Tag Archives: cruising with kids

Don’t let having kids stop you from living an adventurous lifestyle.

Happy Easter! Hopefully one full of adventure!

One thing I will never regret is having kids. We are a sailing family of 5 living on a 40 foot monohull. Both my husband, Christian and I come from adventurous lifestyles which do not include having children for many people. From the very beginning, we decided to not let having kids get in the way of living an adventurous lifetime together. Sure, there was an adjustment period, some things are harder and more limited, but with the desire, patience, the right safety tools, good gear, and amazing friends, we are able to still live life to its fullest… well, almost.
First and foremost all you need is the desire to continue living a life full of adventure. I realize this make look different for everyone. For some it may include skydiving, base jumping, climbing the 10 highest peaks in the world. For others, adventure might be a few camping trips a year. For us adventure is surfing, swimming, yoga, biking, hiking, camping, road trips, and SAILING THE WORLD! The biggest change with having kids is the thought process that “life is not about just you anymore”. So, for those skydivers and base jumpers, the fact that you have a little one that depends on you may alter your adventurous activities a little more than the weekend camper type adventurer. Keep on having fun, be open to finding a new balance. 
Having a child teaches patience and a level of selflessness. No longer can you do things on a whim, for the majority of the time.  Selfishness turns to selflessness. That doesn’t mean you need to let that stop you from doing what you want. You just have to work on planning better and creating the opportunity to allow for what you want to do to happen. For example; add an extra 30 minutes to all of your departure times. It’s amazing how much time packing a few extra diapers, extra clothes, food, etc., will take. It goes without fail that your child(ren) will have to go to the bathroom right as your walking out the door to go somewhere. Your previously 5 hour road trip will now be 6 – 7 hours with the added necessary breaks. Just expect it and make the best out of it. Our road trips are more fun when we relax and take our time. Make it a point to slow down and enjoy it. Adventure doesn’t mean rushed.I took Ellamae rock climbing in Joshua Tree when she was 2. I timed some climbs during nap time, had her join me for a climb and friends helped watch. 
Make sure you have the right safety tools suited for yourself, partner, and children for the adventure your on. Maybe even have spares available for taking you child’s friend along. Safety for the child usually comes as second nature, but not always. For us, a major concern is keeping the kids from falling in the water while sailing. We ALWAYS have them in harnesses and tethered if they go out on deck when we are sailing offshore. Don’t forget about yourself! Remember my comment earlier about “it’s no longer just about you anymore!”? Well, it’s true, so you may wanna up the ante on safety. Going rock climbing? Wear a helmet. Sure you might look silly, but better silly and climbing than having your kid grow up seeing you in a long term facility with a brain injury, or worse, growing up without you. I know that’s extreme, but it gets the point across. Obviously the same goes for riding bikes, skiing, etc. Use your best judgement here. When sailing offshore, both Christian and I wear our life harnesses as well. Especially when we are on watch at night. We wouldn’t want to lose anyone at sea. My biggest fear is waking up and not seeing Christian on deck or watching one of our 3 children fall overboard in rough seas and knowing that it would be next to impossible to find them, so we prevent that from happening in the first place. Safety looks a little different for everyone. Living life has risks that are par for the course. If you lock yourself and family up in a bubble you may stay safe from most of life’s perils, but you probably won’t be living the adventure you sought for. Don’t let fear stop you.Harnessed in and having fun!


Now the fun part, proper gear! Usually adventure seekers LOVE gear (gear geek alert)! Having kids just means more fun gear research, seeking, and gathering. Yay! There are so many options for adventure gear which incorporates having the little tikes along with you. I will list a few items for some of our specific adventures. On the top of the list for gear is the need for a good baby carrier. The more portable and comfortable you and your children are, the more likely you will keep on keeping on with your adventures. We used the Beco Baby (ergo like) the most, but there are many other options. Our friend makes her own, know as Obimama, that are handmade and quality. Here is a link to a good guide to baby carriers site. I posted a picture at the bottom of the blog as well. Side note on baby wearing: the more you wear your baby the better balance and self awareness they gain, increasing the child’s chances of also becoming a skilled adventurer. Our friend Natasha carries her 6 month old who’s sleeping to the surf beach in a carrier that converts to a reclining bed hung over the shoulder! Sling and beco baby = versatility and easy to pack in a bag. 

As your children get older they do more on their own, maybe slowly, but let them do it. Remember, patience will allow the adventures to continue. Some other gear we suggest: Brompton folding bike,  Xtracycle cargo bike, Burley Bike trailer, also the Charriot and other joggers. The list can go on for a long time. Have fun researching ways to keep your active life going! I won’t ruin the fun of seeking your gear out. Personally we go budget style if possible. Up-cycled gear (hand-me-downs) are a favorite for us. 
Last but certainly not least, having a good support system around to help. Sometimes all you need is a few hours to go for a surf or swim or do yoga. “Back in the old days” we use to live in the same town we grew up in and family was around and readily available to help. This still happens now and again, but not nearly as it use to, so finding child care for a few hours or the day can be a challenge and can get really expensive. We suggest finding like minded friends with kids, or possibly no kids, that are willing to help support your adventurous lifestyle. We’ve met great friends on the beach to do a child watch surf swap. You watch my child while I surf, I’ll watch yours while you surf. Same for climbing. You might not be on a long multi-pitch climb, but taking turns on some smaller sport climbing routes works. All day peak bagging trips can be done as well. 
Remember that your mental health is just as important for your child as it is for you. Take the time for yourself and partner so that you are happy and your children will benefit as well. There are so many ways to think outside the box and continue on living a life of adventure while raising children too. Be adventurous, be unstoppable and have kids!Mom and daughter yoga with another boat mom and daughter in the Marina La Cruz lounge. 

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Boatschooling on SV Shawnigan – if only I knew then what I know now…

What a difference a year makes. I clearly remember the stress and overwhelming feelings we had six months or maybe even a year before we started homeschooling our children in January 2015. We had questions like “what are the legalities of homeschooling?” “What “program” do we choose”? “Do we even have an option of a program to choose?” “How are we, not being trained professionals in child education, going to be able to teach our children by ourselves?” “What if we miss something?” “How will our children get socialization?” “Will they have issues getting in to college?” I think these are all pretty normal thoughts of aspiring homeschooler educators. The truth is, if you are having these thoughts, that in itself means that you are going to do just fine. As long as you LOVE and CARE for your child’s education, the homeschooling will come together! 

I will start with the legality part first. Every state has different requirements. Google “(your state) and homeschool requirements (or laws)”. If you are traveling and don’t have a permanent address or are looking for a permanent address you may want to research which state’s requirements fit your family’s needs best and then apply for an address in that state.  Most states have you fill out an Affidavit, stating that you have some sort of education going on in some form. Again, every state is different and I’m referring to the United States. I am unsure about other countries and what they require.

Ok, now that the legal part is over, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. There are many styles of homeschooling to choose from:

Very structured programs, such as Calvert and Online Classes. With Calvert you buy a curriculum and it comes with a bunch of books, assignments and deadlines to fax or mail the completed work and exams by. This may work for you if you like to be told exactly what to do and when it’s due by. The people I’ve interviewed that do this have children who prefer to sit in front of books and work through them. One thing to consider is that Calvert can be expensive, especially on a cruising budget. You need online access or at least fax and mailing options in order to send and receive the school work. There are also online courses to enroll in, like college online classes, but you need internet access, and many require exact times to attend class. 

Private School/Charter School associated programs have a curriculum for you to follow and people to check in with as a resource. Each may have their own requirements as for how much work to turn in and how often to check in. So again, depending on the requirements of that particular program, access to online, email, costs, etc., this option may be a good fit. 

DIY (do it yourself) type, where you basically create your own curriculum and get your own supplies and report to yourselves. This may be a very liberating option for the eager, self driven parent/educator. 

Unschooling is a newer way and good option for parents who are very creative. The parent creates learning experiences based on the child’s natural passions and interests. To really do it correctly, for lack of a better word, the parent takes careful attention to their child’s interest and makes a fun way of expanding their knowledge based on that.  This way of teaching feels a lot less or possibly nothing like “school” which is why it’s called “unschooling”.  For those unsure about this as an actual way of schooling, I suggest looking it up further. Just to be clear, unschooling is not letting your child sit at home to play video games all day because that’s what their passion is.  If done diligently,  or perhaps eloquently is a better word, it can be a very effective way of education. 

The combo teaching style. A little bit of everything or bits and pieces from a few might work for your family. This is similar to DIY, but you have more options added to it. I call this the “Happy Medium” schooling. 

And last, but certainly not least is World Schooling. I’m not quite sure where to fit this one in, because I believe it’s more of a process/addition to schooling rather than a specific style. I’m guessing it might fit best under unschooling , DIY and combo. With world schooling you use the world to teach. Learning through experiencing culture, geography, history, science, arts, economics etc. can be very effective and enjoyable. The world has a lot to offer for education. As a family traveling all over this may be a great option. 

Choosing which style of schooling to follow can feel overwhelming. Before choosing a style, know that as a parent and teacher you know your child best. Try a program that you think fits their personality. If you have multiple kids with multiple learning styles you may want to do different styles with each one. The key part is loving and really getting to know your child. The rest will fall in to place. I highly suggest this book called, The Heart Of Learning, by Lawrence Williams, EdD. It is from the Oak Meadow Waldorf curriculum, but it speaks to everyone and education style. I just read it this last summer and I wish I had read it before my kids were born! 

Also, know that you can always start a program and decide that it’s not a good fit and try a different method anytime. That’s one of the best parts about homeschooling.  Each of your children can get focused, individualized education with you as their educator. And they can feel loved and supported through the process and all the challenges. 

What we do for homeschooling on our boat, S/V Shawnigan, has transformed a bit over the last two years. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. What I mean by this, is that the longer we have worked with our children in the school setting, the more we learned about their learning styles and what works for them. Christian and I work together as a team. I do the planning and we both implement. We can do this since we are sailing and neither of us are working at the moment. 

When we started in January 2015, we started out using a more DIY style of schooling with a Waldorf curriculum to guide us. We had been enrolled in a Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf inspired school prior to homeschooling, so this seemed to be the right way to go. We found that the DIY was too hard to do while sailing with limited access to resources and books. It took a lot of preparation and we can only hold so many books aboard our 40 foot boat. As a family of 5, the youngest as a toddler, and sailing off the shores of California and Mexico, I will admit, we struggled with it. The good thing is that our kids are strong and resilient. They still learned what they needed and gained a lot of new knowledge we didn’t expect them to learn, even if it wasn’t the best style for our family. Key point here: don’t be afraid to choose a “wrong” style, children are usually more flexible than us adults are. They will be fine!

Starting this new school year (September 2017) we found a Waldorf inspired Charter School, The Wise-Academy, from our hometown to work with. We love the structure and material it provides. They use the Oak Meadow Waldorf curriculum and supplies. We were in the US visiting and working during this last summer, so we were able to sign up for it and get all the supplies and support we needed to start. We make contact with a support teacher via email or Skype as needed and required. We can even contact and send a few copies of our completed work with our IridiumGo Satphone email. We also use the World Schooling aspect to education. This is a no brainer for us, as we are sailing the world with our kids. Unschooling is a constant… life always offers educational experiences, so why hold back if your child is interested. 

As for socialization, there are many resources out there in the world now to organize homeschool kids getting together with other homeschool kids. Extracurricular activities are an option as well. As a sailing family you might have more concerns about this subject. Our kids meet up with other sailing kids quite frequently! There are a lot of families out in the world sailing and boatschooling. Sometimes there are older kids, sometimes younger, and sometimes only adults. There are a lot of benefits to having a wide range of ages that they might be limited to at times. Our 14 year old can play with 3-6 year olds, 6-11 year olds just fine, then hop in a normal adult conversation if that’s what’s available. The cruising kid community is great in that aspect, it makes these kids very diverse in their social skills. 

Finally, LOVE LOVE and LOVE your child. They will get the most out of all of this when you show love and support. Make learning enjoyable. Make them want to learn because they actually enjoy the process of learning. As they get older teach them how to teach themselves, it will take them a lot further in life. Most homeschooled kids are very successful, because they were taught to take initiative and know how to teach themselves. Colleges are starting to realize this in homeschooled scholars and are actually more inclined to accept their enrollment over the average “straight out of high school” applicants.  

We are so happy that we are boatschooling our kids. At times it is a challenge, and we aren’t perfect, but we work through it together and lovingly. We feel so much more connected to our kids and have seen wonderful results thus far. We highly suggest taking the responsibility of your children’s education, it’s worth every minute. 

~Josie Lauducci RN-NIC (and homeschool parent/educator ūüėÉ)

The local La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico) orphanage came to socialize with the sailing kids at Marina La Cruz.

Our kids love to read. We choose not to have a TV, so we sit around reading or playing games at night. A good group of sailing boatschooling kids that organized an afternoon of various “tag” games.

An example of Ellamae’s 3rd grade science assignment. Making a wind index.

An example of Nina’s 8th grade English assignments. 

Local Mexican Tribal Culture, blessing the fishing fleets for the year. 

The La Cruz Cruising Kids Club learning how to run a restaurant at the local Jardin del Pulpo (Octopus’Garden)

Very highly recommended book to read before homeschooling or even before parenting ūüėČ!

For more useful links click here or see our blog menu for boatschooling links. 

Nov 2016 – Nov 2017 rough plan

Happy Holidays Everyone! I recently updated a map of what our next year might look like. Christian, Nina and Taj are making their way down the East Coast of Baja, Ellamae is in Florida with her Bio Father until the New Year, and I’m in San Francisco until Dec 22nd. We will all be together again in Puerto Vallarta and will start making our way toward the Pacific crossing. Check it out! Keep in mind that all the dates are only estimates as well as the locations. Plans are always changing and the weather dictates us the most. ¬†As of right now, we are hoping to cross the Pacific at the end of February/beginning of March. We decided not to do Central America at this time, but you never know, that could change too. ¬†Stay tuned and more up to date by following our Farkwar map.

7 weeks of separation

We are making our way back to the boat, well at least 3 of the 5 of us are.  After just over 4 months of being back in the US, leaving our boat in Mexico, its time to start heading back to our cruising life.

This morning, November 4th, we all woke up at 4:30 AM. Christian and the 3 kids left in a rental car to drive to Phoenix before making their way to the boat and I went to work. Once Christian gets to Phoenix, Ellamae (the middle boat kid) will fly to Florida to spend some time with her Papa Jason. Christian will be taking Nina and Taj back to the boat via the Tufesa Bus that runs from Phoenix to Guaymas, Mexico.After a 12 hour over night bus ride, its a quick taxi ride to the boat in San Carlos. ¬†I will be staying in San Francisco for another 7 weeks to finish up my contract. It’s been a bit of an emotional day for me, to say the least.

The kids are super excited to get back to boat life and meet up with all their boat friends that they have met, and hopefully meet that many new ones that are sailing down to Mexico this season. Christian is super exited to get back on the water, fill the sails with wind, and do some free diving/ spear fishing. I am excited that as well. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. All the hard work will pay off. I’m most looking forward to being back in the warm air, swimming/surfing in warm water and being back in the cruising mode with my family. ¬†I also am looking forward to meeting the new cruising families that make it to Mexico this year.

I will be flying down once during the 7 weeks to visit in La Paz. I will be bringing Nina back with me to San Francisco for a few weeks for her to spend her 14th birthday with friends and family up here. I look forward to that time with her and know that it will help me with my “homesick” feelings. ¬†Thankfully I will be heading to the boat just before Christmas to get some quality holiday family time.

We had a great last week together!

Halloween 2016

Getting geared up for crossing the Pacific…

Christian took a trip down from San Francisco to the boat in Mexico this past week. The mission: to do some repairs on the boat from the hurricane and add some gear that we wanted before we cross The Pacific this coming season.  The damage that we thought was going to need a haul-out and a paint job, ended up being only minor “Do it Yourself” fixes!!!  So one major hurdle out of the way! The rest are add-ons since we were able to work and refill the cruising kitty.

We finally got our Hydrovane hooked up! Having a efficient self steering system was a must for us before making the crossing. We can’t wait to get some use out of it!

A new Standard Horizon VHF: that way we can talk from the cockpit with a strong signal. Before, our handheld wasn’t strong enough for some of the areas we were in, so we had to go down below to talk on the ship’s radio. 

Weather StationAcuRite 00589 Pro Color Weather Station with Wind Speed, Temperature and Humidity. Yay, accurate temperature, humidity, pressure readings. The wind speed is a bonus, but we’ve always preferred our own senses when monitoring the wind and our sails. Sometimes knowing the exact wind speed can freak you out instead of trusting your skills and your boat. 

A FREEZER!!! Engel MB40V-H 12/24V DC drop-in fridge-freezer – with attached compressor  We are soooooo excited to put this fridge/freezer in. Its one of those “we don’t need this, but we have the perfect place for it, the money, and the solar power to run it, so why not?”

Can’t wait to catch some fish and store extra in our freezer, prep meals before crossing to pull out underway, and freeze some vegetables for when we run out towards the end of the crossing. We might even make ice cream for the equator crossing! Luxury hahahaha!
Some other gear we stocked up on: 

Mantus head lamp and wet gear bag

Spear fishing equipment and trolling gear.

Replaced damage GoPro.

New external hard drives for saving photo and video memories. 

Boatschool supplies mostly from Oakmeadow Waldorf curriculum for the year.

One year ago… we sailed out “The Gate”

We can’t believe that a full year has past since we left San Francisco to start cruising on our sailboat! We’ve experienced so much and all of it so wonderful: The emotions of leaving, the adjustments of boatschool, the adjustments of a life less “connected” but more connected as a family, the growth of world knowledge, the change in marriage dynamic, parenting dynamic, and educator dynamic, adapting to Mexico’s culture and food, meeting new and wonderful sailors/cruisers, and so much more I’m probably leaving out.  All of these had their ups and downs, but all transformed into good experiences and contributed to our lives in such a positive way.

My friend Lara interviewed us for a radio and podcast she does out of Byron Bay, Australia. I feel like it summarizes some questions a lot of people wonder about when pondering what the life of a family of 5 sailing on a 40 foot boat is like.  I posted the link on our blog and Facebook when it aired live and only on Facebook  again when a link was available to the podcast version.

Here is the link to the podcast version below. It will take you to the 30 minute interview. Our 13 year old daughter,  Nina, is interviewed as well and adds a lot flavor to the interview.

https://www.spreaker.com/user/pregnancybirthandbeyond/a-family-afloat

Anchored off of Halfmoon Bay, California (August 21, 2015)

Becalmed off the coast of California (Oct 2015) with Christian’s father, Gene Lauducci, aboard.
Ellamae posing with her polarized #teenytinyoptics glasses

Nina and Taj posing with their polarized #teenytinyoptics glasses

On top of a mountain in Turtle Bay, Baja Mexico (Left to Right: our crew Emma Casey, Taj sleeping on my back, Josie, Christian, Nina, and Ellamae) November 2015

Taj swimming in Chamela, Mexico (January 2016)

Barra de Navidad, Mexico (February, 2016)

Baja, Sea of Cortez, Isla San Francisco (May, 2016)

S/V Shawnigan with a beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Gigante Mountain Range, Baja, Sea of Cortez, Isla San Francisco (May, 2016)

My beautiful kids back in the United States (July 2016) Ellamae (8), Nina (13) Taj (3)

 

Refill the kitty in 3 months!

After 10 months of sailing around, it was time to refill the cruising kitty. We spent over our $12,000/year budget in unexpected, yet typical, repairs and replacements. Since we were so close to the US and easy  access to work, we decided to take the hottest time in Mexico (July, August, September) off of the boat and head to The States to refill our hungry cruising kitty.

If you haven’t read the “about me” part of our blog, then you may need to be informed of my profession. I’m a Registered Nurse, specifically a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse. If you’re saying to yourself “what’s that?”, I take care of premature and very sick babies. I’ve been doing this for over 12 years now and I still haven’t lost my passion for it. In fact, it was actually hard to put in my notice at UCSF 11 months ago so that we could sail away.

In mid May, of this year,when I was able to check my email from La Paz, I found out that my old Unit at UCSF was hiring Travel Nurses for June 28 start date. I checked in with the management team and they said that they would love to have me return for a 13 week assignment! It was too good to be true! June 28 was a little sooner than we wanted, and 13 weeks was a little longer then we wanted, but really, its perfect.

We made it to San Carlos, Mexico, by June 14th with plenty time to put away the boat in Marina Real for a 3 months detour to the US. It took about 3 full days to complete the check list of things to do. This included, but not limited to:

  • pickling the water maker
  • fresh water flush through the engine
  • taking down the sails and stowing them down below
  • Putting up the sun shades
  • Cleaning and leaving the heads (toilets) filled with fresh water and vinegar
  • fresh water washing as much salt waterlogged gear as we could
  • laundry and getting rid of clothes
  • eating and cleaning out the perishable food (we did leave cans of tomato sauce, so hopefully we don’t arrive back to the boat with exploded cans of tomato everywhere. Apparently this happens when it gets too hot.)
  • Placing Bay Leaves in almost all of our bulk food containers. Apparently the Bay Leaf helps keep the Weevils at bay (no pun intended). Thanks Deb on SV Coastal Drifter for that tip.
  • Packing clothes (REAL shoes, socks, pants AND A BELT, sweaters, and WORK CLOTHES!) , oops I forgot a beanie!
  • And a couple more odds and ends stuff.

Our pile of stuff to bring back to the US was huge. Mostly because we had to pack for 3 months of on the road adventures. I say “we” but I really mean Christian and the kids. My list of things to bring was small: work clothes, 2 pairs of pants, 2 shorts, and one “nice outfit”, flip flops and my work shoes. Oh and my awesome Brompton folding bike, that we store in our aft shower, for my San Francisco commuting, yay!

Our 10 hour bus ride on the Tufesa bus line ended up being more like 11 hours, but it still wasn’t bad. Reclining seats, AC, 2 bathrooms, 1 check point and 1 border check, and 5 movies ¬†later(3 of them, very inappropriate for kids), we made it to Phoenix, AZ for a nominal $80 fee.


After a few days at Christian’s sister’s house in Phoenix, I flew off to start my 3 months of work, leaving behind the family to road trip their way around The States visiting friends and family.

“Was it hard to leave?”, you ask.

EXTREMELY !!! ¬†After being so close with each other the last 10 months I’m finding myself really missing their company. But I also know it’s only a short time in the grand sceme of things and totally worth it !

So now I’m here in San Francisco. Christian is on super land¬†nomad dad duty. Boat school is out for summer break and we’ll be doing this up through late September. After all is said and done, we should have overfilled (wishful thinking) our cruising kitty with enough $$$ to get us to New Zealand by our (Northern hemisphere) fall 2017. But you know how cruising works… “We’ll see as we go”!


Yummy grub next to (Cerca de) the bus station in Guaymas. Missing me some good Mexican food !
Christian visits the Grand Canyon while I meet Travel Nurses


Then use my trusty Brompton Folding bike to get to work. Here my “brommie” is sitting pretty on the Bay Area CalTrain.¬†