missed the news of our friends on Rebel Heart being rescued at sea and losing
their boat (it’s kind of been everywhere in the news—but we do have friends who
are pretty remote…) their misfortune created a firestorm.
Once it was
clear the family was safe, the judgements and comments started. It’s odd having
your life picked apart by the masses and I was asked to respond in a story for Slate. Slate isn’t known for having the kindest comments section and this
morning as I read through them with Maia (hey, it’s her childhood people are
arguing about…) we started noticing that in amongst the hundreds and hundreds
of annoying comments there was also understanding, support and some really
questions and concerns come in two forms. The first are about Charlotte and
Eric specifically: Were they experienced enough? Were they prepared to parent
under the conditions they found themselves in? Was this trip wrong for their
answer those. We opted to wait until Maia was older for a variety of our own reasons
but we know many families who safely crossed oceans with less experience or
with younger children.
|Arriving in the Marquesas|
general question: is cruising with kids okay? This is the one I answered whole
heartedly and with a resounding, Yes. For us. And then people wanted know the
|School seems to be going fine: she loves learning and is a keen student|
Are we and
other cruising families living on trust funds? Because how the heck do we
afford to sail the world.
Not rich. Most
of us are lucky. We’re lucky in that we had a dream and we had the type of jobs
(or found the type) that let us work remotely, or in other countries. We also
tend to be a really frugal lot, living on a fraction of what middle class
Americans live on. In some cases families we know sold or rented out their
homes. But most of us skipped buying homes and cars, took cheap (usually
boat-oriented) vacations, got good at thrifting and used all the money we saved
to buy a boat instead. Then we set a deadline and saved and saved and saved.
When we arrived in Australia
our bank account was down to fumes. It was huge risk and Evan was lucky to find
a job. Our alternative would have been to sell the boat and head home.
moments of loneliness and short stretches of travel when there weren’t that
many other kids around. Our 19 day passage was just the three of us—but we all
enjoyed the time together. For the most part we seek out other kid boats and
have always had at least one and as many as 20 + other families around. We tend
to travel slowly—mostly for this reason. This gives us the flexibility to spend
month and months with other families and have been fortunate to encounter some
of the same kids year after year. She also makes an effort to meet local people
and has forged an ongoing friendship with one young woman from Fiji.
weird? Because I met someone once who was dragged to sea by their parents and
they are weird.
So far she
seems pretty normal. But I asked her what she thought. She thinks she’s okay.
Then we talked about all the boat kids she’s known, past and present. Some are
weird. Mostly this applied to the boys when she was younger though. Some are
the coolest people she knows. Some are sort of ordinary. She’s says what’s
really interesting about them is how easygoing most of them are. They tend to
be friendly, helpful, non-judgemental and strongly individual and independent.
Some are super smart and excel at school, some are musical or artistic others
How do you educate her?
Right now she's in public school in Australia and seems to be holding her own with no trouble after 3 years of homeschooling. We use a really wide variety of resources to educate her though and do tend to hold her to a schedule.After breakfast has generally been the time for all of us to work--wrapping up at lunch to head out and explore. Depending on the heat and weather, we reverse that.
You are white and speak English. Are you all a bunch of rich white people going to look at poor brown people?
And cruising is a creepy name.
are white. If it helps you feel better about our little microcosm of the world we
crossed with a Jewish family and sailed for a while with a Korean woman. We
even know gay people. Sheesh. Offshore sailors do tend to come from a few core countries: Canada, the US, England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and South Africa. Some of that list speaks English, some not so much. The fascinating thing has been to watch sailing diversify--I correspond with a Russian sailing group, and we've met cruising boats from Vanuatu, Mexico, Japan, Jamaica, Portugal and many, many more. As more international sailors get out, and share their experience, the mix will become even more interesting.
As far as who we encounter when we cruise--it's sort of a geographic thing. The tropics tend to be home to people with darker skin. When we sailed up to Alaska we met First Nations people and fishermen. If we get to Norway I think we'll meet Norwegians.
does sound weird. I’ve never loved the term, too easy to misconstrue. We ran
into trouble using ‘boat people’ when we arrived in Australia though. If you have a
better phrase to describe us, bring it on…
sun damage, lack of pop culture and sharks?
We dip her
in sunscreen. Seriously. And she has a huge hat collection. She’s had 2-3 mild
sunburns since we left.
Maia is a
huge Dr Who (the modern version even) and Sherlock fan and she’s going to her
first concert in a few weeks: Lorde. So I while she doesn’t know what’s on TV
in North America and isn’t up to date on the
latest crazes, the good stuff tends to percolate to the top and she finds it.
sharks. They are a sign of a healthy reef. The kind of sharks she sees are reef
sharks which are pretty mellow and a few other exotics like tasselled wobbegongs. She
knows enough about shark behaviour to judge if one is getting territorial—it’s
a lot like interacting with an unfamiliar dog.
should tax payers pay to rescue you if you get into trouble?
people have written about the importance of a tax-funded rescue system. So I
won’t. I don’t think subjecting an emergency to a means test is feasible unless
there is clear rule breaking involved (I.E. heading into an out of bounds area)
otherwise how do we do it? It’s hard to say if someone was 50% stupid, 25%
unlucky and 25% ill-prepared or just 100% did the best they could in the
situation they found themselves in.
cruiser knows if you call for help you’re likely going to lose your home and
all your possessions. The rescue itself can also be hazardous as hell. This
doesn’t even take into account the fact that outside of major developed
countries there’s no one there to rescue you. This is why most of us work so
hard to be safe and self-sufficient. It’s also why there is such a strong code
of the sea. We look out for each other. Dangerous, incompetent sailors are a
bigger risk to me and my family than they are to taxpayers. So as a community
we share information, we offer assistance, we teach each other. And if
something goes wrong we shut the heck up and help. Afterwards, we pick apart
each and every accident, but not as a means to point fingers and lay blame. We
do it to learn.