"Economically we were in great shape," Tom said. "But it didn't mean anything."
So in 2001, they sold their home in Alaska, and everything they owned to take their three kids to live on a 43-foot sailboat. It's Spanish name means "new life."
"I realized that I really want to spend time knowing my children and raising them - not cleaning the bathrooms," Kathy said.
And so, their seven-year, 30,000-mile odyssey began. They set sail from Maryland and headed south to see the Mayan ruins of Mexico. They passed through the Panama Canal and on to New Zealand - where they spent a year and a half. They met rural tribes in Papua, New Guinea, and climbed a mountain in South Africa. In all, the family visited 23 countries before returning home to the U.S.
The family did all this, while living in a cabin so cramped that you can touch the ceiling and almost the two walls. Sometimes they were at sea for up to 43 days.
Kalena was just 11 years old when they set out.
"I don't really know what's happening with Britney Spears and the latest gossip - and really I couldn't care less," she said.
After all, surviving five hurricanes was much more exciting. So was learning to barter for food. When they ran out of money, and realized that their kids needed some normalcy, they came back to Maryland in June.
Kathy plans to go back to nursing. Kalena plans to go to college. Tom plans to write a book.
"When you peel everything away - what else do we have than relationships, and time with our loved ones?" Tom said. "Sometimes I think that gets lost, you know?"