Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Charming Charleston


We finally made it on the water for an afternoon sail! I can't tell you how fantastic it felt to be on a boat, on the water, with the wind in our faces. Phil's dad has a friend with a boat who said we are welcome to sail it whenever we want....how awesome is that?

I'll admit, we were a little nervous taking off in someone's boat whom we've never met, only spoken to on the phone. After sailing Terrapin, the Tartan 37 we borrowed for the day seemed to sail itself. So easy! And the best part was that it didn't take 15 knots just to get her moving. 

Phil and I lived in Charleston back in 1999, and since then the amount of container ships racing in and out of the harbor has more than doubled! These ships literally scream in and out of the harbor at a lightening fast pace. It's a little nerve-racking.

We're still working filling up the cruising kitty while enjoying some East Coast family time. Terrapin is still sitting in a hot, dirty, Mexican lot waiting for her family. 











Friday, July 22, 2016

Successfully sailing with tweens

Over the past year and a half, people have asked us either;

What's the "best" age for children to set sail ?   OR

How can I entice my preteen to leave their current life behind for a sailing adventure?


There is no good answer.

I would say the "best" age would be determined by whether or not you plan to actively cruise versus living on a boat docked in a slip. For us, sailing off  with the intent to cover thousands of nautical miles didn't include babies or toddlers in tow.

We purposely set sail with daughters ages  9 & 11. At these ages, the girls still wanted to hang out with us,  could help contribute to our adventures and remember spectacular memories. I remember putting together  a "set sail" date that was specifically chosen so that we would both turn 40 in Mexico and more importantly we were trying to get out of dodge before boobs, braces, and boyfriends. 

What's the trick to getting preteens onboard...literally? While everyone is different, here was our approach.


SPACE

For us, we knew that the longevity of sailing was going to be related to how much fun we were having. We felt that because our girls had always had their own private space, it was important for us to continue giving them their own space by way of separate cabins. Attempting to find a boat with spacious cabins, with a list of other amenities all in our price range was a challenge. We eventually found Terrapin and have never second guessed our purchase. Don't get me wrong, if we were sailing just the two of us, we'd have a much different boat!


                                        
Move in day aboard Terrapin

While not everyone can provide separate cabins for children on board, there are other ways to give your kids space.  We purchased a sailing dinghy for our girls as a way to help teach our daughters more about sailing and to provide a way for them to have their own space. If ever one of the girls needs their own space, hop in the dinghy and go!




Something every boatkid is eager to do.... learn how to drive the dingy sans mom and dad. The girls have permission (weather permitting) to hop in the dingy and go whenever mom and dad are being lame. 



NEW HOBBIES

One purpose of our major lifestyle change, was just that...change. Minus a few Kindle Fires that the girls use primarily for homeschool, we have replaced any "typical" gadget with hobbies. (Good luck finding a TV aboard Terrapin). We suggest replacing gadgets with fishing poles, spear guns, snorkel gear, kayaks, surfboards and other fun items. We're thankful that Jessica wakes up and greets the sunrise with a fishing pole in hand. She often talks about her lures like most girls her age talk about boys; some are cute, dull, flashy, or reliant.






Emma and Phil spear fishing on a daddy daughter date

SOCIALIZATION

One of the biggest fears about sailing off with kids of any age is that they won't have any friends to socialize with. I assure you, that even in areas of the world people would claim to be remote, there's almost always other kids to play with. Like cruisers, boatkids make fast friends. Our girls have great friends ranging from 2 to 15 years old. This experience has given them the understanding that it's the quality of friends, not quantity, that really counts....a lesson that takes most of us decades to grasp. 


Tuesday night slumber party on Terrapin

Some cruising areas are more conducive to socialization that others .... La Cruz, Mexico is a boatkid heaven. Both seasons while in Mexico, our girls had a fantastic time running around with newly made friends. What makes  Marina La Cruz so kid and cruiser friendly is their PR director, Kat. Each season, Kat has set up a kids net, allowing them to create kid events, swap toys or books and have a sense of kid community.

Jessica, being announced as the seasons first kid net controller

KEEP THEM INVOLVED

Phil and I are not the only ones directing our adventures, they are driven by the four of us. Our girls are actively involved in deciding where we go, what we see and sailing our boat. We have learned to sail Terrapin as a family (we were not skilled sailors prior to setting sail) and from this experience we work as a cohesive team, providing skills to our girls that will serve them later in life. Our adventures have also proven to help Jessica with anxiety,  a condition some parents might use a reason to not take on such an endeavor. 

Washing the decks in the rain

"MANDATORY FUN" !

We actually stole this phrase from some of our best friends. Every now and then we implement "mandatory fun".  Regardless if our girls are interested in the event we want to pursue...they're doing it! It's highly unlikely that your child will suggest waking up at 6am to hike one mile straight up the side of a dormant volcano to capture a breathtaking view before the days intense heat will have you feeling like you're melting. That's where "mandatory fun" comes into play. We implement mandatory fun every few weeks....and while they're not always thrilled about what we're doing at the time (and sometimes won't speak to us for a few hours after) our girls are always happy later to have been pushed to do something they really didn't want to do. We also have the, "You need to try it once" theme with food. Jessica tried sashimi once and fell in love. Emma is now willing to arm wrestle anyone for an avocado. 







We are currently stateside, getting ready for another sailing season.... something each of us is looking forward to. In the short amount of time spent on our boat, we each can agree that we're better for the experiences we have shared together. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Keeping Austin wierd




Sometime in 2001 we heard Austin, TX was one of the best cities in America to live in. Curious about what Austin had to offer that was so great, we booked tickets and spent a full week enjoying the Texas capital. Not exactly sure why...but decided not to move to Austin.

Fast forward 15 years ... we're  back as a family ready to show our daughters all the things we love about Austin. Ever go back to a place and it's not quite like you remembered it? That's Austin. Apparently we weren't the only ones who heard Austin was a great place to live... the city has exploded!

Like most places, once they've been discovered by the masses they loose a little of their charm. The Oasis, 15 years ago was a restuarant shack built on the side of a cliff, where you could grab a cold beer, nachos and enjoy the sunset. Today, the rebuilt Oasis (a fire destroyed the first one) is a monstrous tourist trap with overpriced, disappointing food....same gorgeous sunset view.

For 15 years, Phil's not been able to stop talking about the ever so delicious BBQ from the Salt Lick. Our kids were anxious to finally taste it for themselves. Verdict? It's still worthy of talking about.

In keeping up with homeschooling, we visited the State Captial and took the tour, which comes highly recommended. We ventured to 6th street for a cold beer, ate more BBQ, swam in Lake Travis and stood under the Congress Street bridge at dusk waiting for one of the largest colonies of bats to take flight....a definite must if you visit Austin. Our new favorite spot has to be the graffiti park where we left our mark.

Till next time Austin.... hopefully it won't take another 15 years.







Austin loves food trucks. 




Playing chicken with a lightening storm










Saturday, June 25, 2016

California LOVE

We made it from Guaymas, Mexico to San Diego, CA in a short 15 hours. Not but 4 hours into the trip and the girls were griping about not being able to freely move around,  complaining that their backs hurt from having to sit in one place and the general "sucky-ness" of travel by way of automobile.

Whoa, we're not in Mexico anymore! While we appreciate the smooth paved roads we had forgotten that everyone drives like a bat out of hell, you can't go anywhere for anything and not spend $100 USD and the people here are well, large. Most people would assume that Mexicans are larger people as their diets consist of  lots of beans and rice and let me tell you...when it comes to larger sized humans, Americans take the cake.....then eat the entire cake, and probably ask for seconds. 

It's been a fun-filled 9 days of reuniting with great friends, hanging out with my brother and meeting his girlfriend, celebrating my Grandmother's 95 birthday (yes, 95!), playing at the beach and a trip to the Wild Animal Park. 

When asking the girls if they wanted to go to the beach we discovered the first drawback to boat kid life.  "The water is going to be too cold".  "The beach will be so crowded".  Spoiled rotten kids!

Tomorrow we start the trip across the good Ole US of A, with a few stops along the way. Charleston, here we come!
Driving through the Imperial Dunes towards San Diego






Who doesn't love playing "cards" with their Great Grandmother?




America and their signs....there are no warning signs in Mexico..life is at your own risk