Cruising with family
We did a trip from the Pac. NW when my kids were 9 and 6. We have home (boat) schooled them since. Unless your son is highly attached to school or friends, I don''t think it will be a problem leaving. You will meet other families with kids and they will make friends. 15 is an age to encourage responsibility. I can''t tell you how awesome it was to watch my 16 year old daughter take her first night watch alone. Your oldest son can truly be a crewmember if you let him. He will crave the freedom and responsibility even as he complains about the work. What an opportunity! And for you. I spent 3 years 24/7/365 with my wife and kids. I loved it. Whos gets to do that?
Don''t worry about the schooling aspect. He will learn far more cruising than he would in a public school. If you''re not comfortable making your own curriculum (there''s lots of help from HS websites) you can buy the canned stuff like Calvert. I don''t like it because it''s the same stuff public school students get at the same time and is not flexible (shouldn''t you be studying hydraulics, El Camino Real and Panamanian history instead of polynomials, early man, and health when you transit the Panama Canal?). You are a better teacher than you think.
People ask us, "Aren''t you afraid your kids will miss out on peer interaction?" Actually, we welcome it. Neither my son (14) nor daughter know what peer pressure is. They make their own decisions. I believe that most peer interaction in public schools is negative and that it is unnatural to be cooped up with 30 people the exact same age as you. Bet that hasn''t happened to you recently.
My daughter just turned 17 and was accepted to a prestigious college with a scholarship. One of the reasons the school wanted her (besides the fact that she''s a very good student) was that her cruising and homeschooled background give them the diversity they want. Homeschooled kids are independant learners (usually) and don''t need to be coddled as much as their institutionalised counterparts. She''s an interesting person to talk to and has lots of great stories ("once when I was 10, we were boarded in the middle of the night off the coast of Nicaraqua...")
Believe me, I worried about it when we first left to cruise. But both my kids are far better educated than most of their friends, have no trouble making friends (of all ages, not just theirs), and the confidence gained by meeting the challenges of cruising have made them prepared for adulthood. Their perspective is not like mine was in college - get an education to get money. They are truly interested in biology, cultures, and experiences. I believe they will make a living at doing what they love which came from being able to experience what most people only dream about.
This type of trip will change your life and your kids. Even if you return in a year and decide to resume "normalcy" it will be something that will stay with you.
Go for it!