Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PLAN: Just Another Dirty Four Letter Word (but here's ours anyway)

The BVI's
I have alluded to many "plans" throughout this blog.  Some have come to fruition, some have not.  For most travelers (I don't believe this is limited to cruisers) plans are simply guidelines, something to aspire to so that we keep moving forward toward our goals.  It's nice to have plans - without them we are rudderless ships - but it is equally nice to be flexible with those plans because sometimes our greatest adventures happen when we allow ourselves the ability to "sail the wind we are in" so to speak.  Opportunity favors the bold, so it behoves us to take risks, live courageously and without fear.

So, we have a plan...

We're going back to the boat.  With three kids under three.

Bold? For sure. Insane?  Maybe.

Of course some of you will call us crazy/stupid/selfish...etc, but we think our "plan" is actually pretty good.  Heck, I'd even venture to call it a little conservative.  But then again, you're talking to a girl who moved to Tanzania, East Africa by herself when she was twenty-four.  Crazy and conservative are relative terms in my book.

But I digress...

Flights have been purchased for the entire family to fly down to the British Virgin Islands (BVI's) January 2015.  We have rented a condo at the boatyard where we will stay for two weeks while Scott recommissions s/v Asante.  My mom will be with us during that time (after this past winter, she is positively thrilled at the prospect of the tropics in January) so she will help me with the girls while Scott gets our boat ready to splash again.  Once the boat is a "go", we'll move aboard and spend the remainder of the season lazily cruising around the British Virgin Islands.  << This here, is the "conservative" part.

We are going to take baby steps.  After sailing with Isla for twenty months, we learned a thing or two about cruising with kids.  With her, it was pretty seamless and easy for us, but we also know that going from one to three kids is no joke (like, for real...no joke).  We will be outnumbered and that alone ups the ante on the difficulty scale, not to mention the twin factor which pretty much puts that ante up into orbit.  Any parent of multiples will agree, twins are a completely different ball of wax.  So when we were making this "plan", we took stock of what we learned with Isla, and are omitting the aspects of kid cruising that were the most difficult, namely (in no particular order):  1) really long passages 2) overnight passages and 3) rough weather.  Obviously we cannot control the weather, but the BVI's are relatively easy peasy sailing; no passages longer than 4-6 hours, no need for any overnights, and relatively protected waters where rough seas and the need to watch the weather are significantly less than elsewhere.  In fact, it's kind of like sailing in a (really expensive and very crowded) bathtub.  Kind of.  

While this plan is in no way "fool proof" or a guarantee that this transition will be smooth sailing (pun intended), we think that this will give us a good shot at actually enjoying ourselves on the boat instead of simply suffering through it.  With this plan we have options... If we find that we have a good handle on things, we can be more "adventurous" and head to the US Virgins and even the Spanish Virgins and Puerto Rico.  If we discover that short day sails are our max, in the BVI's we will stay.  Our girls will still benefit from the same gifts that a life aboard gave their big sister (intense family time, living with less, majority of wake time outside in nature...etc), but without the stress of passage making, overnights and rough sails.

"But you will be outnumbered!" you say.  Yes.  We will.  But what I have learned thus far with three kids is the fact that if you have two adults on duty, it's totally manageable.  While I can handle all three kids by myself (it is not easy, mind you, but do-able) - it is so much better with another adult so we can 'divide and conquer'.  The fact that Scott and I will be full-time parents while on the boat is exactly what makes this plan viable, which brings me to the next part...

For the foreseeable future, we plan to cruise only part-time meaning that when hurricane season comes around, we will return to the states.  There are several reasons for this:  1) our families are here and we want to see more of them 2) sitting more or less idle during hurricane season was never very fun for us 3) summertime in Chicago is amazing and...oh yeah...4) someone needs to work, and at the time being while I am basking in babies, that person is Scott.

While the captain's gig with Island Windjammers worked out great for us in the past, it is just not realistic for Scott to leave me for a month at a time alone on the boat with three kids under three while he honor his rotation.  Being a single boat mom to one child was totally do-able, but three babies?  No thank you.  So we are putting our ducks in a row so that we can come home and make money during the summers and then cruise/travel as a complete family unit during the winters.  

So there you have it.  The "plan" as it exists right now.  Obviously all of this is subject to change and there are lots of things to figure out (namely our sleeping arrangement for a family of five in a two cabin boat), but for now it feels really good to know we will be heading south for the winter.  It's all about baby steps over here, in so many ways.

>>>>Below are some pics of our last time in the BVIs when Isla was about 13 months <<<<

There are actually PARKS for kids in the BVI's (these are as rare as unicorns in the islands, fyi!)
Swimming off the back of the boat is always fun
There are LOTS of little ones in the BVI's too, which is a big plus (also note: tropical slushy rum drink in mom's hand) 
Dinghy rides! 
Cane Garden Bay was one of our favorites 
Swimming in the bubbly pool
Boat baby :) 
Exploring the Baths
Leary of a squall on the horizon

17 comments:

Em said...

YAAAAAAAAAAAY!! We're so excited for you! It sounds like a well thought out plan.

Laura said...

Love reading your blog! My boyfriend and I got our first boat, a '78 Ontario 32, last fall here in Newfoundland and have just finished our first sailing courses. We plan to sail south to the BVIs in two years. We have to English Setters, so living aboard the boat this summer has been quite a learning experience, but they have taken so well to boat life. Curious, did you see many other boaters in the BVIs with live-aboard dogs? We can't find many blogs or much of anything really that provides tips on sailing with furry beasts aboard. Keep the posts coming! You give me such hope and excitement for what's to come in my not too distant future.

Lisa said...

I think it sounds like a great plan! The perfect balance. As a mom of two sets of twins, I know how hard it is. We gave up on the boating, it was just too hard for us. But I still feel super guilty about it. We are trying to give our kids other kinds of adventures on land for now, but I really wish we were giving them the boating life. So I really (really!) admire you for doing it. Such lucky kids to have parents who are brave and adventurous enough to take it on.

Anonymous said...

Good for you guys! I think it sounds sensible and exciting at the same time. I hope the new fishies love is as much as Isla and that you discover all new adventures. Best of Luck!
-Cheryl

Carolyn - The Boat Galley said...

100% great plan! A really nice balance between following your dreams and the realities of your life.

Michelle said...

OH MY GOD YAYYY! I don't think you could possibly know how happy I was when I saw this post in my email just now. I am so happy that you guys are doing this and I'm excited to follow this new journey of yours. Sounds like you have a great plan.

Kristen said...

This plan sounds fantastic. Lots of room for flexibility built in, a known cruising ground, protected anchorage, short sails. Awesome. Have fun! (Oh yeah, and it's nice and warm there in January.)

Jessie said...

Thrilled for you FIVE!! As someone who hopes to belly up to being a boat mama in a few years, I feel inspired by you. Cheers! ~Jessie, s/v The Red Thread

cheryl said...

With your experience and your boat this should be a great experience for all of you. We took many summer vacations renting a cottage and sailing our Hobie 16 from the time our two boys were 18 months and 3 1/2 years old. Every vacation since that time had always involved a boat and water. They are in their late twenties now and still tell us that they had the best childhood ever ! People who aren't water people will never understand. Enjoy !

MaryJo Boyle said...

Excellent plan, IMHO; you and Scott have your heads on straight and your priorities right. So happy for all of you. What a wonderful Christmas it will be!

Josie said...

We are also cruisers with a 3 year old and another on the way and can relate to the decisions you have to make!

I agree with our daughter we actually found cruising surprisingly easy but have hesitations about how we will go with two.

Your plan sounds like a lot of fun and without putting too much pressure on yourselves.

Sure your a ball!!!

Josie said...

Ok that was mean't to be you will HAVE a ball not your a ball....

Must check typing before hitting enter :)

Anonymous said...

Well it's about time, I'm so happy for you! It will be interesting reads when you star this. Leaving Chicago for the BVI's in January, you can't get much better than that. How much longer till you have 3 working crew members? Wow, what a childhood. Marc in Iowa

Cid the Kid said...

Sounds like a great plan! And yes agreed all plans are subject to change, thats life, shit happens, things change, big woop! Sounds like we will be heading off around the same time, we are going cruising in jan 2015 too however, with our 1 x one year old :). I think the cruising lifestyle should be easy, sure there are times when you need to do the overnighters and deal with rough weather but the beauty is you sometimes are fortunate to choose not to as there are no deadlines! The only things that matters is what your doing at any particular time, everything will happen in its own time how its meant to, your adventures will come into fruition because you are making your dreams come true xx

B.J. Porter said...

That sounds like a pretty solid plan; if I had a crowd of little ones I'd have them do the long passages on a plane while the boat goes where and when it needs to.

BVI's (and USVI's) should be a nice playground with the little ones!

The Baron said...

Good to hear! Your story (among others) has inspired my wife and I to take up sailing and keep the dream alive despite becoming new parents. We have been following your blog for almost two years now. We will eventually be sailing out of Fajardo, Puerto Rico with a little one (or two, one day) on long weekends and breaks to take advantage of our location. Maybe we will cross paths.

Long Time Follower Dave said...

I'll bet you didn't miss J'Ouvert at all.

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