Here’s a mini-movie of what it’s like to be for a 5-year-old sailing around the world (sailing with children) – My daughter, Sienna, started sailing with us part time at the age of 9 months and then moved to full time at the age of 3 ½. Sienna just turned 5 years old in May. Watch the video below and then please read my thoughts concerning the video below. (I hope you enjoy it 🙂
Previous to setting sail on our around the world sailing adventure, several media outlets contacted me for interviews
I did several radio interviews for the BBC, one televised interview and the local newspapers got in touch so do a write-up about our plans.
For the most part, the media seemed neutral and somewhat supportive. Overall, most questions centered around my, at the time, 3 ½ year old daughter. The public wondered about her safety, socialability, education and general well-being.
The second largest area of questioning was about pirates
Not understanding the ways of the media, I was open and honest. I left myself wide open. Yes, I was scared. Yes, I also worried about my daughter. Heck – I’m a parent and like most parents I want the best of everything for her.
To make a long story short, the press ultimately went on the attack and my husband and I were made out to be the ‘worst’ and ‘most selfish’ parents in Britain. Articles were written and then readers commented on the online versions – most comments would make even a thick-skinned person cry. They were so cruel.
After reading a few of the comments, I decided to stop reading
I don’t want to come across as ‘poor me,’ but can you imagine selling all your stuff (house, car, possessions), buying a boat that you have no idea how to sail, leaving your home and setting out to do the most monumental thing you’ve ever done – child in tow?
Imagine how stressed, anxious and scared I felt?
Sure, there was an element of excitement too, but up until we eventually set sail, it was 95% anxiety. I kept wondering, ‘did we do the right thing?’ and ‘Am I ruining my daughter’s life?’
So – there I was a nervous wreck and the media decided to hit me when I was down. They took anything negative I wrote, blew it completely out of proportion and printed absolute lies.
And then…the general public (believing the crap that’s written) commented on it
I was so scared and worried and then I had the papers and general public fuelling my fear. Looking back, I’m not sure how I lived through the whole thing. I never would have thought I’d be strong enough for that…
But this article and my video are NOT about my contempt for the media. In fact, I actually don’t feel anything for the media anymore because I don’t read it – I’m too busy sailing around the world and enjoying my life.
Anyway, a couple days ago while staring off across the Ionian Sea an idea popped into my head. I had an inspirational moment where I thought:
‘Self – why don’t you do a video about what it’s like to be a five year old living on a sailboat?’
After the idea I immediately felt daunted and thought, ‘I don’t want to go back through 12 months of photo’s and videos to pick the best…’ but then another part of me said, ‘Self – why don’t you just pick some photo’s and see what happens.’
One thing let to another and over the course of a couple days I went through a years worth of memories. It wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was going to be – in fact, it helped me realize just how amazing our adventure has been thus far. And at first I had no idea how to organize the video, but it just seemed to fall together.
Eventually, the mini-movie organized itself into the following:
Sienna’s Favorite Boat Story
Sienna was thrown out of our tender into the sea, just outside Corfu Town, Corfu and loves to tell everyone about it! I started the video with the story because it’s a great way for you to get to know Sienna. You’ll get a feel for her personality.
Sienna’s social life
Being a live-aboard cruiser is the most social thing I’ve ever experience. I’ve never had more friends…and my daughter is constantly meeting up with friends from home (UK and America), cruising friends that we’ve met up with over and over and of course, new friends.
The awesome aspect of Sienna’s socialabilty that I couldn’t convey in the video is that she never goes a few months without seeing someone from ‘home’. Although she’s not in school with her friends, she still sees them.
Furthermore, people that we met at the beginning of the trip are still around. For example, we met Admiral Stefano on our first month…and I’m happy to say that since then, he’s sailed, off and on, with us around Sicily, Crete, the Peloponnese and the Ionian. Stefano has become a granddad to Sienna.
Almost everywhere we go, we run into someone we know. And when it comes to finding children for Sienna to play with, once again, there are cruising kids we’ve already met and always new kids.
Just two weeks ago, we met up with the family on sailboat ‘Why Knot.’ Last year Sienna spent around a month sailing (in the Aegean) and playing with the other Sienna (age 9 at the time) and Tanna (age 11). All the girls were on our boat for days at a time and Sienna stayed on ‘Why Knot’ too!
This year, we’ve all met in the Ionian and once again, it’s been non-stop fun.
And one more thing…Sienna’s friends are aged 2 to 102. They are girls, boys, women and men. They are black, white, German, South African, Italian, Muslim, Christian, Tribal… Some of them don’t even speak English. She doesn’t see any boarders regarding age, sex, and religion. To Sienna, we are all just people of the world.
If that’s not one of the best educations in socialization, I don’t know what is.
While creating the video I realized that every bit of it comes under ‘education.’ Yes, there’s the social aspect of life that she’s learning that will be clear in the mini-movie. You’ll also see aspects about us teaching her ABC’s, Math, reading and writing.
My husband and I are homeschooling Sienna – right now we’re going with the flow by using educational workbooks, software, apps and Internet websites. In the future, I might buy a full years curriculum so I ensure she’s learning the same things that her peers are, but I’m not sure yet.
Anyway. Aside from the core reading, writing and arithmetic Sienna is also naturally learning about geography by visiting the various countries. She’s learning about history because we stop at many ruins, historical sites and many museums. And Sienna has a very strong desire to learn so many of her books are question and answer type encyclopedias.
Instead of a bedtime story of ‘What the ladybird heard,’ she often asks me to read about volcanoes, the cycle of water, and most recently, I was reading a 2-page outline on how a car engine works.
Sienna probably spends more time than the average kid doing art class and gym class – if we’re not doing an art and craft, we’re hiking, going for a bike ride or swimming.
And what about Science? Well…for Sienna’s birthday my Sister-in-law gave here this amazing set of science experiments. We spent a week learning about gravity and Sienna soaked it right up. Science is around us all the time, so aside from doing specific activities, Sienna is just naturally learning.
I have absolute 100% certainty that Sienna is getting the best education possible
After education in the mini-movie, I provide an area for food, what she does during playtime, how she helps on the boat and what we do while we’re sailing.
Until I created this mini-movie I didn’t fully comprehend the amazing world that Sienna occupies. She’s growing up in an environment where she can learn what she’s interested in, interact with other citizens of the world, see our beautiful earth, taste different tastes, smell different smells and hear amazing sounds and on and on and on.
Sienna doesn’t read about volcanoes in a book – she actually climbs them, sees them erupt (we watched Stromboli erupt 5 times!) and then researches in books/the Internet on how they work.
So…have I done the wrong thing? Have I ruined my daughter’s life?