How are the kids? Are they Ok?
Before we set sail, thoughts about our kids’ healthy, safety, schooling, and sanity were high on our list of concerns. To see how they're doing, this week during boatschool we asked them to write a response to a different question each day. Here are the answers from Juliet (age 6), and Madeleine (age 8), with brief comments from us parents.
1: What do you miss most about Portland? Why?
Juliet: I have a big yard and it has a big tree house. I miss my house. My boat is small. I miss all of my other [stuffed] animals. I miss Mia and Sammy, [our cats] we don’t have animals. I like the bunk beds. I miss school because I miss recess and arts and crafts and it’s easier and I miss my friends.
Madeleine: I like how Portland is bigger and I have more friends there and school there is easier, but also school there is longer. Since my friends’ houses don’t move, I can always see them. The wifi always works, and nothing on the house breaks which is easier. I can keep more stuff in my Portland house. Somethings cost less money there, there are parks, and I can ride my bike. We have a car, we need less sunscreen, and there is less humidity. In Portland, the water is always safe to drink. That is why I miss Portland.
Mom and Dad respond: Yes, the boat is much smaller than our 1900sqft home but we enjoy having fewer physical possessions. Some things do cost much more here in the Caribbean (milk, gasoline) but some things are much cheaper (fish, chicken, local fruits and veges). The kids do have friends down here--but not as many--and the friends tend to come and go in binges as certain boats move in and out of the anchorages. The kids are correct, homeschooling takes much less time out of the day, but apparently we teach more challenging material than what they learn at public school….good!
2: What makes you happy living on a boat?
Juliet: There is a pretty view. I get to go to the beach every single day. I made a lot of new friends. There’s lots of other boats we can play on. My parents don’t go out a lot without us and we get to stay together a lot. There is lots of different and new food I can try like: plantains, guava, passionfruit, shrimp, mahi-mahi, callaloo, golden apple, sugar apple, mango, pigeon peas. And sailing is fun.
Madeleine: I like going to the beach. I like the sand, the fish, the turtles, the jellyfish, and the eels. I like making new friends. The food is different. The ocean is bigger than a pool. I like checking out other boats, and homeschooling is quicker than Portland school. There are new things to climb on and I can dive down and see the fish. We get our own rooms and stuff. There are lots of things to try and there are lots of islands and beaches to see. That is why I like living on a boat.
Mom and Dad respond: After their answers in question 1 referenced missing old friends, it’s heartening to hear that a highlight for Juliet is meeting new friends! Our kids have been notoriously picky eaters up until this point, and this trip has definitely broadened their culinary horizons (and I think that the caloric needs of a day spent swimming makes them pretty desperate to eat whatever is on their plate). Going to the beach and swimming is indeed a nearly daily activity that the kids don’t seem to tire of.
3: How have you changed? What is different about you?
Juliet: I am more more tan. And, I am a better swimmer because I swim a lot. I have less teeth (the Tooth Fairy gave me $3 EC [Eastern Caribbean]. I am better friends with my sister because we spend so much time together! I’ve made a lot of new friends from other boats. I have more callouses because I like to climb on the jib line. I am learning how to tie more knots [example: to tie up the dinghy]. I have tried more foods and like new foods (my favorite is plantains, they’re kind of like bananas).
Madeleine: I swim more and I’m better at it. I put my own sunscreen on. I help more with the dinghy and the cleaning. It is more hot here, and the holidays are different and the buses are smaller. I am less cautious and more confident with swimming and my chores. I say Hi to people that I don’t know. I spend more time with my family. It is very different here.
Mom and Dad respond: Indeed, both kids are much better swimmers, and that has allowed us to be a little more relaxed around water. We’ve encouraged the kids to use a mask/snorkel but they don’t like the fit and have been sticking with just goggles. The kids do participate with chores, but we are actively trying to get them more involved still, both as a life lesson and because there is so much upkeep to do. Both kids are a bit more confident around adults and strangers.
4: What advice do you have for other kids about to move onto a boat?
Juliet: There is a lot of saltwater, so you’ll have to get used to that. Also, living on a boat is rocky and there are lots of waves, so be careful! It can be really rainy, so you might have to wear your raincoat. Also, there are a lot of rainbows!
Madeleine: There are lots of different languages on every different island [and other kid boats] so you should practice different languages like Russian, German, and French. You cannot bring a lot so you have to decide what. Also, things break easier than at your house so you need to bring a lot of tools. It’s hotter and harder to make new friends, you have to learn to talk on the VHF. You don’t have a car so you go on the bus or walk so be prepared.
Mom and Dad respond: It seems like Madeleine keeps coming back to the heat issue. Yes it is hot and no, she certainly does not like walking distances or hills in the heat! Friends that the kids have met do speak a variety of languages, so any second language would be helpful. Bring crafts and creative play toys (Legos, Magformers, etc) because the kids will be very creative and play for hours.
5: Is there anything you would change or do differently about this adventure? Why?
Juliet: I wish I could do more climbing on the boat because it’s fun! And, less homechooling, because it’s hard. I would like to go swimming more so I can see more cool creatures. I already saw an octopus. I want to go back to Sandy Island because I really liked the hermit crabs that lives there, and they’re really fun. I would like to eat more plantains and mangos and I wish there were blueberries and raspberries here. Also, I wish I decided to bring my legos with me. Last of all, I used to be scared about all the noises the boat makes, but I’m not anymore.
Madeleine: I wish it was easier, like for chores and cleaning. And I also don’t like homeschooling because its too hard. I also think less walking would be good and I wish we had a car, that is what I want to change. But, I like going to the beach and playing with my friends. I like all the new and cool things like fish, crabs, turtles, starfish, and sea urchins. I like some of these new foods, so that is what I like.
Mom and Dad respond: With open ended question, I wasn’t sure what we would get. Kids are much more adaptable than adults, and the transition to boat life has been easier for the kids than the adults. Do bring Legos, and materials for a new hobby that you want to try, like knitting or sewing (or anything that doesn’t involve glue sticks!). Check with your local library, they probably allow you to remotely check out ebooks to read on a Kindle app, Madeleine reads for an hour each morning while waiting for her sister to get up.
Thanks Madeleine and Juliet for writing this week's post for us! If you enjoyed reading their post please like our FB page, subscribe to our mailing list, or leave us a comment...Thank you!