Seven at Sea Summary
Working the night shift as a temp in a high-rise cubicle, Erik Orton knew something had to change. He felt the responsibility of providing for his wife and their five children the youngest with Down syndrome but craved a life that offered more than just surviving.
Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his sunset dinner breaks, Erik dared to dream. What would it be like to leave the hustle of the city and instead spend a year on a sailboat, somewhere beautiful, as a family? Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily’s phobia of deep water, and already stretching every dollar to pay rent and buy groceries, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation. Sure, they would miss their friends, they could go broke, they could get injured or die. Worst of all, they could humiliate themselves by trying something audacious and failing. But the little time they still had together as a family, before their oldest daughter left for college, was drifting away. The Ortons cast off the life they knew to begin an uncertain journey of 5,000 miles between New York City and the Caribbean, ultimately arriving at a new place within themselves.
A portrait of a captivating and resilient family and a celebration of the courage it takes to head for something over the horizon, this is a deeply compelling story told alternately by Erik and Emily for all those who dream of leaving routine in their wake.
Seven at Sea Review
I read a lot of books. The ones that I just can’t put down are fairly rare. Seven at Sea by Erik Orton and Emily Orton was one of those books. Once I started, especially once we got into the actual time at sea, I couldn’t wait to read more and see what would happen next. By the time I got to the end, I felt like I knew the Orton family. And , oddly, I felt a little teary when I go to the end. Don’t’ ask my why. I haven’t figured that out yet.
But what an adventure. Makes me feel a bit like I was a slacker raising my four. Seriously, though, what an awesome experience to have as a family. The book is well written. It is certainly not all sunshine and rainbows, and while the tone is overwhelmingly positive, they do not sugar coat their challenges. From broken boat parts, to unexpected storms, to the logistical and emotional challenges of seven people living on a tiny sailboat for a year, their story draws you right in. While the book alternates between Erik‘s and Emily’s points of view, they make sure that their children have a voice too. We see the challenges that the teens and pre-teens grappled with in this year of adventure on a sailboat.
Though I read this by myself, as soon as I finished, I handed it off to my husband (that never happens). If our children were younger, this might well have been one of our road-trip reads. We always chose books to read in the car on road trips with our children. I think reading it as a family could spark some interesting discussion, and might even encourage creating some amazing family adventures of your own. No, living on a sailboat for a year is definitely not for everyone, but maybe there is some great adventure your family needs to make too.
Seven at Sea by Erik Orton and Emily Orton is available in Hardcover, Kindle and MP3 CD versions from Amazon.com. It is also available in Hardcover and eBook from Deseret Book.