Porter just came back to the boat having seen a tufted puffin. Hmm, never mind that the southern distribution of a tufted puffin is probably the Pacific Northwest, it was fun to see him excited from a solo excursion in the kayak, return to the boat and pull the bird books down to ID a new bird. Sure he can claim an Arctic bird in Mexico. Thinking tern, but I hate to burst his bubble.
The boys are quickly outpacing me in their knowledge of boat systems. They both raise sails pretty efficiently, can lower and raise the anchor, lower and raise the dinghy off the davits and land the dinghy better than I can in surf or rocky beaches. They communicate on the VHF radio with other boats fairly professionally and probably have a better understanding of the electrical systems on the boat.....what switch gets flipped when we are on shore power, making power with the generator, drawing power from the batteries (DC power) or solar panels. In fairness to me, all knowledge stems from their need to have devices charged, but we are slowly weening them of their need for those. A few games in the morning, the occasional movie in the evening or when we are doing a rough crossing, downloading a new game when we have our sporadic wifi. More of the device time is starting to be filled with electronic reading, so I’m grateful for that. Neither boy had a huge love for reading to themselves before we left, so we are trying to slowly change that, and if successful I will definitely be doing a happy dance. They both still love being read to, so we do spend time reading history books and other biographies to them, which is nice to have time for.
We are currently anchored out from the small town of Melaque. We have met up with friends on Family Circus and Apropos. Last night we enjoyed a lovely dinner of fish tacos on Family Circus. 6 adults and nine kids aboard and it never felt cramped, we are slowly being sold on catamarans. Next cruise! We've been swimming, the kids have been boating, we've taken the dinghy back across the bay to meet the french baker, we've shared meals with friends and we are just taking it easy in Melaque. The homeschooling continues, although we've been on a lighter schedule lately. We've had a few friends ask us what we do all day. A typical day at anchor goes something like this:
Wake up, listen to any radio net that may be available (usually in more populated anchorages or towns). Otherwise we get on the SSB radio and listen for weather or download a weather fax.
Breakfast and then homeschooling for the kids. Mike usually has at least one project to work on. Yesterday, for example, he fixed the boost pump for our water maker. There is always something on a boat. In fact, more than once I have heard sailors say "cruising is just boat maintenance in foreign ports". Knock on wood, we've been pretty lucky with systems working well, but that is mostly because of the time Mike spent making sure everything was working well before we left the dock. At some point, things will start to break or need general maintenance.
Homeschooling for the kids: The boys do a lesson in Saxon Math pretty much every day, a journal entry and then they alternate between other subjects that we don't typically do daily. Science is usually hands on, Zander is currently reading the PADI open water diver manual and is learning tons of physics. Writing is dreaded by both boys, but usually consists of book reports, blog entries, letters to grandparents and the occasional research project when we have wifi. History consists of being read the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. I can’t recommend her books enough. The boys love them and tolerate the accompanying workbooks. No, I don’t expect they will remember every detail or date, but they get a general sense of which past societies were most influential and they learn little nuggets of trivia that are relevant today. Several days ago Zander was reading an Astrix comic book and I heard him say “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered). Napoleon didn’t say that, Cesar did”. OK, so abstract latin sayings won’t get him writing essay’s better, but it is fun to see him recognizing historically significant content in his reading. Otherwise we have plenty of supplemental resources; books on local history and culture, ID guides (fish, star, bird, and marine mammal), sexton (used once so far), documentaries (when we need a break or on passages) and many other educational apps and online resources. Spanish is coming slowly, but we are trying to bring more and more of that into our conversations. We are finding, unfortunately, while cruising, the kids are exposed to a surprisingly little actual Spanish learning opportunity. Too much time with Mom and Dad and not enough time with locals. What is Anakena doing all this time? She is amazingly content to stay on the boat....forever, I think! She loves doing her homework, she plays for hours with her toys and in constantly creating little crafts that we have to find a place to hang. She is not always easy, she still needs a lot of help with things aboard. Sailboats aren’t necessarily made for 4 year olds, but we are working on her being more and more independent. What am I doing? Trying to keep the boys on task......I can’t even say I am instructing most of the time, I’m just tying to keep them focused, not in each others space and productive. Nothing short of a miracle some days!
After school we get to play. We usually do some sort of excursion and get off the boat; a snorkeling trip, kayak/paddle board tour, boogie boarding or something similar. We will also spend time ashore either doing errands in town or hanging out on the beach watching the kids play and catching up with computer projects. If we are anchored off a town, there are invariably errands we will need to run; provisioning, hardware store runs, diesel runs, etc. If we are anchored off a quieter beach we often just hang out playing on the beach until the sun goes down.
Evenings are quiet. If we are sharing an anchorage with friends we love to try and get as much socializing in as possible. If not, we hang out on the boat in the cockpit reading to the kids, watching for shooting stars, playing games and there is always the occasional movie session (more often than I care to admit). Nights are early, we are usually in bed near cruisers midnight (which is about 9pm).
The wonderful thing about cruising is there are just enough moments in the day that you are truly working hard (exhausting watches, less than comfortable sailing, extreme cooking (try cooking bacon and boiling water when the boat is lurching around), jerry rigging systems at sea or trouble shooting systems at anchor that you never feel like you are on vacation. You are constantly trying to keep a boat afloat, kids educated, entertained and healthy and not kill each other in an environment that just happens to look and feel very close to paradise. It is not all magic, but there are magical moments that make the seasickness, the crusty clothes, the absence of certain comforts all worth while, and then some. We are truly lucky to be out here, and most days we remember it!