Seasickness, shovels, and birthday cake / by Caroline Van Hemert

...fortunately not all at the same time. Yesterday brought our first day of big following seas in the Strait of Georgia. We were downwind sailing and all seemed well until things got just a little too rough for comfort. Chaika of course didn’t mind, but when Huxley said he had a funny taste in his mouth we knew it was time to pull in some sails. Turned out to be too late and breakfast ended up all over the galley floor. Dawson followed suit as soon as I had finished cleaning up the first mess. Once they went on deck and we resigned to easing the rocking with some motor assistance, everyone felt much better. I’m not sure what lesson we learned exactly, except that we all have our limits, and kids don’t necessarily know how to tell us when they are nearing theirs. This was the first sign of seasickness we’d seen. It was also a reminder that “all hands on deck” comes in a very reduced form for us, meaning that one person needs to be able to manage just about everything single-handedly.

Today we celebrated Huxley’s 4th birthday at a sandy beach on Hornsby Island. We had gorgeous sunshine for tidepooling and digging. Shovels continue to be one of our primary modes of entertainment, and, despite the fact that they are identical except in color, a source of incredible sibling strife. Red vs. yellow is apparently worth fighting for, and fighting hard.

Back on Chaika, we used the galley oven for the first time to bake a birthday cake. The 350 degree setting ramped up to 500 and the store-bought frosting was so sweet it made my teeth hurt, but the cake was deemed a success by the guest of honor. He had also requested kale salad and because we are now well-stocked on fresh produce after our stop in Nanaimo, we each had our serving of kale to offset the sugar. 

It continues to amaze me just how much time and energy it takes to keep an almost-2-year-old and newly-4-year-old occupied, happy, and safe on a sailboat. I have all the more respect for families who have forged this path ahead of us. It’s an odd mix of endless time and no time at all. I imagined I would have at least an hour or two a day to read and write, and instead we find ourselves squeezing in basic tasks late in the evening, between washing a pile of dishes, familiarizing ourselves with boat systems, checking weather and charts, and, yes, dealing with dirty diapers. It’s largely a matter of adjusting expectations, but it’s hard to know what falls in the realm of reasonable when reasoning is not always a toddler’s strong suit. (Or mine, for that matter, when it comes to having a screaming match over who is going to climb out of the dinghy first.) The strong north winds that brought in the sunshine are likely to stick around, so we’ll have a chance to see how it feels to be at one anchor for multiple days. The boys will no doubt wake up ready for another adventure tomorrow, none the wiser about weather, schedules, or anyone’s plans but their own!


Dawson finding his sea legs.


Fun at anchor.


Huxley recovering from a bout of seasickness.


Digging for sand dollars.


Hiking with a color-coordinated shovel.


Cool sandstone features along this island’s shore.


The makings of a sailor.


Happy birthday!