Friday, January 09, 2015

Return to the Blue Lagoon: Flying South

"We're leaving in nine days," Scott said to me while eating dinner last night. "It doesn't feel like we're leaving in nine days," he paused. "Shouldn't it feel like we're leaving in nine days?"  I agreed and then contemplated; what, exactly, should we be feeling? Because he is right, as I sit here on the couch listening to the television drone on in the background as our three little ones slumber peacefully, it feels very much like business as usual. At this moment, we're no different than any suburban family. Sure, we've shipped three boxes of personal effects and goods to the island of Tortola, and I have packed up the clothes for the girls and myself. I've had no fewer than five "farewell" dinners with close friends and the bottom of our boat is getting prepped and painted as we speak so she's ready to splash when we return. But, still, it just doesn't feel like this is really happening.

This move, understandably, feels pretty momentous which is kind of hilarious considering our "cruising plans" are so un-adventurous they border on laughable. But what we are trading in nautical miles and passages, we are gaining in the unchartered waters of "three under three" on a boat. I don't know of many (any?) boats out there that have our configuration of little children aboard (if you know of any, please let us know! Would love any tips and tricks). Lots of boats have kids of course, and many have a baby on board, I've even heard of a few boats with twins - but three kids under three? This is certainly rare which inadvertently puts us on the front lines of this whole "boating with multiple babies" thing. And, based on blog stats, interview requests and emails, I think there are a lot of people out there that really want to see how - and if - this pans out. Some days - most days - I am hopelessly optimistic about what we are doing, totally adopting the "we got this" attitude. Other days I worry that we are getting in over our heads. Only time will tell.

So how does it feel? Surreal. For so long this move was just an arbitrary date in the distant future and now it's just over a week away. On the one hand, we're heading back to our home and a very familiar lifestyle. On the other, we have doubled our crew tipping the parent-to-child ratio in favor of the kids which ups the "challenge" quotient considerably. There's a lot to think about, and a ton to prepare. Lucky for us, I practically have a masters degree in preparation. As with anything - I am being very thorough about our return. Where will they bathe? How will we get in and out of the dinghy? How will they sit in the dinghy? Where will they sleep? Which toys will give us the most bang for the buck? How will boat projects ever get completed? Which craft supplies make the most sense? What will be the most versatile safety seat to use? How will we manage naps? Will one of us ever be able to handle all three alone on the boat so the other can rest? Every day I run through at least a dozen scenarios in my head like a professional athlete might visualize winning before ever setting foot on the field, court or track. Preparation. While we are definitely jumping into the water head first with this whole "three babies on a boat" thing, we are certainly not doing it blindly. We have the fortunate experience of having lived aboard and cruised over 5K nautical miles with *one* baby, which gives us a picture - albeit a very vague one - of what we might be in for.

These past few days have been a blur of organizing, selling and purging goods. I have an incredibly detailed packing list (I love my lists!) that continues to grow because with each item added, another item goes along with it. For example, if I need the camera, I must have the charger, the spare battery, the float strap, the DC battery charger...and oh! That reminds me, I need another DC USB plug...and, what about the DC computer chargers...and the hard drives for storage and...hmm...speaking of electronics, did we need more head lamps? Those things are notorious for disappearing...and do we need extra batteries for the white noise machines for the babies? You get the picture. The list grows, and grows and grows - no matter how thoughtful and discerning we are. For a lifestyle that is touted as "minimalist" - we sure 'need' a lot of stuff. Without realizing it and with very little effort, our list has grown Fibonacci sequence-style.

Friends of ours just left today on their maiden voyage, and in their blog post they shared this great quote by Tegan Phillips that so perfectly put this crazy packing whirlwind into perspective:
I wish I had known how easy adventuring can be so I could have avoided the ‘preparation panic’ people often face before trips of any sort, where you somehow convince yourself that if you don’t have this particular tool or type of tent or type of saddle or type of clothing even then your adventure will be a disaster and you will probably die. As I discovered, whatever you are going to do, the chances are somebody has done it with much less than you and somehow survived.
Of course traveling with a toddler and twinfants makes our situation slightly more unique than most. While we do try to adhere to the "less is more" approach to kids stuff (the twins got their first "high chairs" last week, prior to this we ate on the floor!) we need to be very mindful of safety and security which requires a lot of forethought and, yes, gear. Harnesses, tethers, life jackets, additional webbing and buckles, new materials for lee cloths and a twin bunk, more netting to secure the bow and pushpit...etc. There is so much to consider - particularly because we have one twin (Haven) who is a bonafide "Dennis the Menace" and is walking now - that even though we are going to some of the most "developed" islands we've been to where we will be able to get most anything we could get here (at a premium, of course) - we are still pouring over our packing list as if we were going to the moon. Only this time it's not provisions and boat parts we're thinking about, but baby gear. Oh, how times have changed!

So...I'm not quite sure how it should feel when we are about to take a giant leap into a pool that many people think we are quite insane to jump into. All I know is that a) it doesn't really feel like were leaving and b) when I sit and really think about it, it feels a little sad, a little happy, a little nerve-wracking, a little uncertain and a lot exciting. T-minus eight days until this family is island-bound.


thirdofeight said...

Yay! You make me so excited for you guys. You can do it.

And oh, the tales you'll be able to tell from a life so lived; not a life of ease, but one of courage and ambition and likely a few moments of the sublime. Way to go. I've told you before, you give the rest of us the unconscious permission to be, to do... to take reasonable chances, and to make something of our lives! Thank you, and thank you for sharing it with us all.

Love the quote BTW.

Cheryl @ Mid-Life Cruising! said...

As I've said before when you contemplated sailing with Isla (and did) ... I'm sure you'll do fine! You're very well organized ... and experienced with living on a boat! Challenges will arrive, but you've got this.

Excited to read about your sailing SUCCESS in the islands .. and since I'm stuck here for one more year (getting close) I can't wait to see some pictures of the islands and sun!

Best wishes!

christa said...

"Hopelessly optimistic" is a wonderful trait to have!
And since your boat is like a part of the family, I have a hunch you will find the boat taking care of those little ones in ways you didn't expect; built in babysitting, rocking to sleep, invented games on the cabin sole, and on and on.
Can't wait to read about Isla's return and the twins' introduction to life onboard.

PS And preparation frenzy is also rewarded with at least one blissfully peaceful, serene sunset-on-a-boat moment....

Budget Boater said...

Having cruised with two under two on a small sail boat over a decade ago, I can give you some perspective on your preparations and questions.

You asked, "Where will they bathe? How will we get in and out of the dinghy? How will they sit in the dinghy? Where will they sleep? Which toys will give us the most bang for the buck? How will boat projects ever get completed? Which craft supplies make the most sense? What will be the most versatile safety seat to use? How will we manage naps? Will one of us ever be able to handle all three alone on the boat so the other can rest?"

I can answer all of these questions with the same sentence:

You will know when you find out.

While it is good to prepare (I too am a preparation expert - two is one, one is none type), no amount of preparation will trump first hand experience.

We had a bathing plan; it went out the window. In and out of the dingy? It changed with the situation. Toys? Sand, shells, and winch handles saw more use than all of the other toys combined. I could go on, but you get the idea.

The reality is that for every question you might have, in the end, the answer will always be the same, and you will find the answers when you experience the situations.

The learning experiences are part of the joy of the journey. So enjoy them.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...