What is cooler than being cool? Tropicool. And the Tropicool family gives the word "cool" a whole new meaning.
For the last year, they have been reinventing the wheel on what cool looks like. And what it looks like is a family of four, living on a sailboat, on a sabbatical for an undetermined amount of time. Frank and Aurore, along with their two little ones at the young ages of three and five, have made their Leopard 50, "Tropicool", their home, currently located in the Bahamas by way of Antigua, the BVI, St. Martin, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, the Baltic Sea and their original port of departure in the South of France. Visit their Instagram page, @The_Tropicool_Family, and follow along on their adventures, and then continue reading.
An extended sabbatical
"In our research we discovered that if you want to do a nice around the world tour by boat, it will take about three years, so we said okay, we will start with three years but we can change it at anytime. If we are over it, we can go home for a year and come back again. Or if we are over it, we can sell the boat and stop. Or if we really love it and need a break we can come back in five to seven years. We don’t really have a plan. We are just enjoying and seeing what will happen. Maybe when our kids are teenagers they will prefer to be socialized and be at school, so if they decide they prefer a normal system then we would do that. What if we stop at a place that we really love, we can stay for six months or a year, work there and put the kids in school," Aurore explains. The plan is that their is no plan. And that is the point of this whole exercise-- to go with the flow.
Running their business from the boat, Frank and Aurore are fortunate in that sense. They just need a good internet connection to keep the business going. Because of this, the Tropicool family has the freedom to do whatever it is that they feel like doing. And that is the best part about this way of living.
"Our favorite part about our lifestyle is the freedom. We can work when we want to work and school when we want to school. We can go anywhere we want, whenever we want. We can go to whatever beach we want. Of course this lifestyle is not for everyone. Being on a boat with your family day in and day out all year round is not always easy, but it’s part of the game. And the funny thing is, living on a boat is kind of like being in quarantine all year long. For us, being stuck together just the four of us is not a big change at all," Aurore reveals.
From my conversation with Aurore I gathered that this family takes advantage of what they have around them, using available resources to enjoy the freshest seafood on earth. As she explains, "One really cool thing about the anchorage we are in now is that just by where we set anchor there is a mangrove, and it is a conch field. Every time we go there with the kayak you just reach your arm in and scoop up huge conch that are just waiting to be eaten. We eat conch salad about every two days at the moment. We just altered our recipe a little bit. We take the traditional Bahamian recipe— conch cut very small, diced tomato, onion, and green peppers. But we have been out of green peppers so a good replacement we have been using is celery. Then add the chili, lime, salt and pepper. Fridge to chill and then it's ready to eat." She continues, "We then fish with the leftover conch, it's very good bait. We have fished snapper here, we had two of those. It was really good and the kids really enjoyed it. We try not to over fish because right now we have a lot, but Parrot fish are very good so we have had that twice here as well, and it was very amazing."
How it began
You might be asking yourself by now, how did The Tropicool Family become so cool. The young couple first met doing what they both love the most-- traveling. "Franck and I are quite big travelers, Frank is German and I am French. We met in Panama where we shared a room in a hostel. Both of us always liked to travel, and we continued traveling. After four years with the kids in Bordeaux, just being in the same place all the time we decided we had to find a solution and do something different. If it wouldn’t have been a boat it would have been an RV. But we were not designed to stay in the same place all the time. And we really enjoy to travel to tropical places with beaches. So many times we have felt so frustrated traveling to the sea by car, because you cant see anything, so you can look for beautiful beaches but never find them. So buying a boat was the best option," Aurore reveals. And buying a boat is just what they did.
Aurore recalls, "I do have to admit that neither of us were sailors originally. And Frank was not a boat expert before, but when he really likes something, he gets really into it. So he started researching and we took sailing lessons in Bordeaux. And with the kids it was quite hard. So we said, okay, we will finish learning when we get the boat. But luckily, with the Leopard 50, everything is amazing. All the lines to the helm, with two kids, we can handle it. Its an easy boat to sail, in my opinion."
Deciding which yacht to buy was no easy task. Aurore explained that they knew they wanted a catamaran, but other than that they couldn't find a boat that made both parties happy. Aurore had her favorite French builder and Frank had his preferred French builder. The couple attended the boat show circuit in France a number of times and were starting to narrow down their choices. That was until they saw an advertisement in a sailing magazine for the Leopard 50. Upon further research they found that they could view the yacht at the International Multihull Show in La Grande-Motte. And so they waited a few more months. But when they saw the Leopard 50, they knew that this would be the boat they purchased.
"We have two kids and the front door is amazing. You just don’t have to be scared with kids running around, it is really safe for us. I will never understand why every catamaran has so much space in front but you cant even pass some food or drinks to the front, it's unpractical. So, it took us a while to decide what boat we wanted, but when we saw the boat for the first time, we knew it was the one," she remembers.
Once Aurore, Frank and the kids took ownership of their Leopard 50 in the fall of 2019 they had their sailing instructor spend time helping them learn more about the boat, and once they felt confident in their abilities without an instructor, they set sail for Barcelona. From Spain, they made stops along the way but eventually ended up in the Canary Islands.
"From the Canaries we went to Cape Verde, and then from there we crossed the Atlantic over to St. Martin. It took us about 13.5 days," Aurore declares.
And if you are wondering, yes the kids were along for the adventure every step of the way. If you don't think that's Tropicool, then perhaps you don't know what Tropicool is!
When I asked Aurore on some advice that should could offer to families who dream of going on a sailing sabbatical, she offers this, "I would say to anyone who wants to live this kind of lifestyle to not think too much, because otherwise you will never take the leap. And don’t listen to what anyone else says. If you start listening to other people you will might never do anything."
"Tropicool" is currently quarantined in the southern part of the Bahamas where they are managing to enjoy life. Their goal is to get the boat up to the Chesapeake for the summer. As for their thoughts on the current situation, "I think this has made everyone feel closer to our way of living. Having a plan B for everything because you can’t do things the way you had in mind. Living on a boat is like at home, we have the same fights, same crisis, but on a much nicer frame. And it’s always a kind of chosen quarantine, and now people experience a lot of things that we do normally on a boat... without the view . We are very blessed."