The school refers to everything that takes place in a more academic form – sitting, pen and papers, teacher and boards. The rest is what we call unschooling. However, it does not mean it is effortless for the parents. Quite the contrary, to include unschooling on a day to day basis requires research and dedication of time. Here is what is part of her unschooling.
“Do we need that?”
We had just sold the house and there was no turning back: we would really buy a boat and go out there. We would actually do it! The “Do we need that” question started popping in every conversation.
“One day Cass, we’ll have a dry boat”, I say when going down inside Sputnik. That was 8 years ago, and I was yet again welcomed by pools of water over the floor. A mix of rain water coming from the mast, condensation from the cold weather in Quebec and millions of undiscovered leaks. I was set to have a dry boat. A boat without water in the bilge. Which isn’t a small feat, given the fact that Sputnik was 27 years old. And that it was, you know, a boat.
I woke up this morning to find an email of domain renewal; it’s been 2 years already that we decided to create saltymatey.com. In a weird way, it is such a milestone! 2 years ago, we were chatting online MDF instrument about stethoscope; how to chose one for our trip. It turned into an hour long chat session in which we explained to the agent our trip; why we felt so compelled to go explore the oceans with our kids. It turned out our story really appealed to her and she asked us if we had a website our something; they wanted to sponsor us…. 😲🤯
Nothing is easy on a boat. From washing your clothes in a bucket, just to have them hanging on the lifeline for 4 rainy days before you can finally sleep with some bedsheets! – to simply having to chase down your plate that is sliding down the table while you’re eating at anchor because another boat pass by… Nothing is easy.
I guess more than anything else, food is the recurring topic. To start, finding food can be a challenge in itself, depending of the island you’re on… Or the price you’re willing to pay for it! (I’m still mad at that tiny carrot we paid 2.25$ in the Bahamas. Why? I felt guilty that the kids didn’t eat any fresh veggies in 2 days.. Having a good parent-conscience can be expensive).
To bring that food back to the boat can be laborious as well, walking sometimes more than an hour in the sun with a backpack and 3 tote bags, trying to hurry up as much as you can while feeling the frozen chicken dripping through the backpack and in your pants…
And then there is the small feat of storing everything. That is washing in water and vinegar all the fruits and veggies to make sure no bugs climb aboard, removing all the labels of the cans and washing them with vinegar so no cockroach will feast on the glue of the label. Labelling them (or forgetting to sometime) and stashing everything away; which on Pablo is mostly under the kids’ beds, or behind the settee in the living room, or in the forward bathroom…but mostly never in the actual kitchen for some reason. And finally putting the once-upon-a-time cold products in a top-loading fridge. Something that we refer to as playing 3D Tetris on a speed-time-trial level, since you need to hurry up in the ridiculous hope that said fridge will stay a tad colder than the cabin.
But getting the food is half of the story. Cooking 3 meals, day after day, with a selection of products that is modest to say the least compared to your average North American supermarket is a battle in itself. Inspiration is hard to get by. And it’s SOOOO DAMN HOT in the galley!
But good food can really uplift the mood. So before every passage, we always try to come up with something a bit different and crowd pleasing (believe me; on passage, in rough seas, the last thing you want to do is start a war with your kid about the need for him to eat his brussel sprouts!) . We also tend to have a very lax schedule, allowing everybody to choose what they want to eat and when, therefore reducing by a good amount the tendency to seasickness. But even doing so, Cass still gets easily seasick, leaving to Sam the care of the boat, the kids and the meals. So we often try to prep a bit of food in advance.
We’re about to embark on our longest passage yet, leaving Bonaire tomorrow night for a landfall in Colon, Panama. A passage of roughly 800NM that should let us sleep at sea for 6 nights given the light winds forecasted. Which means that today, Sam spent the whole day in the blistering hot (41°C!) galley cooking us some meals that should create some smiles along the way.
Here’s what is plan for our passage to Panama:
– Muesli and yogurt with fresh pears
– Baguette, camembert, dry chorizos and green apples
– A good old beef stew
– Toats with a choice of peanut butter or ginger jam for the shakiest crew members
– Green lentils, mushroom and sharp cheddar loaf
– Chickpeas & sausages spag
– Grilled cheese with zucchini & chocolate muffins
– Spinach & lardons pasta with melted feta cheese
– Carrots, raisins and chocolate chips bread (I should really call them cakes)
– Croque-monsieur with salami and gouda
– Beef stew
– Good morning burritos! with scrambled eggs and ground beef wrap in a tacos bread with cheese
– Rice salad with chicken, green peas, corn, tomatoes and celery with a yogourt & honey dressing
– Pizzas with smoked-steak, bell-peppers, red onions and sharp gouda on a homemade basil, beer and whole wheat thin-crust
– Muesli crumble fresh apples and dried apricots
– Curry soup
Plans are made to be changed, but the good news is that all of it is already cooked, portioned and wrapped, awaiting for somebody to just grab it and reheat it. And we have a good collection of ziplocks full of pre-cut veggies with hummus, hard-boiled eggs and dry sausages. And tons of snacks, ranging from the quick ramen soups to an extensive range of cookies, crackers, popcorn, chocolates and so on. But for the kids, passage time means that they will get back their Halloween candies, something they’re really looking forward too!
And not to worry. Sam being Sam, all those meals have been cooked as double recipe, meaning we can easily last 14 days at sea without even having to think about that pack of hotdog sausage waiting to become the celebratory mac&cheese!