Imagine packing up your young family, three kids from 4 to 8 years old, kissing the jobs good bye and heading off on a sailboat around the world. That is what the S/V Totem family did five years ago. I first met them in Mexico where we all nervously awaited our ocean crossing or puddle jump as we called it. Behan organized the HF radio net and all participated in the seminars and parties that the sponsors arranged. I discovered they were from Bainbridge Island, very close to my original home. I kept seeing these bouncy “toe head” blonde kids merrily dashing about the docks. A long friendship started here, now we are in the wilds of Indonesia cruising together after spending time in Mexico, the South Sea Islands, Australia and not Asia.
We rendezvoused on Bali and did the fast catch up. I laughed that they had traded in the old kids on bigger ones; Niall is now a full-fledged teenager, almost 14. We spent some time together and planned joining them in Gili A. I offered Niall to make the crossing with us and he came aboard. Having him with us for two days was a complete pleasure. The crew took right to him and he helped in the galley and me with some boat stuff. He seemed to like this power boating idea. He helped the girls learn some knots. I had a blast teasing “mom” via facebook chatting with quips like, “ if you get here late Niall will be hanging out in the bar with me” to which she replied, “so which bar do I find my kid in” and added, “I cannot believe I am asking such a question”.
With Totem moored next to Furthur again, it was like old times, they joined us when I jammed at the Freedom Bar with my good friend Agu. My crew and the kids were inseparable, Sam had two young girls to braid her long hair and play games with. The perfect name for the Totem family came from my guitar playing, pot smoking and star bright smiling, Rasta looking Indo pal Agu. We finished one of the songs and he welcomed the “Happy Family” and that is what they shall be called for ever more.
The name is well earned; we laughed that if they could make the young girls in pill form it would cure all forms of depression. Niall is the perfect older brother always attentive with his sisters and they truly look up to him. Jamie and Behan should write the book on parenting, period. We had to chance to see them out alone last night, sans kids, when I played again at the Freedom Bar. Sam made the comment, “they are really in love”.
Although the “Happy Family” are amazing, they are not alone. The cruising world if full of happy families living in tight quarters raising multiple kids on the run. The results are families that really love each other, kids that are independent, well behaved, inquisitive, precocious and really fun. Many young guys read my blog and tell me “someday” when the kids are grown and I always show them the S/V Totem blog, http://sv-totem.blogspot.com/. Make that someday today.