Feb 28th 2013 by Pikasaurus • 53 Questions • 806 Points
Hi Reddit! As the title says, I grew up blue ocean sailing! We lived on a forty foot sail boat. I have been traveling with my family since I was five. We left the states and have been up and down the coast of Mexico. After two years of Mexico, we crossed into the South Pacific. While there we visited places such as Nuhu Hiva, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Niue, and Tonga before finally ending up in New Zealand. I lived there for two and a half years, attending school and being there for the filming of Lord of the Rings. No joke. I saw bits and pieces of the sets from the movies everywhere, it was so cool. Anyway, after New Zealand we continued our travels and went to Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. We finally ended up in Australia where we sold the boat after staying three months and came back to the US so I could start High School.
Awful photo but there you have it!
Ask me anything!
Edit Good morning Reddit! Thank you for all the questions and messages while I was asleep! Thee have been lots of questions about pictures. Check out our family website: teamtoucan.com. The site is currently being worked on a bit, but there are a few photos up!
Edit 2 Things are slowing down now so I am going to be up and about. I probably won't answer as quickly as I have been if more questions are left. Please feel free to ask though! You will get answered!
Edit 3 Okay Reddit, I am calling it a day on this one! Thank you to everyone who asked questions. If you ever want to know more, PM me! Thank you again! I had a lot of fun.
I read your comments in the AskReddit thread tonight and I'm so envious of your life! You seem like a really happy person with wonderful childhood memories.
My question: What was your favorite place to visit, and what was your scariest moments at sea?
I really do have wonderful memories of my life on the boat. It was such an amazing experience.
I have two favorite places that I have visited. Niue being one of them, where there ae more coconuts then people, and New Zealand.
Scariest moment was probably when we were going into an anchorage in the South Pacific and we ran aground on a coral head. Luckily we had a friend following behind us that pulled us off. That was the most terrifying moment in my life.
How did your parents come up with the idea to raise two kids while sailing all over the Pacific?
Also, how did they come by their sailing skills?
I'm not really sure what possessed them to do that, but they couldn't very well leave us with our grandparents or our birth-father. What ever made them decide to do that, I am really thankful for. I have had an amazing life.
When my dad met my mom he had already had the boat so he had some practice. My mom kind of learned from him and then from there out they learned as they went. :)
Cried because she was jealous or scared of the idea?
Just cause I can and you can probably too...
Kei te pēhea koe?
Kei te pai au!
My Maori is really rusty.
Which landlubber comforts did you miss the most? The lack of a laundry machine is my frustration above others. Are there any places you would prefer not to have visited?
I'm living on a boat now and leaving for a circumnavigation this July, this has been an interesting read so far.
As a kid, I think I missed TV most. After living in NZ for a bit, I missed hot showers! I would suggest getting a sun shower so you can at least have warm water when you rinse off! I wish you the best of luck and hope you have an amazing time on your journey! Where are you planning to head for first?
How do the night watch/day watch work? If there are two people on the boat, does that mean a person is on a watch for 12 hours, sleeping for 8, and has 4 hours a day for everything else? Or is it only the night watch that has to be done and during the day you just hang out on the deck and that works as a watch? What if the weather is bad?
The way my parents had it is that my mom would go to bed right after dinner. My dad would take first watch, which for him was from 7pm to about 2 or 3 am. My mom would take the next shift until my dad woke up. Day shit was easier since we would all just lounge around on deck. Depending on the weather, both of my parents would be out there, specifically in a really bad storm. If it calmed down enough, one of them would get a little sleep until the storm kicked up again. The nex time it calmed down the other would catch some sleep. If the storm died completely, their watch would resume until one of them was tired enough to wake the other.
What was the inspiration for leaving everything behind and living on a sailboat?
I think my parents wanted to do something no one else had done and they wanted to give my brother and I a wonderful experience.
I've gone sailing before (maybe not that extensive) but at night I got a sense of universal intensity and a feeling of awe. Best part in my opinion. What do you love most and miss least about it?
Sailing at night really is very awe inspiring. What I loved most was meeting new people and going new places. I have so many stories to share because of this! The thing I miss the least is constantly being wet. My parents had reinforcement put up in the v-berth, which is where my brother and I slept in the bow of the boat, and since then, my side of the boat leaked. It was especially bad in nasty weather. I eventually gave up wringing out towels and slept under the table.
When customs would ask for bribes, my dad would ask if Victor Hugo was in town.
No one else seems to question this, so I guess I am out of the loop and there is a well known official by that name. That said, my brain stopped here. I was like... you are threatening them with a dead French writer? Though I guess a zombie Jean Valjean might be terrifying!
A lot of people don't believe us when we tell them that was his name, but yeah, I think a threat of any zombie would be frightening!
What items would you want to have with you if you were stranded out at sea, for an extended period of time, in order to survive?
I would want a water catcher and a watermaker, life jacket, fishing rod with all necessary equipment, a knife, and sun glasses. The glare of the sun on the water can be pretty bad. The water catcher would provide shade and water when it rained. The watermaker if it didn't rain. Fishing rod to catch food. A knife to gut fish that I caught.
Question #2 do you see yourself sailing for long periods of time again? Like by yourself?
At this point in time, I don't see myself doing any open water sailing. I couldn't afford a boat on my own. I also don't think I would be willing to do it by myself. It takes a lot of energy and focus to be out there by yourself. You don't have anyone keeping watch for other boats if you are by yourself. I would rather have someone with me to look out for me. All it takes is one stupid, tired mistake and I could be dead.
How difficult is it to communicate with people on the islands? Does everyone speak English/Spanish or are local dialects spoken in the Pacific? (Sorry, I'm not familiar with the geography of the Pacific.)
I didn't have too much trouble honestly. There wasn't much my brother and I as kids asked for. Kids on the islands were pretty ready to play with us when we were on shore. My parents learned bits and pieces to get what they needed. Sometimes there would be someone who spoke the language that would help us out. As I got older I picked up bits and pieces to communicate what I wanted.
Do you tan easily? How does your skin react to sunlight? Do you even get burned?
I burn easily. Very easily. I actually got a 2nd degree burn while snorkeling once. It was not fun. I try to put on sun screen as much as I can now. As a kid, I didn't bother with it much unless we were going to be out on the beach for a few hours.
It varied actually. Sometimes it would be as few as three days, sometimes a week, maybe even two weeks . It really depended on the weather condition. We tried to use the motor as little as possible. Our longest trip was thirty days from Mazatlán Mexico to Nuku Hiva in the South Pacific.
Do you ever feel like you missed out on a "normal" childhood?
Sometimes I do. My friends will start talking about things from their childhood, I get a bit envious. They also have had friends since they were little, so I feel a little jealous of that too. That being said, I wouldn't trade my experience for anything!
Haha, no, and sadly none of my family have gills on their necks.
Yay Waterworld ;)
What is your favorite quote about the ocean? The one that means the most to you.
Never turn your back on the sea.
My parents always used to tell my brother and I this while we were on the beach. You would never know when a wave would knock you off your feet, or if a rip tide was developing. It carries to being out on the boat as well. Watch where the waves are coming from.
Thankfully no. At the time we were traveling, we were not in any areas that had pirates. That didn't mean that we didn't have protection on the boat though ;)
My family is average. We are by no means rich. The boat we lived on was a used boat.
What was a normal day at sea like for you? I guess I mean more when you were a teenager than when you were say, five.
As a teenager, and as a kid, it was pretty easy. Get up and eat breakfast then get in some home schooling. I particularly liked the days where my parents didn't make me do school work. After doing school work I pretty much had free reign. I would read or play with my brother. We had lots of stuffed toys and a pillow case of legos. I did a lot of reading on the boat. After I got a gameboy color for my birthday, I would play that sometimes. There was a lot of time spent out on deck, helping my parents with the sails. When we weren't doing that, I would lounge around in the sun. Mom would usually make soup or sandwiches for lunch and then we would eat dinner quickly. As I got older, my dad allowed to to stay up with him and do night watches.
You ever happen to travel up towards Washignton state and the Puget Sound? I met a girl up at Friday Harbor waay waay long ago when I was about 10 who also lived on a 40 footer and said she traveled the world with her family on their sailboat. The story sounded oddly familiar, and it brought back good childhood memories.
We have family out there, so we traveled to Washington state via car when we got back to the States. We might have met!
What is the age difference of your brother and your parents to you?
My brother and I are 3 years difference, with me being the older. My parents are about 30 years older then me.
You are awesome sir/ma'am :) Thank you again for dropping by. I appreciate it.
A little! I know that while I was in New Zealand, I picked up a bit of a Kiwi accent that I carried back to the States. Even now I say certain words with a Kiwi accent.
Did you ever get seasick? If so how did you cope? On my sail down the east coast I learned very quickly that after 24 hours on a boat I begin too vomit an absurd amount.
Actually no! My mom was the only one to ever get seasick actually. She would take dramamine for it actually. Now I just get vertigo due to labyrinthitis, but I get over it quickly when I am outside or I take my motion sickness pill.
TL;DR: When you look back on your childhood aboard, what was the thing that made child-you the most joyful? What is the one thing that gave you that childlike giddiness that created the biggest impression?
Thanks for doing this AMA, Pikasaurus! My fiancee and I are (very slowly) repowering/refitting our 47' sailboat (Compass 47) with plans to cruise with our yet-to-be spawned children. Of course I read blogs like Bumfuzzle, s/v Totem and Zach Aboard, and there are a few cruising kids at our marina, but they are still young'ens. I've never had the opportunity to ask an adult former boat-kid what it is that stands out the most in terms of fond childhood memories. What I mean (and will be poorly explaining) is more along the lines of that one thing that stands out that gave you that amazing giddy feeling that only a kid can get. That feeling that sticks with you and makes you want to find a way to help your own kids feel that way. I grew up both on the water and on a farm (lucky Floridian), and whenever my dad would take me on one of the farm's ATVs, or when he would let me drive one of the trucks through the fields when I was well below driving age, or when he taught me to use our computerized irrigation system (it was advanced in the 80s!) I got the feeling I'm talking about. I'll never forget that feeling. When did that happen for you cruising/living aboard? Were there special traditions, jobs aboard, or moments with your parents that stand out as special? Thank you!
Helping with the sails, taking them down, putting them up. For me that was one of the coolest things I could do. It meant my parents trusted me with the responsibility of not letting it drop right into the ocean. I also loved taking night watch with my dad. There is nothing quite like hearing the splash of a wave and the wind in the rigging at night with a sky full of stars.
One "tradition" that stood out for me and that I remember clear as day, was the day we crossed the equator. We had a full on ceremony. My parents blessed my brother and I by pouring milk over our head and slapping us in the face with a fish. We then offered Poseidon stale candy hearts that we had left over from Mexico and my parents each gave him half a beer. It is supposedly tradition to give him gifts in order to have good sailing.
How did you like Vanuatu?
From what I've read, it seems like a really interesting place to visit. But then I read about large carnivorous centipedes and that just scares the crap out of me :P
Vanuatu was beautiful! I got to see my first dugong there. When we were there we visited their national museum and got to see all the history on cannibalism there.