My father-in-law asked me yesterday while anchored off a beautiful Greek island, ‘Could you live here?’ I looked around surveying the rocky mountains, green hills, deep blue waters and the picturesque village of Poros and responded with a ‘Nope.’
Thereafter, I followed up my thoughtful ‘nope’ with the explanation that I don’t want to live anywhere other than on my boat. I have lost all interests in owning an immovable home on land. Of course I followed my answer up with my ‘get out of jail’ card saying that, ‘that’s how I feel today…perhaps tomorrow will be different.’
Having the ability to pick up our anchor or slip lines, and move to another location, suits us perfectly right now
We find a place to stay for a few days where we explore, do our grocery shopping, spend time swimming, work on the boat and enjoy time with friends. When it feels that it’s time to move on, we just move on and do it all over again but with a different backdrop, new things to explore and often more friends to meet.
Before we left on our adventure I felt that we’d make friends easily, but I didn’t think it would be so easy and so much fun.
Every country we’ve been in, we’ve made friends that will most likely be life-long friends. In Italy, we spent time over the course of a month with 3 sailing couples. While in Greece we’ve recently joined up with two other boats and I’m sure the trend will continue.
And what I’m noticing from the other world cruisers is that the longer you’re out sailing, the more friends you accumulate. Eventually you get to a point where you know someone in most ports of call.
The world cruising environment has a very strong community regardless to the fact that it’s continuously moving all over the world
I’ve also discovered that when a boat with a child finds another boat with a child, the two boats work together to organize play dates. Just over two weeks ago, we met the sailboat Horizons owned by 3-year full time world cruisers Vince and Barbie. On board Horizons, for a month, the owners are entertaining their niece Lalita and her 9-year old daughter, Sierra.
The girls, Sienna and Sierra, have now played with each other most days since we met
And on our 7-hour sail down from the Corinthian Canal to the island of Poros, Sierra joined us on our boat where the girls played doctor, Playdough, Barbies and watched a couple movies. When we’re anchored up they’re out swimming or exploring our new location together.
Over 10 of us from three boats all organized a trip to Delphi together and it was great to see the girls climb to the top hand-in-hand.
Yes, the time will come when we move on or when Sierra has to go home, but it won’t take long for another boat to come along with a child or children on board!
Since leaving England back in April, my daughter’s social skills have gone through the roof
She’ll play with anyone speaking any language at any age! I’ve found her telling jokes to a table of old men and enjoying a nice swim with a 21-year-old girl. For the most part, however she’s running around with the local kids trying to catch fish, build sand castles or see who can run the fastest.
Before we left, my daughter would hide behind my leg when we met someone new. Now, she’s so far in front of me that I’m behind her legs! She’s happy to greet anyone and has definitely learned that it’s okay to be confident and go up to kids and say, ‘can we play?’
Thinking back…while in England, I took Sienna to an indoor play gym, crammed with children, and she was too afraid to befriend any of them. I had to crawl around the jungle gym with her for a few hours hoping I could convince her to make new friends. I was quite worried when we left for our adventure thinking how am I going to help her gain confidence but it really hasn’t been an issue.
But what about Sienna’s behavior?
Over a month ago, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Changing our lifestyle caused my daughters behavior to go into rapid decline’ that caught the eye of the UK media. For a couple weeks all the newspapers were really slating us and several commenters had quite negative things to say. Unfortunately, the media only took ½ my story and then they blew it out of proportion.
Anyway, to summarize the article, Sienna’s behavior went into a rapid tailspin 2 months into our journey. She started to freak out and we had a massive blow out one night where she lashed out, lost all control, smashed a plate and bit my arm drawing blood.
As you can imagine, I had a variety of thoughts running through my head. I wondered if our trip was messing her up. I thought that I must be a terrible parent. And then I thought long and hard about how the transition was affecting us all. Heck – we sold everything we owned, up’d sticks and left on a boat destine to sail around the world!
Of course there were going to be some growing pains
After the big blow out, I purchased some books on parenting from Amazon. Thank God for Kindle! Knowing my father-in-law was coming out in days, I also had some hard copy books shipped to him to bring down to the boat. The books all provided extremely helpful information and I was soon armed with several parenting techniques.
I’d love to say that Sienna’s behavior changed instantly, but it didn’t. I can, however, say that we never had a night as bad as the big blow out. Each day things got better and better. I started to listen more and she realized that I was always available to help. Our relationship grew stronger and we became closer.
As I write this article, things are amazing. We haven’t had a blow out in a week and she’s going to bed quickly now rather than having a 1-hour tantrum. My daughter, husband and I are communicating so much better.
Ironically, due to the media frenzy, I had several people read my article and send emails of encouragement. I couldn’t believe the amount of people that contacted to tell me that their child acted the same way and offered tips or comfort. I now feel that Sienna is a totally normal kid acting like several kids do…she would have had the same issues if we were on land.
Aside from all that, life on board it getting more ‘normal’ if that’s the right word to use!
Since the beginning, it’s been my husband, cousin, Sienna and I that have lived aboard Britican. We now have routines and roles that we’ve organically fit into. My cousin, Loryn, does most of the cooking and we both clean together. I’m CMO (Chief Mom Officer) – a new role for me as I use to work full time. Simon looks after the boat and navigating. Loryn and I do all the ropes, sails, anchoring and mooring up.
We don’t even have to talk anymore; we just go about our task knowing what everyone is doing
Let me give you a simple of example of anchoring the boat:
- Turn on the anchor unit, called a windlass (whoever is nearest)
- Open the anchor locker and secure it open. There’s often a hose or rope over the anchor so you need to make sure the chain can feed out without obstacles. (whoever gets to the locker first does this – Loryn or me)
- Drop the anchor and ensure it’s going out correctly (Kim)
- Watch the anchor feed out and communicate between the helmsperson (Simon) and the anchor dropper (Kim) about depth, direction and whether or not to hover or head in reverse (Loryn)
- Once we’re all happy the anchor is set and enough chain is out, we relieve the anchor unit from pressure by hooking a rope to the chain and tying it off on a cleat. This creates slack between the rope and anchor unit (Loryn)
- Raise the anchor ball – it’s a plastic ball that you attached to a line coming from the mast to hoist up. It notifies surrounding boats that we’re at anchor (Kim).
- Close the anchor door and return the winch if used (whoever gets to it first).
When we first started, we had no clue about anchoring. We’d drop the anchor and hope it held! We certainly didn’t communicate and no one knew who was doing what.
We couldn’t really discuss our observations because we didn’t know what we were looking for. Now, our confidence has increased and we feel comfortable doing what we’re doing AND doing things with each other. And when I say all this, it goes for all our tasks – not just anchoring.
Even though things are normalizing, we’re still saying ‘pinch me, I think I’m dreaming’
At least once every couple weeks, my cousin and I go off-road and hike around to see what we can find. While in Sicily, we went for a run that turned into an hour-long rock-climb, during our stay on the island of Cephalonia we accidently went on a 10km hike (read this article The Magic of Fiscardo) and just yesterday we climbed to the top of the hill behind us and carried on until we circumnavigated the island we’re currently on.
If you were a fly on the wall, you’d hear us say over and over, ‘WOW – look at the view,’ or ‘Oh my gosh, how beautiful is that?’ And we always announce at some point, ‘I don’t think I could be any more grateful for being able to experience this!’
My cousin and I have agreed that no matter how often we walk in nature we’ll never get sick of it. We love the views, the smells and the feel of walking amongst the trees and rocks.
On our recent walking adventure, we navigated between narrow walkways, crowded by Greek homes, climbing higher and higher to find a clock tower, an ancient windmill, a few churches and some absolutely amazing views.
Every day is such a present!
We never know where we’re going to be, who we’re going to be with or what we’ll actually do. A few days before we visited Olympia, where the first Olympics were held during the 10th century BC, I didn’t even know the ancient site even existed! (Read my article Running The Stadium Track at Olympia Greece, Where The Olympics First Started in the 10th Century BC).
Even when we chill out for the day to clean up, do laundry and lounge around the boat, we sit around smiling and feeling absolute gratitude for our surroundings.
But life, by no means, is perfect!
We all still have good and bad days. Some days I just don’t feel very good. Some days Sienna doesn’t want to behave very well. On a few occasions I just want to be alone, but I can’t.
I still get headaches, have down days and want to lay in bed all day
So, although our dreams have come true and we are living life to fullest, it’s not all rosy. We argue, get annoyed with each other and get moody. My husband gets frustrated and feels that my cousin and I gang up on him. I get mad at my husband for playing a game on the iPad rather than washing up. Life’s annoyances carry on…but at least they carry on in an amazing setting. Furthermore, we do have good and bad days but our good days are AMAZING and our bad days aren’t that bad at all.
So – we’re now entering our 4th month of sailing around the world and I’m happy to report that our expectations have been surpassed. I wouldn’t want to be any other place doing any other thing. For the first time in my life, if you asked me ‘what would you do if you won the lottery,’ my response would be, ‘absolutely nothing other than what I’m doing right this very moment!’
I wonder if I can carry on living life to the fullest? We’ll have to see what comes next…