It feels like ages since I’ve written about my thoughts and feelings regarding our ‘new’ lifestyle of living on a boat rather than in a house. This time last year, my husband, Simon, and I were living in a temporary apartment taking courses on diesel engines, motors, water pumps, water makers, refrigeration, air conditioning/heating, First Aid and Medical Care for boaters.
I remember feeling so anxious, stressed, scared and overwhelmed. Sure, there was a part of me that was excited too, but overall I wanted time to pass quickly so that we could just get on our new boat and start living our new life.
We moved aboard our sailboat last March so we haven’t hit a full year of living on the boat yet
Currently, we’re tied up in a marina and have been since October (three months). We’ll stay in Marina diRagusa, Sicily until April (another three months) when we can get back out in the Mediterranean and start sailing again.
Originally, our plan was to sail across the Atlantic in November, following the warm weather, however we just weren’t ready for the crossing. The boat needs more repairs and I need more time to get my head ready for two to three weeks of no land.
That being noted, wintering in the Med wasn’t our intention so having a six month stay in Italy was unexpected
Ideally, we would have been able to carry on sailing, but the Med becomes quite a dangerous place during the winter months. Almost all sailboats find a marina to wait out the cold, raining, stormy season.
That being noted, I can’t help but feel a bit ‘stuck’
I envisioned us sailing and enjoying warm winds. And now we’re sitting and waiting for an often cold and rainy season to cycle through.
On the flip side, however, we couldn’t have found a more amazing marina to stay in
The other live-aboards (around 50 boats) are all incredibly kind, helpful, generous and fun. The social life amongst us boaties is amazing. Every week there are a wide range of activities to join that are organized by live-aboards.
This week I enjoyed a session of yoga, went to one of the two ‘happy hours,’ checked out the ‘Happy Hookers’ group (crochet), met with several sets of friends for coffee in the town or marina bar and had a couple dinner parties. And on Sunday, I’m heading to the meeting room to learn how to play Italian card games.
If I had the time, I’d also take up guitar lessons, photography, cooking, exercise classes, hiking, Tai Chi, arts & crafts and more!
In a couple weeks time we’re having our second ‘Open Mic’ night and considering I’m tone deaf and have white-girl rhythm I’m opting out from performing. However, my daughter, Sienna (age 4), has signed up to sing, ‘Let it go,’ from the movie Frozen. She’s going to have two back-up singers so rehearsals are how under way (rehearsals with Samantha pictured above).
Speaking of my four year old daughter…
Sienna would have never had the confidence to sing in front of a crowd before we left our land-based life. Over this past year I’ve seen her confidence soar. Aside from signing up to sing, she did karaoke with my husband on New Years Eve (I’m a believer, by the Monkeys) and is eager to preform for our dinner guests!
Sienna says ‘hi’ to almost everyone in the marina and she often gives great big hugs to those close to us in our marina family. Rather than having a few neighbors to connect with, like we did when we lived in a house, we seem to connect with all our neighbors now. No matter who we walk by, someone yells out, ‘Hi Sienna!’
And our neighbors all send love and support her way
They’re always commenting on how well she speaks, sings, rides her scooter, cooks and so forth. Sienna is growing up around people that are positive, inspiring and eager to take the time to send positive words her way. She’s growing up, at least for these six months, in such a beautiful environment. Yes, we’re ‘stuck’ in a marina but I couldn’t imagine a better place for my daughter (and hubby and I)!
Sienna has a range of friends aged 2 years to 80 years old. And her friends come from Italy, Poland, New Zealand, Britain, America, Canada, Holland, France, Spain, South Africa, Germany and on and on. She doesn’t see color, language or nationality as a separator but a connector! One evening we’ll visit a boat of Brits and the next evening we’ll have a French couple over.
And Sienna attends a pre-school Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 1:30 where she mixes with mostly Italian teachers and students. Her grasp of the Italian language is coming on in leaps in bounds. Interestingly, however, she keeps trying to teach me new Italian words only for me to find out they don’t exist! Yes, Sienna is also developing a great sense of humour.
To think that I was worried about Sienna gaining positive social skills?
Social skills are definitely low on my ‘worry’ list now. And as far as education goes, that’s quite a low worry too. Every day Sienna is learning in her pre-school and then we use an online homeschooling website called ABC Mouse (www.ABCMouse.com) to ensure she’s doing letters, numbers, math, music, reading and more. We spend time every day writing letters, creating pictures or doing a craft session. Often, other kids from the marina or the town come over to the boat and we paint pictures, play with stickers or create props for a play.
Before we left I was terrified about teaching and even entertaining a four year old but I often find myself more involved in craft time and colouring than the children!
From what I can make out, Sienna seems to be on par with other children her age. If and when I discover she should be doing something, I make more of an effort. For example, I noticed that another four year old was really good at writing his name, so my hubby, Simon, and I spent a couple days with Sienna helping her to get better at writing her name.
In a way we’re still ‘winging-it’ but it’s working right now
I don’t think I’ll be so easy-going when Sienna gets a bit older
I’ve been thinking of ordering a ‘homeschooling pack’ that contains all the materials for a curriculum but perhaps I’ll do that next year or the year after. As it stands now, I’m letting Sienna tell me what she’s interested in and then we learn about it.
Last week some of the things she wanted to know included: how are clouds are formed, how do you make chocolate, where do beans grow, where do you go after you die and when you have a baby, do you poop it out?
If I know the answer to her question I give an explanation and then I’ll follow it up with more information that I can find on the internet. We also have some amazing apps on the iPad that help with everything from the human body, outer space and some great science games, math, reading, art and music.
So…Sienna seems like a normal kid – yes, we live on a boat but she’s currently going to school, has a range of good friends and is really sociable.
Do I feel there are any issues or weaknesses?
Sometimes I worry that she doesn’t spend enough time playing alone, however saying that, she’s been in the bathroom playing with her buckets and water (in the shower) for the past 1/2 hour. I suppose when you’re a mom you always worry about your child. You always want the best for them.
Saying that, I truly believe that she’s growing up in the most supportive, loving, engaging environment possible
And as for Simon and I, although we’re ‘stuck’ we’re probably in the very best place that we could be right now. We’ve made some amazing friends that will be friends for life. We’ve learned to slow down a bit more. We’ve started to find the funnier side of life rather than take things so serious. When something breaks on the boat we laugh instead of doing what we use to do – cry!
I’m actually enjoying finding out what exists in the galley – In fact, I’ve made muffins two days in a row and tomorrow I’m making pancakes! I’ve cooked for guests and they’ve actually asked me for my recipe! And…I’m enjoying taking the time to cook with Sienna. It might take an hour longer and be very messy but I now seem to have the time to enjoy these small, but priceless, moments.
On a sad note, however…
I can’t help but think of April when we have to leave and that makes me feel sad. I’ve made some really amazing friends and my heart already hurts to think that I’ll be leaving them. Yes, I know that we’ll find each other again and that when one door closes another opens.
But even now I get a bit teary-eyed because I suppose, for the first time in my life, I finally get it
I get what it means to be a true friend. In my workaholic past I had good friends but I didn’t value them as much as I should have. I was too busy climbing a ladder of success and trying to make my millions.
It’s funny actually. I now feel as if I had to do all the ‘wrong’ things to realise just how great the ‘right’ things are
I could never understand why women liked to cook when you could just buy ready meals. I didn’t understand why those maternal moms wanted to spend all day with their children. And for the life of me I couldn’t grasp the concept of having a coffee for a few hours talking about random stuff.
For me, time was money and I didn’t want to spend any time doing anything that wasn’t deemed ‘productive.’ Looking back I feel like I was Scrooge (but not that bad!) and now I’ve been visited by all the ghosts and I’m ready to live a new life.
So…it’s been 10 months living full time on our sailboat and any tears that I have are actually based on joy. I never know what’s next and around each corner we keep finding new treasures, amazing friends and a life that truly is a dream come true.