May 8, 2009

Kids aboard: what do they do all day?

After 6 months of writing a cruising column for 48 North, we're finally touching on the subject of kids aboard for the upcoming June issue. Our article is more generally about the choice to cruise as a family, but it has prompted reflections on the questions people might have about what it's like for the children. The simplest question of "what do they do all day" is so genuinely hard to answer, and could be uniquely updated 365 times a year. I'm going to try and illustrate it with a few pictures.

We spend a lot of time looking at their butts, poking in the air while their noses are trained toward the water. They spend a lot of time looking at sea life. Niall knows the name of every fish we see, and if he doesn't, he finds out what it is...ask and he'll tell you he wants to be an icthyologist.
Buns in the air
They make friends on other boats- those are the s/v Kenta Anae boys above with the girls. Below is a big game of "Sorry!" with the group from s/v StowAway.
making friends!
We are outside all the time. Here Niall and Mairen are on the beach on El Mogote in La Paz; we have been there almost every day in La Paz, watching swimming crabs, finding stingray barbs and whale bones, discovering what Niall called the Shell Graveyard, and of course, digging monster holes in the sand.
digging holes to the center of the earth
They are avid explorers of their Niall and Mairen are watching a fluffy blue footed booby chick (and parents) on an island so packed with fearless critters, it felt like a warm-up for the Galapagos.
budding naturalists
They create stories and drama, whether with their animals, in a Lego diorama, or with this puppet theater kit. Siobhan and Mairen are recreating a Harry Potter sequence with puppets from a Christmas nativity story. Hm. Think I just found myself a knitting project- more puppets!
puppet theater
One of Niall's projects is behind the girls on the settee- not the lego pile, but the white "Power House." He's rigged the model house with small, functional solar panels; he's dried tomatoes in a little greenhouse (they dressed up sandwiches nicely!).
There's no question that with their very fair hair and skin, they stand out- this has opened some fun interactions up for them. I took this from across the town plaza in San Blas one evening, where they were surrounded and engaged in conversation- I'll guess in some English but also some Spanish. They are picking up more words all the time.
Practicing Spanish
And of course, they have quieter downtime, too. Here's Niall in the aft cabin one afternoon last month, where we have a full Encyclopedia set. He's reading "F" to Siobhan.
cruising kid vignettes

We're getting ready to spend a few months drifting north, enjoying some time in the Sea of Cortez before our July road trip in the US.