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Seven at Sea: Why a New York City Family Cast Off Convention for a Life-Changing Year on a Sailboat

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  403 ratings  ·  109 reviews
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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Shadow Mountain (first published March 4th 2019)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  403 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A family-first adventure! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Erik and his wife, Emily, have five children. Erik is working a job in a high-rise dreaming of a different life for his family as he watched the sailboats drift by on the Hudson River.

Erik considers buying a sailboat and taking his family on an adventure. He’s never sailed, and his wife is deathly afraid of deep water, but that doesn’t stop him. The lack of large funds didn’t either. They buy the boat and sail to the Caribbean together, over 5,000 miles.

Kathy Sandlin
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an honest memoir about a family taking the road less traveled. The Orton family set sail on sailboat with their 5 kids at a time in their lives when most people are in a good groove. Kids in school, friends, birthday parties, sports, jobs, etc.....
The story talks about the ups such as beautiful anchorages, tropical islands, and amazing people. It also tells you some of the tougher times they encountered such as boat problems, tough navigating, and sometimes just needing a break from the
Aimee (Getting Your Read On)
3.5 stars, rounding up

I have never wanted to live on a boat. Ever. And after reading this book? I'm even more convinced that I would never, ever want to live on a boat. But, it takes all kinds of people to make this world go around and I like reading about people who are different than me, who have different dreams and go for them.

This book is told from alternating perspectives of both authors, Erik and Emily Orton. I'm really glad it was that way because it was Emily's insights that really con
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This is nonfiction about a family that decides to set sail on the open seas for a long while. The parents pack up 5 kids (the youngest with Down Syndrome) and hope they have enough money for a year at sea.

I liked the humor in this. I also liked the learning process this whole traveling experience was for the entire family. I also appreciated the emphasis they put on family and making memories. Family came first and they always made room for attending church regardless of where they were or on w
Ryan Ward
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compulsively readable, gripping, thought provoking, at times emotional, exasperating, exhausting, optimistic and hopeful account of one family's search for what really matters, their decision to do something crazy and risky to find it, and the subsequent life-changing journey they took to following through. It is filled with insight, humor, danger, uncomfortable honesty, and poignant lessons learned along the way to realising that the journey is the destination and no matter what happens, rela ...more
Annique Mcgregor
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5 starts. I started by being fascinated and a little envious of a family who has the guts and the chutzpah to live so tenuously and in the moment, but as I continued reading, I became annoyed and downright irritated at their recklessness and irresponsibility which reflects more on them as individuals and parents and less on their adventures. Erik seemed to me to be selfishly exuberant, or perhaps exuberantly selfish! He strikes me as a man with ADHD who is always chasing HIS dreams, HIS passio ...more
I enjoyed this book. It was well written. It was fun and adventurous. You get a first hand account of everything that happens during this year while reading the authors accounts. It is, for the most part, reading their diary pages.
The family is committed to their adventure, they are very likable and work well together to get things to happen.
I find it is a very inspirational story however it is not realistic for anyone to pick up and head out to sea and live their dream. Most people have to wo
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and fun, you will think you are aboard the Fezywig right along with the Orton family. Great to read about their adventures before,during and after. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so great! The voice of both of the authors, Erik and Emily Orton, were both amazing. I loved the way they both talk, giving the story of their family and adventures a complete feeling.

The authors start this one out before they’ve even learned how to sail a boat. I loved the way that gives the reader the full story of what they did and why. The reader gets to follow these two and their family as they learn to sail, figure out what kind of boat they want, and deal with their adventure
May 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The thought of sailing the ocean blue in a yacht has always appealed to me. The romance of the high seas, the freedom from the day to day responsibilities of modern life. Here is a family that managed to do that while staying together as a unit.

On the surface this sounds like exactly the kind of book I would like, but the reality of the situation is that a memoir is only as likeable as the people writing it and I ended up disl
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
I once learned the very, very first lessons of sailing and, although I loved that and someday might like to have a mini sailboat like the one I learned in to sail on calm small local lakes and ponds, after reading a book like this I think real sailing out on the ocean does not sound at all like my cup of tea. Luckily that does not dampen my enjoyment of reading about this family's adventures doing something together that they love. I was impressed that they talked about both the joys and difficu ...more
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I now understand why my husband never reads books about inexperienced sailors! I found this book poorly written, whiney and very frustrating. This couple takes their 5 children (including one special needs child) on a 6 month sailing adventure in the Caribbean. They had very little sailing experience, not much money and little mechanical expertise. The father behaved like a spoiled brat when things didn't go his way almost ruining his marriage. They were very lucky they all returned safely. Yes, ...more
Alger Smythe-Hopkins
Jun 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Twee and tedium in equal measure.

This is the tale of a brave couple who made the brave decision to not live on Manhattan for a year. Being great adventurers, they bravely sublet their cramped flat on the Upper East Side and spend a year daringly drifting aimlessly about a couple of islands in the Caribbean before heading home via the notoriously treacherous Inter-coastal Waterway. The punch line is that they brought their five precocious children with them, so it's really cramped!!!!! Along the
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I listened to this book, and I appreciated the fact that there were both a male and female narrator to give voice to Erik and Emily. It was great to listen to while taking down Christmas decorations. :) There were both things that I like and disliked about this book.

I liked the easy narrative style. They used their five senses in describing various aspects, and it made it live for me. I had a couple of good takeaways from the book. One is the emphasis to let go of time and enjoy the moment. I li
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Erik and Emily Orton and their 5 children, ages 6-16 (one with Downs Syndrome) have made a spur-of-the-moment decision to chuck work and life in New York and journey to the Caribbean. There, they obtain a sailboat and begin their one-year exploration of a new life adventure.

The story takes the reader through all the trials of living together in tight quarters; learning to navigate the waters; and learning all the ins-and-outs of sailing itself. There are good time and not so good times. However,
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed traveling along with the Ortons on their family adventure! Erik, Emily and their five children decide to learn to sail and this leads eventually to the purchase of a catamaran they rename Fezywig and a 5,000 mile adventure lasting nearly a year. Not every couple, let alone a family this size, could stand so much closeness; this family not only survives intact but grows through the shared experience and trials and joys along the way. The reader is treated to the whole experie ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book, about a family of seven who decides to live aboard a 38-foot long catamaran while sailing around the Caribbean and the Bahamas, makes for an interesting read. It's a very honest and intimate account about the things that went wrong on the trip (constant boat repairs, inclement weather, injury, arguments, etc.) and the things that went well (family togetherness, meeting new people, seeing exotic places, etc.). Although the Ortons don't make sailing sound very glamorous and they definit ...more
Anita Grisham
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Why did they do this? I almost felt like it was staged just to make money from writing a book about the experience. Still, it was interesting.
Anne - Books of My Heart
This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart

I don't read a lot of non fiction but this is the type I enjoy most other than reference materials like cooking or knitting books. There are travel books of the reference type which can also be helpful and they also tend to contain stories in addition to the facts.

If you enjoy travel stories and human adventures, this is a highly recommended read for you.  I really enjoyed so many things. The alternating chapters and points of view between
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I was amazed at what this family went through in order to sail for what seemed like a short period of time. They did have some amazing adventures if you overlook the dangers they also encountered. I would award the mother a medal because without her this adventure would never have happened as a family. Her husband had the most sailing knowledge but she had the faith and courage to make it a success.
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-adult-books
An interesting book, but at time a bit aggravating to read. I don't have any sailing background. I would be interested to know what a true sailor would think of this. It seemed like this family was very inexperienced and probably undertook this trip prematurely. For example, at one point, he talks about heading into a 500mile stretch without knowing if he has insurance to cover him, uncertain of his weather, and his previous experience only being 80miles up to that point. They relied heavily on ...more
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I usually prefer fiction; I love reading as an escape from reality. But this memoir, Eric and Emily Orton’s Seven at Sea, was about as literally an escape from reality as possible. It didn’t read as fiction — the family likely wishes their adventure could have offered more fantasy — but it takes a lot of guts and gumption to give up the life you know for the dream of a life untethered.

Seven at Sea recounts the Ortons challenges and joys of a year at sea, sailing on a smaller catamaran… as a fam
Whitney Johnson
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED IT! Absolutely loved it. Ahoy! Erik and Emily Orton engagingly narrate the exploits of their family as they disrupt their conventional New York City life for an adventure at sea, unfazed by the challenges of five children, one with special needs. They can’t imagine everything that might go wrong, but it will anyway. They won’t persuade you to spend a year on a boat—at least, they didn’t persuade me—but they will seduce you into imagining boldly and envisioning setting sail on an adventur ...more
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hey honey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s learn to sail, take out a huge loan and buy a boat, then I’ll quit my job, and we and the 5 kids can live on a sailboat for a year. What could go wrong? For starters, these people really had no concept of what they were getting themselves into. Inevitably things went wrong. But other things went right. Everyone survived and apparently they’re still a happy family. No major drama here. They only went from New York to the Caribbean and back. But it’s the realisti ...more
Austral Scout
The Ortons' story is an interweaving of recounted experiences and family philosophy, both of which I found compelling and resonant.

I began reading with a degree of disconnect founded on my certainty I'd struggle to relate to these people who had done something I couldn't fathom even considering. I'm open to risks and adventure, but braving the beautiful and terrifying ocean? With my kids? I surely would find these sea people, other; I'd be just fine viewing them like fascinating specimens with
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was different than I expected, given the title and how it was promoted. Yes, they did leave NYC to live on a sailboat, but it was actually for about 7 months, not a year and 4 of those months they were docked on the same island. It read more like a travelogue of a family on an RV vacation (staying for long stretches in the same RV park) than it did an adventure story.

Given that, though, I was interested to read the story as an introduction to the world of "cruisers" as they called them
Tonja Drecker
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an inspiring story about a real life adventure, which still fits into the realm of reality and shows how life can follow different waves if only a person dares to give it a try.

Told in alternating viewpoints between Erik and Emily, the account of the family's adventure on a sailboat for a year is revealed with heart, humor and seriousness. Starting at the beginning, the first thoughts of sailing set in before the family—with five children—decides to turn their life upside down. The nice
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
SEVEN AT SEA is told in alternating point of views between Erik and Emily Orton. After watching sailboats drifting on the Hudson River, Erik is ready stop dreaming and make his hopes come true. Nothing can stop him. Not the expenses, his wife's fear of water, or his five kids.

With their new sailboat, the Orton family takes on the adventure of a lifetime. They are traveling 5000 miles from New York City to the Caribbean. As expected, living on the water in tight quarters is trivial and I know I c
For those of us with wanderlust this will be an easy pick-up to get our brains thinking about our next adventure! This 7 person family decides to pack everything up, sublet their NYC apartment, and go sail the Caribbean for a year. They go to lots of beautiful beaches, meet fellow adventurers, and master life on a catamaran.
I appreciated the juxtaposition of Emily & Erik’s thoughts, though I would’ve loved to hear the kids’ perspectives! It’s a fairly conversational feel with lots of discussion
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Told in alternating viewpoints, this is a memoir from Erik and Emily about the time they took their five children to live on a catamaran. They moved from a cramped two-bedroom apartment into one at sea.

I thought the book was interesting but there were some things I didn't like about the couple specifically, and I think that's why I'm rating the book as I did. They had a few years of learning to sail before setting out at sea, yet two of their kids didn't know how to swim, which is crazy and rec
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10 Random Things I Love:

- Sailing (downwind and beam reach)
- Rock climbing (especially granite)
- Surfing (easy waves for now)
- My accordion (everything's better with an accordion)
- Writing books (Seven at Sea, and a couple others in progress)
- Learning (preferably via YouTube)
- Journaling (almost everyday)
- My family (my wife, Emily and our five kids)
- God (I think He's super creative)

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