Giving everyone some space

Tired of looking at the engine yet? Not as tired as Michu. Let’s talk about something else.

Many people can get behind the idea of spending 24-7 in close quarters with adorable babies (possibly they have forgotten/never knew about the random screaming and poopy diapers). Most folks have fond memories of the Adorable Toddler Stage of human development. Not a ton of people we know would commit to sharing a 300-square-foot living space with a teenager.

F is currently 11, but by the time we’re done with this trip she’ll be a full-on teen, and we’ve discovered that teenage behavior seems to start long before the magic number 13. Therefore, the driving force behind any boat consideration when we were shopping was not a particular sail plan, tankage requirements or builder’s rep–it was interior layout. While plenty of folks cruise comfortably with two kids by splitting up the v-berth or sticking one child in the saloon pilot berth, we felt we would all be happier living abroad if every person had some private space.

This turned out to be more difficult than expected. Apparently, most people purchasing boat suitable for living aboard in the last 20 years are retired. The emphasis in monohulls has been on spacious aft berths, instead of splitting the aft living spaces into two separate rooms. Families have been flocking to catamarans, which are much more spacious and allow you to banish two kids to an entirely different hull; that sounds great to us, but there was never going to be a decent catamaran available in our price range. Used charter boats generally have more interior living space, but they also have less-than-ideal galleys, terrible anchoring setups, and a history of running aground.

Interior line drawing of our boat; cross-hatched areas are berths.

Interior line drawing of our boat; cross-hatched areas are berths.

Our search led us to consider some really weird boats in fairly far-flung locations, and I won’t get too in-depth about that right now; suffice to say, we think the Beneteau First series is a pretty solid choice for affordable family sailing. This particular boat has a reputation for being very well made–it’s not just a lightweight cruiser, sacrificing quality joinery for wide-open spaces. It gives each kid their own separate room, with a closing door and everything; plus, it’s got a secret passage between the rooms! (Some people would call it a second head, but we prefer “secret passage.”) We’re glad we made the decision to carve out personal spaces for our kids. At home, they share a bunkbed; as they get closer to departure, having their own room is one of the things they’re most excited about.

Mirror-image rooms, with the companionway in between…I think they have more room back there than we do in the v-berth…

Michu and T wrestle with the Wee Scunner

Michu and T wrestle with the Wee Scunner

That’s not the only way we’re trying to keep from losing our minds via family togetherness, though. We’ve also been amassing an auxiliary fleet: inflatable dinghy, smaller rowing dinghy, and a kayak. Need to get away from the fam? Paddle off for some quiet time. The kayak is really the best, and we’d like another, but we’re attempting restraint.

Rowing dinghy stashed on the bow

Rowing dinghy stashed on the bow

Finally: the Pod. If all else fails, on our boat you can climb in to a fabric cocoon and create your own little world away. This was a gift to F from her grandparents, but really, everyone loves it.

And if all else fails, you can always swim to the beach.

F looking strong this summer

F. looking strong this summer

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