The most amazing and amazingly inconvenient life style
We are a few days short of our first month as a full-time vagabond sailing family. You can see where we’ve been on our website homepage here: www.sailingsargo.com – just scroll down to the interactive map and zoom in! I apologize that we haven’t blogged more – but the last three months have been a whirlwind of packing, moving and attempting to acclimate to our new life. As I write this we are motoring across Penobscot Bay on our way back to Rockport and I just spent a solid hour trying to print a series of logic puzzles for Toren – a task that would have taken about 2 minutes at home. So this is how I would summarize our first three weeks: bouts of intense frustration in completing the most seemingly simple tasks sprinkled among beautiful scenery and tons of fun!
Here are a few illustrative stories.
As a mode of transportation sailing is pretty slow. A fair rule of thumb for Sargo’s traveling speed is about 6-7 knots. A knot is the speed metric used for boats – and it translates to nautical miles per hour. A nautical mile being 1.15x a statute, or “regular” land mile. So if we travel at 6 knots for an hour, that’s slightly faster than traveling 6 miles in an hour. It occurred to me the other day that I can easily run faster than Sargo can sail. Sailing at 6 knots is like running a 10 minute mile! Not exactly the fastest way of getting from point A to point B. And if you’ve done some sailing yourself it’s actually a fair amount of work to do it! On the other hand, it’s an amazing amount of fun and when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining - between our sails and solar panels Sargo is the ultimate movable, off-grid home! There is something immensely satisfying and empowering about sailing- even if it’s pretty slow.
Connectivity is a constant challenge while living on a boat. Most of our internet access happens through our cell phones. In order to help that process, we have a cellular booster on our boat which better captures weak cell signals and amplifies it for our use. I’m doing some consulting work therefore connectivity is particularly important for us. As someone living on a boat and working I’ve already had to resort to some unusual tactics to get the job done – including holding a conference call from the dock bathroom at the Hinkley Yard in Southwest Harbor, Maine. I’m certain there were some very confused people who walked by that bathroom. On the other hand, as a sailboat we also can connect to other mariners via our VHF radio – which is free – and fun! One day our friends on S/V Grace hailed us on VHF to invite us to an anchorage for a visit. Another friend – the owner and captain of the Schooner Angelique overheard us talking and also called to say hello. A few days later, when we were back in Rockport another boat captain that I ran into mentioned to me “I heard you on the radio the other day talking to Angelique – sounds like things are going well!” This is a fun and entertaining part of our new life – marine VHF is very much like the old – “party lines” of early telephones. It’s common and accepted practice for others to “listen-in” on “private” VHF conversations. It’s like being a kid and playing with walkie talkies and it’s fun being a part of the mariner community.
Spending nearly 24 hours per day 7 days per week with your children and being responsible for their schooling certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. We haven’t been on the boat nearly long enough to know yet, but I’m pretty sure there are some things that make parenting easier in this lifestyle and some that make it harder. What I can say is that Bjorn and I had the kids dialed in our land-based life. They were happy, healthy, independent and capable. The first two weeks on Sargo felt like going back to square one. More than once I was ready to pack their bags and sign then up for boarding school. The constant questions and incessant bickering brought me to the edge of my admittedly rather thin patience. Finally, after a breaking point of sorts, I went back to the parenting strategies of my favorite parenting coach and author Vicki Hoeffle – and we deployed her full on “Duct-Tape Parenting” strategy. The premise being – parents – just shut up – kids are way more capable than you think – just give them the space and reason to employ their own brains and peacemaking strategies. While I’m sure I haven’t heard that last of it, I can say the young Sargo crew members and their parents are all doing much much better now! Although it’s admittedly been a little rough in the family dynamics category, we’ve certainly found a lot of time to come together as a family in ways that were harder to come by in our land life. We’ve had hikes filled with interesting history lessons taught from Bjorn’s photographic memory about the many Islands we’ve visited so far. As well as a lesson on the physics of skipping stones (thank you YouTube). We of course put our new knowledge to practice and immensely improving all our stone skipping abilities.
As it turns out stones can skip, in part because of Newton’s third law of motion: for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, ss the stone hits the water, the water hits the stone back. We’ve put an immense amount of work into making this sailing dream come to fruition – and are very excited to experience the manifestation of that effort. We’ve already collected some great memories – if you haven’t already follow our Instagram account @sailingsargo– it’s by far the best way to see what we’re up to!