Family vacations, sailing adventures, hurricanes and midlife stress

Can you still be a good mom if take your family on a sailing trip with a hurricane or two?

I was super excited for our family vacation this year.

We would be flying to the Caribbean to board a catamaran to go sailing for a glorious week filled with fun, sun and aquatic bliss! I couldn’t wait to share this type of adventure with my family.

For a variety of complex reasons, we could only arrive at the boat on time if we took an all night flight. Not bad, I thought, because then I have an extra day to finish packing.

I was busy and focused getting organized when my husband called. He told me the flights were confirmed so we were all set to go…except for the weather.

What??? I asked for specifics.

He told me there was a hurricane warning. I asked if he was joking. He knows how I worry.

He assured me he wasn’t joking. It took about one second for me to locate, the best source for this type of weather info for the British Virgin Islands.

Houston, we have a problem.

There’s a hurricane heading for our vacation destination, Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Did I mention that my family of five will be on a sailboat for a week?

Panic sets in. Phone calls are flying. I called the charter company to get more info. I called the insurance provider to see about cancelling. I called a few friends to guage my panic level and see what they would do.

The news wasn’t great. The hurricane had gone from a category 1 to a category 3. Trip cancellation or interruption insurance wouldn’t kick in until something got cancelled or interrupted. My husband thought we should go.

It was now 6:00 pm and time to get into the taxi, which was now in the driveway.

My thought: What kind of a mother willingly flies her children thousands of miles TO a hurricane? To be in a boat no less?

Pretty quickly, I realized this thought wasn’t serving me at all. It was freaking me out and making me panic.

I had to make a decision. I looked at my husband. At the same time, my mother-in-law was telling me not to go. The pet sitter was here watching all of this craziness.

My husband said he was ready and thought we should go.

OK, my turn.

Deep breath.

I agreed and picked up my suitcase and shuffled all of us out the door.

With that decision, I also decided it was time to manage my thoughts a little bit better than I had been doing. I had investigated thoroughly and caught up with all weather reports. The situation wasn’t great, but we would be put up in a hotel (rather than sleeping on the catamaran) if it got really bad. It was time to really think about trust. We made a decision to join this particular catamaran cruise club, Trade-Winds, because we had seen first hand how fabulous it was when we went on a trip last summer, just my husband and I. I phoned the on-site manager three times throughout the day and he had been quite knowledgeable and reassuring. He was watching the weather forecast and hurricane tracking information like a hawk. Safety procedures sounded excellent and cautious. Even I had to admit that I was impressed. And, the weather was clear for our travel day.

So we all piled up into the cab and headed to the airport. My new thought was that “good moms make sure there are lots of contingency plans.” I had certainly done this. The Canadian government hadn’t issued a travel advisory and none of our flights or plans had been cancelled or postponed. Lots of people were thinking about the safety of the situation. It was time for me to trust a little bit more than usual.

It worked. This new thought created feelings of calm and satisfaction that I planned an excellent trip and had checked into the situation thoroughly. I knew exactly what would happen if the storm got really bad. I didn’t feel nervous at all once we landed, met everyone and boarded our boat.

Hurricane Danny was definitely on its way. Our catamaran was asked to return to the marina so that full safety protocols could be followed. It was a crazy, stormy night, but we were safe and in the end, it wasn’t that bad. We even had WiFi and air conditioning when based at the marina.


The storm passed and we were set to sail.


Wait, what????

Another hurricane is coming our way???

Oh no! This was definitely more than I bargained for. Hurricane Erica had formed and was also headed toward Tortola! No one there had ever seen two hurricanes in one week. Just my luck!

So, can you still be a good mom if you fly your family to vacation on a boat smack dab in the middle of TWO hurricanes?

Back to my improved thoughts. Had to calm down. Focus on trust. Focus on experienced mariners making excellent decisions. Focus on all of the things I did to make this decision in the first place.

Learning to manage your thoughts is definitely one of the most important skills you can have. It really helped me in this crazy vacation situation. That’s what my coaching practice is all about. Helping clients gain perspective on their minds. So helpful. Such a gift to yourself.

And by the way, in my world, the answer is YES! You can be a good mom, even when you fly your kids into the eye of the storm.




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