Forget the “it takes a village to raise a child”, a harbour, or even a fleet, has worked best for us. We have been sailing with the same familiar faces for about a year now. Our boats have all been criss-crossing paths, but mostly we have been a posse of 3-7 boats that have all been bouncing around the harbours together since Georgetown, Bahamas. Both our daughters have become very accustomed to this group of sailors they see ever so regularly and have grown to love them. We have a fleet of grandparents that are missing their families, and transposing all their love onto our girls. The girls soak it up and we totally encourage them, because heaven knows they get plenty of time with just Eben and I and too much of that could make them a little nutzo. Outside socializing, from anyone that they are not stuck on the same boat with, is a plus.
Not only have our girls made friends with all our sailing “family”, they have grown a confidence and a personal independence (away from mama and papa) that has made them incredible little beings. It is so fun as a parent to listen to your children talking about the awesome tea party they had with “so and so”, or the baking date they had on another boat, or even the conversation they had in the bar with more friends. Even Ellia, who was our very standoffish baby, attached to my hip until the age of one, now bolts away from us at the sight of her boat buddies arriving. The funniest part is that their boat buddies are nowhere near their same age group but both parties delight in the friendship and attention that they get from their relationship. Ellia spends a good part of her day, when she is away of said friends, pretending to call them on her cell phone, to book their next playdate.
These friendships and this independence that our girls have have also given Eben and I a sense of freedom that has caused for some funny/scary situations. We have become accustomed to the scenario that when we are all in a group it is not a problem if we lose sight of either girl for 5min (or more) because we know that they are just off having fun with someone in the sailing pack. We are so often with these guys that this is completely normal and the laid back parenting style comes naturally now. But we have also found ourselves shocked a couple of times when we have lost sight of one of them while out for dinner and realized, “Wait, we’re not with the sailing crew, where’s our daughter!?” Or when we are hanging out with people that have not seen our lifestyle in action and one of the girls disappears and we just shrug it off as “Oh she just ran off with one of our friends, I don’t know where or when she’ll be back’, we sometimes get some looks of incomprehension, but like I said, for us its normal.
We are so thankful to have this sailing family around us, helping us raise our girls to be confident, well rounded, and open to relationships that can cross any age boundary. It has given them so many learning experiences guided through the eyes of those around us, different perspectives, and different teaching styles.
both girls with people other than us (Tutty & Muriel from s/v Mistress, Jak & John from s/v Jacasso, Keith & Ida from s/v Cheers)