About Our Adventure

It will be difficult to explain the depth of emotion behind this unfolding story.
On one hand, new adventures and experiences, a further bonding of family. On the other, leaving the home you treasure, saying goodbye, sailing into an unknown world of an ocean wrought with perils for those not prepared.
The Veldman family of Fort Wayne, Indiana is toughing out some dramatic decisions as they prepare to embark on a one-year sailing trip to all parts Caribbean. As a family, they will have to learn quickly the many aspects of sailing and how to manage themselves in any type of weather. “Our lives depend on it,” said Paul Veldman, father and captain.
“While there will be great moments of family fun and excitement,” said Paul Veldman, “We’ll also experience teamwork, different cultures, foods, languages, self-reliance, so a lot of learning as we go along.”
Paul, a veteran firefighter and wife Laura, a local business professional, will be setting their careers aside to enable this family experience. Both served in the U.S. Army and Paul saw combat during the 1989 invasion of Panama (Operation Just Cause) and 1991 Operation Desert Storm.
They, along with 18-year old Elle, 13-year old Claire and 12-year old Adam have taken a giant leap of faith, which includes a commitment to downsize beyond what most people can imagine.
“We’ll be selling our house, some possessions and Paul’s business to purchase the boat,” said Laura. “It means going from 2,200 sq. ft. to around 300 for the five of us.”
It’s hard to imagine the constrictions and challenges of a living space one-seventh the size, as well as finding an as yet un-purchased sailboat. Hardest will be hugging and crying goodbye to friends and family.
Even so, the Veldmans are putting their faith and family to work with plans to sail in September 2012 on the pre-named “Laeto Loco.” “You can read it two ways,” said Paul. “In Latin it means ‘Happy Place’. Combine the Latin with Spanish and it means ‘Crazy Happy’.”
Name aside, there are many heartfelt challenges each family member is enduring. Even planning is stressful. Emotions have been raw sometimes and the juxtaposition of adventurism and sadness has already tested the family.
Fighting back a few tears, big sister Elle, said “The worst thing is selling our home.”  She is an active senior at Bishop Luers High School, participating in volleyball and Peer Ministries.
Doing her best to be strong, middle sister Claire, a current freshman at Bishop Luers who enjoys competitive tennis and swimming, said, “I’ll miss my friends the most.” Meanwhile Adam, an avid reader and soccer player, sees adventure and a chance to learn a new language on the horizon.
When the decision was made to move forward, September 2012 was almost far enough away to forget. Now, less than one-year separates the Veldmans from the reality of leaving all that is comfortable and safe.
Why expend the energy, face the financial challenges, put lives on hold and deal with the inevitable stress such a decision brings? Paul and Laura say to show that family unity and sense of purpose comes in many forms, including walking away from the familiar and into the uncharted.
Paul and Laura have also shared their list of individual and family benefits:
Culture Exposure to the cultures of all the islands will present many opportunities for growth as individuals and as a family.
Education Home schooling the two younger children for the first time will be an eye-opening experience for both the parents as well as the children.
Reducing the Carbon Footprint A sailboat makes great use of the environment.  Sailors are encouraged to make the most efficient use of the limited resources available.  An ocean crossing in a sailboat can use less than 60 kgs. of CO2, while 5 overseas flights can be as much as 3300 kgs. of CO2. 
Food Tying in with a reduced carbon footprint, living off the ocean as much as possible will be both a cost and energy efficient way to live.  Eating foods that were grown or produced locally will give insight into the culinary heritage of the area.
Charity Part of the voyage is to help others and promote good will along the way.  There are opportunities to deliver school, hospital and firefighting supplies to islands that are dependent on these deliveries.
Ambassadorship  To present a positive image of Americans as we meet the locals.
Togetherness This is the crux of the trip.  Being together has always been good for our family.  To take on a trip like this, as a family, will cement the bonds between us. Many difficulties, struggles and obstacles will be faced and overcome.
It is clear the Veldmans see the enormous possibilities for personal and family growth. And while most people would stand back and think them a little crazy, take a deeper look and you will find a family willing to rely on the strength of each individual and the power of the team.
In less than 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7 months, the sun will rise on the Veldman family and the wind will fill their sails in this life-changing journey aboard the Laeto Loco.