A lot has happened since my last post, it’s been hard to breathe lately with our crazy life. We are back in the States now. I’m in Massachusetts and Carl is (I think) still in Florida. We sailed from Manjack, Bahamas straight to Stuart FL to get our Code Zero sail installed by Mack Sails. We were a little iffy on whether the baby would be safe and happy sailing up to Massachusetts, when the time came so we decided that it was for the best that me, the girls and bub fly north and stay with Carl’s mum while Carl sails Salty north to meet us. Thanks to the lovely ladies on a facebook cruisers page and Behan with Totem we found a couple of great guys to sail north with Carl. As I write this Carl should be heading offshore out of Stuart FL.
So how did we go on our first overnighter with the baby? Ok I guess. Our plan was for Carl to take first watch then when I got up with the baby for a feeding I would take over and give him some sleep. Well the baby had other plans. It was too windy outside to nurse or bottle feed so I hung out in the salon with him. We had already hit the Gulf Stream so the boat was a bit rocky. It must have been the extra movement that confused the baby but I was up for 3 hours with him and couldn’t settle him. Yuck. So by this time Carl had decided to keep watch all the way to sunrise leaving me to get back to bed for an hour before the baby got up AGAIN. We got into Stuart both exhausted. The girls slept through everything and had their war faces on come 6:30am. Let it be known, don’t go to Stuart FL with a deep draft. We had the pick of one marina in which we sat on the bottom (at high tide).
So I’m enjoying long hot showers and cooler weather – maybe a little too cold. And Carl is enjoying showers on an angle and I’m guessing canned baked beans. We hope to see him around Wednesday night at Plymouth MA.
I entertained the girls with a message in a spice jar project. Pri decided it would break her heart to toss her fairy picture overboard so it got taken out and taped to a wall. Wags got the honors to throw the message overboard. We hope it finds a home and someday we hear back from it.
Above; What a nightmare!!! We never thought we’d have 3 kids. Make sure you always have a credit card when renting a car or they will only give you the cheapest smallest car available. I don’t know how we fit 3 car seats in, what a squeeze. The girls haven’t been in car seats for about 9 months and weren’t too happy about it. The babe did really well but also wasn’t impressed with the constraints.
We’ve never really had a bunch of negative comments on the lifestyle we’ve chosen for us and our kids but you do see the look on peoples faces when you tell them, and I would like to thank them for not sharing their thoughts. Mum always said if you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all.
Our friends all said that we were crazy to sell our business, house and car but I think they can see now what a positive impact its going to have on our kids. Our past life consisted of high levels of stress and long work hours. We worked hard to cover our mortgage and day to day bills. We never took vacations because we couldn’t get away from our business and our girls were in full time daycare learning all sorts of funky habits and continually having runny noses. Our girls have had their fair share of ear infections, conjunctivitis, colds, flu, bite marks and even hand foot and mouth. Sure its nice for them to socialize daily with other kids and learn all their nursery rhymes but I had to listen to them scream and cling to me every morning begging not to go and pick them up in the arvo with bite marks and a new runny nose. I’m not downing people who put their kids in daycare, we were one of them and sometimes its inevitable.
Don’t think that it’s all peaches and cream living on a boat though. We don’t have the constant illness’s and we have more control over what they learn and the language their exposed to. But now we are trying to learn the balance between personal time, work time (boat maintenance) and kid time. Young kids are extremely demanding but weather you’re on land or floating kids will be kids. We try and seek out other boats with kids onboard to give the girls some other kid stimulation but we find they prefer to play with their toys then the kids themselves. It will come with time. At our old house we had a whole room full of toys but now our girls are learning to use their imaginations and are happier for it. We maybe have 2 small boxes of toys for them and lots of craft and learning supplies. These days they are happier playing with screwdrivers and helping out with the baby and of course treasure hunting on the beach and looking for fish.
We find that our girls are learning a set of completely new skills living on a boat. They’re learning different tools and how to take things apart, they learn how to cook pancakes and wash dishes, they’re learning how to snorkel and how tossing garbage in the ocean effects the beaches and animals. They look at pictures in books like turtles, shells, sharks and say “We’ve seen those”. What better education then living in a 24/7 excursion. Who wants to be stuck in a little 50’x50’ room learning animals from a book.
Other than getting here from North Carolina – 4 day sail, we only do day sails between islands to get us all accustomed to the boat and new way of life. We’ve been living onboard for 8 months now and I’ve noticed that no one ever mentions long showers or fast flushing toilets, its as if we’ve lived onboard our entire lives. We never knew how the kids would adjust to our new life but other than reverting back to a bit of bed wetting from our oldest all is well. It’s our home. The major aspect of our lives that have changed is our view on safety. We have an arsenal of prescription medication and a huge custom prepared first aid bag. We can deal (hopefully) with any first aid situation that will arise. Everyone also has harness’s for the cockpit and life jackets. We put netting up all around our 3’ lifelines and locking gates at the transom. We are officially a gigantic floating play pen. While we sail we’ve taught one hand for the boat and one hand for yourself. The girls are allowed in the cockpit either harnessed or with a lifejacket (harness offshore, jacket coastal) and when it’s rough they camp out in the salon and watch a movie – we have a fine selection of Disney classics.
Conclusion: life onboard with kids is different but we find it no more dangerous then living on land. Sure one of our kids has fallen off the dock but kids are getting hit by cars everyday. We chose to sail in good weather and keep the boat in good working order. We still see local doctors if something is a miss health wise. We are no different from the typical suburban family we just live on a boat.
Lets all judge less and live more
I was a little anxious about sailing with our new baby. Do babies get sea sick? How will I help sail the boat if I’m breast feeding the grazer? Do I continue with the disposable diapers or switch to cloth to save on garbage? Will he like the wind or beach? There were some difficulties but all in all it went well.
Carl pretty much had to solo sail because the bub is a constant grazer and he still isn’t consistently sleeping at night. Hats off to Carl who can now solo sail our 65’ beast into an anchorage and out, he can even drop and lift the anchor by himself. Getting a little worried that he may toss me overboard because I don’t really contribute anything to our adventure, what am I needed for? I’m just the milk truck. My mum is still onboard and my sister flew in from Italy for a 10 day getaway. I’m so lucky that I have a laundry lady and baby holder (mum) and fancy Italian cook (sister), we are set! Don’t know what we’ll do once they leave in about a week.
Crew did really well sailing, no vomiting or anything and I think the rocking settles him a lot. I just wish I had a rocker or bouncer that I can set him down in. He prefers not to lie flat on his back 24/7 and I don’t blame him but I can’t hold him around the clock, he sees me and thinks of his stomach – just like the girls. “mum can I have a snack?”
Even small tasks like heading out to the beach is an ordeal. I have to bring diapers, wipes, spit up cloth, baby carrier, muslin cloths to shield him from the sun and a sun suit. And then when we get there he’s not too thrilled with the heat, sand and wind. Bugga. And I’m pretty much stuck on the sand feeding the whole time while everyone else is swimming and having a good ole time. Bugga. Most of the time it’s just easier for me to hang back at the boat with just me and the little man.
My birthday was a couple of days ago and we all went out to dinner to Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Fantastic meal, fantastic company and I got to have a couple of cold beers. mmmm. I had the baby strapped to me in my Ergo Baby Carrier throughout the meal, dropping my food on his head. Sorry buddy, but mummas got to eat. One thing that has been a savior is that I’ve discovered how to breastfeed in the carrier. It’s not the best position for him but it’s self burping, and that rocks in my book.
I haven’t been getting a bunch of sleep at night and I hope he’ll work himself out soon because it is killing me! I am definitely one grumpy lady without sleep.
My mum and sister are enjoying their time here. Trudy swam with sharks off the back of the boat and has been snorkeling a lot. I am not impressed that she knows her knots better than me, showing me up. Both of them are getting browner by the day, well Trud just gets redder but she’s putting in a whole bunch of effort.
All in all a pretty good getaway so far. Everyone has been peed and pooped on and the girls run around with a constant grin on their faces. All we need now is to catch some fish and see dolphins and we’ll be set.
Positive thoughts are heading Rebel Hearts way. All the negative media coverage of their unfortunate Pacific passage is horrible. We 100% support cruising with kids, it is so important to open up your kids’ eyes to the world. There’s no better education then to travel and live simply.
Today our little one is 1 week old. He celebrated with a great a latch and mumma snuggles. Its been a tough week and I mean TOUGH. We never thought that we would be sitting in the situation with our new baby in the NICU and us feeling lonely and guilty on the boat. Every what if has ran through our minds. What if we had him in a hospital? What if we never left North Carolina? What if the bout of mega seasickness did something to his development? What if? What if? What if? It has taken us 7 days to realize that we should stop tormenting ourselves, you can’t look to the past, only the future.
He’s doing really well, we hope to have him onboard on Wednesday if everything continues as it has. He’s on a 10 day course of antibiotics that he needs to follow out. If only he was older than he could have the meds on the boat but because of his age it needs to be given to him via an IV. The staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital have been amazing. I must admit when we first checked out the facilities at PMH we left with a rather bitter taste in our mouths, I think it must have been a bit of my dinner coming up. The place is really unsanitary with sick people everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. PMH is the public hospital on the island and the citizens here have free healthcare. From what I hear the government is pretty broke and the hospital looks badly in disrepair. But this is just the building itself. All the doctors that we came across are highly trained in the US. Our doctor even gave us her cell phone that so we could contact her day and night. She answered every time we called her, now what doc does that in the US? She never bullshitted us once and as we found out today her billing is extremely fair. If anyone is looking for a pediatrician / neonatologist we HIGHLY recommend Dr. Gwen McDaigen here on Nassau. She has even agreed for us to call her 24/7 if we have an issue with any of our kids while cruising.
So here we are still sitting at the dock spending mega bucks waiting on our baby to come home. Our bills are getting pretty scary so we can’t wait for the day we can leave and head on down to the Exumas with our family of five to enjoy some sunshine. Roughly so far we have spent $6,000 on the birth at the New Beginnings Birthing Center (doctor included), $3,000 of NICU fees (we still have money owing), $2,000 for Pediatrician / Neonatologist and we are waiting on the bill from the heart scan he had the other day. It has still been cheaper to have him here than in the States and the care has been top notch.
I don’t know where the last 7 days has gone. Carl and I visit him in the morning and mum and I visit in the evenings. It’s a bit of a blur what we do in between, sometimes grocery shopping, sometimes extra doctors appointments. We will be extra busy when he comes home too. We have received his Bahamian birth certificate and need to apply for a Bahamian passport, US citizenship and US passport. I think the hardest part will be trying to figure out where to get a passport photo done. I hate paperwork!
People have amazed us lately with their generosity. A few boats down is a charter motor boat run by the most spectacular couple. Sue learnt that our baby was in the hospital so she came over with a cooked dinner one night. She didn’t even know us from a bar of soap. We feasted on an organic chicken and vegeies. Much better than anything I could do. They have also left us a set of keys to their mini cooper so we can come and go from the Hospital safely. In this day and age what person does this for complete strangers? Everyday we are so thankful for their kindness. We have also made good friends with Bambi and Pierre our neighbors here. They have helped out immensely by taking my mum and girls on bus trips around the island. I surprised my mum isn’t climbing the walls by now, all we do is visit the baby and run errands. What a vacation she’s having!
So I write this at 1:26am up pumping my boobs. I wake up now twice a night to pump to make sure I keep up with his demand when he gets home. I’m on the newborn schedule without the newborn.
I hope the next post I write will be about the wonders of having a new boat baby onboard.
Even though it was a rather slow sail down wind back to Nassau it was great. Half way there we got a couple of visitors playing off our bow, it made our day. Pri was rather disappointed that mermaids didn’t accompany them but excited all the same.
It was a great day to test our sailing skills, we had a friendly Catamaran Viento talk us into putting our spinnaker out for the first time, Carl was determined to beat them back to Nassau.
It was a bit of a bear getting the sail out of under the forward cabin bed but once on deck it went smooth. I kept an eye on the girls while Carl got everything organized. We had taken the old spinnaker off of the Skye 51.
We weren’t too sure on the where to secure the points but that’s just trial and error. And up she went.
We didn’t gain a lot of speed and it made the boat rock a lot because we had to reef down the main in order not to block the wind. I think it’s really too small for our boat it was for a 51’ ketch not a 65’ steel beast. It was fun to have it up and flying even though it didn’t help close the gap between us and Viento.
We kicked back and chilled for a bit while admiring our first attempt at putting up a spinnaker on Salty. Nice. Next we heard a humm then a loud hummm and the next thing we knew the US Coast Guard helicopter was circling us. The first thing that popped into our minds was holy crap the girls set off an epirb, or the pushed the SOS on the spot or VHF. We rushed around checking while the helicopter kept circling. Then we thought they should be radioing us. What they were doing was getting close enough to see our name on the back of the boat. How close can a chopper get to your boat? Pretty bloody close, we waved to the man hanging out the side.
They finally made radio contact and wanted to know if we had seen any signs of the two divers missing off of Highbourne Cay yesterday. The current would drag them in the same path as we were taking to Nassau. We told them we’d keep our eyes peeled.
And this is what happens when a helicopter gets too close to your spinnaker, thanks guys! The US Coast Guard pretty much hovered in our vicinity the rest of the way to Nassau. Closer to Nassau we heard on the radio that one diver had actually made the swim to Nassau and was safe washed up on the beach. As far as I know they are still looking for the second. It was a 7 hour sail back but we didn’t mind, we were glad that we were all safe and sound aboard Salty and not drifting alone in the water. Here’s the Coast Guard report: Missing Diver off Nassau