A family of six is considered large today and we attract attention almost everywhere we go. But when they also find out that we live on a boat, well…that gets a few more looks and questions!
For all those who are curious about how we live on a boat or what we do all day, this post is for you! Come along and see what life is like for us- a stay at home mom, a working dad and four children, all living on a 47′ 1974 Olympic Adventure sailboat!
Between 5am and 7am
I’m an early riser and I love it. The mornings are my time, and typically the only time that I have a little privacy. Everyone is still fast asleep, even our one year old. I use these quiet morning hours to first of all pray, read my Bible, read a book, work on my computer (on this blog or other projects), take a walk or tidy up the cabin before the rush of breakfast and before my husband begins his remote work.
Frequently, I’ll also use the mornings to walk to the marina’s clubhouse to take a shower or throw in a load of laundry by myself (which is really a treat)!
Everyone is up and breakfast is well under way or nearly finished. Our favorite easy and filling breakfast is oatmeal with peanut butter or butter, raisins, cinnamon and shredded coconut. I have taught our oldest daughter, age 8, to prepare the individual bowls of oatmeal for us so she often makes our breakfast while I’m nursing or changing our youngest. We also eat “breakfast rice” which is cooked rice with butter, cinnamon and sugar and sometimes egg yolks.
My husband sits and eats breakfast with us for a few minutes before hopping on his computer where he works remotely for a company he loves.
After breakfast is finished, the dishes rinsed, beds made, the girls dressed, hair brushed and trash taken out to the garbage cans on the pier, we sit down to do a little school work together. We have a second grader going into third and a kindergartner going into first, although we do not keep track of grade levels too closely. We have homeschooled or boatschooled them from the very beginning, and they love learning. (See our boatschooling in 2016-2017 here).
I have compiled workbooks for each of their grade levels either buying curriculums off of Amazon, the Dollar Store or online used book stores. We believe learning is and should be interesting and fun and not a chore. While we are not true “unschoolers” we do allow them to learn in various ways including: scheduled time in workbooks, educational toys, free imaginative play, reading a loud, answering their questions about the world around them and of course, travel.
School work is done and now the girls are ready to move around a bit and play, although they still have to be fairly quiet while Daddy works nearby. While they play with dolls or animal figurines, I begin preparing the galley again for another meal- lunch! We like to eat lunch early in the day and then have another snack a few hours later.
Our lunches are usually a combination of “snack” or finger foods like, sliced cheese and salami with crackers, mixed nuts, carrots with dip, applesauce for the girls, beef jerky or hardboiled eggs. Shepherd, our one year old, will usually nibble off our plates.
Since we do not have a dishwasher, I am always mindful about how many dishes we will use in each meal. In order to make things a little easier for us we use paper plates, but we must wash by hand everything else we use- bowls, cups, mugs, silverware, utensils, and all the cooking pots and pans. Our cast iron skillet cuts down on what I have to wash by hand. I just scrub it with a little kosher salt and rinse it out and its clean! Also, our two oldest girls are now in the routine of helping us wash the dishes.
Shepherd is ready for his nap and at this time the girls will color, read or draw while I rock him to sleep in the aft cabin. Often during this “quiet time” they love listening to an audio book I play from You Tube. I also take this time to rest a little myself or catch up on things I need to do without an active toddler crawling all over me!
Shepherd begins to wake and everyone is ready to move around again and get a change of pace. It’s not always easy to have four energetic children in a small space all day!
Our afternoons are usually spent out of the boat. We may walk our laundry down to the clubhouse and spend the 1 1/2 to 2 hours there washing, drying and folding two loads of laundry, or we all pile into the suburban and go grocery shopping, or to the library.
We’re back at the boat and the kids will go right back to playing or they will help me wash the dishes before I begin making dinner. My husband is still working at this time of the day. He makes many calls and conducts several phone and video meetings each day so we must always be mindful of how loud we are. It is a wonderful treat when he is finally off the computer and we can be as loud as we want!
Between 5:00 p.m and 6:30 p.m
Dinner time! The evenings are when we can all relax from our chores and work. We eat dinner together around our fold-out salon table while the kids tell Daddy all they did during the day. After dinner Mike will get straight to work on the many boat projects we have started. Slowly but surely, our boat is becoming an even more sea-worthy home for us to live on and travel!
Almost every evening we take a walk down the pier that we call home. It gives us a chance to stretch our legs and actually be outside when it’s not sweltering. We walk to the end of the pier and breathe in the fresh air. The waves are soothing and watching the sun dip below the horizon is always a spectacular show.
When we come in from our walk, the kids get ready for bed and we all start winding down. Another day is almost done.
Shepherd has been rocked to sleep and put in his little crib in the mid-ship cabin. The girls are tucked in bed in the large aft cabin and it’s now our favorite time of the day: story time.
Every night we read another chapter from a book I’ve selected. It’s a special time of being together cozy in the cabin listening to an inspiring story, classic book, or the Bible. The girls never want me to stop, and I don’t either!
The bedtime routine is done, and Mike and I may spend a little time talking about our day, the boat projects, the kids or pray together. Often though by 10:00 p.m, I’m longing for my pillow in the v-berth where Mike and I sleep and I go right to bed!
The evenings are Mike’s time to do work or boat projects uninterrupted. The boat is dark except for the little light shining from the nav station where Mike works. There are no sounds except sometimes for the hum of the air conditioning unit in one of our hatches (yes it’s still hot at night usually) or the whistle of wind.
Another day living aboard our boat is finished. Our days are spent like most families- cooking, cleaning, eating, playing, working and learning, except that we do it all inside teak cabins floating on a wide river in Florida.
What have you always wanted to know about life on a boat? Comment below or send us your questions, we’d love to answer them!