EER003: Boat Schooling – Living and Learning on a Sailboat

This post may contain affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure page for details.

Have you heard of “boat schooling?” It’s kind of like homeschooling, but on a boat. We met the Gifford family in Penang, Malaysia just before they set sail for Sri Lanka, and really wish we’d had time to get to know them better.

Click Here to Subscribe to Our Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher, RSS, and more

Boat Schooling

EER 003: Boat-schooling — The Gifford Family Travel Interview

In this Epic Education Radio family travel interview, I speak with Behan Gifford about raising her three kids on a boat, the challenges and benefits of sailing children, and the challenges of educating in a digital world when internet is scarce, unreliable or completely absent when crossing the ocean.



  • An American family of 5 living on a sailboat since 2008, Jamie & Behan Gifford and their kids Niall, Mairen and Siobhan. Kids presently (2015) aged 11, 13, and 16 — they were 4, 6 and 9 when we sailed away.

Find Them On: Sailing Totem  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest


We have 8 e-readers:



  • Homeschooled (via boat-schooling) since they first set sail in 2008



  • Living on the ocean, we must expect (prepare for) the absence of internet. That means we must download any digital resources we need before we leave dock. That also means buying lots of books ahead of time (we have a big bookshelf in the boat) and having people bring us books when they visit.
  • Data management: we can’t depend on the cloud, so we hand-off full external HD’s to visiting friends to bring home and store for us.
  • Fundamentals for living with low-data speeds: turn off images in your browser, and turn off video in Skype whenever possible.
  • Kids need other kids — fortunately, there are often many families with kids sailing in the same direction we are.
  • Immigration when sailing


Boat-schooling — Living and learning on a sailboat - EER003_Gifford

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.


  1. Jason, I sure wish we’d had more time with your family in Penang. But thankfully- the world is round, and we’re both on the move! Thanks for sharing our experience – I’m looking forward to the next time we get to see you all, and just wonder, where on earth will THAT be?! It’s kind of fun to think about.