About the Family

The Berner Boys. Nicholas is 16, Sam is 13, and both will be one year older by the end of Shangri-La's voyage, and hopefully much wiser. While out cruising, they'll keep up with their education through a structured and accredited home-schooling program ' Nicholas with a traditional eleventh-grade curriculum, Sam with an eighth. The piano will have to stay at home, a much-appreciated break from 10 years of daily practicing for Nicholas, seven for Sam. What they will really miss from their lives in the Vermont hills are friends, Tarzoon (the 21-year-old cat), the bathtub, skiing, snow days, the changes of season, mushrooming, paintball battles in the forest, and going several times a week to the Tae Kwan Do gym where both have earned their black belts. As part of the liveaboard life, they'll have to put those muscles to work hauling sails and anchors and dinghies instead of sparring and breaking boards.

Tania and her sons last winter, hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

They'll learn to meet the world at 6 miles per hour, coming ashore to see new sights, taste new foods, get to know new people, smell new smells, and hear new sounds, all from a perspective no one can have when arriving by jet. Both boys are voracious readers, and the biggest foreseeable problem for their life at sea will be to keep the supply of books constantly refreshed. 'Hmmm,mused their mom, maybe they'll have to start reading the classics that won't be devoured in a day. Starting with Moby Dick. I've got to add that to the list of things to pack.'

Nicholas ponders his homework. The boys were surprised that their mom was actually going to make good on her promise to take them cruising.

Tania and Sam in their kitchen in Vermont.