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How many people are happy with their life?

Nina shares her thoughst about children on board, a free translation from Frank ©Amberella 2001/02

It is a question I ask myself more often lately. Not only because we get a lot of email response from our website. People tell us part of their own life, dreams and worries. They cheer us on or give advise from their point of view. Sometimes it makes me thoughtful.
What are we doing?
The only thing I can think of is that we live out our egoism, escape from a routine live, doing what we want is right. We don't want to follow the systems order and put it a scheme. Well that is a lovely thought and easier written on paper than realized. To find such an idealistic form of live we have to give up a lot and of course we have to arrange our lives with the one of our children, because we do not want to withhold this normal world to them. I think we don't have the right to do so

.
But we do give part of our way of live back to them. What they do with it when they've grown up is entirely up to them.
If I was on my own. I could surely say that I have found my way of live in living on board. I wish to live far away from the daily mass media, TV and news, influence- at least hidden from us if I don't not ask for it. Away from car jams, the rushing and unhappy city people, who would like to change their microwave! every week. Distance from jealousy and know-all people.
But life is not as easy if you have to take care of children and prepare them for the world as it is.
Children on board?
Almost daily I get questioned about this subject. If passing tourists or people sending mail, the list of questions is uncounted.
"What about school? Do you have enough space, enough toys? What if they get seasick? Do you have insurance? What about hygiene and medical assistance? Do the children get bored?
And often the playmates of Nastasja who come on board ask- Where is your TV?
I think these are just normal questions and easy to answer, but I wonder if we get questions so much because we live differently?
Don't get me wrong. I do like to chat about this and that, and I do like to answer questions to the interested person. But very often I feel in the way I am ask that people only want hear an answer, that helps them confirming their own perspective.
The sailing subject and questions of the non sailor almost always aims at the subject of bad weather, storms and catastrophe on board. Nobody come to think, that we live a similar routine than land based people. Of course we have different priorities, like the safety of our swimming house, but than again we do not worry about aspects which are more importantly for house people. Like mowing the lawn..:)
It it clear that these priorities become a routine by itself.
I think we make already clear in our diary/logbook that boating live it a constant job without a salary. Its like never finishing a house. Especially in the winter season we have to work down the to-do list in order to get sailing in summer. While sailing we spent a lot of time at the helm and attend to the children. Often we are very exhausted from the trip, would like to sleep. But as soon as we set the anchor, it takes only minutes until our children want to explore the beach and playgrounds. For them it is pure adventure. They get much attention, learn and sea a lot and live a healthy children life. Boredom is as naturally as excitement.
I think we deal much more with hygiene and take care of our health more deliberately as if we would live on land. It starts with buying food and ends with cleaning the boat. We deal with preserving food freshly and healthy, and seldom have fast food as a meal, simply because we can't afford to eat out frequently.
We use the medical service of the countries we visit without insurance and pay cash. Selina was born in Greece in a hospital, no problem. We insure ourselves only for accidents.
Time and again I am ask if I am scared that the children fall into the water. Yes, of course. But do you always think about your children get run over by a car?
I think this kind of wariness becomes a routine and of course we take care. For example we never let Nastasja get on or off the boat without attention.
Our children are used to climb the reeling and they get used very quick to a moving house. Nastasja did in fact fall in the water, when we wintered in Rhodes, Greece. She was trying to walk the gangway with oversized slippers and Nina's shoes on top of them. Frank did jump immediately after her and pulled her out of the water. Since then Nastasja thinks she can swim.:)
More problems arise when Nastasja brings along her playmates, because they are not used to this environment, but always want to do things the way Nastasja does.
But in my opinion I don't want to build up to many fears in them. Children feel the anxiety of their parents very fast. And at sea we don't want them to be afraid.
Nobody of us gets really seasick. From time to time we have the occasionally "feeding the fishes scene" :), but that is very seldom. Once I had a bad experience. We sailed from Rhodes to Karphatos , Greece and good caught in a heavy sea. I was trembling and shaking, almost like in a state of shock... Unable to move at all, and no help for Frank and the children. Luckily we had another crew on board who was very helpful. This kind of reaction never happened since, but I often thought about it. I think it was a nervous breakdown, because I was so afraid of the children and I had no experience with the boat and myself at sea. I have learned that I feel much more comfortable now, if I am prepared to a passage and since I know I can trust Amberella, I feel strengthened.
More often at sea it is not the boat or the weather I have to worry about, but how to keep the children busy. The movenment of the boat makes them easier sleepy, which is an advantage, but often we take toys into the cockpit or start drawing pictures in the salon. After arrival at the destination, the kids are almost always very relaxed and very excited about to go ashore. While Frank and me would like to take a nap, after an exhausting leg of sailing.
Surely I ask myself as well about schooling matters and socializing the children with other kids. I mean for Selina (1 year) this is not a matter, but for Nastasja. This winter Nastasja visits the Spanish kindergarten. We hope the departure from Roquetas in summer will be not to hard for her. But I think if one prepares the children to what comes next, there is no problem. I talk often with Nastasja about the life on board, what we will see and visit. Most of the time Nastasja is really excited about traveling.
She loves animals and she compares the countries with different zoo's. She would like to sea real camels in Africa, and kangaroos in Australia. She points on a map and tells us where the penguins live and that we should visit them too.
There is never a shortage of playmates. Nastasja finds friends everywhere. She has already a lot of pen friends, children we met on their holidays on the beach.
But I personally would prefer to team up with a bout with children of the same age, so that the children can sea each other on a regular basis and over the time. Most importantly I would find for myself a female friend and a mother of boat children, who shares the same problems than me. That is really something I miss. I mean I find woman I can talk to, but none of them can give me advise about children on board.
I heard the Caribbean is full of boats with children. That much I know about the other side of the Atlantic at the moment...:)

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