Portrait of a Cruiser: Sail Yacht Bagia’s Family of Five

In 2021, Brandon and Ashley from Michigan, USA, decided it was time to stop chasing the American dream and do something extraordinary with their three young children. So they bought a boat, sold all their possessions and in 2022 set sail with a rough plan to “see the world”. Find out more about this adventurous family in Noonsite’s latest “Portrait of a Cruiser”.

Published 3 months ago

Names of Owners (and crew):  Gabriel, Isaiah and Abel with mum, Ashley and dad, Brandon.

Nationality: United States

Boat Name: Bagia

Boat Type/Model and Size: Lagoon 42

Your Home Port: We are originally from Michigan, but our boat’s home port is Snead’s Ferry, North Carolina in the United States.

Blog/website/facebook pages:



How did you start cruising?

We took a one-week liveaboard sailing course with Myrtle Beach Sailing School, bought a boat, sold our home and possessions, moved aboard, set sail and haven’t looked back.

Abel with a starfish in the Bahamas.

Describe what sort of cruisers you are:

We are a liveaboard family of five.

What type of cruising are you doing currently?

We’ve been cruising the Caribbean for the past year and a half. We’ll be transiting the Panama Canal next month with the goal of circumnavigating.

SV Bagia under a rainbow in Grenada.

What were the key reasons you selected your current boat?

We liked the Lagoon 42’s layout and the spacious owner’s cabin.

What other boats have you owned?

We’ve owned a couple of center-console power boats, but this is our first sailboat.

What changes have you made to your current boat?

We added a 1,760 watt solar arch, a 1,380 amp-hour house battery bank, Starlink, holding-tank sensors, and a top-down furling gennaker.

Most useful equipment fitted and reasons for this choice:

Initially, with only 375 watts of solar, we were running our generator daily. It seemed like we were always searching for the nearest fuel dock and conserving power. Since installing our solar arch and upgrading our battery bank, electricity hasn’t been a concern. Now we only run our generator if we want to enjoy a few hours of air conditioning.

Equipment regrets, or things you would do differently:

Right off the bat, we would have upgraded our solar and battery bank. It would have saved us a lot of fuel, generator hours, and a trip back to the US.

List the countries you have cruised:

US East Coast, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, St. Maarten/Saint Martin, Dominica, Martinique, Grenada, Venezuela, Bonaire, Curacao, and Colombia.

Trafalgar Falls in Dominica.

Future cruising plans:

Panama, Galapagos, South Pacific, Australia and continuing westward.

List the oceans/seas you have crossed:

The Caribbean Sea.

Enjoying the Sierra Madre Mountains in Colombia.

Approximate sea miles:


Scariest day on the water:

During our passage from the Bahamas to the Dominican Republic, we spent an entire night in a large thunderstorm that had not been forecast. In addition to 45 knot gusts and big breaking waves, there were nearby lighting strikes all around us for several hours.

Scariest day on the water – storm front approaching!

Best cruising moment:

Near Chub Cay in the Bahamas, we motored into a huge school of mahi. They surrounded our boat and bit every lure the moment it touched the water. We had enough to fill our freezer in less than 20 minutes.

Mahi fishing in Chub Cay.

Favourite cruising area and why:

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but Colombia is probably near the top of the list. It’s very inexpensive. The food is excellent. Unlike the Eastern Caribbean, the locals don’t seem to look at cruisers primarily as a source of income. The Colombians we’ve met seem genuinely interested in getting to know us and sharing their culture. The tradespeople are also very meticulous and take a lot of pride in their work.

Favourite anchorage:

The west side of Cayo Luis Peña near Culebra, Puerto Rico. We spent two weeks in an absolutely beautiful anchorage without seeing another boat. Each day we woke up to wild goats climbing around on the island’s rocky cliffs. The snorkeling was excellent, and the reefs were covered with big lobsters and other sea life. We caught and ate lobster every single day!

Lobsters at Luis Pena Cay in Puerto Rico.

Favourite cruising apps:

Navionics, PredictWind, Anchor Lite.

Favourite cruising websites:

Noonsite, Windy.

Favourite cruising books:

World Cruising Routes by Jimmy Cornell and lots of service manuals!

Field trip to a Chocolate Factory in Grenada.

What advice or message would you want to pass on to anyone new to cruising or thinking about casting off the dock lines?

If you get seasick easily or can’t stand the thought of spending every minute with your family members, cruising is probably not for you. Find another pastime.

Otherwise, just do it! We haven’t met anyone that regrets seeing the world aboard a boat, but we’ve met lots of people that wish they would have started sooner.

Don’t worry too much about finances. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.

Don’t waste a bunch of time and money learning to sail the wrong boat. Buy the boat, and then find someone to teach you how to sail YOUR boat.

Why cruise? In a few sentences, what is it that inspires you to keep cruising?

We love the water, fishing, and diving. We enjoy experiencing new cultures and trying new foods.

Most of all, we love spending every minute together as a family and the freedom and unpredictability of this lifestyle.

Any other comments:

At first, we were concerned about how our children would adapt to life aboard a boat. Would they struggle socially? Would they be bored?  Would they resent us for uprooting them?

In hindsight, it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. They’ve formed close friendships with both fellow cruising kids and locals. As we write this, they are off playing with a group of 14 other children from 6 different countries. They have become more confident, outgoing, and are doing better in school.

Gabriel, Isaiah and Abel.

The children have their say:

How did you start sailing?

We took a sailing class. Then one day our parents told us they were buying a boat. At first, we were sad because we had to give away our dog, sell our toys, and share a bedroom. But after we moved onto the boat we found out how much fun it is to live on the water.

What do you like most about living on a boat?

Swimming, exploring new countries, meeting new friends, fishing, eating lots of seafood, seeing new species of animals, and trying new fruits.

Tell us about your cabin where you sleep?

Gabriel has his own cabin with lots of space. Isaiah and Abel share a cabin. We have big windows so we can look out at the ocean. We don’t spend that much time in our cabins because they get pretty hot during the day.

What are your favourite jobs on board?

Gabriel likes to cook, keep watch, drive the dinghy, and help with lines and fenders.

Isaiah likes to help repair mechanical equipment, wash the boat, and polish stainless.

Abel likes to dry dishes and find tools for dad.

Gabriel spearfishing with Brandon.

Do you have a special place on the boat where you love to be?

We like to sit on the coach roof cushions or the trampoline while we are sailing.

A favourite place on the boat during passages.

What have you learned since you started sailing long distances?

We have learned to keep watch, tie knots, free dive, do flips off of the boat, drive the dinghy, spear fish, speak a little bit of Spanish, and clean conch.

Which country have you enjoyed the most so far – and why?:

Gabriel: I have enjoyed Colombia the most because there is so much to do and the people are really kind.

Isaiah: I really liked Dominica because it was so beautiful and the waterfalls were huge.

Abel: I liked Grenada the most because we met a lot of wonderful people there. The monkeys were awesome too.

Meeting the monkeys in Grenada.

What has been your scariest day on the water?:

In the Bahamas, our dinghy’s painter got caught in the prop and it made one of our motors stop while we were near jagged rocks in really strong wind. We thought we were going to crash into the rocks, but Dad lassoed the dinghy and got the motor started again before we ran into them.

Abel in the dinghy at Aves de Sotavento in Venezuela.

What has been your best moment on the water?:

Gabriel: When we got to swim with sharks at Compass Cay.

Isaiah: In Luis Peña Cay when we were catching lots of lobsters.

Abel: Seeing the Iguanas at Allen’s Cay in the Exumas.

Abel with Iguanas in the Bahamas.

Do you have a favourite anchorage, where you spent some days at anchor?:

Gabriel: St. George’s, Grenada

Isaiah: Culebrita, Puerto Rico

Abel: Chub Cay, Bahamas

Sea turtles at Farmer’s Cay.

What do you do on passage when you sail from one country to another?:

We fish, take shifts keeping watch, watch movies, read, play cards, and sometimes we throw up!

Tell us about the local kids you have met:

We have met lots of local kids. Even when they speak English it is really hard to understand them sometimes, but we still find ways to play together.  In Grenada, we met a bunch of kids and took them for a ride on our dinghy. We were talking about how much we all loved the monkeys, but then we realized that they were talking about how much they love to EAT the monkeys. It was really funny.

Isaiah learning to play the guira in the Dominican Republic.

Have you met other kids on sailing boats?:

We have met a lot of other kids on sailing boats. Some of them have become really good friends that we still email and talk to on the phone.

How would you recommend living and traveling on a sailboat to other kids whose parents are thinking about doing the same thing?

We would recommend that they do it too. We have a lot of fun living on a boat.  But if they are a picky eater or don’t like to go swimming, they might not like it.

Playing with Manatees in the Bahamas.

Is there anything you miss about living on land?

The only things we miss are our family and our dog. We miss them so much!

Any other things you want to tell us – or stories you have to tell:

When we moved onto the boat, we couldn’t dive very deep. We practiced a lot and took freediving classes in Bonaire. Now, we can dive much deeper and hold our breath much longer. Abel can dive 10 meters and Gabriel and Isaiah can dive 18 meters. We love being underwater and exploring coral reefs.

Isaiah deep-diving 18 metres on one breath.


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More Portrait of a Cruiser stories

If you think you have an interesting story to tell and would like to take part in our Portrait of a Cruiser series, please contact Sue at [email protected] for a questionnaire.


The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Noonsite.com or World Cruising Club.


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