We recently had the luxury of spending a night with some friends we’d met sailing at their amazing home in Kuranda and attending their daughters 3rd birthday party. Cid loved it. Playing with their girls and the other kids at the party, the endless space, and toys, though he was still more interested in balls and rocks than anything else; basically he ran amok.
I kind of felt like a bit of a helicopter parent, continuing to keep an eye on him as best I could, though after being repeatedly told, he was fine, he can’t hurt anything, its a kid friendly house etc., I started to relax. I realised on the boat we are always in such close quaters and if he is up on deck then, one of us is as well, carefully watching.
After starting to relax in this beautiful big house with white walls and furtniture, I turned my back to get a drink, Cid was in the lounge with the other children, and when I turned back in a matter of seconds, he was gone. The front door was open for guest arriving, both Damon and I were at a loss. We both headed off in different directions, me out to the street, Damon inside calling out to him, looking somewhat frantically and thinking, really how far could have gone?
The thing with Cid is, he likes to play hide and seek. Though because he isn’t quiet beyond singular words yet, he doesn’t really tell you thats what he is doing. Damon found him in an end room of the house which was one of the childrens rooms. The only thing that gave him away was that as Damon was leaving the room he heard a toy make a sound and found Cid tucked away in a small nook area of the room, which he didn’t originally look. He was smiling and laughing at being found of course and our hearts lowered themselves from our throats back to our chests.
He did this to us a few months ago when we were on Dunk Island, after toddling off towards the campgrounds when we were walking on a track to the windward side of the island and hiding behind the toilet block (again he tucked hismelf into a small nook). This is when we realised how fast he was and that he likes playing hide and seek and have generally always had a set of eyes upon him since.
Living on the water has the benefit of making you more aware of and in touch with your surroundings; and your safety. This is possibly due to the fact that there are more regular changes in your environment, you don’t have the chance or option to be complacent. Regular or sudden changes in the weather, or a boat wash when you are anchored, sea state or swell are all things to consider for safety and comfort when living on a boat and making decisions in the best interest of everyones safety and comfort in relation to the current environment is paramount.
For us, though of course there may be more vigiliance to keep a watchful eye on our thrill seeking toddler while living in an environment surrounded by water, we are raising him the same way we would as if we were living on the land, with the same values to instil and aspirations for his future.
We try to keep things simple. He loves building with blocks and reading stories. He will sit through quite a lengthy childrens book, no worries; and we often read his favourtie stories several times a day. This kids doesn’t miss out, he has the same push car other kids have which he uses up on deck and possibly visits the park and library more than children who live in houses with tv’s. He plays on beaches, and goes on walkes looking at all the wild fauna and flora each island has to offer, pointing to the birds, lizards and butterfly’s, he is even starting to differentiate them by naming some birds such as seagulls (sega), kookaburra’s (kooka) and cockatoos (cooo). When anchored we peek through the tramps at the fish that seems to know when its Cids dinner time after a couple of days and he spots fish on our dinghy rides ashore. He loves pointing to boats “boa” ands cars by saying “car”, this used to apply to anything with wheels but now he is making a different sound for when he sees a plane, crane or helicopter (of which there are a lot in Cairns). He is learning everyday and repeats proudly the words he has mastered by pointing to the objects when he sees them. He is where he should be with his milestones and to be honest exuberantly happy 98% of the time.
To us, raising a human on a boat is no different to raising your children on land or in a house. You still do the same things such as buy groceries, cook food, eat food, clean, deal with wet, sticky and sometimes mysterious messes, take out the garbage, play, read, cuddle, sleep and repeat. Though he doesn’t get lost in our minimal living space, there may be the need to be a little more vigiliant, but perhaps not, as there are just as many things to consider in terms of safety when in a house, they are just different.
The biggest benefit of this lifestyle for us while Cid is young, is that we have minimal costs, we are living completely self-sifficient in terms of our power creation and usage and it affords us the time to spend with Cid while he is so little and growing so fast. We are comfortable and happy in our little (though our boat is huge) floating home and we wouldn’t change a thing.