It’s not every day that we hear a story like this! Could you imagine leaving everything behind and going to discover the world, with your family, on a sailboat? It seems a bit difficult, almost ilusory these days, but not for Wind Family. This family, born in Cascais, sets sail in search of a dream: to know the world, with no date to return.
When this “crew” made port in our “Pearl of the Atlantic” (from September 28th to October 25th), NIM had the pleasure to talk to the matriarch of the family, Inês Saldanha Pisco, who told us all about this adventure, which began 17 years ago, and is causing sensation as well as a deserving prominence in various means of social media.
Saldanha Pisco (the family) spent a week on the island of Porto Santo, three weeks on the island of Madeira and also a weekend on the Desertas islands and ultimately passing by Selvagens. At the moment they have stopped over in Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain). Follow us in this story and who knows if you will also be inspired to change your life, routine, follow a dream or launch yourself to a new challenge.
João Saldanha Pisco – He is the oldest (43 years old), the head of the Saldanha Pisco family and the person in charge of the boat. Inês calls him “captain” and says he will dictate the rules of the boat;
- Inês Saldanha Pisco –She is the mother (36 years old) as well as the public relations of the team. She is the active voice of the crew, similar to a quartermaster. She is the one who gives life to the blog and social networks of the “Wind Family”. She considers herself a caring, positive, always in a good mood person and happy with life;
- Alice – She is the oldest daughter, 10 years old. She is the one who helps the most and is the most responsible. The mother describes her as sincere (she can’t lie), and the most stubborn and perseverant, as well as the “mommy” of the brothers;
- Manel – He is the oldest of the boys, with 8 years old. Inês describes him as “her babe”, the most introspective, the Prince Charming, the one who shamelessly devises, the surfer, the skater and the kisser;
- Francisco –He is the second youngest, with 5 years old. His mother characterizes him as “the most artist, the one who sings and dances and is always happy! the tantrum, the funny, the grumble, the spoiled, the creative!
- Teresinha –She is the smallest, only 2 years old. She’s the little princess of the family. Inês describes her as “the one adored by her brothers and sisters, the most ardent, the most headstrong, the most challenging, the fearless, the cuddly, the one who eats everything she can find!
This story begins, like many others, with two people who know each other and fall in love.
I had a dream, even before we met (Ines and John), of having many children and going around the world. John and I have been together for 17 years, we have four children and we are going around the world!
How did you two meet?
Inês Saldanha Pisco (I.S.P) –We met (Inês and João) in a play that some friends we had in common invited us to participate in. It all started in a conversation, which João says was a hookup (laughs). The first impression I had of João was, “Who is this old man here” …. that was the first thing I said about him. He’s had white hair since he was 16. He was 25 years old (first date), but he looked much older. We started talking more and more, only to realize that we had a lot in common and ultimately ended up falling in love.
What did you do for a living?
I.S.P. – Although I am a social worker, I worked there for a short time, and then I opened my own company, with my partner, and we started organizing events. João has always been a photography teacher and also left his job completely, just like me. People ask if we took a gap year, but no, we quit (the professions) completely.
How did this idea come up?
I.S.P. – We weren’t dating yet and this (going around the world on a sailboat) was already a dream. João was sailing and saw in a magazine that there was a family, with many children, going around the world. “This is the life. I want to do something like this,” said John, and so it was. For many years this subject always came back as a dream, but that was all it was, until seven years ago, during a vacation, I was already “sickening” that the conversation always came up and was never put into practice. As I have the habit for making everything happen, I looked at him and said that we would make this (trip) happen. Anything’s possible if we set our minds into it.
One of the greatest goals of this trip is to take a social purpose and provide humanitarian aid around the world. I am sure I will do this in many places. When I arrive in Cape Verde, I will already start putting into practice my social projects (“Letters of Love” and “Less Waste, More Love”). I will take my children and go around the schools to give training and make a contribution to the places wherever I go.”
How did you plan this trip?
I.S.P. – We started to gather efforts so that this could happen. In the meantime, several questions have arisen. What will the kids’ school be like? What will the health issue be like? Where do we get money to buy a boat? It was seven years of preparation for this (trip) to become a reality. We have been collecting money to buy the boat. We have a nest-egg and we will survive with the houses we rented (one in Lisbon and another in Estoril).
Choosing the sailboat
I.S.P. – João really liked this sailboat. He sailed it for some time, went to Panama to see if it (boat) was as it seemed to him, he rode this sailboat for 15 days. After doing these more serious tests, because buying a boat is different than buying a car, he told me this was the boat he wanted and brought it here. The boat is 15 meters long and although it was bought in Panama, it has a Belgian flag. This boat contains a kitchen, a bathroom, three bedrooms (one for the parents, one for the boys and one for the girls), a living room, a guest room and also a workshop, to solve any problem that comes up.
It was the happiest day of my husband’s life! Not even at the birth of his children if he was like that. I never saw his eyes shine so bright, like when he bought this boat. My passion is not the sea, I do this to see João happy. It was already worth it! Even if this ends in 6 months, for some reason, it has already paid off because I have never seen João this happy in my life. Never, ever, ever! He looked like a kid who fulfilled his lifetime dream!”
I.S.P. – When he brought the boat here a year and a half ago, he equipped it and made it completely sustainable. The only thing on the boat that is not sustainable is the engine, which João eventually uses for the parking maneuvers. The boat has solar panels, which generate all the energy we need, a wind generator, gathering wind day and night, which also provides us the energy we need on board, to cooking, charging computers and cell phones, lighting the boat….. so, all the energy comes from the sun and the wind. João also installed a desalination machine, the machine that transforms sea water into potable water. So we always have water, since we are in the ocean it shouldn’t be difficult (laughs). João also installed a wind pilot, which is a unique thing, that makes the boat sail alone. We also have reels, two fishing rods always active, making resume, and that gives us fish, enough food to keep us.
Travel with few expenses
I.S.P. – We will also go from place to place, buying in the local markets, because in many places where we make port, there are not even supermarkets. If we have to eat banana and bread, in a certain place, we will have to settle for it. More sustainable than this is impossible, because the space is small, so we will have to reuse. It’s also mandatory on this boat to separate the garbage. The kids have to choose half a dozen toys to bring, half a dozen clothes…. and so on.
Nowadays, it is said that much more than not doing garbage is consuming little, reusing, not always consuming without necessity. This is necessarily a way of life that we will have to adopt in the boat. This will have to be well organized and is an adaptation that we will carry for the rest of our lives. At this moment we rely on each other (relationship with nature). I have a respect for her (nature) that I did not have until then. I have to treat her well, because I need the wind, the water and the sun to survive.
Have you received much help?
I.S.P. – Many companies have joined us, it is a fact, but so far, they are only partners, we have no sponsors yet. The partners have contributed with products, supporting us in that way. We can’t complain about the amount of partners we are having, since it is saving us money. We have received sunscreens and everything that are hygiene products. They have also offered us new sofas as well as tons of other things that we have on board. I believe that sponsors will start to show up, due to the exposure that we are having. However, I don’t “sell” easily. I got into this because I want to have a life free and far from commitments, so sponsors will have to be very special and will really have to embrace this adventure, but in my own way. I’m not going to make work contracts with anyone. I’ve never worked for anyone, and I don’t intend on starting it now, that’s for sure.
How did you choose the name of the boat?
I.S.P. –I already knew I was going around the world, and as I love writing poetry and texts, about this adventure of ours, there was one time I ended with a sentence saying: “Whether we like it or not, we all walk in the wind”. I liked this sentence because I think it’s a great truth. We make plans, but we never know whether or not we’ll get cancer or get hit by a car. Life is very small and too fragile, so I thought about that sentence and I thought Wind Family would look really cute.
How have you been reaching out to the people?
I.S.P. – I have my Instagram and that’s where I put our stuff. Let’s see how far this will take us. Even if it is to feel that so many people are travelling with us and that we end up being an inspiration. That’s one of the reasons that has made this voyage is worth it.
So, Instagram was the great promoter of your story?
I.S.P. – Without a doubt. Instagram was the great platform to spread our adventure. I have YouTube channel, but I don’t have time, because my main objective, for this voyage, is to be well and happy. The Instagram is a tool that does not make your life difficult. I have just finished a “natural” video, where you know where I am and what is happening. This social network gives me tools so that I, in a natural way, can show what we are doing without giving me a hard time. Besides all that, the Instagram reaches a lot of people, you can do stories, you can write on the posts and it has a phenomenal marketing power. At this moment we are already over 39 thousand followers.
Through a partnership, we were at Vila Baleira Hotel for 3 days. The director of the hotel came to me and invited us to stay longer, since our presence and publicity in our networks motivated many reservations. Many people asked me where I was and if I was enjoying it. I am extremely genuine with the answers to our followers. I say what comes to mind. If anything, silly comes up, it’ll come out!
Do you have any specific strategy when publishing content?
I.S.P. – There is not much preparation in the videos. If the kids are dirty that’s how they appear. People like reality. They’re tired of fakery in Instagram!
Do you have a heading?
I.S.P. – We have a route designed and super studied by João, because we want to go with the trade winds (They occur throughout the month in subtropical regions, being most common in Central America. These winds blow regularly from east to west). We don’t want to move away from the equator line, because this line gives us the most favorable winds for this voyage around the world. There are places I’d like to go, sicj as Guinea, but João said it wasn’t a good wind to go up. We go downwind. Although we have a well-defined route, we are also aware that this will change, so we do not make this (route) an absolute truth. There are places where I am sure I want to go and be, however if I am in Papua New Guinea and they convince me that I have to go to Palau, I make a detour there. We have just started our tour around the world, and it wasn’t in our plans to stop over in Madeira Island. I was thinking of going to Porto Santo and then to the Canary Islands, and yet right now (at the time of the interview, October 19th) I am in Madeira. So our trip has an open route.
What are the following destinations?
I.S.P. – Now we go from here to the Canaries, then to Cape Verde and then we cross the Atlantic. In Central America we expect to visit the Caribbean, then cross the Panama Canal and enter French Polynesia, in the Pacific. I think we will “get lost”, maybe a couple of years, because to see the Pacific minimally, I think this will be a reasonable time. Then we start to go up through Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Palau, the Philippines, and we enter Asia there. I am passionate about Asia, so I would also like to get lost there for a while. Then we want to go to Madagascar, we also want to visit Mozambique, South Africa, Brazil….
Is there any forecast for the duration of this voyage?
I.S.P. – I will get lost in time, no doubt about it. I started this voyage, a month ago, and I don’t even know when the interviews (given to the media) aired, I don’t know which day it is, I don’t have much notion. The only notion I still have is that I’m still in Portuguese territory and I get a lot of phone calls from my parents, which keeps me guided. They tell me when it’s the weekend or when they’re working. It hasn’t been a month yet and I’m already completely lost. I don’t care whether it’s Monday or Tuesday, because I’m not going to work the next day, I’m traveling, so you have to enjoy it. If I talk to you (NIM) again, I won’t know if it’s November or December. Surely, we’ll get lost in time.
Losing myself in time is wonderful.
Have you always had this adventurous spirit?
I.S.P. – Yes. I was in India for two months, with Alice, when she was a little girl (she was one and a half months old). You don’t make a trip like this suddenly, you don’t lunge into an adventure like this, if until then you were never adventurous. That’s impossible. We have always been adventurous. I already lived one year in the Amazon Rainforest alone, when I was young, and João was already lost in India for four months, when he was young. I went to Guinea, in January of this year (2020), alone, for 15 days, and I didn’t take anything booked. This has all a past behind it. Before we met we were like this and then we got together very well with each other. If it weren’t for João, I would never get involved in this. We went to India for a month and a half. I was amazed, in India, lost in time. I just had to pay attention to the date of my return, so I wouldn’t miss the flight, and by then I already had a baby.
Where will you spend Christmas?
I.S.P. – We are dependent on nature. I thought I’d come to Madeira in a week and yet I’ve been here for three weeks. This is very uncertain. One of the best things I did, in planning this trip, was to think about it without having an end, because it gives me a feeling of relaxation and an enjoyable uncertainty.
What is the place you most want to visit?
I.S.P. – I really want to go to Kiribati (country of Oceania). I didn’t even know about the existence of this country and since I’m going on this voyage, obviously I spend hours on Google Earth “losing myself”. You see Kiribati and you go “crazy”.
Imagine that I love Kiribati and I want to live there for 3 months. I want to have this freedom to like a place and to stay there.
How did the children adapt to this reality?
I.S.P. – The kids were really restless before we came. It was three long and complicated months, even for me, that I am a positive person, because you start to see that you are renting your house and you are leaving the business of your life. Can you imagine what it’s like to build a company for years and years and suddenly you leave it all behind? It’s something that costs you, this is no joke. “It came out of the building of my company and suddenly seeing myself exchanging a stable life, where I have the guarantee of happiness, for a life that is completely uncertain. This affects you a lot on the inside. The kids, who are the reflection of their parents, felt this insecurity of ours during these last times and that’s why they were rebellious, behaving badly, overall, they were insecure. But now they are super friendly kids, they are becoming a team and they are having a union that I have never seen before. They are very happy, calm, healthy and full of joy.
They (children) are the kings of the harbor (Calheta). They 4 of them go by this marina and any child goes to greet them. The other children identify themselves with them. These kids already know all the English kids that walk around here in the marina. They already go to everybody’s boats.
And how did you explain this change of life to your children?
I.S.P. – I didn’t explain anything to any of them, because they were born with this. When we decided this (the voyage) 7 years ago, my eldest daughter was 3 years old, so she heard this all along. They grew up hearing what we were going to do. This is natural for them. For 3 years they have been saying, at school, that they are going around the world. They made me go to school, talk in their class, because the other children didn’t believe them. The little kids said they were crazy (laughs). Alice was the only one who wondered whether or not she was going to 5th grade, but after a month she was hysterical, loving it (the voyage). Realizing that she has her parents to herself, that she plays all day, and that I force her to make a logbook, at school level, where she is an hour and a half, two hours maximum, a day, doing her studies, I think this is a paradise for her.
And how is the children’s school issue managed?
I.S.P. – We are in an American school, Clonlara, that works with projects. It’s like in Norway, Denmark, where teaching is a little different from Portugal, which has an extensive curriculum. This kind of teaching defends that it is better to learn 8 projects in a year, but well, than, for example, 500 and not be worth anything. This is a school that has an off-campus teaching, where the parents are the tutors, totally responsible for the children’s teaching. According to their ages, I have advisors (guidelines) who, when I’m having some difficulty, they get me applications, videos on youtube, books and all kinds of tools so I can teach the children these subjects. Usually they do the school exercises in the morning, but when we don’t have time, because we visit the place where we are, I take advantage of the time I’m making dinner to guide them, since they stay at the table in the room, next to where I cook, making it easier to give them directions. If there’s one thing I want on this trip, it’s to give them autonomy.
I don’t need to give them more than an hour and a half or two of school, because their main school is when they leave here by car and go to the museums in Funchal, or when we leave Porto Santo towards Madeira, and during the trip they are learning so much. This is a daily learning. There is nothing that makes me happier than this school of life they are going to have, this experience.
How have you been organizing for the tasks on the boat?
I.S.P. – I had a princess life. I had a maid every day and suddenly I pass to a boat, where I have to wash the clothes and the dishes by hand, tidy up the boat every day, especially because it is a small space, so this is a completely different reality for me. As I am not very agile, it hurts every bit of my body when I sail. Pulling cables, sails…. are all maneuvers that must be done quickly. The great sailors have to be firm and straight. In three months, I’m someone else, because physically this is a quite a tough life. The song “This sailor’s life is killing me” already said it (laughs). We’re a crew, we’re a team, besides a family. They (children) collaborate in everything. I can’t do everything by myself, because otherwise I become their slave, which is no longer pleasant for me. This has to be a nice experience for everyone. On Mondays it’s Alice who helps, on Tuesdays it’s Manel, on Wednesdays it’s Francisco, and so on. It’s a cycle that is only interrupted on Sunday, which is the day everyone rests.
We are so happy that even washing the dishes is cute for me. This is making a lot of sense. João did four nights of watching, from Cascais to here (Madeira) and was all happy. To be happy you have to do a job that you enjoy. I can’t complain about doing the laundry by hand, when as a reward I’ll meet people and new places. After this voyage, I think my children will become much more disciplined, responsible and autonomous. I’m not worried at all about their future, because I’m giving the best they can have in their childhood, with skills that you don’t acquire in school. The children are more and more formatted, less free and almost can’t even be creative anymore. Every time I went to pick up my kids from school, I heard parents apologizing for their kids being dirty, for having been playing. I just told them that the dirtier they were, the better. They are children…playing is part of their essence. People have to rethink what they’re doing, because then they raise adults who don’t have the ability to be happy.
How have people been reacting to your adventure?
I.S.P. – There are many people who think that we are millionaires. I read comments like: “To be able to do this, you have got to have a lot of money. They’re walking around in the “make whoopee” …”. After they meet us, they realize that we are completely simple people. A few days ago, I received a message from a lady saying that she had quit her job and that it was our fault, since we had inspired her. She was doing something she didn’t like and decided to change. I get messages from people who are changing their lives, because we spiked them. The best thing you can give me is a phone call like this and realize that this adventure of ours is stirring people up. When you get “bothered” it’s a sign that something good is going to happen, because you want to change your life.
Have there been any comments that have somehow pulled a nerve?
I.S.P. – In Instagram, I only had two derogatory messages until today. The first was: “Talk, talk, but if you were good sailors don’t put your life in Instagram. I answered that person saying that I had an efficient solution: “Don’t follow us. Don’t watch and bother with this”. I avoid answering these kinds of comments. The other message was, “Yeah. It’s very good, very good, but it’s for those who can afford it. It was definitely the parents who gave you that life.” I answered that you didn’t know me at all, and in order not to weigh your conscience, I told you that I have helped my parents several times until today, in financial terms. “Anyway, I’m going to block it, because I don’t intend to have people like this here. I will also tell you that you are the first person I block because until then all the others have been impeccable with us. One little kiss and I hope you find your happiness”, I concluded. Once there was also some news of us in Expresso newspaper, where there were some comments saying that we were rich boys from Cascais, ‘preppies’ I just thought, “Let them think I’m a millionaire. Good” (laughs). There’s a lot of frustrated people on social networks. People judge us without knowing us, without knowing anything about us. But I always try to respond with love. You are not the comments. If there is one thing I am, it is a person sure of me. It’s not a comment that will bring me down.
If there’s a derogatory comment in any publication, I’m sure there’s soon 10 / 15 people to support us. We have very dear people, who really accompany us.
What did you enjoy the most during your stay in Madeira?
I.S.P. – In Madeira what we liked the most was undoubtedly the people (laughs)! I have messages from people asking me if I need a car and that they’ll get me one, if I need it. Other people send me messages inviting us to go taste the poncha. There was a woman who came here (boat) and took all my clothes to wash. Every day we have visitors here in Calheta from people who come by just to wish us a good trip. A man arrived here, Donato Caires, who is part of Sanas Madeira (operational commander), who invited us to do a rescue course, there in their facilities, under the airport, in Machico. There was a company that offered us a walk through a Levada. It was a spectacular Levada, the “Levada do Alecrim“. The children loved it. So how could we not fall in love with Madeira?
Madeira has gorgeous landscapes, which I had no idea. For me, Madeira was that place to come when I was older, because it’s close to the mainland, but I never thought much about coming here. I was completely in awe with it. This is really beautiful.
Has there been any place or experience that has stuck with you?
I.S.P. – The place / experience I liked the most was to do the “Levada do Alecrim“. I really enjoyed it! I don’t even like walking that much and yet I’ve never liked walking so much in my life, it didn’t cost me anything. It’s 8 km and I was silly, because I’d do double. The landscape is so beautiful that you lose yourself in it! You don’t even notice the distance nor the tiredness.
Did anyone dare to dive (in Levada do Alecrim)?
I.S.P. – Only Alice and the captain (João) had the courage to bathe in the waterfall, the others did not go. The water is cold (laughs).
What did you think of Porto Santo?
What did you like the most about Madeiran gastronomy?
I.S.P. – The dish I liked the most was the limpets.
To conclude this conversation, what advice do you leave for all dreamers?
I.S.P. – That’s strong. I am a convinced that fears take the joy out of life. I don’t say that one is not afraid, but one must risk, be daring…these are my favorite words. Because it is when I risk and when I am daring that I have the best of life. When you find out that it’s at these times that you reach the best of life, you never stop, because you realize that this is the way. Take the risk! There’s a saying: ” if you don’t buy a ticket you won’t win the raffle”. This saying is so true.
We can’t just dream, we have to make our dreams come true, and I still have many to live and that I will put into practice, I assure you. So, after realizing that it was so hard to dream of something like this and still be making it come true. You’ve got to believe. Mental sport is more important than money, to make a dream come true. People have many fears and with the fears they get lost. If I say I will do something, I will do it. I don’t care about anything or anybody, because it’s not the opinion, of whoever it might be, that will stop me.
NIM hopes that you enjoyed this conversation and that you got to know this family and its adventure a little better. To the, Wind Family, we wish you the continuation of a great voyage and the fulfillment of all your dreams. We will be waiting for your return to the Best Island Destination in Europe!