Kids aboard: what do they do all day?

After 6 months of writing a cruising column for 48 North, we’re finally touching on the subject of kids aboard for the upcoming June issue. Our article is more generally about the choice to cruise as a family, but it has prompted reflections on the questions people might have about what it’s like for the children. The simplest question of “what do they do all day” is so genuinely hard to answer, and could be uniquely updated 365 times a year. I’m going to try and illustrate it with a few pictures.

We spend a lot of time looking at their butts, poking in the air while their noses are trained toward the water. They spend a lot of time looking at sea life. Niall knows the name of every fish we see, and if he doesn’t, he finds out what it is…ask and he’ll tell you he wants to be an icthyologist.
Buns in the air
They make friends on other boats- those are the s/v Kenta Anae boys above with the girls. Below is a big game of “Sorry!” with the group from s/v StowAway.
making friends!
We are outside all the time. Here Niall and Mairen are on the beach on El Mogote in La Paz; we have been there almost every day in La Paz, watching swimming crabs, finding stingray barbs and whale bones, discovering what Niall called the Shell Graveyard, and of course, digging monster holes in the sand.
digging holes to the center of the earth
They are avid explorers of their environment…here Niall and Mairen are watching a fluffy blue footed booby chick (and parents) on an island so packed with fearless critters, it felt like a warm-up for the Galapagos.
budding naturalists
They create stories and drama, whether with their animals, in a Lego diorama, or with this puppet theater kit. Siobhan and Mairen are recreating a Harry Potter sequence with puppets from a Christmas nativity story. Hm. Think I just found myself a knitting project- more puppets!
puppet theater
One of Niall’s projects is behind the girls on the settee- not the lego pile, but the white “Power House.” He’s rigged the model house with small, functional solar panels; he’s dried tomatoes in a little greenhouse (they dressed up sandwiches nicely!).
There’s no question that with their very fair hair and skin, they stand out- this has opened some fun interactions up for them. I took this from across the town plaza in San Blas one evening, where they were surrounded and engaged in conversation- I’ll guess in some English but also some Spanish. They are picking up more words all the time.
Practicing Spanish
And of course, they have quieter downtime, too. Here’s Niall in the aft cabin one afternoon last month, where we have a full Encyclopedia set. He’s reading “F” to Siobhan.
cruising kid vignettes

We’re getting ready to spend a few months drifting north, enjoying some time in the Sea of Cortez before our July road trip in the US.

6 Responses

  1. We see that sight frequently as well…always looking at the water.

    Although we don’t live aboard, people ask us what the kids do on the boat since we spend so much time there. I always answer “everything”. Fish, swim, invent games, explore, row a boat, soak up Vit D, learn wind dynamics, engine repair, ecology, marine biology, and best of all….spend time with their parents.

    It is magical having kids on a sailboat, and that is one of the biggest reasons I love reading your blog… appreciate that so much and it shows in your writing.

  2. i love this B…watching your children grow and change in such wonderful ways. what a gift you’ve given them.

    missing you and the sun and sand of mexico. hoping we cross paths again soon.

  3. Ditto what Jody says. When we are asked what the kids do on the boat we can truly answer that they learn. They learn so many things that they really can not learn at home.
    It is fantastic family time. In this busy world, to take time out with your family is wonderful and a true inspiration for other families.
    We are now three weeks and counting before our big change (as mentioned in our last email). So excited! Even though we are not setting out for a cruise. Still, the family time that we will have will be wonderful.

  4. Sorry for the second post in a row. I submitted before I was ready.
    Our kids are so intrigued by watching you and your kids! They ask questions and want to do the same things when we are at the boat.
    We have to marvel sometimes that they don’t fall in the water when their bottoms are sticking almost straight up in the air trying to see the fish and critters along the edge and under the dock!
    They love to row our dinghy and play on the beach and wade in the water. They even get brave enough to swim a bit but the water here is so frigid that they don’t stay in long – they are out quick to lay in the warm sand for a while and soak up the sun. 🙂
    They just love it when we anchor out over night and dinghy to the far shore to explore or play on the beach where there are no other people.
    Wonderful times watching the wonder and marvel in their eyes and their comments 🙂

  5. sounds familiar! Love the butts in the air. Lately for us, its been butts in the water. Maya and Kai have been doing tons of swimming, and if possible at night with the bioluminescience, painting and collecting shells, fishing, Kai loves to play Bridge Barron when we have enough power, and of course reading, reading and more reading.

  6. Niall gave me a 10 minute “differences between needle fish and trumpet fish” lecture on the beach in Agua Verde. Boy, did I learn a lot!
    Amazing, enjoyable children!
    Just hated to go the opposite direction…
    And thanks for the vhf call about the tooth fairy finding Mairen! I really felt honored 🙂

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