“Good morning, stunner!
You’re just getting started.
Your age doesn’t matter.
The sun is up, the day is new,
You’re just getting started.” (Lin Manuel Miranda)
Waking up on a boat is the best possible start to a day, and I’m very prepared to stand by that statement. You could be anywhere in the whole world, yet waking to the cozy comfort of your own bed. Now that I have three small children and can no longer stay up until the wee hours of the morning, the actual morning is my favorite time of day.
I always dreamed of giving my children the gift of travel. It began as a dream during my own childhood, fantasizing (as all children do) about this other life I wished I could live. Before I even knew I wanted children of my own, I envisioned this sort of life. Some little girls pretend they’re gymnasts, horse girls riding fancy show-jumpers, or even famous athletes. My family didn’t own a boat, and we lived an hour away from the ocean, but in my head at least, I was usually off sailing the world.
Of course, children thrive on routine, and get their sense of security from structure. (Or so my own mother used to tell me, whenever I’d implore her to sell it all and take us traveling!) Our boat, “Robin Hood”, allows us to enjoy the best of both worlds, sailing and traveling with the comfort of home coming right along with us. We don’t have the most structure. We move around a lot. The boys aren’t in school yet, so our days are fairly fancy-free. But mornings and bed-time, at least, are kept to a routine. These are the highlights of our mornings aboard Robin Hood:
- The Hatch I open my eyes and look directly out the large hatch that is over our bed. If it’s open I can feel the breeze and tell a lot about the weather before I even open my eyes. I can judge the time by the quality of light overhead, and–since I’m often stuck underneath a warm, heavy-with-sleep baby, I start my day patiently (hahahaha not really. I’m so impatient to get up and make coffee!!!) watching it arrive in cool shades of blue.
- Coffee, of course If Rocky is still in his dockatot bed, I get up and put on the coffee. The galley is right next to our aft cabin, so I can keep an ear out for Rocky, who is very motivated to get himself out of his bed as soon as he wakes up. If he’s sleeping on me, then I wait for him to wake up, and we make coffee together.
- Fresh morning air As soon as the coffee is going, I open up the gangway and let in the new day. It can get hot when we are on a mooring or at anchor. We have a LOT of dorades, which let in a lot of fresh air, and the hatches help, too. But it is still a small, enclosed, space. Opening it up every morning and poking my head out into the morning is. the. best.
- Cockpit hangs while we watch the world come to life around us. My boys love to wave hello and call “good morning” to passersby. If they’re in a silly mood sometimes they ask how to say it in another language, and instead call “bon matin!” or their own made up greeting. Either I’m boring them to death or I have two–three–extremely sociable boys. One of my proudest/most mortifying moments as a parent was when two-year-old River, clad in just his diaper, called out to our boat neighbors, “hey, you guys wanna come have some rosé?!” At 8 AM. With the previous night’s empty champagne bottles decorating our cockpit.
- Finally, we get breakfast going–usually fruit and oatmeal–and while Rocky takes his post-brekky tub we talk about our plan for the day. Our days are mostly the same but also different in little ways and lack a lot of structure, so I think it helps them to have the plan talked through.
I want to be that Mom doing morning yoga poses with the boys, setting our intentions for the day. Sometime, very rarely, this happens. If it happens, fantastic. Sometimes it does and it all looks perfect. Other times I force it and we look like a pack of psycho hamsters, squabbling along. On those days you might even hear me yelling the day’s intention at them–“dammit we’re going to laugh today!!! A LOT!!! SO STOP CRYING!!!”
Luckily, life on a sailboat, surrounded by the great outdoors, is rife with opportunities to re-set. When the crying and yelling intrudes on a beautiful morning, the beach and therapeutic salt air is only a few steps away.
A few more “morning” favorites:
Here I came to the very edge where nothing at all needs saying, everything is absorbed through weather and the sea, and the moon swam back, its rays all silvered, and time and again the darkness would be broken by the crash of a wave, and every day on the balcony of the sea, wings open, fire is born, and everything is blue again like morning. (Neruda)
“So fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were stuck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sea.” (V Woolf, To the Lighthouse)
“In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.” (Hemingway)
“The fountain in the village flowed unseen and unheard, and the fountain at the chateau dropped unseen and unheard—both melting away, like the minutes that were falling from the spring of Time—through three dark hours. Then, the grey water of both began to be ghostly in the light, and the eyes of the stone faces of the chateau were opened.” (Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)
“I hear you in the morning sun.” (AD Posey)