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Working with our 4 year old child aboard
Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:40 PM
Joined: 12/07/2008
Posts: 2

My partner and I (Captain and Chief Stew) are finishing a yacht build and will be launching later this year. We will be hiring two additional crew and then head off for an around the world cruise with the owner and his wife and his various family members for the next few years. The catch is that our 4 year old son (who will have his own cabin) will be aboard for the journey, all while we are trying to work our regular 18 hour day. Has anyone out there attempted this? We have kept open communication with the boss and with ourselves as to how or even if this will work, so no one is kidding themselves this will be easy. To say the least....
Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 3:04 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1064

Wow, good luck on that, and bravo to your owner for being open to it, that's a lot. What are you planning on for your son's education? With only 4 crew and world cruising, as you said, you'll be busy with 18 hr days. Have you considered (do you even have a berth for) a nanny/tutor for your son? There is also socialization to consider for him, friends his own age.... The positive is he is at a great age to see the world in depth as it's only possible to do on a boat. I know others who have raised their children on boats to fine results, but none of them were "working the boat". Best of luck to you you. It would be good if you blogged it here so others can see how it goes.

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 1:49 PM
Joined: 09/05/2010
Posts: 3

Wow! I've met crew who had an infant on board, but they left once their son started walking. How old are the other kids who will be on board? Do you know all the kids get along? Will there be a nanny? Is your son 4 now? If so, when the boat finally launches, he'll be 5. Kindergarten age. Who will home school him? How does your son do when he's on the boat? I know grown adults who get cabin fever. Where are you going? What about vaccinations and access to a pediatrician? It sounds like either the most amazing opportunity ever or an overwhelming nighmare. My husband and I both feel like we are on defense from the moment our boys set foot on my husband's boat until the moment we leave. Is the boat going to be kid-friendly? I hope you will keep a blog for those of us who have dreamed of being able to be at sea and still be a family at the same time. Best of luck!
Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 7:56 PM
You better have the boss, put a revolving door on the aft deck,for the crew you will go through and probably for yourselves as you a getting on a plane home.As nice as your boss sounds, I think that situation will get real old real soon, because you will have one eye on you child 18hours of the day. Good Luck
Trina G
Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 8:25 PM
Joined: 29/06/2009
Posts: 3

Linda, I think this is a great opportunity for you and your family to stay together and keep following your dreams. Me and my partner are still trying to find a boat to hire us as a couple let a lone with a 4yr old. (we have a hard time because we both work on deck) I agree that it seems that it will be a lot of work but prove the negative ones out there wrong!! I really hope it works for you and your family and the rest of the crew Would also love to see a blog.... if you have time of course. Good luck!! Have fun!! My only advice is on those extra hard, long days, just remember at least you have your family all together
Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 10:48 AM
Joined: 19/02/2010
Posts: 1


My wife and I had our daughter on board when she was 6 weeks old and she spent most of the first four years of her life on board as we traveled through out the Baltic, Mediterranean and South Pacific.  Her exposure to multi-national adults and a rich mix of culture was of tremendous value in shaping her outlook.  It offers challenging landscape to have a child aboard and does require some "management" and understanding by crew and owner, but the rewards for both the child and parents are significant.  Don't be surprised if crew members also experience some new found enjoyment.  You obviously already have a unique relationship with the vessel owners so half the battle is behind you. I think the situation deserves more input than a simple paragraph of Forum Post, but I can tell you that it is indeed a very workable and rewarding situation for all.

Good Luck - Len

Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 12:49 PM
Joined: 28/10/2009
Posts: 3

I know a couple (Captain & Stew/Chef) who had their two sons, ages 3 and 1, on board while working.  They ended up hiring one nanny per child to watch after and tend to them.  This was great for the mom because she was able to work all day and just pop in to see her kids.  Of course the nanny was paid out of their own pocket, but if you can find a young person, maybe with a teaching background, who wants to travel and jut cover their living expenses I'm sure you'll find loads of applicants (I would have done it at that age!!). 

Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 3:23 PM
I worked for a year on a yacht with a Captain/Chef team and their 5-year old son. The boat travelled extensively around the world. It was one of the most difficult situations for the crew. However it worked for the Owner, Captain, and Chef despite replacing crew on a regular basis. Without the nanny/tutor it would have been impossible.

Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 4:12 PM
Joined: 11/04/2010
Posts: 6


I think it sounds like a great opportunity.  With the right crew and the right attitude, I think it would be beneficial for everyone.  How long do you intend to be cruising?

Best of luck,


Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 9:06 PM
Joined: 12/07/2008
Posts: 2

Firstly, thanks to everyone for the mostly positive feedback. We know we are going into "uncharted territory" (pun intended) and the mental gymnastics trying to figure this out has at times been overwhelming. From birth our son has been brought up as if he was living on board a yacht, i.e. how to properly shut doors, shoes in baskets, respecting boundaries and off limit areas, taking care of furniture (no dings) respecting adults, etc. He can easily entertain himself, yet blends right in with other kids his age. He is current with all immunisations, etc. just as we are, and if the need arises for medical care, we would treat it just as if it were one of us. As this is a motor yacht, safety for him is our primary concern, and a life jacket on deck will be mandatory. He will go through crew drills. There are other things we are putting into place that I won't go into here, but suffice to say we are trying to cover EVERY safety aspect we can possibly think of. My partner and I have been in the industry a LONG time (12+ for him, 20+ for me) so we are aware of the demands and hazards that daily life aboard (with and without the owner) brings, and is why we have been with this boss for over 5 years. He is a family man through and through, and has MANY children and grandchildren. The boat has been designed to be kid friendly and easy to clean just for that purpose. We know what his routine is while aboard, and so therefore know what to expect when the new build is launched and we begin cruising (barring the usual excitement that comes with a new boat) The plan is stay relatively "local" while working on any teething issues, then begin the round the world legs. I was a career chef and purposely switched to stew so that I would not be tied to the galley all day and be able to keep a better eye on our boy. I have a homeschooling program in place that somehow will schedule into the day when the time comes. Fortunately 4/5 year olds are only kindy stage, so the program is usually less than an hour a day. We will constantly be re-evaluating to see what is working and what is not. When it comes time for more intensive lessons, again, we will see how he is going. As far as socialisation, years ago my partner and I worked on a yacht where the owner and his wife took their twin 8 year old boys out of school for a year while we cruised Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, etc. It was stunning to see the amount of kids that came out of the woodwork to come and play with the boys. They were invited over to many of the local homes for play, and trust me, language with kids was never an issue. The wife utilised the home school program that I will be using, so have seen it in practice and the support system that comes with it. When the boys returned to their regular school, they were a year ahead of the grade they were supposed to be placed in. I only dream of a nanny/teacher every waking moment, but space is at a premium for crew. Crew will know from the first interview what to expect. They will not be surrogate babysitters. Ever. Their job is to look after the boss and the boat. Period. We do, however, expect the crew to be role models for our son. By that, we mean hard working, fun loving professionals, with something to teach our son about different life experiences. Are there such crew out there?? Maybe. Any takers? (We laughed about the revolving door and tried to retro-fit that, but the change order was too $$$.) We are going to be realists about this. It may work, and it may not. The important thing is that we will keep talking and make changes as needed. Thanks for all the comments (both negative and positive) as we have a huge learning curve ahead of us.
Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 10:07 PM
Joined: 15/05/2010
Posts: 1

Congratulations and good luck with your son on board.  My wife and I have our 2 year old on board for the last   1 1/2 years and have done the Caribbean, Bahamas, Panama canal and in Canada now leaving tomorrow heading towards Alaska for the summer.  As a father and loving what I do for a living it is the biggest gift for me to spend every day with Charlie.  There are challenges, of course, and he needs more attention now then last year.  It is a family yacht with the owners doing a 10 month trip from Florida to Alaska with there family of seven and a teacher to home school there 10 year old.  The kids are all great and have been raised the way I would want my child raised.  They have given us this opprotunity with the agreement that if it doesnt work out it is OK, for both of us.  They are great owners and they have had to sacrifice some of our time for them and in return we have always gone the extra mile to make them happy.  They have given us the VIP stateroom and we really are a great big happy family.  To get the joy of having a baby on board you all have to give a little.  Obviously it is up to the owners 100% if they enjoy it enough to put up with the occasional fits, diapers, changing settings on computers and hiding phones!!!  We will always be part of our bosses family whether it works out or not.  So far so good!!!!
Captain Mark Drewelow - C2C inc San Diego
Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 11:07 PM
Joined: 07/12/2008
Posts: 68

Hi, my daughter spent a good part of her first 2 years aboard the 107 foot yacht that I was Captain aboard. We were running between Panama and Alaska at the time. My wife was not part of the crew. Wife and daughter were welcome aboard when the owners were not using the boat, the boat was too small for everyone. Wife and daughter were aboard on average 40 - 50 days out of every 60 day period. On that size boat, it did put stress on the entire operation. The 2 year time line fell into my 10 year commitment to the owner, so it was a good transition ashore. From our experience it was only a matter of time before something happend with my family that affected the owners use of the boat, or something happend with my role as Captain , that affected my family. We had a really great 2 year run and thanks to all the crew out there that were part of that. We transitioned ashore before there were any disruptive incidents. Being a father and Captain for me was ok short term, but not a long term setup. Eventually, Father Captain clash in a way that harms the family or the owner, or both.
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 2:57 PM
Joined: 27/08/2008
Posts: 1

I have a question for you. could you wirte me at Thanks
Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 3:05 PM
Hell yes take your kid on board!  Their is no better way for him to see the world /learn than being with his familyHe on a yacht.  Who do you think would have a better idea of what the Eiffel Tower looks like?  The boy who reads about it in a book/internet or a kid who has actually been there.  And schooling?  Your boy has his entire life to learn.  He should never stop.  So maybe there are speed bumps, and dirty looks, but I envy you and your family.  Just keep his but SAFE!      He will grow up being the best deckie/capt in this industry.  I have a 2 year old and am trying to convince the non-yachtie mom to come join me, but am waiting for a more opportune moment, as I am just obtaining my MEOL.  Best of luck and keep us informed!

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