alaska4Family travel when it might mean the demise of all is no figure of speech for two brothers and a sister who maneuvered their 57-foot boat through the Northwest Passage with their dad, Sprague Theobald.

Others died trying that route. 4,500 miles in five months. And this family never before lived together, at least not all of them at the same time.

Perhaps blended families who don’t bog down in “step” titles for relationships have something special going on.

As a mother and grandmother of many — who birthed only two – I’m impressed with the relationships of this sailing family, the documentary they produced and their book, “The Other Side of the Ice.”


‘Other side of the moon’

DestinationReviewBelieving they visited the other side of the moon too, father/captain/financier of the adventure Sprague Theobald says this: “We had grown together as one unlike any family has ever had the opportunity to do.”

Bits and pieces of their journey I claim as adventure enough for hubby of 35 years and me.

Because we explored Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan and Alaska’s Inside Passage first on a Holland America cruise ship and then up-close on a small ship expedition, The Island Spirit with Capt. Jeff Behrens, I had at least seen icebergs and glacier tops.

Presumptuous to think that allowed me to understand this family’s immense skills and challenges, but having been sort of near a bit of their journey opened connections.

Traveling families benefit

alaska3Families who travel do expand options to understand, and to pay attention. When Sprague talks about theirs being a “mythical route from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Holy Grail of maritime adventure,” I could appreciate my small ship captain allowing whimsy and the winds to adjust our journey each day.

They saw polar bears and we saw brown bears. They saw nobody except one another; I met other travelers.

They started in Newport, sailing north to Greenland. My family trip to Newport was separated by years from the Alaska journeys and we only admired sea-worthy vessels.

I’d be a more engaged Newport visitor now, dreaming grand visions as I looked at the ships in harbor.

Might need to muse awhile about the reasons to re-visit family vacation spots. Or to re-read travel books and re-watch travel documentaries.

Disclosure: Traveling Mom Christine Tibbetts read “The Other Side of the Ice” all by herself. She paid full fare to cruise Alaska with Holland America and graciously accepted the invitation of Fantasy Cruises to experience the small-ship Island Spirit journey from Juneau to Sitka.

PHOTOS by G. W. Tibbetts