Continued from Part 1:
So we’re on the boat, the weather is snotty, we have a kid who’s feeling frightened and we know we still have a long way to go. We left off in part 1 with me turning to J. and saying that I think we should go home.
Without a hesitation he said ‘let’s talk about how we’re going to turn down wind.’ I smiled. We were going home.
I convinced A. to go below, and we turned down wind. Within minutes we were surfing the waves. A. popped his cheeky face up the companion way and said “This is WAAAAAAY better, can we go to Bowen now?” he came up on deck and saw how the boat was surfing the waves and thought that was marvelous.
Half an hour later we tied up at the dock. We decided to continue our ‘trip away’ by staying on the boat that night and being tourists in our own town. I took A. for a well deserved mug of hot chocolate and checked the Howe Sound weather forecast while we waited. ’35-45 knot inflow.’ Was forecast and better yet, the weather for English Bay the next day was forecast to stay about the same ‘breeziness’ but the direction would flip 180 degrees so we would have had the pleasure of sailing upwind in it both ways. I gave myself a pat on the back for making a good decision.
After exploring the culinary highlights of Granville Island we retired to a cozy night on the boat . Note: The ‘boat slippers‘ are back. At precisely 7:00 the next morning we were awoken by an urgent announcement from the forward cabin that it had snowed in the night and that any time wasted in getting out to play in the fresh powder would be considered an affront to someone’s rights. So after a play and breakfast we headed home no damage done to ourselves or the boat.
As I write, I realise that this raises an interesting point. Actually it’s the initial inspiration for this blog. Some of us were sailors first before we became parents. Then we try to become both. It’s hard to be both because both jobs can compete for first priority. They don’t always compete – sailing usually consists of hours of boredom and minutes of excitement. But the fear of them competing, that fear that you’ll need to be doing something on the boat meanwhile an ignored kid gets into danger is ever present. For some this concern is debilitating and they quit without really giving it a go.
So here we were, living the nightmare that people manifest in their mind when they think about post-kid sailing. Do I regret it? No. Would I do it again?
When I think about our sailing lives as ‘weekend warriors’ I think about all the beautiful places we go to, and all the amazing things we can do that we could never do as full time city dwellers. I think about how our experiences affect A. I know for sure, that he loves the boat and the adventures he has. I have no evidence, but my heart tells me that the more we connect kids with nature the more we give them roots. People comment on how steady he is on his feet – he’s been walking on logs, beaches and climbing rock faces since he was little. He has his teenage years ahead of him, and I’m sure that he’ll be as dissatisfied with life as the rest of them. But if he has confidence in his abilities to manage a boat, drive a dingy and navigate through a pass then my hope is that he will be able to cling to that self confidence through the dark days of teen-dom. This is my why.
My ‘why’ carries me through the cleaning, polishing, packing, unpacking, packing….
When it comes to days like the one we had at the weekend. Those days are part of the package.
The fact of the matter is that this wasn’t our first family sailing trip. We’ve been sailing since A. Was less than one year old. It was hard then, and it got harder when he was a toddler but we kept at it. Often we didn’t even put the sails up. We didn’t push the boundaries, but we got out there. Through all of this A. has slowly learned the boat, what he can do and what he can’t. I’ve seen a lot of people quit sailing through the crazy years, saying they’ll get back to it when the kids get older. I have yet to see any one actually get back to it. As he got older the boundaries got bigger and eventually we found ourselves in a blow on English Bay at the weekend with a kid who was scared and a boat that needed attention.
Frankly I’m glad we went out in that weather. We all needed to learn the boat a little better. We pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones and then we turned around before things got too serious. Next time J & I will have a better sense of the boat and A. will have a better sense of what it’s like in that kind of weather and will be more able to manage it emotionally.
So my message is this, there is so much good that comes from raising kids on the water and that is what new parents need to focus on. I completely understand the fear. The fear is good, it keeps you safe. Figure out your boundaries and sail to them. As your kid grows so to do the boundaries. When you’re ready to take on the wind, take it on. Until then baby steps are just fine.