As a young girl, I was drawn to the courageous exploits of the Cooper family from Frank Peretti’s “Cooper Kid Adventure” series. Archeologist Dr. Cooper would bring his teenage children, Jay and Lila, with him wherever in the world he needed to go. A nail-biting, page turning, can’t put the book down adventure would follow. A dad of honor and integrity would go to the ends of the earth to protect his children as a suspenseful mystery always unfolded. I loved how teenage siblings, Jay and Lila, would watch out for, protect, take care of each other and work together throughout their adventures. I coveted how close-knit the Coopers were. Not in an unhealthy co-dependant way, but each character was independently strong. Working together beautifully balancing their weaknesses and strengths, they accomplished much together.
These last two weeks we have cruised over 400 nautical miles and have had many adventures of our own. Nothing as nail-biting, page turning as the fictional characters whom I loved…but as my family sadly concludes our two-week vacation, I astonishingly realized, my family and the relationships we have with each other, is what I have so deep down always wanted, just like the Cooper family.
I am married to my best friend from high school. He is a man of honor, integrity and ingenuity; a family man who loves me securely like I’m the only woman in the world. Secure in his covenant love and protection, blissfully, there is no hidden shame or manipulative motive between us. It’s an amazing feeling being loved so truly! Tirelessly he provides for and protects our family of six. With a continuing love of the sea and a desire for learning, he’s leading our family into an amazing adventure that I can live and write about!! As I promised on our wedding day 15 years ago, I will follow my husband anywhere around this beautiful earth. Our children, young as they are, have similar cords of devotion, protection, affiliation, and love for one another as those I strongly desired from the sibling relationship between Jay and Lila.
A recent example, after exploring the English Camp in Garrison Bay, San Juans, we spontaneously decided to get lost hiking the long switchbacks way up to the top of Young Hill…in flip flops. Hot, tired and sweaty, with not much water left, our kids encouraged each other, “Taisey’s don’t complain and don’t give up!!” On the way down Felicity noticed a scab on her ankle ripped off and started bleeding pretty well. Unfortunately someone had previously taken our tiny first aid kit out of the backpack I was carrying. Thinking fast, Arianna gladly offered to have Ryan cut the back of her tee-shirt to make a bandage for her sister’s ankle. Both girls wore the bandage and shirt like a badge of honor. Watching my kids trust my husband and I as we led them up the long hill and down again, we are a loving, trusting team, encouraging each other on. While walking up the hill, yes we had minor complaining asking, “are we there yet?!” But when Felicity started bleeding, all complaining went out the window and the kids rallied together to come down the mountain as a family. It was pretty heartwarming.
A while after we moved aboard, dreaming about our future, Ryan and I sat down and wrote out four things that would help guide our family for years to come.
Explore: We want to explore our beautiful world. We’re finding fun ways in which to do it too!! On this trip we geocached for the first time at Pirates Cove in Canada. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect location for our first treasure hunt! And there are caches all over the world! When visiting English Camp Garrison Bay in the San Juan’s, we discovered that National Parks have “passports” and stamps you can collect from the 400 National Parks all over the US.
Learn: We want to learn all we can about the people, culture and history of the places we visit. As a homeschooling family, I love how many countless ways there are to learn outside of a single stationary building.
Serve: As we travel, we search for ways to help and serve those whom we meet. An example, while at English Camp in Garrison Bay, Ryan noticed the Parks Volunteer lady needing help taking down the Union Jack. Our children readily chipped in, making sure, out of respect for the Union Jack, it did not touch the ground. Other times on our cruise, our group stopped to help other boaters in need of assistance. It’s always nice to pay a good deed forward.
Share: We love sharing our story and ultimately through how we live, we share the Love, Grace and Redemptive Forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
These words represent who we are as a family and our motive behind why we want to circumnavigate.
This trip I/we were stretched in many different ways. Bulk provisioning for my family before our trip started and then getting used to a dinghy ride in certain locations for grocery runs between anchorages where nothing was available. And then remembering I needed to carry everything I purchased from the store back to the marina and into the dinghy. Lots of exercise shopping this way! Doing laundry a week into our trip was fun. A twenty-minute dinghy ride brought me to one washer/dryer. Waiting for two loads to get done, Ryan and three of our kids enjoyed lunch and ice cream before going back to the boat. (Arianna decided to go fishing instead.) Conserving water was another concern. We hold 150 gallons of water which lasts our family 2 1/2 to 3 days with normal dish washing and showering for all six of us. Our solution for water conservation cleanliness was using three five gallon Camp Shower bags. They were wonderful!!! After jumping off the boat for the first time, our kids were like fish in the water. They loved swimming! Since they were in their suites anyway they frequently showered on the bow of our boat. We can shower all six of us, including washing our hair, with one five gallon camp shower and a little extra. These bags are definitely coming with us on our catamaran to conserve fresh shower water!!!
We had many long cruising days. My kids were anxious at the beginning of our trip, afraid they may be board or seasick…not at all! They settled down and enjoyed the ride. They colored, listened to Adventures in Odyssey, played games, helped navigate the boat, read or slept. Multiple hour cruises don’t face them anymore…and no one got seasick!
Communication between crew members is the last major training our family is undergoing. Ryan is natural at sea fairing ways. He can read the wind and waves and knows just what to do to trouble shoot engine problems. I however, am more natural at motherhood than sea fairing things. I am definitely on a learning curve. When I learn something, I duplicate what I’ve been shown and taught, half out of fear I will do something wrong. I don’t like making mistakes and am afraid to do something terribly wrong. However, the weather and currents are hardly ever the same when it’s snarly. Since my loving Captain feels the movement of the boat due to the weather, he’s getting better at communicating to me how I can help him bring our vessel into a harbor safety.
These two weeks have been amazing family time. Stretching us, training us, growing us, continuing to confirm our pursuit of living on the water as we explore, learn, serve and share one story at a time.