Raising Our Son Aboard

It is only natural that Gordon and I would choose to raise our Son aboard a boat. Sailing is just what we do, and if you know us well, you would most certainly concur. Both Gordon and I grew up on and around boats. It’s each of our choosen professions, our passion and ultimately the way we choose to live our life. A life we choose to share wholy with our Son, and we couldn’t imagine it any other way. I have been following closely the saga of the Rebel Heart, and the Kaufman family this past week. If you are not familiar with their story, I’ll ask you to please google it. I have followed their blog for over a year, primarily Charlotte’s, and now my heart goes out to this family. I wrote the majority of this post well and prior to their now infamous sea rescue, which has since gained international attention and garnered a media frenzy. Before their news broke I attempted to comment on Charlotte’s blog, wishing them well in their South Pacific crossing. Commenting is something I do very rarely. For some reason my comment never appeared, but my email address stayed within their system and then when their plight came to the limelight, and the controversy exploded, I began to receive each and every comment that appeared on their blog. The good, the bad and the very, horribly ugly. Initially I read them, all of them, through the weekend, until it ultimately broke my heart to see this family targeted in such a negative way. It is beyond shameful that so many could be so cruel, so judgemental. Cheers to all those folks out there that are supportive of raising kids aboard and all that it encompasses; to those that have already done so, that are currently doing so, those intending to, and those who just simply support it! I wish the Rebel Heart family nothing but the very best in what lies ahead for them. As far as I am concerned boat kids rock, and Gordon and I both are proud of and confident in our decision to raise our Son aboard, and give him the world.
~~ Photo taken by the late Michael Horton. 36 weeks pregnant aboard SV Empire Sandy ~~
While we can only hope that our son enjoys sailing as much as Gordon and I do, and we feel that growing up aboard is a start in the right direction. I have mentioned before that it is unlikely our Boy will remember much of our life ashore (you can read that post here), and we are very fortunate that becoming accustomed to our life aboard was relatively easy for him. We are sure to involve the Boy in every manner in which we can, especially in the beginning as we purchased the boat and prepared to move aboard. Without a doubt our efforts certainly helped make our transition all the easier. 
It goes without saying that we had to downsize A LOT. For now our Son has a small cabin, or bunk you could say.Your average sized adult may be hard come by for a good nights sleep there, but for our 4 year old it’s already become his favorite corner of our world. As time goes by, and especially as the warmer weather comes upon us, we’ll be to kit it out all the more. Eventually, with the refit we have planned for a few years down the road, we’ll accommodate him with a larger cabin. He is already lucky to have a decent sized hatch, through which he’ll be able to witness the sun, moon & stars. Once the tarp comes off that is, and he is already refering to it as his TV. 
We have been able to accommodate a great deal of the accoutremonts and toys our Son has grown attatched to over his years. There is Lego galore, plenty of construction diggers and dumptrucks, firetrucks, tractors, and characters of all sorts. His latest interests, Batman & Star Wars, are well represented along with the usual playdough, craft supplies, games, and books. You cannot have enough books aboard, even if you read the same one over and over for days on end and are regulars at the library! You may wonder if all these toys are even necessary aboard a boat, but it’s certainly helped us with the transition and to get through this endless winter. We are working towards the idea that less is more. As the years go by, we hope our Son will lean towards all the outdoor activities our lifestyle will afford, and eventually come to appreciate the collection of memories & experiences from the voyages we embark on. For now at the age of 4, play, learning and development go hand in hand. So, most days our dear Monster explodes with the wares of a toy shop. The toys are here for a good time, not a long time, and the rule is they stay forward of the mast. 
We are most certainly active outside too: walks with the Dog, tobogganing, snowshoeing aka Monster stomping, and playing light sabers among other antics. As the weather improves we’ll bring out the bicycles, our Boy’s bicycle even lived in our cockpit for a while. Once the warm weather is in full swing we will fully embrace the outdoor season!
With our impending sail to Toronto, and for our subsequent voyages, safety is an obvious priority. One of the first things that Gordon and I noted about our Monster, before purchasing her, was her solid sturdy rails encompassing the entire deck. Already in the know of the type of voyaging and passages we wish to make, the substaintial rail and center cockpit were important criteria. For this voyage at least, our Boy will be confined to the enclosed cockpit, unless there is exceptional weather. A life jacket with a whistle and water activated strobe light alarm is an obvious no brainer for the Boy. The Dog wears a lifejacket too.

I am thankful in our live aboard experience that we are well past the baby stage; diapers, nursing and such. I am not abject to raising a baby aboard, this is just the way it has worked out for us. I certainly give kudos to those women and families that cruise and live aboard with babies, especially now in light of the Rebel Heart. I follow several blogs, in addition to Rebel Heart that are living and sailing this way such as Windtraveler,  and It’s A Necessity. They are a constant source of inspiration, and information, when it comes to raising a young child aboard. As are blogs such as Sailing Papillion, and SV Totem, where their children are of similar age and older than our Son. I look towards them for inspiration on what our future lifestyle and homeschooling experience will offer.
If it be said, the only real difficulty we have faced this far is simply conducive to living on a boat… an indoor game of Hide and Seek has certainly become a challenge! 
~~ This post ‘Raising our Son Aboard’ first appeared on goodshipmonster.blogspot.ca ~~

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