One of my fondest memories of being a boat kid, is when my dad would make a halyard swing with the bosun's chair for us. We'd be underway - sailing upwind - and when we got a good enough heel, we'd launch ourselves of the side of the boat and skip across the water, tip toeing along the waves and laughing hysterically as we charged forth alongside the hull. It got especially fun when a good gust would come through giving the boat that few extra degrees of heel, dunking us thoroughly into the cold, fresh water or when we'd get too close to the boat and have to kick off to get back out over the water. Shrieks and gasps and wide eyes would ensue. It was good, clean - possibly dangerous - fun.
Such is life on a boat, right?
Isla is a monkey. I think I have mentioned it before, but one advantage of bringing babies on boats when they are very young is the simple fact that by the time they are two or three, they are seasoned little sailors or, at the very least, adept at maneuvering around on a sailboat. Isla roams free on our boat, no area is off limits to her. She understands the consequences of getting too close to the edge, knows exactly how to move along a sailboat's odd angles, instinctively avoids cleats and dodges lines, and embodies the cardinal rule of "one hand for you, one for the boat". Some might call us "reckless" for allowing her to play freely on deck, but we think of this sort of play as "skill building". She is never more than fifteen feet away from either of us at any given time and let me tell you, this kid can climb.
The other day, I was down below making breakfast while Isla was playing on deck, watching for turtles with her little binoculars and climbing around on the rigging. "Mama, come see me swing!" she yelled from the bow. Swing? I thought. I went up on deck and found her hanging on the jib sheets with a huge, beaming smile plastered across her sweet little face. Scott decided then and there she needed a proper swing. So a proper swing was made.
Needless to say, she loves it. We hoist her ten feet off the deck and swing her out over the water. Some might see a boat as one big hazard for kids, but to us - and certainly Isla - it's one, big playground.