Boat Kids | Cruising World

Boat Kids

Having a pack of kids around has made the marina feel much more like a neighborhood.

Boat Kids

The girls discussing boat design. Never mind the mess on the dock—the grown-ups were probably to blame as we were all preparing our boats for the coming winter.

Jen Brett

I've often wondered what it would be like to live in a neighborhood with oodles of kids around for my daughters to play with. The kind I grew up in where the last place we wanted to be was inside. This is one of the things that I felt we had to sacrifice for a liveaboard life, and it's always made me a little sad.

This year, however, is different. All told, there are eight(!) little girls (no boys, which is kinda funny) living at our marina. A pack, if you will. My kids are absolutely loving it, and I'm loving not having them underfoot at all times. Three of the girls belong to the intrepid, amazing Zartman family, whose cruising adventures have been so eloquently portrayed by their dad, Ben Zartman, in the pages of Cruising World.

Having all of the "dock rats" around has done more than offer playmates to my daughters. It's also helped Caitlin, my older daughter, who's now in second grade, not feel so different anymore. Getting to see other girls with their own liveaboard life has been invaluable.

There are some amusing differences between land-dwelling kids and the boat variety though. For instance, on one fine November day, what do a gaggle of girls do? Build a boat. A pirate ship actually. And their adopted animal isn't a neighborhood cat; no, it's a mallard duck. Which they are all trying to "train." And what would said gaggle of girls call said duck? I know what you're thinking, something cute and girly like "Feathers" or "Quacky." But, no, his name is…. wait for it… Don Giovanni. When I asked Caitlin just how he got that name, she replied, "Antigone (oldest Zartman girl) named him. It's her favorite opera."

Who ever said that boat kids aren't cultured?

It's all a little bittersweet though. Being boat kids, they know that their time together is limited. For months, Caitlin has been saying how much she's going to miss all the girls when they head out late next spring. Hopefully we'll all share an anchorage again someday. Someplace warm.

Another fine example of the "boat kid difference." I was picking Caitlin up from school, and she was busy drawing on the board. She said she was trying to get Lyra_'s keel "just right." Love it._