Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Interview with China Boating Magazine

About a month ago, I got a request for an interview for China Boating Magazine. I had no idea the spread was going to be so beautiful and thorough! I would simply share the PDF with you all, but it is completely in Chinese so I will share with you the images from the magazine as well as our English. I hope you enjoy!

1. What made you two decided to raise three girls on boat? Whether your two families support you or not?                              

The decision was a pretty organic one, Scott and I cruised first as a couple sailing from Chicago to Trinidad together over the course of a couple years, and during that time we found that we were really impressed by cruising kids. A family was always in our future, and when we found out we were pregnant with our first daughter, Isla, we didnt even bat an eye about bringing her on board. We sailed over 5K nautical miles with her from Florida to Grenada and back up to the BVIs and it was a really amazing experience and one that Isla thrived in. During that time we discovered we were pregnant with twins and that threw us a major curve ball. We decided to move back to land after sailing right up to my third trimester, and lived with my parents for a year as we adjusted to life with three very small children. When the twins, Haven and Mira, were ten months we decided to give it a go and bring them on the boat despite being told that it could not be done and we were insane. Our plans were very conservative, and we remained in the very easy sailing waters of the British Virgin Islands. 

For the most part, our families are very, very supportive of our choices. Some may not understand it or would not do it themselves given the opportunity but to each his own. We all support each other and the life choices we make for the most part, which is lucky and sometimes rare with this lifestyle where many have strong opposing views about raising kids on a boat.

2. What has been the most challenging part to live like this? How you face it? 

Hmm…living on a boat with three small children is definitely challenging. I would say biggest challenge lies in logistics. Getting three toddlers from A to B is hard on land. Imagine doing that via dinghy, via island taxi and mostly on foot. We don’t have the space for a great big three child stroller and our kids are still too young to walk safely by our sides, so we have to find other ways. We do a lot of baby-wearing and have a collapsible wagon we use to get around. But it’s time consuming and exhausting and toddlers are not always the most compliant of humans. In a year or two this challenge will change, but for now – just wrangling the troops is tough. The other challenge is making the most of a small space. While I love the “tiny house” mentality, we are a family of five in a space that is smaller than most people’s living rooms. We only have two bedrooms. Keeping the kids from waking each other up and finding any privacy are things that are challenging. We envision a bigger boat one day, one that has three cabins so everyone can have their very own bunk. We’ll see.

3. How to solve the Baby's safety problem? 

Boats, by their nature, are actually pretty “baby proofed”. Because they are made to withstand large waves and rocking to and fro, everything is attached to the hull, all the cupboards ‘lock’, there are no outlets or dangling chords to contend with, and there simply isn’t a bunch of superfluous stuff around so the interior of our boat is very safe. The obvious issue is that a boat is surrounded by water and none of our children swim yet. The perimeter of our boat is covered in life-line netting, making our deck one big play pen – and we are very vigilant about keeping the girls in harness and tethers and/or lifejackets when we are sailing. They are also never on deck unsupervised and we have a strict policy to always wear lifejackets in the dinghy and on any docks.

4. How does your life differ from the normal life? 

First and foremost, we live with less than most (suburban families) simply because we have less space. This means toys, clothes, gadgets and just about everything else. That’s not to say that we are doing without, we live very comfortably on our boat… but I have found that - for me - just as you will spend as much money as you make, you will fill your living space with as much as it will take. 

Second, we maintain our boat almost exclusively ourselves. If something fails, we must fix it. That means my husband is a plumber, electrician, handyman and woodworker all by default. There’s a much higher level of self-reliance on a boat. 

Also, we don’t have the amenities many homes have like dishwashers, washer/dryers, and microwaves so we make do without those things. I do our laundry by hand, for example. In addition, we must be super vigilant about power and water usage, as on a boat there is not an endless supply of these things and they are resources we need to use and replenish ourselves. 

Lastly,we are together a lot more than most families, spending nearly 24/7 together (this will change soon though as Scott is going back to work). We are also outside more than your average suburban family, simply because our boat is so (comparatively) small that getting off it to stretch out our legs is a must. 

As much as our life is different, many things are the same as well. We’re still parents of three small children and all the challenges that presents (discipline, tantrums, sleep deprivation, milestones, messes and stresses) - we are not immune. 

5. What your future plan? Will move back to land? 

We are currently in the states right now, awaiting our work permits to be working residents in the British Virgin Islands. We have very big plans for the next few years, but unfortunately, at the time of writing they are still not able to be made public. As for moving back to land, it’s hard to say - there’s so many amazing things to do and places to go in this world, it’s hard to say that we will live like this forever. I imagine that one day we will have some sort of home base on land, but I can also say with absolute certainty that we will also always have a sailboat of some sort. It is a huge priority for us to travel with our girls and show them as much as the world as we can, whether that be by boat, bus or plane. Who knows what the future holds?

6. How do you spend time on the boat when you don’t go for sailing? I saw a picture on the internet of Isla swinging with her dad on boat, is there any story about the swing, and any other recreational facilities? 

The swing is a BIG hit with the little ones and, yes, we rig that up quite frequently! We are actually sailing a very small percentage of our life on the boat. Typically, we sail to a place and stay for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. 

When we are at anchor, we spend our time doing shore excursions; hiking, exploring the town, and - of course - hanging out at the beach. Someone once told me that the best “toys” for small children are water and sand, and I could not agree more. We spend many, many hours playing on the beach and swimming near the shore. We also hang out on our boat and our girls are very used to being in a small space together. We have a wide array of crafting supplies and a ton of books, all of which our little girls love. We also have some selected and engaging toys that the girls enjoy (see more: Toys for the Space Conscious Parent). We go paddle-boarding, explore the anchorage in our dinghy and swim off the back of the boat. It can be challenging to keep three kids stimulated and happy when there’s a lot of down time, but nature is a pretty good entertainer.

7. In order to making the boat is suitable for a family, do you have to change some part of the boat?

We chose a boat with kids in mind, so the boat we bought had a lot of suitable qualities for kids. Namely, a large cockpit (great for playing in), a swim platform (for easy on, off the boat), and roller-furling sails (meaning our boat is very easy to sail by one person). When we were planning on moving back with the twins I knew that getting in and out of the dinghy with three small kids would be a challenge, so we designed a twin dinghy seat which keeps the girls safe and contained while we go from A to B. We made a few small adjustments ourselves; we put lifeline netting around the perimeter of our boat which makes our boat something of a giant playpen. We also designed a “twin bunk” up in the vee-berth which keeps the twins contained and safe when they sleep. Because we only have two ‘bedrooms’ we had to get creative with our eldest’s bunk. We decided to make her a special spot in the walk-through of our boat so she has her own place to sleep and store a few of her toys. (See more: Our Sleeping arrangements on the Boat)

8. Do you have long-distance sailing with three girls to now? To where? How about that sailing experience? Can girls swim? Does Isla have some simple sailing skills now?

With our eldest, we sailed a lot - from Florida to Grenada and back up to the British Virgin Islands (BVI’s), roughly 5K nautical miles. With one child, it was relatively easy to do that. When we discovered we were pregnant with twins, we knew enough to know that covering those kinds of miles with three under three would be super stressful and probably no fun (for us). We made the decision to stay and sail in the BVI’s where the water is rarely rough and where passages need not be any longer than 2-4 hours to get somewhere new. This was a great decision for us, we still get all the benefits of “cruising” without the stress of long passages and overnight sails.

None of our girls are swimming yet, but love the water. Isla is currently in swim lessons and we hope to have her swimming by the end of this season. The twins are true Pisceans, and LOVE the water. I imagine they will be swimming much sooner than Isla did since they are much more keen to try than she was at that age.

As far as sailing goes, Isla likes to work the winches and knows a lot of boat terminology, but she is not involved in sailing the boat in earnest yet. Since we will be living in the islands for the foreseeable future, we plan to enroll her in a junior sailing program, so that will probably change.

9. What's the most unforgettable thing after you moved to the boat? Living on a boat, what are you gained and lost?

That’s hard. I’d say the thing I love most about living on a boat is that every day is an adventure and you are every day presented with opportunities that test and challenge you. As exhausting (and frustrating) as it can be, it’s a very intentional way to live and I like that.

On a boat we gain a lot of self-reliance. We are in nature all the time. We are constantly challenged and have to work through those things. Our girls learn to self-entertain and, we hope, this close proximity to each other fosters stronger and deeper relationships. We are learning to live more with less, to enjoy the simple things in life. We don’t have crazy, rushed schedules and there’s not this constant pressure that there is always somewhere to be or something to do. The pace of life is slower, and I like that as well. Those are a few things off the top of my head.

What is lost? We miss our families. We miss out on holidays and miss major milestones like birthdays, weddings and new babies. That can be very hard. We also miss out on some of the nice things that a “suburban” life might offer, like great libraries, museums, restaurants and theaters. That element of “higher culture” is missing, which I really enjoyed having lived in Chicago. But everything in life is a trade off, and - to me - the benefits outweigh the negatives.

10. How you raise three girls? What is your main source of income? Does this income enough afford daily family cost? If not enough, What would you do?

Right now we are living off savings but are getting ready to work again. Scott is a US Certified captain and has worked on and off for the bulk of our time aboard. We also came back to shore to have our babies, we lived with my parents during those stints so had very low living costs and each time we did come home, Scott got work. Now that we are changing gears and will be working on a more permanent basis, this will change and we will hopefully be putting a lot more money in the cruising kitty. (More on this soon!)

11. Can you give some suggestions to those families which want to live like yours?

Read, read and read. Get inspired by other families doing the same thing. There are SO many resources out there now; in the past few years it seems cruising and living differentlyin general has gained tremendous popularity so theres a lot of great info out there for anyone whos interested. This life is definitely not for everyone, but if you think you are up for it - I say go for it. To throw a cliche quote out there, Youll regret the things you didnt do, more than those you did do(or something like that)I personally think cruising and boat-dwelling is an amazing way to live and raise children. Id suggest to start with baby steps (chartering a boat, taking sailing lessons, joining a cruising club..etc), as the learning curve is very steep. Then, just do it. You wont regret it. High risk, high reward, I think this is true in gamblingand life.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Voyaging with Kids: A Review

When you take your kids out of mainstream society to go and live on a boat, you will get a lot of flack from the collective 'they'. "It's unsafe!" "It's weird!" "It's irresponsible!" "It's selfish!" Society, in general, will say a lot of things about your adoption of an unconventional life, and because the human knee-jerk reaction to things we don't understand is to reject them, it is to be expected. Sure, there will be the few people who will support your choices, see the benefits that travel and cultural immersion will grant your family, and defend you when others scoff; but there will be many who think it is truly insane to hop aboard a (relatively) small boat and sail off into the sunset with children in tow...

Voyaging With Kidsis for those people. But more than that, it is for you, the dreamer disillusioned with suburban life, harboring big dreams to live a life less ordinary in the hopes of doing something tremendous with your family. This book will walk you through the steps and show you that once there, living and traveling aboard with your family can truly be a wonderful - even magical - life.

The amazing (and totally convincing) forward, by none other than Capt'n Fatty Goodlander (he, himself, a former boat parent), is enough to make the most loyal of landlubbers take pause:
"There is only one thing I have ever done that's as fun as growing up aboard, and that's parenting aboard. A small boat on a large ocean is the perfect place to raise a child, especially in today's frantic, monetized, cyber-hyped world. You are physically, mentally, and spiritually close. There are few distractions, little peer pressure, and almost no shore vices to entice...The entire world can be your classroom...There is little need to teach religious tolerance when all your playmates pray to different gods. Racial prejudice is not an issue, either, when you live amid an international rainbow society. Best of all, while living aboard, you can easily and consciously disconnect your family from anything and everything ashore. You, the parent, can control the physical, mental, spiritual, and cultural environment of your child 24/7, which is almost impossible in most shoreside environments. Your child will morph into more than a son or daughter; he or she will grow to become crew as well.  A family is a team, and there's no better place than a sailing vessel to learn teamwork."
This book will not only help to answer the questions that keep you awake at night before embarking on such a journey ("What's the ideal age to take kids voyaging?" "What sort of boat should we get?" "How can I keep them safe?") but will also answer the questions you didn't want or were too afraid to ask ("What if my kids don't like it?" "Will their education suffer?" "Will my children turn into social pariahs?") Written by three very experienced and very respected cruising families, Voyaging with Kids is organized in a semi-chronological way (Chapter 1: Getting Ready, Chapter 2: Choosing a Family Cruising Boat...and so on) so that it is easy to navigate. The writers provide a 'factual and balanced' description of life afloat with kids of all ages and there's a great highlight chapter written completely by former cruising kids (spoiler alert: they went on to become intelligent, happy, accomplished adults!) From infancy to teens, Voyaging With Kidscovers it all and leaves no stone unturned.

The two versions of Voyaging With Kids,Kindle and hard copy, both have their advantages and, while I do prefer to read books these days on my e-reader (just so much easier and compact!), I also find that having a hard copy of reference books much more user-friendly to have on the boat. The kindle version has active links to videos and resources, where the hard copy has better images and more legible graphs and tables.

For anyone who is even remotely interested in voyaging with their children either in part or indefinite, this book is a must read. For me, it has most certainly earned it's place on the shelf right between to Beth Leonard's Voyager's Handbook and Nigel Calder's Mechanical and Electrical Manual and will, no doubt, be the benchmarking reference guide when it comes to cruising with children.

Oh, and don't forget to pass it on to nervous and ill-informed friends and family, it might just help put their mind's at ease.

* I made some minimal contributions this book and received a promotional e-copy in turn for an honest review. All opinions are my own. It's a great book ;)

Saturday, November 14, 2015


In the aftermath of the atrocities in Paris last night, I am left pensive. I cannot write about books or boats or gear today because all of that feels so insignificant right now.

Since becoming a mother, I have found that my already heightened ability to feel is honed even further. I am a sensitive soul, and while this certainly serves me to connect and empathize with people, it also means I can go to pretty dark places in my own head where sadness, anger and hurt can overtake in times like these. I feel pained, saddened and terrified for what the future might hold if hatred like this prevails.

But in the end, I know it will not.

Because when catastrophes like this occur, executed by the ugliest that mankind has to offer,  the rest of us come together. Race, religion, color, and creed become insignificant in times like these and we unite simply against them. We stand taller, stronger, and more proud than ever of the freedom we enjoy that threatens these monsters so - willing to do whatever we have to do to defend it and the lives we enjoy. The hate these monsters preach in the hopes of scaring and dividing us into submission ironically only serves to bring us closer and make us more united on a global level. The tragedy, of course, is the devastating loss of innocent lives that occurs in order for us to form this front. But the front is formed, and with each heinous act committed by these terrorists, we grow stronger as a collective world against them.

I feel sad for these lost, sorry souls who have nothing but poison running through their veins. Sad that they have been so devastatingly brainwashed to believe that what they are doing is right. Sad that they cannot possibly know love, joy or - God forbid - laughter. Sad for the children they bring into this world only to ruin with hate. Sad for the pure hell that must be their lives.

The world can be a scary place in the wake of terrorist attacks. And I would be lying if I didn't say that there is a part of me that fears for the future that my girls might live to see. But then I look around and I see so much humanity. So much love. So much good. It's in the tiny acts; the gentleman at the park who gently helped Haven out of a swing this morning, the sweet woman who offered to pay for my goods at the grocery store yesterday when I realized I left my wallet at home, the girl who looked into my Cadillac of a stroller to see my three girls and smiled as she said, "What blessings you have!" There is so much love in this world and too many of us enjoy being free that I know that these terrorists simply cannot, and will not, prevail.

So while I might retreat with my family to a tropical island far removed from this horrifying bullshit (excuse the vulgarity), and while a part of me will be very grateful for that fact, I will not cower in fear of terrorists. I will continue to be proud of my freedom, my way of life. And I will do my very best to raise daughters with love, empathy compassion and tolerance in their hearts, for that is the only true way forward.

Mon cœur est avec vous Paris.  Solidarité.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Best Cruising Advice in Six Words

"Sail the wind you are in." If I had only six words in which to impart a nugget of advice on a new cruiser it would be these. Sail the wind you are in; literally and figuratively. I wish I did this more myself, because it's easier said than done, but (sigh) I am a work in progress and unfortunately tend to err on the side of stubborn. Nevertheless it's a good bit of wisdom to hold close and pass on. There are times in life when we have a choice: we can struggle and fight against whatever forces oppose us, or simply work with what we've got.  It's a valuable life lesson to heed on both land and sea, and one of the many I have learned in earnest whilst living on a boat.


Inspired by the recent New York Times contest calling for parenting advice in 'six words or less' which was, itself, inspired by the new book The Best Advice in Six Words: Writers Famous and Obscure on Love, Sex, Money, Friendship, Family, Work, and Much More- I wondered what the best cruising advice might be in six words? It began as a fun sort of challenge for myself, with me coming up with the unoriginal quote above. But then I thought, what six words would other's say? I turned to the 'hive mind' of my internet cruising tribe and asked. Turns out, there can be a hefty dose of wisdom in a few short words. Some of this advice is specifically related to boating, some is tongue in cheek, and some just for a laugh - but many of these succinct pointers offer condensed, gritty intelligence which can be applied to life in general, so landlubbers, no need to hit the 'back' button just yet.

Here are (six) words of wisdom from people who have been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. Take it or leave it.

A special thank you to my fellow "Women who Sail" for chiming in and playing along with such creativity, humor and thoughtfulness. Enjoy!

Never sail on a (f*****g) schedule. - Melody of Mondo Vacilando
Keep the water out, people in. - Diane Partyka

You will never be the same. - Lisa Carswell Presnell
Don't let the naysayers squelch you. - Behan of Sailing Totem

Find your tribe and stay connected. - Caitlyn Harris
Time is our most valuable asset. - Dawn Brinker
Do no harm, take only pictures. - Jane Greico
Always make room for the wine.  - Melody of Mondo Vacilando

Don't wait another day, just GO! - LeeAnn Buse
Those hours of varnishing paid off.  - linda Gurth Hildreth

Throw the lines, don't look back. -Nellie Reynolds Symm-Gruender
Need to be where you are. - Susan Kohler Macdonald
Don't "plan" yourself out of cruising... - Shari Wynd

(Your) Life revolves around the weather! - Janel Seier

Get out and live life now! - Denise Rendazzo Allen of Get Out and Live Life
Pick a date and just go! -Stacy of s/v Smitty
Keep it simple, keep it safe. -Michelle of Simply Afloat

Go where the wind takes you. - -Monique of Drakes Paragon
Do not flush the toilet paper. - Jennifer E. Kroon
Get rid of all your stuff. - Kristin Miller of Happy Sailing

You'll make mistakes, it'll work out - Jessica Johnson of MJ Sailing
Go now, you'll never regret it! -Sherry McCampbell
Home is where the boat is. - Theresa of Pilot Discretion

Doesn't kill you? Makes you stronger. - Lauren of Seabiscuit

No calendar, no clock, clean bottom. - Cheryl McCormak Baker
Don't wait until it's too late. - Deb of The Retirement Project
Extensive boat work in exotic places! - Dani S. Mith of Latitude Adjustment

Step off the map, find adventure! -Monique of Drakes Paragon
Not what you think it is! - Allison Kelly Gabel
Plans in sand at low tide. -Stacey Hoopes

Shit happens. It's always an adventure. - Duwan Dunn of Make Like an Ape Man
Every latitude has a different attitude. - Keanna Coral Rink
Have fun, be safe, live life. - Vicki of Astrolabe Sailing
Uncharted territory never felt so good. - Kelly Hull

See you somewhere south of somewhere. - Alex of Sailing Banyan
Own your boat in your name. -Cyndy Carter

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. - Marla Hedman
Should have done it years ago... - Karen of Dreamtime Sail
Cruising is like living everywhere else! - Tammy of Things we did Today
Feeling puny under a starlit sky. - Linda Gurtz Hildreth

Keep the maintenance low as possible. - Eric of Rebel Heart
Well we haven't killed ourselves yet! - Robyn of Smart Moves Adventures

When in doubt, let it out! - Dave Pitcher

Being a little crazy isn't enough. - Byn of Oh Sail Yes
(You gotta) Go with the flow! - Hanneke Tiddens-Pot
Not all who wander are lost - Tracy from Plane to Sea

A bigger anchor promotes better sleep - Jan Saukko
Bring some chapstick and extra sunglasses. -Charlotte of Rebel Heart

Choose destination or date, not both. - Tasha from Turf to Surf
Be thankful to mother nature daily - Gwen from The Two Captains

Follow your plans, not other's plans - Behan of Sailing Totem
Take the good with the bad. - Ellen from The Cynical Sailor

Don't panic. Breathe. You've got this. - Kim Taylor

Watch for mangoes, Marley and mermaids! - Chris of Mangoes, Marley and Mermaids
Don't be afraid to make mistakes - Maria of Sailing Mareda
Prepare to gybe -- it always changes! - Pamela Benson-Lasnetske
Mast goes up, keel goes down - Linda Gurth Hildreth

An enlightening journey, not a vacation - Daria Blackwell

Be able to fix your toilet! - Beth Burlingame
Be prepared, but embrace the unexpected -Monique of Drakes Paragon

Take turns being the ship's captain. - Logan Hottle
Improve by time on the water. - Anna Black

Self-reliance saves time and money. - Anne of From Pine to Palm
Take the wind and sail away. - Lynne of Amarula Sail
Keep your eye on the weather! - Sally Pinches
A life well lived is glorious! - Behan of Sailing Totem

And at the end of the day just:
"sail the wind you are in" 

Those are my six words. 

What are yours?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Why Are We Still Landlocked? Lessons in Patience. And Island Time.

(note: this is easier said than done!)
Some of you might be wondering why the heck we are still residing in a guest home in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago right now. "I thought they were going back to the boat in October?" you might be saying to one another. And you would be right. We were heading back to the boat in October. And it's now November. What gives?

While I can't disclose *all* the information as it pertains to operation "hiatus extendo" just yet, I can tell you that we are awaiting work permits for the British Virgin Islands (BVI's) and that the process has taken a little bit longer than anticipated. And, yes, we thought we accounted for "island time" in our planning. Turns out, our version of  "island time" appears to be on, well, "island time." Patience is a virtue...particularly if you want to live on a boat in the Caribbean.

"Why not just head back down to Tortola now?" you might say. And, boy, I wish it were that simple. We are chomping at the bit to get back to our boat but - alas - while work permits are in the processing stage, we are not allowed to be in the country. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but those are the rules and - well - we don't want to break any rules or tick off the wrong person while applying for employment, you know?

It's been stressful because there are a lot of people effected by our getting work permits and all of us are in a state of limbo which, as I have written before, is not a great place to be. However, in the grand scheme of things - as one friend so eloquently put it - this is a "fancy" problem to have, so we are keeping perspective and trying to keep a positive attitude while we do so. There is no real indication as to when, exactly, we will hear, but it could come any day and Scott is packed and ready to leave at a moment's notice.  The girls and I will follow shortly after, hopefully with my mom as the very necessary extra set of hands for the two flight saga. We are really hoping to hear good news soon as this next chapter of our lives is something we are very eager to start - and share with you.

So that is our story right now. I hope to have more news for you on this front, but until we get the 'thumbs up' - mum's the word.

Patience. (Sigh)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Snikwah Sport Shirt: A Review

When we were invited to review Snikwah, I took one look at the website and was intrigued. The shirts not only boasted a ton of great features (which I will explain in a minute), but looked really cool too. I decided to give one a try.

An athletic shirt for every sport

The first thing I noticed while I was perusing their site, was that this shirt can be used in a number of activities, from boating to snowboarding, from kiteboarding to yoga. I liked the versatility and while the "original" shirts are more or less the same across the board, they offer different designs that reflect the sport they are marketed for and now offer a great "hydro" line, which - in hindsight - would have made more sense for us living on a boat in the tropics, but they were not available when we ordered so perhaps we'll invest in a couple of these down the line...


Snikwah shirts boast some impressive features that are valuable to any outdoor enthusiast. Not only are they rated UPF 50+ (offering great protection from the sun), but they are moisture wicking (with their patented dri-release technology), temperature controlling (keeping you cool in the heat, and warm in the cold), bug repelling (see ya later sunset noseeums!) and the fabric and fit is very comfortable (not too loose, not too tight). The Snikwah brand shirts also feature a patented "hood" (with ponytail hole!) which serves as either a turtleneck, face cover/buff, or full-blown hood depending on what you are using it for. This shirt gives the wearer options, which is nice.

What I like

I love the style of the shirt. It's sporty, cute and looks good on. The fabric is very soft, feeling like a sort of cotton blend, and it's comfortable to wear. The designs and colors are also nice (there is truly something for everyone) and it is obvious that this is a high-quality piece of clothing. I love the thumb holes which are great for activities where you want your hands covered or don't want your sleeves riding up your arms. If I was still a runner I have a feeling this would be my go-to fall running shirt as it moves well with your body and offers a semi-loose fit which would be good as a stand-alone piece or for laying over something more snug. It's a comfortable, cute and super functional shirt.

What I don't like

If I have a complaint it is with the length. It felt just an inch or so too short on my torso. In addition, both Scott and I could not really see us using the hood feature, particularly living in the tropics. Speaking of, we tested out our shirts on a 75 degree day and we were warm. While I see me possibly wearing my shirt on a breezy evening in the islands, I highly doubt I will wear it during the hot daytime hours - even though it offers great sun protection. Where we live, sometimes a tee-shirt is too much clothing! While the original design is also touted as a 'water' shirt, It doesn't feel like a water shirt and I'd be more inclined to grab a rashguard before I swam in this (like those in the hydro line) but maybe I just need to try splashing in it and give it a chance.

Bottom line

This is a great shirt that, if we weren't going to be living where the daily temperature is 85-90 degrees and we sweat sitting down, I think we'd get a lot of wear out of this. I think it would be a perfect for offshore sailing, a great base layer for skiing and/or snowboarding, and (as I mentioned) an awesome fall running shirt.  It's stylish, comfortable, and versatile. The company is also passionate about the environment, and for every "Project Save our Surf" shirt sold a portion of the proceeds goes towards ocean conservation, which I love. All in all, I'm really pleased to have this shirt and look forward to discovering even more ways to wear it.

* Scott and I received free Snikwah original shirts in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Raising Kids: It Takes a Village. Not a Call to the Police.

"Mommakong" original artwork by Chelsea Stephen Illustration
I suppose that living on a sailboat in the Caribbean with my husband and our three small children indicates I have a slightly different take on "risk" than most. That said, I consider myself a pretty good mom. Like all parents I tend to swing the pendulum... At a baseline my kids are bathed, fed, clothed, hugged, kissed, entertained, and know they are loved tremendously. On my really, really good days, I think I'm above average, maybe even a "super mom." On my really, really bad days, I try to calculate how much therapy will un-do the screwing up I have inevitably done. Most days, I live somewhere in the middle. However, the day the cops were called on me for what another parent viewed as neglect? That day I felt pretty damn crappy.


Let me preface this by saying I am, by my own choice and innate instincts, a pretty "laid back" mom. Some call it 'free range' others call it irresponsible. I call it 'parenting without instilling fear.' I do not operate on the assumption that everything and everyone is out to get my kids. And while I know that the world can be a scary place, I make a very conscious choice not to to put fear in the driver's seat of my life. Turns out, I parent this way as well. I'm the mom at the park sitting contentedly on a bench while my eighteen-month old twins climb an apparatus deemed "above" their age limit. I'm the mom at the library thumbing through books to read later to my girls while the three of them run amok in different play areas. I give them a wide berth to explore this world and intervene when I see something I think is too dangerous.  While I believe this makes me the polar opposite of a "helicopter" parent, I certainly don't think it classifies me as a neglectful one.


I was scheduled to take all three girls to the pediatrician for shots while my husband was out of town and realized we were out of ibuprofen right before leaving. Not good. Any mom of multiples will tell you that staying one step ahead of the game is key to survival: not only would ibuprofen help take the edge off the pain of the shots (each twin was getting three), but we always like to have it on hand in case of a fever spike (not uncommon when you have three kids three and under.) Without this kind of forethought, it's too easy for chaos to reign (and believe me, chaos reigns from time to time.) It was 10:50 am. Our appointment was scheduled for 11:15. We’d finish no sooner than 11:50. Lunch time at 12:00. Nap at 12:30. When - and how - would I be able to stop at a drugstore while alone with three very active toddlers?

I hopped in the car after wrangling all three girls into their seats (not an easy feat) and was on my way. I had 15 minutes to pick up my aunt who kindly offered to help me with the girls during their appointment and get to the doctor. I made the quick decision to stop on the way at my local Walgreens because waiting until after the appointment risked pushing past lunchtime with very cranky, sore and hungry kids. Not the best time for errand-running.

I pulled the car into a parking spot right in front of the pharmacy doors and quickly weighed my options, keeping in mind we had 15 minutes till 'go' time: Option 1: Wrangle all girls into the store, with no stroller or baby carriers, and try to contain them as I shuffled to the medicine aisle. My (easily) 10 minute option. Option 2: Put the car in park, crack the windows, lock the doors and run in to grab the medicine by myself. My (easily) two minute option.

I chose Option 2. THE HORROR!

I gave the girls a big smile, told them I loved them, reminded them to be good and ran into the store. I know the layout well considering our home is mere blocks away. I ran right to the aisle for the meds and grabbed a few cheese sticks from the refrigerator on my way back down (in case our appointment ran late and the girls needed something more substantial than Cheerios.) Just as I turned the corner to check out, the clerk pointed at me with wide eyes and announced, "THERE SHE IS!"

I knew immediately what was coming.

"What's going on?" I asked as I picked up my pace.

"Those are your kids in the car, right?" she questioned. "The police are on their way. That lady out there called the cops. You can't leave your kids in the car" she said, shaking her head in disbelief as I ran past her.

I dropped my basket and ran outside. My heart was racing. I quickly came face to face with a squat middle aged woman who had an attitude to share and a cross to bear.

"Are those your kids? You can't leave your kids in the car!" she said as she lumbered toward me, he husband meekly lurking behind her. "I called the police" she shrugged with a smirk.

"Are you SERIOUS?" I said, struggling for words, trying to assess whether or not she was bluffing while I fumbled for my keys, "I'm alone with three small kids, we have a doctor's appointment in ten minutes...I was getting them MEDICINE. I was in there for less than TWO MINUTES..." I stammered off and hoofed it over to my car.

"Well, I had *four* kids and I *never* left them alone in the car," she yelled after me matter of factly with an air of superiority, really punctuating 'four' and 'never'. I shook my head in disgust and hopped in the driver's seat. I turned around and looked at my three happy girls entertaining themselves - luckily with no idea what was going on.

I started the car. If she truly had called the cops, they were going to have to have to come and find me. I wasn't going to wait around when it would mean missing the coveted (and very difficult to acquire) twin vaccination appointment with our favorite pediatrician. I put the car in gear and drove off with my heart racing.


I know that leaving kids in cars is a big hot topic these days. We’ve all read the worst of the stories whether accidental or due to misguided parenting.

But this was not that scenario. Or maybe I've spent too much time in the Caribbean where parents are more relaxed and where I have carted my kids around in the back of pick-up trucks and other such atrocities.

I had assessed the situation and calculated my risk before I'd made my move: The car was off with no keys. The girls were secure in their car seats. It was a comfortable 70 degrees outside. The windows were cracked. The doors were locked. No small toys or snacks in arm’s reach. Happy attitudes. No tears. What could go wrong?

Sure, an axe wielding madman could bash open a window and maybe wrestle one child out of her seat before I returned. And, yes, I suppose it is possible a meteor could come falling out of the sky and land on our vehicle. I've read of sinkholes before, so there is always a chance that one could swallow our car in the few minutes I'd be gone. And I guess there is the remotest possibility that I could suffer a heart attack or aneurysm while in the store, leaving my children alone in the car until someone noticed. Spontaneous fire? Alien abuduction? Attack by a stowaway squirrel? The list of goes on... I weighed the risk and felt pretty confident none of those things were going to occur in the time I would be in the store. Call me crazy.

What I did not factor in was a busybody looking for her moment to shine at my expense, which is far more insidious - and common - than any of the other scenarios I considered.


To say this experience shook me is like saying I like a glass of wine every now and then… I was rattled and kept playing it over and over in my head. I went through with the appointment, managed to get the girls fed and in bed for their naps, and then, driven by the incredibly unnerving feeling that maybe cops were going to show up at my door, I hit the internet. I wanted to know a) if what I did was, in fact, illegal and b) if I needed to be ready for police and/or the Department of Child and Family Services to show up at my door with a warrants. A quick Google search taught me that laws vary state to state, however here in Illinois, it is perfectly legal to leave a child in a car for less than ten minutes. Phew.

Knowing I hadn't broken the law certainly eased my nerves, but did nothing to quell the terrible feeling of being humiliated and 'mommy shamed' by the clerk and woman outside. I called the store to complain, after which they apologized and told me that the police had not, in fact, shown up. The woman was either lying to me to prove a point or the cops didn't see reason to follow up. Either way, the whole situation made me think.


As a child of the '80's I don't ever remember being in a car seat. My siblings and I spent plenty of time waiting in the car while our mom ran a quick errand. We would regularly walk to the neighborhood park, without an adult, and play for hours. On weekends, we were set loose in the neighborhood in the morning and expected to be home at dinnertime. I was regularly sent door to door to track down my little sister who, at the age of 4 or 5, was prone to wandering off in search of a neighbor to give her a cookie. If we fell off our bike a neighbor or sibling would carry us home. If we ran late our parents would start calling around to track us down. That was parents trusting their children, their own instincts, and each other.

Yes, it takes a village to raise children, however MY village is one where we look out for one another and our children – NOT one where we try to find the best way to point fingers and play sheriff. If what that woman had really cared about was my kids, she could have waited by my car for a minute to give me a chance and then assess the situation. She could have had her husband run into the store and have the clerk call me on the loud speaker. Witnessing my kids in no distress and no immediate danger did not warrant a call to the police. Had she waited that single minute more, she would have found a slightly frazzled, very rushed, and very alone mother of three who left her kids in the car for less than five minutes to grab some medicine.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in safety and being vigilant about what’s happening around us… Car seats, bike helmets, and laws protecting the most vulnerable are all important. But, so is supporting each other. So, instead of pointing fingers, judging and - for heaven's sake - calling the cops... Perhaps we take a moment to offer a hand.

If we do this, the world we be a much less scary place. I promise.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Junior Captains: Send Your Children on an Epic Sailing Adventure

Every parent wants to do the best by their children. It is one of our (many) jobs as parents to provide our children with the tools that will give them the best shot at a successful and (more importantly) happy life. Of course these "tools" vary for all of us as we each have our own parenting styles and priorities, but I think that most parents can agree that a child who is - in one way or another - exposed to the world, definitely has a leg up in life.

Of course most of us do not have the means to take our kids to the Serengeti to see African wildlife in it's true habitat, or fly with our kids to Nepal to teach them about the roots and principals of Buddhism, or live as roving gypsies aboard a sailboat bound for a circumnavigation.  Luckily today; thanks to the internet, Skype and modern technology in general, the world is a much smaller and more accessible place. Teaching our children about other cultures, religions, and countries can now be done from the comfort of our very own homes.

Junior Captains is the brainchild of Bo and Alli, the adorable powerhouse of a couple behind Sailing B+Aand aims to "send your children on an epic sailing adventure without ever leaving home." 

How does it work? First you sign up. After ordering, you will receive instant access to Chapter 1 so your "Junior Captain" can begin the adventure. In a few days, your child will receive the "starter kit" which contains all the goodies necessary to follow the adventure. And, finally, you and your child will follow along as Bo and Alli send postcards, videos, and stories about each new destination!

Sounds pretty rad, right? Right. And it is! Check out this recent testimonial from a current "Junior Captain":

>>>Right now they are hosting a giveaway! <<<

If you are a parent who is more interested in gifting your children experiences rather than things,  this is for you.

Here are the details:

1st Prize: A real life sailing trip + a free lifetime subscription to the Junior Captains program. (We’ll take them sailing with us for a day, or pay for them to go on a daysail on a charter boat in the location of their choice if it isn’t feasible for them to sail wherever we are.) ($926 value)

2nd Prize: 1 year free subscription to the Junior Captains program + free copy of The Boat Galley Cookbook ($170 value)

3rd Prize: 3 months free subscription to the Junior Captains program + free copy of Voyaging With Kids ($61 value)

This ends Sunday Oct 25th. Prizes will be announced and awarded the following week.

Sign up today and give your child or grandchild the gift of world travel!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sailorbags: A Bag for Every Sailor

Spoiler alert: Giveaway at the end of this post!

A long time ago I wrote a post on having guests aboard where I outlined a set of tips on how to be good sailboat crew. One of them was: NO ROLLY BAGS. Bags are one of those things that you just need on a boat, but not all bags are up for the test. The marine environment is rough, storability is key, and function must outweigh form. Long ago, we discovered SailorBags and began what has been an amazing partnership with them. I cannot sing enough praise about their bags and, believe me, we've used a lot of bags on our boat. We've even turned a few of our friends and family onto them as well.  So what do we love about them? Well, we have a bunch of favorites and each bag has a special place and purpose on our boat.

Here's a quick run down of what we've got and why we love it:

>>>>> The Back Pack<<<<<
I could sing this bag praise forever. Anyone who knows us and/or has spent any considerable time with us will attest to the fact that we use this bag every. single. day. It's large enough to pack a bunch of stuff to accommodate a family of five on a shore trip, but small enough that it doesn't feel like a burden.  Scott used this pack as his luggage when he went to Florida for a week and there is no way we'd travel by land, sea or air without one. There are three compartments to help organize gear, and a wine water bottle holder on each side. The material is durable and water resistant, and our pack has been chucked in and out of our dinghy countless times. Our only critique is that after four years of use one of our zippers broke, but SailorBags has an amazing guarantee and replaced our backpack free of charge, no questions asked. Great products backed by excellent customer service? Amen.

>>>>>  The Stow Bag<<<<<
While I do most of our laundry by hand (I actually really enjoy it!) there are occasions when I will hit up a laundry mat to clean a bunch of clothes that have piled up and/or bulky blankets (blankets are tricky to clean in a 5 gallon bucket!) Enter: the stow bag. Ours is the extra-large size and you can see it holds a good amount of gear. With a drawstring closure and a shoulder strap, this bag makes trips to the laundromat a breeze. The fact that it's water resistant and made out of tough sailcloth means it's always up for the trip, come hell or high water! 

>>>>>  The Mini Tote <<<<<
SailorBags sent this little tote for Isla for her birthday (yep, they are thoughtful as well!) and we love it. To be completely honest, I use this bag more than Isla because it's the perfect size for for a night out (they are rare, but they happen!) When my "everyday" tote (see below) is too big, and bulky to lug around for an adult-only dinner, this little bag is the perfect purse. Easily holds a phone, VHF radio, wallet and small items like that. Durable, mega water-resistant, and stylish.

>>>>>  The Drawstring Bag<<<<<
This bag was a sleeper hit with our crew but when we started using it, we never stopped. The drawstring bag is perfect for those times we do a quick run out and only need to pack few things. It's the perfect bag for a run to customs, it's a great "light" bag to bring along on a hike, and perfect for a short afternoon trip to the beach. It can easily hold a large water bottle, a few granola bars, a VHF radio and a turkish towel.  Bonus? The mesh pocket on the outside is great for collecting sea shells in without filling your bag full of sand. It's a great "mini" day pack that is equally functional on the beach, trail or road.

>>>>>  The Medium Tote<<<<<
I'm not sure which bag gets more use, the backpack or this medium tote - but suffice it to say, both are used every day. This tote has been my main "purse" for a few years and I love it. I was something of a pack-rat before I had kids, and motherhood has made me hone this skill even more. I'm always prepared for anything; a hungry kid, a dirty diaper, a second application of sunscreen, the means to disinfect a child who picked up a mystery mushy thing from the name it. Because it's white, the tote does show dirt and will not stay pristine (at least not the way I use it) and no amount of washing it will get it to the former glory, but I think it just adds to the bag's character. It zips shut (essential for me when it comes to a purse that's tossed around a lot!), is big enough to hold a lap top and more, durable to sit on the floor of dinghies and bars, and perfect for every day use. Oh, the stories this bag could tell!

>>>>>  The Square Duffel<<<<<
We've done a LOT of back and forth traveling over the last five years. Every time, we do - these bags are what carry our stuff. We have seven of them. One extra large duffel is enough for all of my clothes for the boat (or, okay, most of them) and Scott can usually get away with a large. The twins share a large duffle for all of their clothes and belongings and Isla has a medium one for her things. I love that all our bags coordinate and the white really stands out for easy picking out of the baggage claim. Again; water resistant, durable, stow-able and perfectly functional.

>>>>>>>>> GIVEAWAY TIME! <<<<<<<<<

Now that I've shown you some of our favorite bags and their uses,I want to give one of you a bag to show you that it will quickly become one of your favorites as well!

If you would like a chance to win a back pack from the brand new, super sleek, SILVER SPINNAKER COLLECTION (an $109 value!) simply comment on this post with why you would like this bag, and I will chose a winner at random in the next week!(*conditions apply)

WIN THIS BAG >>>>>>>>>>>>>

And as an EXTRA SPECIAL treat, use the code WINDTRAVEL over at for 20% off!
(Good thru 11/16)

*No substitutions. Ground shipping is included to a domestic US shipping address. Winner will be announced on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a final comment on this post. Be sure to watch!

Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Just add Water: Eleven Ways Cruising Friendships are Different Than Others

One of my fundamental beliefs in life is that people need people. We are, by nature, social creatures and making real and deep connections with other human beings goes down as one of the most rewarding gifts of life. I have been very fortunate in my life to have always been surrounded by amazing friends. I have high school friends, college friends, sailing friends, mama friends, blogging friends, older friends, younger friends and Scott and I even have what we call "couple friends". My best friend and I go all the way back to first grade (she knows me better than I know myself and I literally thank the Universe for her daily.) Friends are friends and, to me, each "type" of friendship is purposeful and meaningful, with every person bringing value, experience and perspective to an individual.

Since leaving on our boat we've even added a new category of friendship to our repertoire: the one which we call "cruising" friends

These friendships are very, very different from any other type I've experienced. Scott always says, "There's something special about friendships formed on water" and it's true. Don't get me wrong, not every cruiser is an immediate friend - just like on land we "click" with some people and not with others...but when you *do* make that 'real and deep' connection with someone on the water, a little bit of magic happens. In an effort to explain what a cruising friendship looks like, here are eleven ways in which I find they are different than others:


1) They are formed fast and furious. Friendships blossom fast on the water, one minute you are helping someone rescue their dinghy from floating away, the next you are sharing cocktails in the cockpit like old friends. There is an instant familiarity between cruisers and, even if you only spend one evening together, you usually cut right through the small talk and get to the meat of the matter. It takes almost no time for cruisers to start acting like old friends, despite only spending a few days together. Just as marriage in a boat is amplified and condensed (1 year on a boat = 4 years on land) so is friendship. When you click, you click and that is that.
Jost Van Dyke, BVI 2015. The McGuire Family are blog-follwers turned friends who we were lucky enough to cruise with for a bit during their epic 5 month charter. We love them like crazy and there is not a doubt in my mind that we will be friends with these people FOREVER and because they live in the midwest, we know we'll be seeing them again.
2) Time spent together is intensified. Because most cruisers are retired and/or semi retired, we don't have the rigorous work and social schedules that are common on land. As as result, when you do find those people that you connect with, you spend a lot of time together. When we cruised with our best buddies, the Soeter's family ,we spent no fewer than three hours a day together for months and months. That's a LOT of quality time! To this day they are still some of our very best friends and we consider them more like family. Stay tuned for our epic reunion in a few weeks! (They are moving to Tortola on their boat where we will be living too!!! GAHHHH!!!)
Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas 2013. These two have a very special place in my heart. Genevieve, one of my very best girlfriends, of s/v Necesse (currently in the USVI) and Karina of s/v Kazaio (currently in the South Pacific)
3) You help each other out. I think I've driven the point home pretty well on this blog, but in case it hasn't gotten through: boats break a lot. Ninety percent of the time you will be trying to fix and/or diagnose your boat woes with your cruising buddies. We pool our supplies, tools and spares and do whatever we can to help a fellow cruiser out because a) you never know when it will be your turn to need help and b) the cocktails afterward are that much nicer! Out on the water we can only rely on ourselves and our friends - and the cruising community is unrivaled in it's ability to rally for one another.
Tortola, BVI 2015. Eben of s/v Necesse helping Scott install our new battery bank.
4) You are "like minded." It takes a certain type of person to live on a sailboat. While we cruisers are all different, there are definitely some core values that almost all of us share: a love of travel, an appreciation for the "tiny house" movement, a love of simple living, an eco-friendly mentality, a desire to ditch the 'rat race' and a hefty dose of self-reliance to name a few. We're a tough bunch and when we get together, connections are not hard to make and the conversation is often easy and interesting. We're all members of the same tribe and proud of it.
Georgetown, Bahamas 2010. In this bunch are our very first cruising friends and what an epic group it was. Brian and Lara of Forest and Fin, George and Kelly of Earthling Sailor, Sarah and Miguel and Jay and Nicole.
5) You probably "know" them before you meet them. This is a new one since the world of 'cruising blogs' has literally exploded in the last couple years. When we started blogging I would say there were maybe one tenth of the blogs that are out there now. Today it's rare if someone doesn't have a blog or website. This is an interesting phenomenon because it's made the cruising community that much smaller. I'd say there's no more than two degrees of separation between cruisers and chances are, you 'know' fellow cruisers through their websites and/or niche Facebook groups before you ever meet in person. This has been a really neat development over the last few years and adds some depth and ease to making new cruising friends because we already know so much about each other by the time we meet.
Tortola, 2015. Carly of the fantastic blog, Salty Kisses (they just competed the Northwest Passage!!! INSANE.) We only hung out together a short time but have spoken via email and chat a BUNCH of times. Her little boy, Crew, is only a week apart from the twins so we have a lot in common dealing with our little ones on board. 
6) You get unusually comfortable together. Our closest cruising buds have seen us at our best...and at our worst. They've witnessed the tense and stressful moments where we are most raw and celebrated our victories with us. They've been privy to our domestic disputes, wiped our tears when we're overwhelmed with our kids, hugged us when our boat's give us another doozy of an issue and, more likely than not, have seen our nekkid bottoms when showering off the back of our boats. My girl Darcy (of the Sunkissed Soerters) has undressed me, put me in bed and held my hair back as I puked after consuming one too many Killer Bee's on the island of Nevis - not my proudest moment, but boy was I glad to have a friend like her. You go through a lot with your cruising buddies and, as a result, become more like family than friends.
Our very best family friends, the Sunkissed Soeters. We have spent so much time with this family and get along with them so well that's it's almost bizarre. We love them like family and we'll be reuniting with them in a few weeks!! GAH!!!
7) You will have incredible photos together. Palm trees, epic sunsets, island tableaus, and crystal clear water are the usually the backdrops of our photos. The scenery make the memories that much sweeter.
Gerogetown, Bahamas 2013. This is where Genevieve and I first met and formed our awesome bond. We reunited three years later in the Virgin Island after a LOT of trying to convince her to head that way on my part. Those of you that love her blog can thank me, I helped convince her to write one - probably not long after this photo was taken ;)
8) Everyone has a story. They are often very interesting. We've met so many incredible people since we left, and I mean really, really cool people doing some really incredible things. They are writers, photographers, single-handers, mountaineers, activists, botanists, researchers, fisherman, surfers, kite boarders, extreme minimalists, chefs, and philosophers. We've met people who've been held at gunpoint in Columbia and others who have been shipwrecked on the Indian Ocean. This lifestyle tends to bring a certain personality type out of the woodwork and it's often very adventurous, well-traveled people who do things on their own terms. We also tend to imbibe quite often which is always great for story-telling.
Tortola, BVI 2015. Maggie and Wiley were just making the transition from live-aboards to full-time RV'ers (Harmony on Land). I still laugh at Wiley's stories and we love this couple a LOT. So much fun and we wish they were still floating!
9) They cross social, cultural and economic boundaries. Our cruising friends run the gamut and while we do tend to stick with fellow kid boats for obvious reasons, we have made friends from all over the world that cover every social class and represent every age group. The only other time in my life when I felt like friendships crossed these barriers was when I was an expatriate living in Tanzania. There, we were all "outsiders" and that fact alone was enough to bind us together. My core group of friends and I would most likely never have met in the 'real world' but there, in that little cowboy town that was Arusha, we bonded. The same holds true with cruising. A cruiser's get together will host a whole slew of nationalities, and our friends are French, Iranian, Canadian, Argentinian, Australian, Dutch and British (to name a few). We have a virtual United Nations of friendships and this really expands our worldview more so than almost anything else I think.
This is our beautiful French-Canadian friend Karin. We first met her and her husband Mario in Ft. Lauderdale, and now they live in the BVI and run a luxury charter boat. We've run into them on and off over the years and now we all live in the BVI's. They are some of our best friends and even though English is their second language, we understand each other completely.
10) They get "it."And by "it" I mean everything. Fellow cruisers just get it. The ups and the downs and everything in-between. You don't need to explain to a fellow cruiser how shitty it is to lose your engine/blow a mainsail/kill a dinghy motor/drag anchor...etc...because they can empathize. They understand what it's like to be stuck somewhere waiting for a part, they feel the pain of trying to diagnose a mystery problem and they know the hell that is a rolly anchorage. Adversity brings you closer. Cruising is a wonderful lifestyle, but it can come at a price. Complaining about these things can seem unappreciative to our land-based friends, but cruisers know and understand that the downsides of cruising are all too real. They also know how amazing it is to have a 'perfect' passage, finally fix that mystery leak, discover a great new "galley hack" and capture that incredible sunset. No matter how hard you try to explain your life to land-lubbing friends, they just won't get it. Just as parenthood cannot be fully understood until you yourself are a parent, the same holds true with cruising.
St. John, USVI 2015. Jody of the awesome blog, Where the Coconuts Grow, and Genevieve again. Three peas in a pod!
11) Goodbyes are inevitable and hard. This is, by far, one of the hardest aspects of the lifestyle. Because of it's transient nature, your friends will come and go and parting is such sweet sorrow. I'm emotional and wear my heart on my sleeve, so when I say 'bye' to our very best cruising friends, there are ALWAYS tears. Always. Luckily, with Facebook and blogs it's really easy to keep in touch with one another, watch each other's children grow, follow awesome adventures and plan those epic reunions. It's never "goodbye", but "see you later!" the world is round, after all.
Scott with Mike and Melanie (blog followers turned friends), me and my super girls, Lisa and Nicole (an arial acrobat!)

I could not possibly capture ALL our cruising friends in this one post, so to all of you who we love dearly who are not pictured, sorry!! I was going bug-eyed looking through photos and it was SO hard to just chose these few!
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