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Do You Want to See the World?

June 15, 2011

Ever wish you could just sail away on an extended vacation? Read about one family who’s doing just that:

Since they were newlyweds, Hermosa Beach residents Scott and Mandi Leonard have long wanted to sail around the world.

Now, years later with their three sons—Griffin, 11, Jake, 9, and Luke, 5—the local couple is preparing to take its whole family on a three-year journey to more than 100 countries.

During the first week of July, the Leonards will take off from Florida and set sail to the Caribbean, where they will spend a year.

Next, they’ll venture to the Panama Canal, the Galapagos Islands, the Indies and French Polynesia, and then down to Australia and back up to the South Pacific.

The family’s final leg will bring them to Micronesia and Indonesia, and their voyage will end in the summer of 2014.

“When Mandi and I were dating, we took sailing classes together in San Francisco, and when we got married we thought it would be fun to take six months to sail around the Caribbean, but then we let our careers kind of lead us away from that,” said Scott, who is the founder of a Redondo Beach-based wealth management and trust services firm.

Both Scott and Mandi have traveled extensively, even before their marriage—Scott having lived in Yugoslavia after college and Mandi having lived in Japan. Their three sons already have passports full of stamps.

“As a family we’ve never stopped traveling,” Scott said. Now they are excited to explore places they’ve never seen.

“That idea always kind of sat in our head, and so in 2001 when Mandi was pregnant with our second son, Jake, we decided we should just do it, and do it while they’re young, but before they start high school,” he said.

The Leonards decided that this summer would be the perfect time to start their trip, so that eldest son Griffin would be back in time for his freshman year in high school. Mandi will take charge of a home-schooling curriculum for the children during the trip.

Scott said that he sees the family’s three-year excursion as a unique educational experience for his sons.

“This trip is really about trying to expose our kids to a lot of different cultures and see a lot of the world,” he said.

Preparations for sea started as early as five years ago, with Scott preparing his business to function without him on a day-to-day basis. He will still be running his firm from the boat, and will fly back for quarterly check-in meetings with clients.

The Leonards spent time researching and purchasing high-end medical kits that include everything from oxygen to defibrillators in case of emergencies.

“There’s always safety,” Mandi said. “We have a 5-year-old, and so we have to be really cognizant of where he is at all times.”

Scott added that the family’s route was mapped out to avoid dangerous pirate areas. Such areas could be near parts of the coast of Africa, for example.

The family had to choose an appropriate boat to set sail in, eventually deciding on a family-friendly catamaran. Their boat includes a washer-dryer, a large generator, and Internet and phone capability from anywhere in the world. Plus, there are four cabins, each with a queen-size bed and its own bathroom.

“A lot of the things that we’ve read about families spending extended periods of time on a sailboat say that people need their own place to be, where they can just get away, and so I think that’s going to help a lot,” Scott said. “In our house, we’ve intentionally kept all the boys in one bedroom, so one of the things that they’re most excited about is having their own rooms.”

The Leonards listed their Hermosa Beach home for sale in preparation for the three-year trip, though they do plan on returning to Southern California upon their return because of their strong personal and business ties.

While they are excited about their travels, there are things about Southern California the Leonards said they will miss.

“My friends and family, of course, and Trader Joe’s,” Mandi said.

Both Scott’s and Mandi’s parents, as well as other relatives and friends, are planning trips to visit the family at sea, and Mandi is even trying to coordinate a Thanksgiving dinner at some point during the trip.

“We’re looking forward to our time away and our experience, and being able to see new things,” said Mandi, “but I’m sure even though it’s three years it’s going to go by really quickly.”

Original article appeared on Hermosa Beach Patch and Redondo Beach Patch.

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