When I recently returned home I had lots of good questions pop up from friends and family.
How are the girls doing? Are they tired of the boat?
The girls are doing remarkably well. They meet new friends in each place we arrive so they aren’t too lonely for good friends back home. They are playing with Finish kids, French kids, Canadian kids, and British kids these days. They do get a bit tired of passages which is totally natural, but it really does bring out the best in them too.
On our recent bumpy passage from Fakarava to Tahiti I had a large container of chicken in gravy go flying and land on the cabin sole (floor). Chicken and gravy everywhere, it even started to seep into the bilge. I was so upset, annoyed at the waves and frustrated at the loss after all that work, but the girls jumped into action. “It’s okay Mom, I’ll help clean up.” Boom, they were on it and cleaning away and telling me it was all going to be fine. It took me a while to gather myself and when Cameron asked from the cockpit what he could do to help, I may have told him emphatically that I wanted a house on dry land. But there was Adelaide, at my side, hugging me and telling me that we will get through it.
Adelaide is blooming right now. She usually cooks breakfast each morning. Pancakes and/or scrambled eggs are her speciality but she can bust out the traditional family favorite, dutchbabies as well. She has long been able to make easy-to-prepare soups but she is graduating on to home made chicken soups, corn chowder and tonight she made pan fried steak, boiled herbed potatoes and a green salad for dinner. When we were in Fakarava Cameron and I were having our sundowner cocktail and it was getting dark and late and we were tired so Cameron said, “Let’s have Adelaide make dinner”. She was delighted with the job and went to work, coming up about 45 minutes later with a incredibly tasty “clean-out-the-fridge” soup that we were all blown away by. We never even set foot in the galley.
Isa is doing well too. One day I was a bit busy and couldn’t guide their schooling much, so I set her to baking but said she had to make something new and she had to follow directions and do everything herself. She is now our baker and since then the pages of our copy of The Joy of Cooking are getting nice and greasy. With the excess of ripe bananas we sometimes have, she has become a master at banana bread and everything banana. She is passionate about reading these days and uses every means to get out of any job so she can just read a few more pages.
They both continue with their music studies and although they would progress faster with their music teachers (fast internet required), they are still making progress and continue to enjoy their instruments.
Don’t you ever just want to live in a house?
Yes, Adelaide has developed a very green thumb. She has kept her potted plants alive and propagated new species from cuttings she finds along the way all on her own. She would love some land to grow more things. We all miss having animals of course and I see horses in my dreams and in the clouds and in the shape of the condensation on my water glass. I most want to live in a house when we are in rough seas… but those days are very few compared to the others. We love our little boat and our routine and what we love most is being able to spend so much time together as a family. Something which would be impossible in our “old lives”. So, yes, there are days we would love to live on land, but they are far outnumbered by the days where we wouldn’t give up our live-aboard home for anything.
How is Cameron doing, is he bored? Is he stressed? Is he happy?
Cameron is not bored, this is certain. Since we have been in Tahiti he was Mr. Mom while I was away for two weeks. He works extremely hard keeping Banyan in tip top shape and he is the one who does most of the planning, weather watching and navigation so he is very occupied with keeping us safe and moving.
Recently he has been putting a huge dent in the not-so-urgent to-do list. He has replumbed the cockpit drains. Some of the the hoses may have been from 1979. He has been dealing with a leak we had been experiencing in our main cabin. He has reset a port light that was leaking a bit. He epoxy-cored and re-bedded two stanchion bases that were leaking a bit of water into the forward cabin in rough weather. He replaced our tuner for the SSB and got that back up and running. Thanks to SV Roamin and SV Aiki for their respective help. He cleaned all the wave cake batter out of the oven spark module. He re-built the secondary winches. He spent time troubleshooting our broken water heater. He installed a blower to increase ventilation in the bilges for the engine. He pulled 30 feet of un used wiring out of the boat. He re-routed the propane locker vent hose. And finally (if there every is a finally) he researched, organized, and ordered a huge list of spare parts which I picked up in The States and brought home. This included everything AND a toilet seat. So, he replaced the toilet seat as well.
There are days that are stressful for him because it is a lot of working maintaining a boat and managing passage plans and navigation and dealing with immigration and customs requirements for all these little places we arrive in. But, it is a different kind of stress from his work in the wine business and the real sign is that he is sleeping well after his long days hanging upside down in the bilge or crammed into the cockpit locker.
Are you happy with your choice of boat?
Absolutely yes! There are days when we feel we could do with a bit more real estate but the reality is that Banyan is a solid safe boat, she sails beautifully, she is not so large that I couldn’t single hand her if I had to and she just feels like home. She has a great cockpit for gatherings with other cruisers and everything works the way we want it to. Her systems are simple and reasonable to maintain ourselves. And, she is pretty. We are proud to call her ours. All boats need work, that is what boat ownership is all about! B O A T Break Out Another Thousand… but Banyan is comfortable, safe and we love her.
How is boat school going?
They seem to have no interest in returning to school and although they sometimes push back about boat school, they say that they prefer it to going to school. When asked why, they usually parrot the reason we give them for living on a boat; “so we can all be together so much as a family”.
I love our system of learning that I’ve learned mainly from Susan Wise-Bauer’s book The Well Trained Mind. I love that we can meet the girls where they are in any subject. I love that they get so much time to read. They read and read and read; at least 2 hours daily if not 6+ while on passage. I love that we can press pause on “regular boat school” and enter them into two weeks of daily intensive French classes which we did in Tahiti. I love being so close to their education and learning along with them. I’m sure that they would get a ton out of a school environment, things that I can not give them. But, the things that they are learning are more than making up for what they would miss. Some days are hard, and I’m not always the most compassionate teacher. The girls are not always the most motivated learners and I’m learning as I go as well so some days can be bumpy but we usually find our way around and come out the other side.
What’s Next? How long are going we going to do this for?
That, we don’t have an answer to. We love it most days and wouldn’t change it for the world. But we are always open to opportunities and adventures that come our way. 2019 may hold a slightly different trajectory than in the original plan but it is still hard to see that far into our crystal ball. For now, we are still headed to New Zealand and will be there sometime in November. We are continuing west after French Polynesia toward the atoll of Suwarrow in the Cook’s, then on to Tonga. For more detail you will just have to stay tuned because we aren’t yet sure which way the wind is going to blow us.