The basics / by Caroline Van Hemert

Daily life on the sailboat spans the gamut from amazing to completely ordinary. We are in the Gulf Islands enjoying the early days of summer, which means catching crabs (so far only tiny ones that have crawled onto our toes), hiking through madrone forests, and watching seals, otters, and orca whales. Besides sailing and shore excursions, we are never far from the basics. As it does on most days, in most places, our schedule revolves largely around three things: eat, sleep, poop. The eating occurs in impressive abundance given that two of our crew are still under the age of 4. They are hungry boys indeed. The sleeping happens after a lot of wrestling in the V-berth, where Dawson behaves like a wound-up toddler in a padded playpen. This is essentially the nature of their beds so it’s easy to understand the confusion. Little brother is now relegated to some quiet time on the galley floor while big brother goes to sleep. The pooping happens in equal abundance as the eating, and only partially in the toilet (namely, Dawson). This means a lot of hand sanitizer, compostable diaper inserts, and opening of portholes. But, mostly, having all four of us crammed into a small space is a gift. We are together in a way that happens only rarely amongst the bustle of work, school, friends, and errands. Our attention is diverted, no doubt, by figuring out a new boat, remembering how to sail, and keeping one eye on the weather and waves, but the boys have us, and we have each other, always at arm’s reach (except for those occasional hours when Pat or I escape for a run or a little alone time on shore). Huge thanks to Will and Joan Miller for shepherding Chaika to us in such good condition, and for filling the boat with love and care. We will do our best to continue the tradition.


Chaika at anchor in James Bay, Prevost Island.


 “Fishing” off the dock on Wallace Island.


The captain takes his job seriously.


The clown attempting to escape his confines.


Our dinghy, christened “Marshsmallow” by Huxley.