April 30, 2012

Finding The Sweet Spot—Cruising with Kids

Maia began circus when she was six--it has consistently stayed her dream and passion
How old? How long? What works? What doesn’t? I get asked variations of these questions all the time when it comes to cruising with kid(s). My favourite—which we’re asked more than you would think—is, Did we bring Maia with us for the trip?

When we say that yes, indeed, our seven, eight, nine, now ten-year-old (how the heck did that happen?) is along for the ride the question inevitably goes back to one of the ones above. And the oft spoken assumption is pretty soon she’ll be a terrible teen who will rebel against our lifestyle and will want to go shopping in the mall—and what will we do then?

First let me say this—cruising kids come in all ages. We’ve met folks cruising with newborns (many born along the way) and people cruising with their young adult ‘kids’.  The bulk of the kids fall between the ages of five and 12 though—and with good reason. Cruising with kids under five is a whole bunch of work—it can be fun work, but it can also be isolating (you don’t get invited to as many parties or on the longer excursions) and exhausting (night watches take on a whole new level of complexity when you know you have a busy day ahead).
If you asked her what she misses most about life before sailing she would tell you she misses the circus
Teens are a totally different challenge—but not for the reason you think…
Rebellion, we’re told, is seldom the issue. Excessive maturity is.

Most parents when they plan to cruise with their kids have this hazy idea that while sailing together will promote family togetherness it will also give their kids a chance to evolve into their best selves without the pressures of peers, the excesses of westernized life and the limitations of schools that teach to the test.
And it works.

They often pass through this sort of seamless childhood—confident, clear and certain about what they need and want in their lives. And that’s where the teen years get tough—because sailing isn’t always what they need and want. But unlike typical teens who maybe don’t want to go on that annual summer sailing trip because they’ll miss their friends—it’s a bit more complex.
Maia visited two schools and four classes before deciding to audition for a performance troupe--she sees it as a step toward her future career
 There is something that happens to kids when they are part of a family that works to buy a boat, quit jobs and head off in pursuit of a dream. They grow into people who believe in their own dreams. We’ve met kids who wanted to stop sailing so they could pursue musical goals, apply for early admission to college, have better access to powerful computers or rejoin a sports team. And as parents we’re sometimes faced with a sudden and very difficult question:
Whose dreams take precedence?


Princess Aboard said...

Funny how I read this post n all I thought was "wow...well written". Its not that its all I thought, but I was n a sorta awestruck moment created by the last question.

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Thanks:D Compliments are always accepted.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Diane. I wish Maia all the best in her choice, and isn't it a wonderful, and unique one! My 8 yr old is a *big* fan of Cirque du Soleil and would completely resonate with Maia's choice. Full kudos to you and Evan for providing this wonderful platform of confidence and self-expression. There's nothing quite like the cruising life to teach kids about dreams, and what is possible ... oh, and responsibility, teamwork and empathy. Kudos. :-)

Just a Minute said...

A very important question, Diane. Jack's needs are exactly why we are selling our boat and going back to America. He's 14 and wants to get an apprenticeship in a marine mechanic shop! It didn't even occur to me to want to work when I was 14! Kid's dreams come first I think. We all are gong to miss this life, but there's way more to accomplish, for all of us.

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Wow, Laura... That is really exciting for Jack! I am constantly amazed by the kids we cruised with and how interesting they all are--and also the way they are so quick to take responibility for their own futures. So cool.

Behan said...

This is so lovely. I can't believe you had a troll slam you for - for what, really? For respecting the innate human desires of your child? It's hard to fathom. Like I said... our mantra about cruising as a family has been "it has to work for all of us." At some point, it won't, and we'll have to reconsider our path.

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Behan--I think most cruisers with kids get to the same place. I think maybe (and guessing here) if you are a cruiser-plan-to-be you're sort of willing everything to fall into place and the idea that a child could actually make you change your plans is a sign you're doing something wrong--or you're raising your kid wrong. Because why wouldn't a child thrive with such an awesome experience? Being out there though, you know that the awesomeness isn't the right fit for every person at every stage of their life...

The crew of SV Fluenta said...

A great article. As we prepare to head out cruising with our children (aged 6 and 8) we have been heartened to follow your travels via your blog. Ironically, we will be leaving from Puget Sound and intend to follow a similar path. As we also have a Stevens 47 we have been receiving incredible amounts of useful advice from Totem (and buying sails from Island Planet).

Any helpful tips on trying to use the BC curriculum while cruising (we presently live in Halifax but will be moving back to BC briefly before we set out) ?

A slightly separate topic, but we would also be interested in hearing your views on healthcare insurance while cruising (there is lots of discussion on-line but less from a Canadian perspective).

Much thanks in advance,


Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Hi Max,
We used the BC Curriculum for the first year--it was really helpful and helped us sort out exactly what we wanted to do (used school in a box from the Distance Learning Centre in Vancouver). By the second year we decided returning the books and getting the next set was going to be a hassle (and you need to mail things in every two months). Plus we were finding we were ready to switch to more of a geography based curriculum.

For healthcare--I'm trying to find the document but different Provinces allow you different amounts of time out of the country--some with some (Alberta gives a 24 month extension) long term coverage available. So we kept our coverage--but through Mexico and the South Pacific we also carried Dan Evacuation Insurance in the US we carried additional coverage too... And in Oz we have local coverage.