Here I am sitting on the deck of Upcoast Summers in Refuge Cove drinking a beer and trying to pump out another blog post. It sounds lovely and actually I am taking some much needed time by myself off the boat. I had hopes of posting more than once a week but here I am barely writing once a week. It is partly due to the lack of cell service and also because we are actually quite busy!
You might be wondering what life is really like onboard our sailboat with two little girls. It’s fun and crazy all at the same time! I heard this once and now I totally believe it: the highs are higher and the lows are lower.
I think the reason for this is that we are not on a holiday, this is our life right now. We didn’t sail off into the sunset and live happily ever after. We are still living our normal life except we are on a sailboat. Our life is relatively simple. We eat, sail, play, clean, sleep, repeat. Not always in that order.
An example of the highs being higher is what happens when everything just lines up and things feel almost effortless. For us, this was yesterday. It was a rest day at Teakerne Arm. We were all up early as usual and planned to hike the short trail from the head of Teakerne Arm to Cassel Lake for a fresh water swim. We were not sure how the hike would go because although it isn’t long, it is a little steep and sketchy (especially for toddlers) in parts. We also didn’t know if the girls would want to go for a swim and how we would manage them because the bathing rocks by the lake are also steep.
We ended up just going for it and it all worked out really well. Maddie hiked nearly the whole way there and back herself with only a little help along the way. I carried Amelia on my back. Ellery carried our swim suits, towels and snacks. Days like these when the girls are up early actually work to our advantage because we were at Cassel Lake by 0830. Ellery and I took turns swimming, while Maddie sat just at the end of the water watching the little fish, wearing her lifejacket of course. Amelia wanted to go in the water too, so Ellery held her while she splashed around. The water temperature was quite comfortable and it was so peaceful as we were the only people there. We could hear some loons although we did not see them. We all felt fresh afterwards and had a yummy snack before hiking back. We were back home (on Arctic Loon) by 1030. We felt great as if our cups had been filled up once again.
Lowest lows, those are a bit harder to share. We experienced this last week. It involved so many factors. We had been in beautiful Pendrell Sound for a few days swimming and using the stand up paddle board but we hadn’t gotten off the boat on land for at least three days. When we finally did get off the boat, we were in Refuge Cove and we decided to let the girls have ice cream cones when they really should have been napping. This led to epic tantrums and left us scrambling to rein in the day.
We anchored off Refuge Cove that night even though it was a bit windy. I didn’t get much sleep because of the sound of the anchor chain moving on the rocky bottom. I woke up sleep deprived, then we had a busy day sailing to Mansons Landing and to cap it off, the wind really picked up. I didn’t sleep well again because although the rational part of my brain knew we were safely anchored, I just felt concerned about the winds and gusts up to 25 knots. I felt burnt out and exhausted. Ellery and I talked about this and we started to question why we are even doing this trip with such young girls. Some days just feel so hard and we start to question our sanity.
It is hard to articulate but for us, sailing on Arctic Loon is our attempt to slow down, disconnect and bond as a family. We love being together as a family, exploring new places, meeting new people and challenging ourselves.
Questioning our motivations for this trip is not something we do everyday but when it comes up, we have to really dig deep to figure out how to keep going and how to make this work for all of us?
We have to keep it simple. Just like at home when we have too much going on, things fall apart. Out here, I find that the weather can throw off our plans and we need to focus on places that will appeal to the girls so that we don’t feel like we have to be ‘on’ all the time. Just keeping the girls occupied and safe on the boat is totally all consuming and exhausting. Life feels a little bit crazy right now but that is our life.
We try to remember the peaceful, fun and fulfilling moments because those are the ones that keep us going. Like how this morning when both girls crawled into our bed, Maddie pulled Amelia on her lap and started reading to her. Or how Maddie loves playing with her net at the docks, trying to catch fish. Amelia is saying new words everyday and when Amelia cries, Maddie consoles her.
These are some of the moments that keep us going. Our girls are the ones that help us find the joy and make us laugh during a hard day.
After our couple nights of little sleep, we decided to head to Gorge Harbour where we could anchor and use the facilities of the resort: swimming pool, laundry, store and restaurant. This would allow us to feel like we were on a wee vacation. It was still windy but the waves were less and we finally got some restful sleep. We also took some naps, swam in the pool and ran into a cruising friend from last summer. Gorge Harbour was just what we needed to relax.
The funny thing about sailing with young kids is that people often ask us if the girls like sailing. I am not sure Amelia really understands what we are doing and although Maddie does, this is just her life. She likes it because her family is with her and we do fun things together. To her this is normal. In fact, I think Maddie sometimes forgets she is on a sailboat. She certainly doesn’t realize that this is a pretty special experience to have at the age of three. The boat can be moving quite a bit in the water and the girls just keep playing or sleeping, neither are bothered by the motion or are worried for any reason. I try to remember this when I feel overwhelmed because to them everything is totally fine. This is our main goal, to stay safe and enjoy ourselves. Easier said than done.