Family Vacations, Summer 1996
For the past 16 years (my entire life), I've lived with my parents and my 14-year-old sister, Carolyn, on the 47-foot Chez Nous. We spend summers sailing the east coast and making our way to the Bahamas, where we winter. (We're home-schooled.) Each spring, we return north.
The thing to remember about sailing is that you're not stuck on the boat. Actually, we spend a lot of our time in the water: We go snorkeling, boardsailing, and bodysurfing or explore inlets and coves in a dinghy. If it's raining or we're on the move, we read, draw, and listen to music. The VHF radio is always on, which is the primary way we keep up with the world.
People wonder what happens if we get mad at our parents or each other. One option is going to our side of the bedroom and closing a curtain around the bed, then putting on headphones and cranking up The Smashing Pumpkins. If we really need to be alone, we'll hang out in the head, the only totally private place on board. But those are temporary solutions. Basically, we've all just learned to get along. Luckily, there are usually other cruising kids around, which makes family life less intense. We've made lots of friends and write to people all over the world.
For the most part, we go ashore only when we have to; it actually feels a bit unnatural to be on solid land. Although we don't get "land-sick," we do find that we have trouble balancing and that it's hard to sleep in a nonrocking bed. We usually can't wait to get back aboard the Chez Nous. Kevin Costner, in his line from Waterworld, put it best: "Land just doesn't move right."
Copyright 1996, Outside magazine