SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
With the recent tragedy that the crew of Rebel Heart had to endure and the ensuing media attention, most of it negative, I think it is only fair that we give equal air time to those who have actually lived the life. Our oldest son was 13 years old when we pulled him away from his friends, neighborhood, school, house, and dog who was his best friend. The tears we all shed that last night in the house is my worst memory as a parent. But our mantra from that day onward was to make it all worth it to them. To show them that there was a reason we were exposing them to such a different lifestyle. To let them grow up in a world where you are not judged by your income, the kind of car you drive, the number of square feet in your house, or even if you have a house. To prove to them with actions, not just empty words, that you really can do anything you want. Judging from the following, I'd say we did pretty well.
Although some may view what my parents exposed us to as selfish and unconventional, I say it was the most selfless thing they could have done for us. It was their yearning for adventure that started the dream but it was their attention to detail in terms of our education and safety as well as boat preparation that made the experience the most memorable and exciting life choice I could have been exposed to. Every family has emergency plans (or should), ours just involved a ditch kit and life jackets instead of running to the neighbors. Did we ever have to use these things? No. Has your house ever burnt down? Probably not. Everyday life has risks, so you may as well do what you love.
I agree with Diane Selkirk in that yes there are risks with this lifestyle. At least with this one you get a very well-rounded, strong, independent child who will go into the world a unique human being with an array of "unconventional" knowledge and life skills. I lived onboard a cruising sailboat with my parents and two younger brothers for 5 years. At that point I was dropped off at college, while they kept going south. "Here's your stuff and we will see you when we see you." I am now a marine biology PhD student doing research in one of the top labs in my field of study. The cruising lifestyle showed me what I wanted out of life and gave me the confidence and desire to do what I wanted, no matter what it happens to be. When science no longer captures my attention, you will find me floating around somewhere doing exactly what I want to be doing: enjoying life on my terms without any desire to "Fit in with Jones" or "buy a new car because neighbor Bob got one." The boat gave me the eye-opening experiences that allowed me to realize that I don't need to be like everyone else. If I didn't want to go to college I didn't have to. If I don't want to buy into the social rat race that is "normal life," I don't have to. I got to see the world that most people dream about and experience things they don't even know exist.
I was one of those kids that grew up with wayward parents, and it was the best thing I could have asked for. I always said it was like being on summer vacation everyday and I give my parents so much respect and praise for having a dream and perusing it no matter how outside the norm it is perceived to be. The worst part about growing up on a sailboat? Answering the question, "Where are you from?"
And then there is the opinion of the smart aleck in the family, our middle son, Garrett:
It's pretty well known that there are two topics that should never be discussed amongst co-workers or casual acquaintances: religion and politics. I'd like to add a third thing to the list. Children. Nothing turns a perfectly respectable person into a time bomb like discussing children. When it comes to children, everyone is stuck at 16; they know everything. Oh, they know all the tips and tricks, they know BEST. There is only one way to raise a child and they'll see this entire world consumed in fire before they let anyone tell them otherwise.I don't care if you have fourteen Noble Peace Prizes, spend every Wednesday night at your local food shelter, AND donate blood on a regular basis; as soon as someone casually mentions "Oh, you let your child play outside? There are so many chemicals in that run off from pesticides, you should really keep them inside" you're probably going to end up punching them in the throat, and using the necessary grave digging as a bonding experience with your child. After all, one day they'll have kids, and they'll need to understand how to handle receiving child rearing advice the same way. Better to learn sooner than later.
So color me not surprised whatsoever at this Rebel Heart nonsense. Connie asked us to provide our opinions on the subject, as my two brothers and I were also children raised on boats. Normally, I wouldn't bother, because I don't think anyone should care what I think about this whole debacle. But, she's my mom. Plus, I just got a new mechanical keyboard and I need an excuse to listen to the sweet clickety clack. So I did a little research and tried to figure out:
A. What happened?
B. Why is everyone so upset?
C. Who the hell cares?
Here are the answers, as far as I can tell:
A. Couple and their young daughters live on a boat. Baby got sick, had to call for rescue. Seems pretty cut and dried.
B. People shouldn't live on boats with small children; it's dangerous. The rescue mission was probably expensive and was paid for by tax payers. They're forcing their lifestyle choices on their children.
C. I have no idea, man. I just...I have no clue. I wish my life were so simple and carefree that the only thing keeping me up at night was whether or not other people were raising their children in accordance to my views.
Alright, so let's tackle these one at a time. "Boats are too dangerous for children." They can be, sure. So are cars, but I don't see anyone raising a fuss about that. The worst part is that we've acknowledge that cars are dangerous for children. We make special seats for them, and little signs we can pin to our cars saying "CAUTION: BABY ON BOARD!" Well damn, and here I thought I-95 was the perfect place to reenact Mario Kart, but since you have your kid with you, I guess I won't indulge in a little vehicular manslaughter. And I hope that nifty little car seat protects you when your mom slams the car straight into oncoming traffic while she was making sure to update her Facebook status to inform everyone that Wednesday is indeed "Hump Day."
You know what else is dangerous? These morons out there screaming from the rooftops that vaccines are just another way the Man is keeping us down. They're not necessary. They're unnatural. It's just the big drug companies turning a profit on the sheep. They're not just unnecessary, they're downright dangerous! This girl who used to date this guy who used to hang out with my best friend's cousin's babysitter's mom told her that she heard from some guy that vaccines can cause autism.
And no one is stopping these people! They just..get to not vaccinate their kids. I didn't even know that was allowed. Forget for a moment the monumental stupidity required to make such a decision, I just never assumed it was possible. Not only is it possible, but the movement is actually gaining a lot of supporters.
In all seriousness, boats can be dangerous. But it's no more dangerous than any other way of life. In 2011, the Coast Guard reported 758 recreational boating fatalities. That's all deaths, no matter how they happened. If they dropped dead of a heart attack at the ripe age of 96, but just happened to be on a boat, that gets tallied in. If only those poor saps had been on dry land; how safe they would have felt! I mean, assuming they dodge the bullets to avoid joining the 32,163 people who were killed in the United States due to firearms. I hoped they looked both ways when crossing those safe streets too, because there were 34,080 reported motor vehicle deaths in 2012 as well. But hey, so long as you keep your kids away from guns and cars, they're far safer on land. Assuming you're lucky enough to never be involved in one of the 1,214,462 violent crimes reported by the F.B.I. in 2012. But down worry. At least no one has to worry about drowning on land! Wait...no, hold on. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there was an average of 3,533 unintentional deaths by drowning...non-boating related. They were even thoughtful enough to include the statistics for boating related incidents. 347 a year. Well shit.
Ok, fine. So maybe it's not that dangerous. But dammit, my taxes paid for their rescue. I shouldn't have to foot the bill for their dangerous lifestyle.
I don't know how much this rescue mission cost. But I'm going to go ahead and assume it didn't cost the, oh, I don't know, 81.2 BILLION DOLLARS that Hurricane Katrina cost. To quote Daniel Tosh "You want help? Don't invest in property below sea level. You're welcome." (Fun Fact: Boats exist right at sea level.) Your precious tax dollars went to the rescue of countless people, and helped rebuild their communities. That's right. When boats are affected by storms, it's just too dangerous. When the entire Gulf Coast from Texas to Central Florida is completely flooded for weeks by a hurricane, we just...go back. We rebuild and go back and tell ourselves "Whew, that was pretty rough. Don't worry though, the chances of that happening again are pretty slim. We should be just fine." I'm not saying we shouldn't have rebuilt. I'm not saying the money shouldn't have been spent to rescue these people. I'm not saying these things because there wasn't a two-for-one sale on chromosomes going on when I was born, and sometimes I can add two and two when I've had my eight hours. You pay taxes to help our country keep us safe. No one complains about taxes when the police show up to save them, no one complains about taxes when the fire department saves your house. These people exist to protect us. Arguing that the actual use of these services is a waste of money is like buying a fire extinguisher and then complaining about the price AFTER you've used it to put out a fire. If these services bother you so much, vote to put people into power who will abolish these services. Or you can just stamp your feet and make noise. Whatever turns you on, I guess.
I almost forgot. There were quite a few comments from people who thought that these parents had no right to force their lifestyle onto their children. Approximately 12,603,164 (.52, if you want to take the King Solomon approach) children were brought to a Christian Church in 2013. Indoctrination is rampant.
My brothers and I were asked for our opinions because we were children who grew up on boats. Like that carries weight. Like that gives us the right to tell others what's ok and what's not ok to do with their kids. I can just give you the facts, as I've shown them. Make of them what you will. I've said my piece. In four days this whole thing will blow over and we can all go back to arguing over the Second Amendment and gluten free diets. The world holds its breath.
MONDAY we'll finally answer the question, "After over a decade without one, why do you suddenly have a fridge?" Our lives are nothing if not unpredictable.
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