They sell their house and leave on a sail boat with their three children: the Barberis family’s dream becomes reality – Our interview

The Barberis family’s dream is about to become reality. They leave in September

8 June 2020 | by Redazione

Sailing on the Atlantic Ocean on a sail boat. Travelling for a year, maybe more. Enjoying a different life experience and demonstrating that dreams can come true even if you are a “normal Italian family.” This is the project by Sara and Stefano Barberis with their three children, Iago, 11, Nina, 8 and Timo, 3.

On 18 June, with ferry tickets in hand, they will go to Greece to bring Shibumi, a Mikado 56, back to Italy. A ketch with a central cockpit, fitted out as a cutter, built in 1982 by the shipyard C.N.S.O. Just enough time to apply a little make-up and then in September they set sail. Destination: the Atlantic Ocean. Twenty days’ sail from Cape Verde to Saint Lucia, in the Caribbean and then from there, who knows? Maybe they will finish the crossing and go around the waters of the Pacific Ocean for another year. “We are leaving now and then we will see what happens – Sara shares with Liguria Nautica – we have a one-way ticket.

Sara and Stefano Barberis live in a small town in the province of Lecco. The salt water is where they met. The clincher was a sailing holiday. Tellaro, the village, sloping into the Gulf of Poets, loved by D. H. Lawrence and Mario Soldati, was the backdrop to their promise to love each other forever.  For twenty years the Barberis family has spent two months on a sail boat every summer, in close contact with nature. “At the beginning – explains Sara – we shared one with friends, then, after a lot of sacrifice and hard work, three years ago, we got Shibumi.

“Shibu,” as the Barberis family lovingly calls their boat, will arrive in Bocca di Magra, a seaside town at the mouth of the Magra River in La Spezia, at the beginning of July. It will remain here for a few months, just enough time for some work to be done before their departure, planned for 1 September. The first stop is the Balearic Islands, then Gibraltar and at last, Shibumi will enter the Atlantic Ocean, sailing to the Canaries, hoping not to miss the Trade Winds, and off with open sails to Cape Verde and then the Caribbean.

The lockdown changed the family’s original plans. The original plan was to raise anchor earlier and slowly sail down to Sardinia, then heading out to the Balearic Islands and admiring the colours of southern Spain, but the Coronavirus forced Sara and Stefano to postpone their departure and re-organise their route.

A secret dream that the Barberis family has been working on for years. “We tried in every way possible – notes Sara – we are fighting tooth and nail to make our dream come true.” Through to their choice to take a full on gamble by selling their family home to collect the funds necessary for the crossing.

With the amount we got – she reveals – we will be able to pay for the work needing to be done to Shibumi and we have calculated we will be able to live for a year. Then we are hoping to be able to find some freelance work we can do remotely. My husband is a nuclear physicist and works in computer science and web programming. We are open to any kind of experience or offer. When on a boat, you don’t have as many expenses as in normal life.”

The Barberis family also has plans to transform their vessel into a floating lab, for social, scientific and environmental projects to develop throughout navigation, like the one on microplastics. “We want to get people from a number of fields involved,” says Sara.

In developing our project on microplastics – she adds – we have had the support of a writer friend of ours, Massimo Temporelli, the owner of The Fablab Milano and one of the top disseminators of science. We are also waiting on a response from ISMAR CNR in Lerici.  In parallel to the scientific side, the children will create, remotely, a project with their school, on environmental awareness. They will be the on-site correspondents.”

Sailing the ocean with three children may well be an unforgettable experience but it is also a huge challenge. “Usually – remembers Sara – everyone leaves when they have retired. Instead, we want to enjoy this adventure now, with the energy of 40-year-olds and allow our children to enjoy this experience as well. It will certainly be a big challenge.” she admits.

Leaving, pulling up anchor and having a completely different life experience. “You need to just do it – Sara concludes – you don’t get a second chance to live your life. Everyone can make their dreams come true, even a normal Italian family, who works hard, with 3 children. We have taken the leap and now we are flying.

You can follow the adventures of the Barberis family on their Instagram channel sailing_shibumi

Maria Cristina Sabatini



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