Crucial to the success of the trip was Brad Ellis, a good friend who also works for Berman. "The biggest thing going for me was that I had Brad, who's just an unbelievable mechanic." Berman's first plan was to find an experienced captain to bring along, but a three-day shakedown cruise to the Bahamas with Ellis and the professional captain changed his mind. The captain hit a sandbar, and when there was trouble with the thrusters, Berman says, "He didn't have a clue. Brad got right down in there and fixed it." After the captain failed to set an anchor properly and the boat dragged dangerously close to a reef, Berman took a different tack. He felt that with his logistic skills, Ellis's mechanical abilities, lots of technology, and some common sense, they could do better themselves. Ellis had the added advantage of knowing the Aicon's systems inside and out because he'd overseen the end of the build for Berman. He also went to captain's school for two weeks before they set out. "Here are four people with no real experience," Berman points out. "But technology has advanced to the point where you can do it, if you're not stupid about it. The right charts, satellite weather-we weren't flying blind, by any means." "I had one all-encompassing goal which was to create our own journey on our own timetable, and explore the reefs and islands of the Eastern Caribbean and on to South America." And Berman had the sense to make two rules. "Because of our limited experience, I was determined to travel only during the day and never in bad weather." Their trip, which took them 5,000 miles, from Ft. Lauderdale, through the Bahamas, to the Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, all the islands of the lesser Antilles, and on to Venezuela and back, was the adventure of a lifetime. Berman arranged for Seth to do a certified home-schooling program under his supervision, while Kaz took an early college study program. Berman instituted a certain amount of discipline.