Seven at Sea: Why a New York City Family Cast Off Convention for a Life-Changing Year on a Sailboat

Emily Orton (Author) Erik Orton (Author)


Working the night shift as a temp in a high-rise cubicle, Erik Orton knew something had to change. He felt the responsibility of providing for his wife and their five children--the youngest with Down syndrome--but craved a life that offered more than just surviving.

Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his sunset dinner breaks, Erik dared to dream. What would it be like to leave the hustle of the city and instead spend a year on a sailboat, somewhere beautiful, as a family? Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily's phobia of deep water, and already stretching every dollar to pay rent and buy groceries, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation. Sure, they would miss their friends, they could go broke, they could get injured or die. Worst of all, they could humiliate themselves by trying something audacious and failing. But the little time they still had together as a family, before their oldest daughter left for college, was drifting away. The Ortons cast off the life they knew to begin an uncertain journey of 5,000 miles between New York City and the Caribbean, ultimately arriving at a new place within themselves.

A portrait of a captivating and resilient family and a celebration of the courage it takes to head for something over the horizon, this is a deeply compelling story--told alternately by Erik and Emily--for all those who dream of leaving routine in their wake.

Product Details

Shadow Mountain
Publish Date
March 05, 2019
6.2 X 1.0 X 9.0 inches | 1.4 pounds
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About the Author

ERIK ORTON is an Emmy Award-winning writer and former-Broadway tour manager. He was raised in Germany and the suburbs of Washington D.C. He has produced various musicals Off-Broadway. His original musical Berlin won an Emmy Award as well as a CINE Golden Eagle Award and Bronze Telly Award. In 2018, he climbed El Capitan--the tallest granite cliff in the world--got scuba certified, and learned to surf.

EMILY ORTON is a former English teacher turned homeschool mom. She speaks and writes about living with purpose. Her writing is featured in Dare, Dream, Do by Whitney Johnson. Curiosity has led Emily to become a rock climber, a sailor, a scuba diver, a world traveler, and most recently a surfer.

Erik and Emily continue to learn, grow and travel with their five children. They love to gig as a family band when their two oldest children are home from college, and occasionally post music videos to YouTube. They are currently traveling Europe by sailboat and VW van with their younger children. They blog together at and make their home in New York City.


"Fascinating real-life story. They skillfully show that is it is possible to live big on a shoestring budget while giving their family astonishing education in adventure, creativity, purpose and grit. With great intention they embraced risk and some pretty breathtaking adversity which changed and refined them all in ways that will leave the reader full of admiration and wonder."--NYT Best Selling Authors of Teaching Your Children Values "Linda and Richard Eyre "
"We don't need more stuff to be happy... we need less. The lessons of love, determination, and dreaming big wait for you in this adventure on the sea. You will find yourself sailing through each page, lost in the beauty of this family's voyage. It gives you the courage to do the same in your own life's travels."
--NYT Best Selling Author of The Carrot Principle and All In "Chester Elton "
"The Ortons storytelling of their particular path guides all readers - not just those who dream of seafaring - through lessons on living, loving, and life. They share their hurdles with candor and warmth, and just enough discomfort to remind you they're real: stretching beyond their comfort zone in the joyful and daunting extremes of life on an adventure. The way that Erik and Emily consider, evaluate, and take on challenges they face is instructive for all, and required reading for those who dream of on adventuring as a family."

--Author of Voyaging With Kids - A Guide to Family Life "Behan Gifford "
"They will persuade you that 'unconventional' is a synonym for 'individual' and have you contemplating why you would accept an off-the-rack version of your life, when you can tailor-make your one. You'll finish Seven at Sea daring to seek a discovery-driven voyage to your dream life, or the dream-of-a-lifetime. A fun, inspiring read."
--Bestselling Author of Disrupt Yourself "Whitney Johnson "
"Many people, at some time in their lives, dream of sloughing the day-to-day and traveling the world; Erik and Emily Orton actually went for it, not letting the fact of five children or a lack of wealth stop them. Pulling up stakes required years of planning, so Erik honed his sailing while Emily learned how to home school their children, the youngest of whom has Down syndrome. Scrimping, saving, and creative financing finally allowed them to purchase a boat. When they finally shove off on their new catamaran, Erik establishes a timetable. Fate, however, has other plans, and they spend the next three-plus months sidelined with a broken motor while they wait for workers to diagnose and fix the problem. They meet two other families, picking up valuable tips and enjoying friendship while they wait for their adventure to begin. The book is distilled from journals Erik and Emily kept during their trip, which give honest accounts of their difficulties and triumphs. Readers looking for a vicarious sailing experience should try this."-- (02/01/2019)