate career at Cornell University, and some of the world’s premiere races. He’s looking forward to sharing his love of adventure, sailing, and the sea with his kids.

Erica is a stay-at-home mom who actually feels more at home on the water. She met Chris on the Cornell sailing team. They dreamed of getting married, having three children, and sharing their love of sailing with them.

Ten year-old Bryson is a natural sailor who loves being on or near the water. Middle sister Riesling is a beautiful swimmer who can’t wait to snorkel and fish on their trip. Porter is five years-old and has spent most of his sailing career napping while underway, but he’s looking forward to exploring new places on this trip.

Ten year-old Bryson is a natural sailor who loves being on or near the water

The Conways prepared for their voyage with a lot of conversation and research. “Chris and I talked incessantly about where we wanted to go,” said Erica. They found numerous options with the help of a few cruising guides:

  • The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast
  • Dozier’s Waterway Guide: Northern 2011
  • A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast

In addition to listing each port in geographical order, the books also provide information on each city, including museums, restaurants, and tours, listed anchoring, mooring, and docking options, and described the availability of necessary facilities, such as groceries, laundry, and showers.

After picking their favorite places, the Conways charted the distance between ports, paying careful attention to each voyage length. “This was especially important for the first part of the trip,” said Erica. “We do not want to overwhelm the children with long, exhausting passages that may sour them to the voyage before it even begins.”

Keeping in mind the children, the ports, and hurricane season in the Caribbean, the Conways created an itinerary – their Floatplan. It includes their ‘must-see’ ports, but Chris and Erica are realistic in their cruising expectations. Erica explained, “We will still need to remain flexible. Weather, boats repairs, and other unexpected delays could throw a wrench into our plans. In addition, we may fall in love with a place and decide to stay longer.”

Whether they add or subtract ports from their plan, Chris and Erica will be prepared thanks to their hours of research and preparation. You can follow the Conway’s cruise on their website at, or stop back here for periodic updates throughout the year.

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The Discussion