Family Living Aboard
Thanks to Brooke Morton at Yachting Magazine for this piece on the art of rearing kids on the water.
Brittany and Scott Meyer were docked at Grenada when they learned she was pregnant. The pair, 36 and 38, had met while racing sailboats across Lake Michigan, so they didn’t blink at the prospect of raising a family aboard their Brewer 44 Asante. They became parents first with Isla, now almost 4, and later with twins Haven and Mira, now 2. With their handmade halyard swing and the unending sandbox that is the British Virgin Islands, the couple sees their decision to bring up all three babies aboard as the ultimate adventurous-life head start.
When did you decide to pull anchor from mainstream life? We knew before we married. Instead of registering for china and Egyptian cotton, we registered for winches and a windlass.
How did your cruising plans change after you had children? Long-distance sailing with three young children is not something we’re interested in. With Isla, we did a five-day sail from Florida to the Bahamas, and that was absolutely doable. But with three kids under 5, rough passages and overnights are really challenging.
Did you undertake any refits to accommodate the kids? We didn’t make permanent changes, but we added a few things, starting with netting around the boat’s perimeter. In the V-berth, we have a giant net made out of Phifertex mesh, the same material patio furniture is made of. The material is waterproof but breathable, and the net makes that space more contained than a crib. We’ve had 6-foot seas bashing into us and the babies sleeping soundly in there.
What’s the response been to your parenting choice? Some people think it’s amazing. Some say it’s selfish.
Selfish? Oh gosh, yes. Because of Brittany’s blog, Windtraveler, we get a ton of email. One lady asked how dare we glamorize boating with children and said we should add a safety disclaimer. She also criticized us for placing the kids on tethers. And Brittany wondered, Don’t most moms use car seats? Some people think we are at sea endlessly, and that is not the case. We spend a great deal of time at the dock at Tortola’s Nanny Cay marina.
What is a typical day like? Most days, the wind is blowing 20 knots. During the evenings, we come back from the beach, hose the kids off and eat dinner. Whatever the girls don’t finish on their plate, they throw overboard to the remoras — they’re squealing as they toss mac and cheese to fish that are going nuts. Then the sun starts to set and the kids wave goodbye. That’s one of the beautiful parts of life on a boat: You rarely miss a sunset. We always say to the sun, “Thanks for another great day.”
Baby Boating Gear: The Fisher-Price Booster Seat is great for keeping little ones restrained while we’re setting anchor. The West Marine infant harness and tether keep us from worrying about a baby going overboard. And Brittany is a big fan of baby wearing. The Ergo Performance baby carrier makes it easy to tote two — one on her front and one on her back — to the dinghy, dock and beyond.
Must-Have Toys: Everything has to pull double duty, like the girls’ wagon also carries boat stuff. As for toys, it’s all about size. Most need to be really compact. Legos are good. We love Magna-Tiles, a magnetic building set that stows flat. And books are crucial. We always make room for more books.