Family returns to Kodiak after 10 years sailing around the world

(Left to right) Elias, Eric, and Alisa. Elias snacks on an apple before going off to run track. Not shown is husband Mike, who wasn’t on the scene at the time. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

This summer, a couple returned to the City of Kodiak after roughly 10 years of sailing the world.

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Mike Litzow and Alisa Abookire raised two sons while living a seafaring nomadic lifestyle.

Now, the family plans to call Kodiak home for the foreseeable future.

“And then we went back to French Polynesia – lucky us – for the third time, and then we spent a year in Patagonia and went to the Falkland Islands,” Alisa said as she traced her family’s journey on a plastic globe.

Behind her, 7-year-old Eric and 11-year-old Elias fuel up on fruit. They’re getting ready for an afternoon cross country race. Elias is trying his hand at track and field.

Alisa said it’s the first time the boys have joined team sports. They’ve spent most of their lives at sea.

Alisa and Mike lived in Kodiak for seven years, and set off for their world travels when Elias was under a year old.

On the globe, Alisa points out Australia – where Eric was born.

“Well, we kind of combined two dreams,” Alisa said. “Mike wanted to sail to Australia, and I wanted to be a full time mom, so we did it at the same time.”

They lived in Australia for a couple of years, and another a year in Chile, and otherwise traveled where they wanted.

Mike made a living remotely working on fisheries data analysis and Alisa homeschooled their sons, who otherwise entertained themselves with everything from bird watching to drawing.

Eric climbs onto a counter in their kitchen and points out a couple of his creations.

“This one’s two knights fighting, this one’s a bird,” Eric said.

Elias holds up what looks like a self-made reference chart covered in a colorful fish lures and other objects.

“It’s what I’d actually want to buy if I had a bunch of money, but it would cost so much money,” Elias said. “Technically, it’s a ton of fishing gear.”

Elias talked about some of the other activities he did to pass the time on the boat, like snorkeling and sailing.

“But fishing’s sort of my favorite all the time, 100 percent of the time,” Elias said.

Elias said his family caught squid, mahi-mahi and wahoo during their travels.

Alisa said they had a fridge on board, but not a freezer, which means the fish didn’t stay good very long unless they canned or consumed it.

“When we catch a fish, we stop fishing, and then we eat fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Alisa said.

The family arrived in Kodiak in July. Alisa said they’re settling in.

“Sometimes it feels like we’re still visiting, but for the most part it’s wonderful,” Alisa said. “We’re really glad to be back in Kodiak.”

Eric added that they may get a house someday and Alisa agrees.

Mike said it’s the right time for a more permanent home.

“Our kids are getting to the point where they’ll be happy to be in school and have some friends outside the family and have some friends who they know for more than month at a time,” Mike said. “You know, we’ve been leading this very peripatetic life where they didn’t have any really stable friendships. And I guess, really, my wife and I love Alaska is what it comes down to. This is still home to us and where our hearts are, so it’s just sorta time to come back.”

Mike has returned to the science scene in Kodiak. He now works as an assistant research professor at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center on Near Island.

In 2011, he published a book about his experiences.

Kayla Deroches is a reporter at KMXT in Kodiak.

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