Shipboard Reading: The Hobbit

We’re fast approaching the two-year mark from the day we embarked on this adventure. Several times I’ve written about our concern for the girls’ wellbeing, growing up on a transient cruising boat. Our concern can’t be helped and conclusions are difficult to draw because the calculus is not straightforward.

Del Viento- Eleanor

Eleanor posing gamely with my in-need-of-servicing heat exchanger. I've since had it serviced and I put it back on the engine, good for another 3,000 hours.Michael Robertson

We’re fast approaching the two-year mark from the day we embarked on this adventure. Several times I’ve written about our concern for the girls’ wellbeing, growing up on a transient cruising boat. Our concern can’t be helped and conclusions are difficult to draw because the calculus is not straightforward.

And the questions we’ve always asked ourselves have always been in the future sense. All variations of: Will the benefits of this alternative lifestyle outweigh the drawbacks? I realized recently that we no longer have to look forward and wonder, but can look at who they are now. For two years Eleanor and Frances have been living and learning—growing up—as cruisers. It’s a big chunk of time in their lives. And they have flourished.

Eleanor is reading The Hobbit. She also carries a Hobbit script around with her because she and the rest of her drama class will be in a production of The Hobbi_t just days before we leave to sail north to Alaska. As you can imagine, that girl eagerly awaited opening day of _The Hobbit motion picture.

But she’s not going to see it.

She wrote the following in a letter to my mom, her grandmother, a couple nights ago:
"Tonight my mom is going to see the movie The Hobbit in the IMAX theater. She was okay with taking me and gave me the choice, even though it seemed inappropriate she was giving me the choice though, because I am in the play and I am reading the book. She showed me a preview of it...and I said no. It made me sad because I had really wanted to see it, but from the preview (which was on a small laptop) it was really violent and I didn't want to watch it. And I had to remember that I was watching the preview on a laptop, and I would actually be watching it on a six-story-tall screen in a movie theater and it would be super loud."

At nine, Eleanor’s arrived at the age where she can appreciate the weight of decision-making. We give her increasing leeway and it’s gratifying that she’s able to recognize a decision that serves her own interests, even when that decision is unpleasant. And when she demonstrates the maturity to act on her conclusion as she did, and to relate that to her grandma, my heart swells.

It’s impossible to say how she is different than who she would have been had we not left. We may have even seen the same outcome from the same circumstances in our old life. But I’m encouraged nonetheless because it’s evidence she is maturing nicely in this life and I have no evidence to the contrary—for neither of my girls.

We will probably never know whether this lifestyle is the best for them. And even if things are going well today, the girls and their needs may change. Yet I am comforted that as cruisers we are nimble and can adjust our pace and place according to our needs.

And wherever we are, a life afloat means that we live much more closely together, every day. Eleanor and Frances have many opportunities for taking responsibility, both as members of the family, but also as crew of Del Viento. They're stepping up, doing chores, and accepting other jobs without complaint. Independently, they're finding and exploring their own passions. They're kind, happy girls—and thankfully not obviously suffering from our decision to trade the daily grind for sea sickness, financial unrest, and togetherness.

--MR

I__n our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at http://www.logofdelviento.blogspot.com/