What do cruising kids do all day?

making a box

It seems that the everyday life of the Totem cruising kids is somewhat opaque in recent blog content (thank you reader email for pointing that out!). They’ve been pretty busy- just a little differently than the normal ways that a 9, 11 and 14 year old are busy. Here is a smattering from the last few days.

Siobhan started a little bakery business. On Fridays, there’s a vegetable truck that comes around to sell fresh produce to cruisers in the little bay where we are anchored. She’s gotten up early to do some baking and earned a nice bit of cash by selling muffins and pastries to the cruisers who come in for veggies. She pays me back for ingredients, and keeps the rest of the proceeds.

Siobhan's muffin sales
asking price: three ringgit each (about $1). great math practice making change.

Niall built a raft from all the driftwood and garbage (an esky, plastic sheets, fishing line) that washes up on the beach of the little islet where they play every day. He rigged it with a crab claw sail and took it for a spin. (Thanks to our anchorage neighbor Nigel for this shot!)

the boat
heading for the pass between the islets

the tree fortWith help from their friends on other kid boats, they’re building shelters on the beach: forts, hideouts, tree houses. Some of these were started before they arrived, others they’ve created on their own. Honestly, this tree house terrifies me, and we’ve had The Safety Talk. I trust them, but… well, I’m still their mother.

Notice the hammocks, strung up between trees around the bonfire area from fishing nets. There’s even a dried-out puffer fish “chandelier” dangling overhead to complete the image.

They built a network of trenches on the beach. I asked why. They just said “for fun!” Well, OK! Niall said that when they put a leaf structure over the top it’s a nice cool spot to rest a while. It’s hot here. I get that.

It’s a long skinny islet that we’re anchored off. Yesterday’s discovery was a shed snakeskin. That’s a little disturbing for mama bear here, because snakeskin = snakes, and not all the snakes around here are the kind you want to met on a dark tree limb. We think we’ve identified it as a harmless tree snake, but it’s hard to really know for certain.

Back on Totem, kid-driven carpentry is happening. Wood scraps have been reclaimed from the area under the aft cabin berth as it is cleared to make room for our much-anticipated new battery bank. As the pieces which can become giveaways or scrap end up on deck, the girls have requisitioned them for their own projects. First on the list: building a box to hold their treasures in.

making a box

What else? They read. A lot. Sometimes it seems like a ridiculous amount, and I want to redirect them: go swim! Sweep the floor! Kayak! SOMETHING! Then I remember- they have fallen in love with reading, one of the things I perhaps irrationally worried about the most. In the world of life skills on their docket, I’m happy. Niall is deep in history books (re-reading 1776). Mairen is in the middle of The Lord of the Rings series. Siobhan has started the sixth Harry Potter book. And I wondered if they would ever be “readers”…

A bonfire in the evening brings us together with the spread of crew from other boats. Happy evenings, roasting marshmallows on a bonfire on the islet.

roasting marshmallows

Kids at heart know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website

7 Responses

  1. Such a lovely blog post. I hope that when I have children they will also have the same excitement and experiences through sailing. I truly believe in outdoor living and not being sat in front of a screen all day. Very jealous of the treehouse something I have always longed for.



  2. In the US, it seems that education has become rigidly academic. There are a multitude of additional skills to be learned that help to grow young people into interesting and savvy adults who subsequently make meaningful contributions to our world. Your children seem to be a lovely combination of academic smarts and real-world knowledge. I can only hope that one day we, too, will parent with an appreciation for all types of education.
    Jessie, Seattle, WA

  3. Have you ever thought you might be destroying your kids childhood, isolating them on a boat with only other like minded well adjusted kids to play with. Encouraging their imagination with games on the beach rather than giving them the pleasure of having their brains constantly “stimulated” by screens in a mindless non thinking fashion. Not to mention making them do chores, learning new skills and taking responsibility for their actions, rather than the having the luxury of being spoon fed what they should know about life. You’ll end up turning them into well adjusted thinking, caring humans rather than the normal “lemmings” society produces. This is unacceptable, I question your actions…………….NOT!!!!

  4. excellent post, story, you have it going on, enjoy every moment, they grow up and want their own boats, or go live in the mountains. look forward to hearing more from you. Be safe

  5. Lovely post! After 5 years living on our boat around the world we are on land with our beautiful 6 week old baby. This is just the life we want to give him in a few years and its great to read about other people doing it 🙂 thanks!

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