Welcome to Camp Mary our first story is written by a young boater we first met in Tobago Cays. I had heard about Sarah before meeting her and thought having young people write articles for the Camp Mary section would be interesting for the younger readers of our website. I hope you enjoy meeting Sarah and reading her article. If you have any questions or would like to correspond with Sarah, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and Sarah will answer your questions and/or write back when she can.
Please continue to check out this site for more articles.
LIVING ON A BOAT
By Sarah Lutvak
My boat's name is Rafiki. We named it for the mandrel monkey in the Disney film The Lion King. We thought he was a funny and wise character, and we all liked him. The word Rafiki means "friend" in the African language Swahili.
We have been living on the boat for over two years now. We sailed from Boston down to Florida, through the Bahamas. We went to the countries of The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and then to the Virgin Islands. For the last two months we have been sailing south through the Caribbean islands. We are in Grenada now. Next we are going to Trinidad and Venezuela.
My brother and I share a cabin in the front of the boat called the "V-berth". It is small and we squish each other at night sometimes. My mom and dad have their own cabin in the back of the boat called the aft cabin. They have a bigger bed than I do. There are two bathrooms, or "heads" on the boat, but they are very small too. My brother and I can not be in the head at the same time. That's how small it is. You can't flush the toilet, you have to pump a handle about fifteen times, and it is not easy to do. My dad put a big mirror on the head door so that I can see my whole body, and brush my hair. There is a small kitchen called a "galley". I like to help my mom cook, but since the galley is small we bump each other a lot. Sometimes we laugh, but sometimes it is annoying. We often eat sitting on the floor of the boat, so we won't spill on the cushions. Usually we eat in the cockpit, which is on top of the boat, because it is cooler up there where there is a breeze. When it rains we are stuck down below and we have to close all the windows and we feel hot. Sometimes we get to do arts and crafts or bake cookies when we are stuck down below, and that is fun. We don't have a TV or video player so we do a LOT of reading and playing games.
I like living on Rafiki because it is fun to sail and travel to different places. I like meeting new people and learning different languages. We have learned some Spanish and French. I can say "Hello my name is", "Do you want to play", and "thank you" in both languages. I like sailing. Sometimes the boat leans over to one side or "heels" and I like to lie in the cockpit with my feet on the low side and my head on the high side and slide down when a wave comes under the boat and tips us! My mom and I like to play with the waves. We dodge them as they spray over the side of the boat into the cockpit. I like to see the flying fish zoom across the top of the water, and watch dolphins jump off the bow of the boat. I like to swim and snorkel at the reefs. I see all different kinds of fish and coral, sea turtles and so many different sea creatures. I even touched an octopus! What I don't like about living on a boat is that we have to say goodbye to people a lot because we are always moving on. The other thing I don't like is that the boat feels small sometimes and my family is cramped together and sometimes we get really cranky.
My brother and I have school on our boat. Evan is starting first grade and I'm in third. I'm proud to say that my mom and dad are our teachers. We have school in the morning for two or three hours almost each day. This is when we do our workbooks and lessons from the Calvert School. Although we do this "school" for only a couple hours, we really have school all day. Thats because we are always learning new things. When we go to a new country we usually go on an island tour. We learn the history of the island, what crops it grows, and about the countryside. Some islands were made from volcanoes and have big mountains and rainforests. When we go snorkeling at reefs we learn about the fish and coral that we see. I have learned a lot about weather and clouds from watching the sky and listening to weather reports with my mom. Sometimes we do experiments. They are fun. On clear nights we do "stargazing" school. We look at the stars, constellations, and planets. I have learned a lot about outer space. We saw rocket ships blast off when we were in Florida and we visited the Space Center where they blast off from. We've learned about sea mammals like whales, manatees, dolphins, and have seen them for real. I am very interested in sea turtles and have read a lot of books about them. My family spent the night on a beach in Puerto Rico with scientists and we saw three Leatherback turtles come ashore and lay their eggs. It was amazing to see this in real life. I could never have done that at land school! Other children have to go on field trips to see things for real, but my life is one big field trip! One of my favorite things to do in school is cook from our book The Math Chef. I learn different math skills while making the recipes and then get to eat the food!
It is fun to live on a boat. We have traveled far and had a lot of fun. It will be different living on land again. It will be hard to go to school all day and not see my family. But, it will be fun to have friends just down the street, rather than across the ocean! For now though, I'm happy living on Rafiki!