A Sailing Swing

Some might see a boat as one big hazard for kids, but to us it's one big playground.

March 4, 2015
Brittany Meyers

One of my fondest memories of being a boat kid, is when my dad would make a halyard swing with the bosun’s chair for us. We’d be underway – sailing upwind – and when we got a good enough heel, we’d launch ourselves of the side of the boat and skip across the water, tip toeing along the waves and laughing hysterically as we charged forth alongside the hull. It got especially fun when a good gust would come through giving the boat that few extra degrees of heel, dunking us thoroughly into the cold, fresh water or when we’d get too close to the boat and have to kick off to get back out over the water. Shrieks and gasps and wide eyes would ensue. It was good, clean – possibly dangerous – fun.

Such is life on a boat, right?

Isla is a monkey. I think I have mentioned it before, but one advantage of bringing babies on boats when they are very young is the simple fact that by the time they are two or three, they are seasoned little sailors or, at the very least, adept at maneuvering around on a sailboat. Isla roams free on our boat, no area is off limits to her. She understands the consequences of getting too close to the edge, knows exactly how to move along a sailboat’s odd angles, instinctively avoids cleats and dodges lines, and embodies the cardinal rule of “one hand for you, one for the boat”. Some might call us “reckless” for allowing her to play freely on deck, but we think of this sort of play as “skill building”. She is never more than fifteen feet away from either of us at any given time and let me tell you, this kid can climb.


The other day, I was down below making breakfast while Isla was playing on deck, watching for turtles with her little binoculars and climbing around on the rigging. “Mama, come see me swing!” she yelled from the bow. Swing? I thought. I went up on deck and found her hanging on the jib sheets with a huge, beaming smile plastered across her sweet little face. Scott decided then and there she needed a proper swing. So a proper swing was made.

Needless to say, she loves it. We hoist her ten feet off the deck and swing her out over the water. Some might see a boat as one big hazard for kids, but to us – and certainly Isla – it’s one, big playground.

Running Out of Coffee

Brittany Meyers

I write you this morning sans caffeine. That might not sound like a big deal to some of you, but to you fellow coffee addicts lovers and mothers of small children who rise with the sun – I’m pretty sure I heard you all collectively gasp. “First world problems”, I know. But it’s a problem nonetheless. My head is positively pounding. I never knew the caffeine headache was real, I mean I heard about it, but was skeptical – but it is. It is very, very real.


How does this happen, you wonder? Well, our boat carries two ten pound propane tanks which provide gas for our stove and oven. They each last well over a month usually, and when we finish with one, we are typically careful to monitor (by the passage of time, we have no gauge on our tanks) when we might need a refill so we don’t find ourselves in this predicament. When we ran out the other day, it was no biggie. Switch tanks, use the full one and – voila! – we were back in business. Except we weren’t because our spare tank wasn’t full. Looks like when we put our boat away, way back when, we forgot to top them up or at least remember that one was empty. So yesterday, as I was cooking pasta for lunch, I saw the flame flicker and fade out – poof! – and just like that, it was gone. The plus side of this was the pasta had actually cooked, so that was good. The down side was we had no idea when and where we’d get more propane. Sometimes this can be a tricky endeavor that involves leaving tanks in various locations only to get them back days later. My first thought, of course, was “What will I do for coffee in the morning?!?!” I mean, cold meals I can deal with a but a morning without coffee? That just seems impossible. But here I am. This is happening.

My point in all that is to excuse this post. It might ramble and it might not make sense. It probably doesn’t even have a point. But I’m just going to go with it while the babies nap and Scott and Isla get our tanks filled ashore (fingers crossed).

After spending a week in the beautiful Hansen Bay, we decided it was time to move. Not because we needed a change of scenery – we actually really enjoy finding a nice spot and staying for a while (because sailing with three little ones is a…production)…no, we decided to move because of upcoming weather. The easterly trade winds are supposed to pick up significantly in this area and night time calls for gusts in the 30’s, which isn’t too crazy, but the bay we were in has very little land mass to the east, meaning gusts could be even stronger (think williwaw effect except a little different). We decided to move somewhere that offered a little more protection from the wind and, as such, better sleep at night. So we did, over to the easternmost side of the island in the area of the main town, Cruz Bay. Where, luckily (hopefully?), we will be able to fill our propane tanks.


The passage was okay, if not a bit rolly. In fact because I was up and down and up and down so much between getting the kids to sleep and preparing lunch, it was the first time I actually thought I might get seasick. Luckily I didn’t. Laying down in the cockpit once all the kids were out was all I needed. Sleep, precious sleep. The cure-all for just about anything. Other than coffee, of course.

I have to say, each time we sail with the three kiddos I praise our choice to stay in an area where passages are short and sweet. I mean, wow. There is no way I would attempt anything longer than three or four hours with this crew right now (unless it was overnight, and even then I wouldn’t want to because that can be beyond exhausting). The other day we met a guy on the beach; “So he sails the boat while you watch the kids?” (he paused inquisitively) “So who’s job is harder?” he asked in earnest. I wasted no time in telling him mine was. Because it is. You do not need to be a math whiz to figure our that two arms for three kids is simply not enough. Factor in a moving sailboat where two of the three cannot maneuver safely because of their fledgling legs, and it’s a no brainer. We make it happen and it works pretty well, but we have found two hour sails are our sweet spot. Long enough to get some place interesting but short enough that they can all be sleeping for most (if not all) of the journey. Baby steps.

SKEEEERT….Stop the press!


Okay, our amazing buddy boat just dinghied over with a french press full of steaming hot fresh coffee so I must go drink it now. Right this minute. This blog post is over.


Boy does it pay to have good friends. And caffeine.

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