Swiss family traveling the world makes pit stop in SoCal

DANA POINT, Calif. (KABC) -- For 15 years, a Swiss couple has called a 50-foot boat home.

Dario Schworer, 47, and his wife Sabine, 39, pulled into Dana Point Harbor this week aboard their solar- and wind-powered boat, named the Pachamama -- Inca for Mother Earth.

The couple met at a ski resort in Switzerland. In 2000, they began the Top to Top Global Climate Expedition to reach the highest summits in the world using nature's force and human power: cycling, hiking and climbing.

Along the way, they've shared their message of respecting nature and solutions for sustainability with more than 80,000 students. Dario always asks, "Are they touching iPads more or trees?"

"When we touch nature more, we become friends with nature, and then we start respecting it," Dario said.

There have been dangers: in 2004, their boat hit a floating cargo container in the South Pacific.

"There was a lot of damage, and water came into the boat, and it was just really horrible," Sabine said. "We couldn't steer the boat because of the rutter damage. We had to trim the sail to reach land."

The damage kept them land-locked for a few years while the boat was repaired.

Through donated equipment, they continued on -- their boat evolving over the years.

During their first Atlantic crossing, they had only a hand-held GPS.

Dario says over the 70,000 nautical miles, universities and companies have donated smart technology, such as solar panels and wind mills to test. It powers everything on board, from the auto-pilot to the fridge.

They have traveled to more than 100 countries and had four children along the way. They did make it to land for the births.

The Schworers are teaching their kids -- Salina, 10; Audri, 8; Noe, 5; and Alegra, 3 -- how to live simply.

"We get up when the sun comes up, and we go to bed when the sun goes down. It makes you more efficient, more healthy," Dario said.

Sabine adds, "Our children only have one box of toys. When they get something new, they have to give something away since space is so limited on the boat."

The children are also learning how to conserve water and food and have had to follow strict rules while sailing.

"We all have lifejackets, as soon as they step out of the cabin, they also have to click onto a lifeline," said Sabine. The lifeline is a secure line attached to the boat to make sure they don't fall overboard.

The family is in Dana Point temporarily to provide lectures at local schools. They're also sharing their story at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point Saturday at noon. People can also get a closer look at their boat, which is docked outside the Ocean Institute.

The Schworers say they plan to travel for a few more years. They have one last peak to conquer: Mt. Vinson in Antarctica. After that, they say they plan to turn over the project to other young people who can travel the world and inspire others to protect the planet.

For more information, visit

Ocean Institute -- Top to Top Presentation Weekend Admission: $6.50/adult; $4.50/Child (age 3-12)
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