From the Log of Persevere: Europe 16: The Adventure Begins

Editor’s note: This is the tenth installment in a series of dispatches from the Rath family (Colin & Pam and daughters Breana, Meriel and Nerina), who departed Stamford, CT last fall for a worldwide cruise aboard their Hanse 545 Persevere. You’ll find previous articles linked below.

Persevere Persevere has started the European leg of her world tour. Call it Europe 16, as an ode to the Grateful Dead album Europe 72. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I was a Jerry’s (Garcia) kid. This leg started out with despair and losing our Alaskan Malamute Aspen, but we endeavored to start afresh as we headed north to Amsterdam. 

Persevere docked at Idock Marina  ©

Since we are living the dream life, right? Everyone we talk to or hears about our story thinks that. But, you have to realize that we are a family and have the same problems as anybody else. Ever see the film Decedents? Yes, we are living our dream, but it still has its bad moments. Problems don’t end at the dock when you cast off. It’s great being able to travel the world with the ones you love and grow together as a family, but with three girls wanting the world that they read about or see in the movies we watch aboard, and wondering why it doesn’t exist in that particular country we’re visiting, it’s not all roses.

Consider also that our family travels as a group – we go everywhere together. Date nights are far between for Pam and I, and alone time doesn’t exist. Plus, have you ever gotten three kids ready to go anywhere, together and happy? Now add a five-mile walk or bike ride in a foreign country and try to figure out logistics so that when you arrive, it all works. Which happens never. Then wait for a few hours until someone opens up to let you in, or gets back from their two-hour lunch. When that’s resolved, stumble through the language barrier to do what you wanted to do in the first place without one kid incident. 

Logistics is my new vocation. It starts in every new port, on a daily basis in every country, which is actually fun although it can be trying. Going to the grocery store when we find a good one (which is hard overseas) is an all-day event, including backpacking all the food back to the boat. Don’t get me wrong, we are happy to do this and know what is involved living aboard traveling the world. But, throw in home schooling. It can easily become overwhelming. We have three pre-teenage girls that are growing up faster than ever on a boat with limited living space being introduced to multiple cultures daily. Their world knowledge expands drastically daily, as do their questions and expectations. My own sailing education was also expanding as we went up the English Channel: First thing you do is buy a Reeds Nautical Almanac.

To understand sailing in the English Channel, take the traffic on Long Island Sound and multiple it by 100, then add windmill farms, fishing boats without AIS, 30-foot tides, and TSS rules. We sailed from Honfleur, France to Calais and Dunkirk, France and then to Ijmuiden, Holland and down the canal to Amsterdam. We sailed mostly at night, so the kids would sleep and wake up in a new port…looked good on paper. When sailing the English Channel on the French coast, you have to realize that the tides are massive, so you have to tie up to moorings to wait for the tide to come in at each harbor and then go through locks to dock in any channel port in France. Protected anchorages don’t exist, and tidal currents are easily 5-7 knots anywhere along way.

The commercial traffic is crazy, easily 50-plus boats on AIS that we had to track because the TSS patterns had dogleg turns and before we knew it four tankers and cargo ships were bearing down on us, doing 16 knots. We hugged the edge of the TSS lane, and picked our spot to do the 90-degree cross so as to not get run over as we worked our way up the channel. Wind farms are another trip – they look like a series of vertical red lights that take up the horizon at night. I mean they’re big, and they are in groups of 100 windmills in a series of multiple fields. We were sailing up to this wall of lights that seemed to go on forever until we were 100 yards from it and could see the different wind farms. They’re on the charts of course, but the visual throws you off at first.

PersevereThe sail up was nice – 10 knots on a beam reach until the last night, when it blew 30 on the nose. The whole family spent the night under the bimini as I sailed. We were glad to go through the locks at Ijmuiden and leave the ocean for a while. It was a nice one-hour motor down the canal to Amsterdam. An old crewmember, who sailed with us in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta in 2014, lives in Amsterdam and hooked us up with Idock Marina, which is right next to Central Station in Amsterdam and within walking distance to the city.

The family loved exploring Amsterdam. ©

Amsterdam is a great city to visit, with great flea markets and food markets. We all needed winter clothes, so we bounced around flea markets and the kids picked up some great clothes. They also enjoyed riding their bikes all over Amsterdam. It’s nice to see a culture developed on green, sustainable living.

In Amsterdam, a “minivan” is a bike with a built-in cart or a 5-person bicycle. Sure, there are cars, but more bikes. The bike parking area at Central Station (the city’s main train station) holds roughly 3,000 bikes. Imagine all the cars parked at the train stations in Fairfield, CT being bikes stacked in the corner, using one tenth of the space…and creating no pollution.

We spent 10 days in Amsterdam, loving it, and then went to Amsfort, a really great ancient walled-in city in the center of Holland, for three days. We were invited by a good college friend, Tom Keleher, who has lived there for seven years with his wife and three kids.

PersevereThe kids got to see how another family moved to a foreign country from the U.S. and assimilated. A lot of questions were asked and answered about schooling, working and living abroad. It was nice to see how the Keleher family grew as a result. Our family got to see it that can be done, as we explore this world to find our new home.

The locals were friendly, although a few of them didn’t have much to say.   ©


Look for updates on Persevere’s journey in future issues of WindCheck, and track their progress on their Facebook page,


Previous articles from the Persevere Family Journey:


January 2015 Persevere Cruise: The Most Important Rule of Cruising: Let the Weather – Not Your Timetable – Determine the Schedule.


March 2015 Persevere Cruise: Cuba Libra!


April 2015 Persevere Cruise: Serious Fun at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta


May 2015 Persevere Cruise: Kirk Kelly’s 50th Birthday in Rincón


June 2015 Persevere Cruise: From the Persevere Log: Dominican Tree House Village


July 2015 Persevere Cruise: From the Log of Persevere: Havana – The Tale of Two Cities


August 2015 Persevere Cruise: Back to NYC


September 2015 Persevere Cruise: Transatlantic Race 2015


October 2015 Persevere Cruise: Sail On, Aspen


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  • commented 2015-11-13 01:44:46 -0500
    What an amazing adventure! I always wanted to do this with my kids too, but one is in college already and the other two can’t agree on anything. And my husband is about as adventurous as an eighty year old nun! I doubt he could row a boat up a river much less navigate through the English Channel. I used to be a nanny and I spread broken Dutch, too bad I’m stuck at my boring old Job or I’d want to be a tutor… Anyway, enjoy your adventures, We dullards back in the states are very impressed…