After a campfire dinner of hot dogs, freshly caught fish, s’mores, and several glasses of wine on a deserted beach on volcano-ravaged but still beautiful Montserrat, I decided to interview myself about our cruising life.
I thought “cruising” was what high school kids did in the ’50’s, you know, driving their cars around and around town at night?
Well, yes, but “cruising” also means living and traveling on a sailboat and sailing around and around oceans, mostly during the day, sometimes at night. Most cruisers seem to be retired couples, but some of us are families who moved aboard for a year or two or [stifles laughter] indefinitely.
Why did you decide to go cruising for a year with your family?
I read an article entitled “Fear Means Go,” in which the author explained her mother’s advice to her, which was that if the thought of doing something scared her, she should do it. The thought of living on a sailboat for a year with my family terrified – okay, horrified – me, so there really was no decision to make.
It must be great to spend all that quality time with your children?
Oh yes, I adore my three well-behaved, obedient boys so much. It’s just wonderful to watch them peacefully coexist in 200-square feet of fiberglass. I particularly love it when they threaten to wipe their “wieners” on their brothers’ towels. And when they drop their pants and underwear, thrust out their manhood, and tell their brothers, “Feast your eyes!” I can’t think why I ever wanted to escape their company by going to work and sending them to school. I hope they never leave home.
What’s it like to boat school three boys?
If you have never felt the urge to drown your children, then you probably have never tried to “homeschool” them on a boat, or you don’t have three boys, or you have a bigger boat than ours, or before you moved onto your boat you invested in some sort of school-in-a-box instead of the free Make-It-Up-As-We-Go-Along Curriculum, or your prescription meds are better than mine, or you are just a much better mother/teacher than I am. Boat school stinks. Ours has devolved into “Just do your @#$&*!%# math so we can go to the beach!” [Um, that’s off the record. Please don’t tell my kids’ school that I said that.]
Sailors have a reputation for drinking a lot of alcohol. How many alcoholic drinks do you have per day?
Who are you, my doctor?! More than 7, fewer than 14? I mean, one before dinner and one with dinner. Wait, is that per day or per week??
Which is your favorite Caribbean island?
Dominica, for sure. It’s lush and gorgeous and wild and developing and friendly and a little bit rough. You gotta love an island that grows all its own food; smells like wacky baccy everywhere, all the time; and hosts an unforgettable, yet strangely difficult to remember, reggae night.
You must be a really great sailor by now.
Oh yes. It’s simple, really. I just do what the captain tells me to do. (I absolutely LOVE being told what to do. Just ask my husband.) If you need someone to sail your boat from Point A to Point B, you should definitely hire me. As long as I can bring my captain, that is. Just don’t ask me to tie a bowline. I’m still struggling with the knot thing. And the spinnaker thing. And, yeah, sometimes I forget how to turn the engine off properly. But I’m a great cook.
Was that you peeing on the campfire on the beach this evening?
Well, I told my boys that if they peed on the fire, I was going to pee on it, too. It’s never too early to learn that men aren’t the only ones who can pee standing up. Don’t worry, I told them all to turn away and not to watch.
What do you miss most about living on land?
My friends. Vermont. Running regularly. Heady Topper. Long Trail Culmination. Founder’s Centennial IPA. Dogfish Head Burton Baton. Drop-In Brewery’s Hoppiness and Sunshine. Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo. The Caribbean does many things (beaches, rum, starfish, rum cake, peanut punch) well. Good beer is not one of them.
What will you miss most about living on a sailboat?
The simplicity of it all. The fact that all we really need fits into a space smaller than our kitchen/dining room at home. Not taking a shower for weeks at a time and being okay with that. Watching my boys become more confident and independent. The stars, the sunrises, the sunsets. Buying and cooking unfamiliar foods. Being in the racial minority. The feeling of adventure. The daily challenge – and sometimes monotony – of it all. It’s almost enough to make me want to keep going for another year.
Any last words?
I can’t remember who wrote that “Fear Means Go” article, and I’m too lazy to look it up, but I am grateful to her. I was afraid, but I went, and I don’t regret a second of it. Be Strong. Be Brave. Go.