For as long as they can remember Joanne and Adam Smith's dream has been to buy a boat and sail it with their three children. A documentary on the family's life-changing journey, Against The Tide — filmed and produced by their daughter Lauren-ann — recently premiered at the Gold Coast Film Festival.
Lauren-ann describes their deeply personal story as part travel film, part family memoir.
"The treasure we didn't know we would find on the trip was the time together," she said."You go on these big adventures expecting to see these amazing places and to have these amazing experiences, but you look back and realise it was the little moments in time spent as a family that were the most valuable. It showed us the value of the journey rather than the destination."
Deep connection with water
It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to rent a tinnie while on a holiday to Noosa that set in motion a chain of events that would eventually lead to the Smiths selling their home and business, buying a catamaran and setting sail.
The Queensland couple were in their early twenties when their first child Sam, who is non-verbal, was diagnosed with autism. "We just couldn't cope with him in the hotel room and he wouldn't want to go to the pool or be around other people. We were at our wits' end," Joanne says. "He was an unsettled child. He would scream a lot and we couldn't go out in public because there was always a big tantrum. As soon as we got on the water, Sam just settled and our family life became more relaxing.”
"We could stop off at a little beach and nobody was judging us. We could sit and relax and let him be himself without the normal everyday boundaries. It was the most amazing thing."
That day on the tinnie was the beginning of Sam's love affair with boating.
Rekindling the travel dream
Trading their life on land and the comforts of home to venture into the unknown was not easy. The family had little sailing experience and no real plan.
Joanne recalls that it took a year of staring at a photograph of a catamaran stuck to the fridge before they resolved to try it. But it was the unexpected death of her dad that gave them the push they needed. "My father just passed away at 64, and it was shocking for us because he had just retired and mum and him were planning to travel and do all those things," Joanne says.
"Hopefully, it will be an inspirational story and show people you can do things you thought you couldn't do because you have a person in your family with a disability or an illness."
Lauren-ann says the trip helped her family forge an unbreakable bond and instilled a fearlessness in them to follow their dreams. "All of us as a family are now very brave. We're risk-takers," she says. "You can achieve great things even with great challenges. I want to inspire other people who want to buy a caravan and travel Australia or who want to start a business. What is really important in life are the moments with the ones you love. Every moment with your family is precious.”
"I hope that people who watch the film go home and tell the people around them how much they love them."
Original Article - ABC