Interview with Cruising Kids

Michael Robertson interviews Eleanor and Francis to get their thoughts as kids on living the life afloat.

log of del viento
The girls aboard the home they've lived in for so long, they think it's the best.Michael Robertson

So, back in the spring of 2011, I interviewed Eleanor, the soon-to-be-cruiser. A month later, I asked the same questions of 5-year-old Frances. I just read those posts to the girls tonight and they thought they were the funniest things ever, images of their old selves and perceptions. This week, Frances turns 10 and I no longer have a child in the single digits. It’s sad, unbelievable, and exciting.

Five years later and I’ve again interviewed the girls, this time they’re cruising veterans. Their answers are more considered and the perspectives more complicated. In the same way they tonight enjoyed reading interviews of their 7- and 5-year-old selves, I hope that their 17- and 15-year-old selves appreciate these—and I just cannot fathom that those young women are only another 60 months away.

What aspect of the cruising life appeals to you most?

FRANCES: Hmm, like traveling to different places and seeing new things and eating new foods and talking to different people, things like that.

ELEANOR: Umm, pretty much the same as Franny, except I also like that I get to spend a lot of time with my family.

What about cruising do you wish you could change?

ELEANOR: Umm, definitely that I never, or very rarely, get to see like my extended family or my friends, my close friends.

But don't you see your extended family more than you would if we were living in a house in D.C.? Back then we'd have only a two-week vacation each year to see people. Since we've been cruising, we've averaged a lot more than that with family.

ELEANOR: Yeah, that’s true, so I guess it’s more about friends.

FRANCES: I’d say the same as Eleanor.

How is the boatschooling going?

FRANCES: Fine.

ELEANOR: Good.

You've been aboard a bunch of boats now. How is Del Viento as a home? Do you wish it was bigger or smaller or laid out differently—like would you rather it was a cat, for example?

ELEANOR: No, I love Del Viento. I’m really glad that it’s a monohull and that it’s not too modern-y. Umm, sometimes I wish I had my own room, it’s just nice to have like someplace to go, but, uh, I also like sharing a room with Franny.

FRANCES: Same as Eleanor, just, um, yeah, it’s like the perfect size and everything.

If you could snap your fingers and be back to living in a house, living a more typical life, would you?

FRANCES: Definitely not.

ELEANOR: No.

At what age do you think you'll want to stop cruising?

ELEANOR: Umm, I don’t know, it depends. I want to go to high school, someplace, maybe in Japan, and I think that would be a good time to stop cruising.

FRANCES: Probably in, like, my late teens, eighteen or seventeen.

log of del viento
Del Viento in Tonga.Michael Robertson
Do you think you'll want to sail around with your own family when you're my age?

FRANCES: No, but I still would like to travel a lot.

ELEANOR: Same as Franny, but I would like to, umm, maybe do it when I’m a young adult.

Franny, what about you, cruising in your young adult life?

FRANCES: No.

Do you have a favorite place you've been?

FRANCES: No, just like, I’ve loved all the places. Umm, I especially like Santa Rosalia and umm, like Juneau in Alaska, yeah.

ELEANOR: Umm, a little of every place we’ve been. Some places feel more like home to me, some places hold a more significant memory like Santa Rosalia, La Paz, and, umm, probably Tonga in the future. Yeah, but I probably couldn’t choose.

Is there any place we've traveled to that you would want to live someday?

ELEANOR: Umm, I don’t know. I love Mexico and I fantasize about living in Alaska, but I doubt that it will ever happen. But, yeah, I love Mexico, I guess that would be the biggest one.

Why do you doubt you'll ever live in Alaska?

ELEANOR: Just because I don’t think it’s something I would realistically do, but I like the idea of it.

FRANCES: I’d love to live in Alaska.

What's the worst thing that's happened to you since we started cruising?

FRANCES: Umm, mmm, probably like, I don’t know, maybe like storms comes to mind, like really bad storms where you just have to stay in. Like when we waited in Mexico for the hurricane to pass over us.

Odile?

FRANCES: Yeah, Odile.

ELEANOR: Umm, yeah, hurricane Odile comes to mind, that was definitely way up there, but I’d have to really rack my brain to be positive.

Of all the places we've been, which has been your least favorite?

ELEANOR: Again, I’d have to think.

FRANCES: There’s really no place that I’ve went to that I hated. Some places I’m sort of like “ick.”

Like where?

FRANCES: Hmm, I can’t think.

ELEANOR: Umm, yeah, like I know there’s bad places, but, I guess probably someplace in Mexico where there are a bunch of drunk ex-pats! I don’t know.

What is the best advice you could offer a kid your age whose parents are thinking about going cruising?

FRANCES: Oh gosh, umm, like, something like, mmm, it’s not as scary as it seems, something like that.

ELEANOR: It’s not as scary as it seems, but I think that depends on the person. Like I don’t think I get scared that easily, but that person may. Umm, I don’t know, it definitely isn’t like it is in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Like that’s what I was thinking of when I was first moving onto a boat.

The most surprising aspect of the girls' responses is apparent to me only when I answer these questions for myself. Many of the questions I would answer similarly. But some I would answer very differently. For example, "What about cruising do you wish you could change?" They both focused on friends and extended family. I would have answered: faster internet, regular hot showers, and a fridge that opens normally. Also, I asked them whether there was a boat they've been on that they'd prefer to Del Viento. I could think of a dozen boats they might have picked, but they both agreed Del Viento was the boat for them. And who knew Santa Rosalia was such a hit? I thought the terrific Tuamotus would have earned a mention.

log of del viento
Eleanor and Francis in the galley.Michael Robertson

In our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we lived 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 with the Roberston's onboard Del Viento on their blog at www.logofdelviento.blogspot.com.