What’s it really like to live and travel on a boat in the Caribbean with three boys? There’s no such thing as a typical day, but this was today in Les Saintes:
6:00 – Turn off alarm. Go back to sleep.
7:15 – Wake up when son taps head and says “Mom, you wanted to go for a run.”
7:20 – Get up. Decide run can wait. Make coffee. Make oatmeal with raisins and flaxseed for self. Make scrambled eggs and toasted brioche for family.
8:00 – Check youngest son’s math worksheet. Roll eyes and laugh at his answer to last problem: “Your butt.” Hope he does not answer this way at real school. Check oldest son’s math from the past week. Forget how to subtract negative numbers. Get bored. Decide to finish later. Get out binoculars and spy on other boats instead. Wonder why men wear Speedos. Wonder why men walk around naked on boats.
8:30 – Get kids started on boat school. Send non-compliant, fit-throwing kid to bunk. Suffer through two pages of “make a ten to subtract” with whining 7-year-old. Feeling inspired, set math workbook aside and do subtraction on whiteboard instead. Feel less like world’s worst homeschool teacher.
9:30 – Go for run. [Get in dinghy. Attach oars (better workout than engine). Forget folding stool to sit on to make rowing easier. Get out of dinghy, ask husband for folding stool. Climb back into dinghy. Set up stool. Untangle dinghy line from dinghy fenders. Swear. Start rowing. Row to dock. Hit underwater rock. Move dinghy to deeper water. Tie dinghy to dock using bowline knot. Curse self for forgetting – again – how to tie bowline. Tie fake bowline. Loop dinghy lock line around dock post. Fumble with lock and key for several minutes. Strap oars to dinghy. Pull engine up. Take swig from water bottle. Climb out of dinghy onto dock. Run, following path from beach to other, secluded beach. Look for path from beach to road. Run between chicken coops. Run through goat pasture. Realize this is not the path. Keep running anyway, straddle fence, and make way to road. Enjoy glorious run without complaining boat school kids. End up at different beach. Notice trash all over beach. Resolve to get kids to clean up beach. Notice fire pit. Decide to reward kids’ beach clean-up with campfire s’mores.]
11:00 – Return to boat. Jump in water to rinse off sweat. Hang now-wet running clothes from lifeline. Make lunch. While slicing baguette, accidentally slice pinky finger. Swear loudly. Scare children. Hear kids call, “Dad! Come quick!” Soak cut finger in seawater. Read first aid manual, which says do not clean wounds with seawater. Try to doctor self but give in and let husband dress wound. Assure kids finger is not cut off.
1:00 – Pack two backpacks with water bottles, towels, first aid kit, garbage bag, wallet, playing cards, books, t-shirts, snacks, matches, shoes, and s’mores ingredients. Clip sailing knife to waistband of skort. Say good-bye to husband and wish him luck as he takes sailboat out to go fishing. Get in dinghy. Row dinghy to shore while all three boys paddle over on paddle board. When halfway to shore, look down and notice pinky is bleeding through bandage. Curse. Pass boat full of beautiful French people. Respond to beautiful French people’s request for lighter to start grill. Lend beautiful French people matches. Accept cold beer in return. Hope beautiful French people don’t notice blood dripping from pinky onto dinghy.
1:30 – Sit on rock at end of beach to re-bandage pinky finger out of sight of elegant French tourists. Pry open beer bottle with sailing knife. Take grateful swig of free beer. Assure boys pinky will not fall off. Watch boys swim.
2:00 – Take boys along path to secluded beach. Notice broken glass all over path. Tell barefoot boys not to step on it. Arrive at secluded beach. Collect shells and seaglass with boys. Marvel at hermit crabs of all sizes crawling ALL OVER the beach. Show boys interesting rock formation. Feel disappointed at their disinterest. Express delight in their discoveries. Diffuse mega-meltdown from youngest son after “something” grabs his foot. [Foot is uninjured. Son cuts hand while smashing his beautiful shell during meltdown.] Handle minor meltdown from middle son who discovers ants in his shoes. Consider having own meltdown over boys who have meltdowns.
2:30 – Propose beach clean-up project to boys. Feel relieved when they agree. Promise s’mores as reward. Fill one plastic kitchen garbage bag with discarded and washed-up trash. Collect palm fronds, coconut shells, twigs, and sticks for fire. Hope twigs and sticks are not from poisonous manchineel tree. Strip bark from ends of sticks with sailing knife to make marshmallow roasting sticks. Feel pride and relief when boys get small fire going by themselves. Assist with s’more making. Resist eating s’mores and eat prunes and figs instead. Feel virtuous for healthy eating habits and successful beach projects.
3:00 – Tell boys to put out fire. Watch youngest son pee on fire. Instruct boys to fill up coconut shells with seawater and pour on fire instead. Pack up all belongings and walk back to other beach to meet husband on sailboat. Sit on rock at other end of beach to re-bandage pinky finger again out of sight of elegant French tourists. Wish for another free beer.
3:30 – Watch boys play on paddle board. Explain topless sunbathing to youngest son who wonders why that lady is not wearing a “bra.” Wonder when husband will return with sailboat (a.k.a. home) from fishing expedition. Sit on dock and play sudoku. Think about sunbathing topless. Decide not to.
4:00 – Wonder IF husband will return from fishing with sailboat. Wonder how one summons Coast Guard in French.
4:10 – Notice Alchemy approaching. Watch able husband anchor boat all by himself. Pack up stuff and kids. Dinghy back to boat. Learn that fishing trip was unsuccessful. Wonder if family will eat rice and beans.
4:30 to present – Move boat to different bay. Make pasta and salad. Make kids do more boat school while husband and oldest son go ashore to get water, pick up laundry, buy boxed wine and rum, and seek out protein. Feel thankful when they return with roast chicken (poulet roti). Drink French wine from box. Drink more French wine from box. Write tediously detailed account of daily life on a boat while cursing slow internet connection. Drink more French wine from box. Eat French cheese. Curse and envy the French and their good wine and tasty cheese and perfect bread and divine pastries and trim physiques and topless, beSpeedoed bodies. Realize it’s time to leave the French islands for…..