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Pacific Crossing – Day 1, March 20, 2014

Most sailors agree that the first couple of days of a passage can be tough. People are grumpy, tired, and maybe a little seasick. If you have been at a marina for a while it will take a bit to get used to being thrown around in your floating home. No matter how hard you prep before you leave, something always needs to be tied down, or goes flying, or clanks inelegantly until you can locate the source of the noise and shut it down.

It is with all this in mind that I look at our first day. It was filled with good things, like sitting cross-legged on the cabin floor and savoring the tortas and tacos that our friend, Lupe, made for us and sent over early so we had some final Mexican food to start our crossing. Cora repeatedly said, “I’m so happy we are on our adventure now.” And I spent much time singing songs, reading, and hanging out with the girls. Sailing with a 13 month old and 3.5 year old, however, is a lot of work. I’d sort of giggle when people would hear of the length of the upcoming voyage and, aghast, ask, “But what will you do with all that time?”

What will we do?

Imagine you are a full-time stay-at-home mom or dad. You know how you are in “go” mode from the second the kids wake up until the moment they fall asleep (and if they wake up from that sleep too)? Imagine doing your normal stay-at-home day, only your entire house is pitching about. For the most part you can anticipate the angle of the next swing, but sometimes it is bigger and your unsteady toddler goes flying, or your over-confident three year old goes flying, and bangs into the 13 month old and then they both go flying. And remember, in a house that doesn’t move, you can just set things out of reach of children, but on a boat that is moving, you can’t move farther away from the child then your own arm’s reach. You’ve got to be there to catch them if they lose their balance. And the plate of lunch that you don’t want them to stick their fingers in, will also “lose its balance.” It’s a freaking juggling act.

What will we do? We will spend each and every moment of the day with one or both of our children, as veritable body guards, ensuring they don’t go tumbling and break an arm or crack a tooth. If one of us needs to pee, the other one must be made aware so they can have eyes or arms on both children. Want to make a snack? No problem. One person must watch children though. Want to do the dishes (well, no one ever wants to do the dishes), NEED to do the dishes? Again, division of labor. Need to blow your nose? Cut a mango? Change a diaper? Each objective is done through teamwork with your spouse and sometimes, gratefully, with your 3.5 year old when she can help.

But why don’t you just put them in a car seat? I ask you, for 10 hours a day? For how many hours would that work? They are spending their entire day in a moving home. Should I let them screech because they want out? I don’t think that would make them or me happy, plus who has room for a car seat, or two, on a sailboat? We don’t. I’m not complaining about having children. I love my kids. But, kids are hard work, no matter what kind of life you live, and I try to keep it honest and real on this blog.

I remember arguing with Eric in the kitchen of our apartment in Golden Hill, San Diego, about whether or not to have kids, and if so, when, and how many. Eric was worried that having kids would mean the end to our dreams, and a move to a blasé life in the suburbs. I insisted that having kids would not impede on our dreams, and technically, they haven’t, but boy has it been a different kind of adventure when you add kids, pregnancy, and infants into the mix. Today had good parts, and today was tough, and really, none of my complaints are about passage making itself. I can see the magic of being out to sea, but I can’t really taste it. Our children keep us too grounded to enjoy the esoterics of salty breezes, gigantic swells undulating around your boat like an erotic hula dancer, and a night sky dancing with laser beams of brilliance.

Poor Lyra was out of sorts almost immediately from the start of our departure. For a wee one who was practically moments away from walking unassisted, the movement of the boat has not been fun at all. She has been glued to me all day and spent most of the day braying like a donkey or crying. I kid you not. Cora did much better and tried to patiently explain to Lyra why she had to keep her harness on and that it was, “fun, see Lyra? I love it!” But Cora also had moments of adjustment: frustration when she couldn’t put on her own clothes because the boat was moving too much, impatience at how much time I was devoting to Lyra, and being grumpy when we kept her from taking a nap so she’d go to sleep early this evening (completely understandable.) Call us awful parents, but our sanity was at stake, and the ploy worked, by six blessed thirty in the evening both girls were tucked in and asleep for the night. Their early bed time is leaving us with a tiny bit of sunlight to shower, stare at each other, and sit in silence for a little bit.

And as I munch on chocolate chips, masochistically wondering when we’ll run out of them and how awful it will be not to have any more, I think, we did it! Well, at the very least, we left. I guess I should wait to say we did it until we’re anchored in Fatu Hiva. How about, we are doing it! And here’s to wishing for a more balanced day, for all of us, tomorrow.

Reader Comments (8)

All the very best to you lot! Fair winds and flat seas...
The resilience that you've shown will serve you well. Good luck,
SV Spirit
Portland OR

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCol

Happy to read of your first day of the crossing. Looking forward to all the up & downs of the days ahead. Lyra may have to wait a bit longer but something tells me the indomitable Cora will soon get her sea legs.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJacqueline

So excited to hear you are finally out on your big pacific crossing!!!! I'll be checkin' in each day to read about your progress. Hope all goes well for the family, and a rhythm sets in quickly. HOORAYYYYYYY for big adventures!!!! :-)

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

You are amazing...all that and you had time to blog!!?

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue

So excited for you!! I will be following you on your adventure!!! Fair Winds & Following Seas!!

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I'm so thrilled to read about your crossing! You are in my thoughts for a safe and fun passage.

m/y Vector

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

Yay! You are living our dream.
Matt and Courtney

March 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commenters/v YOLO

So exciting to read days 1 & 2 of your passage and looking forward to reading more of your exciting times.

Blue skies, fair winds and gentle seas!!

March 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCoral

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