17 months in…Nichola’s reflections on our adventures …14 17 South 027 51 West – 630 miles from Salvador in Brazil

As I am sitting here this morning on watch (from 6am-9am) the children are not yet up and so all is peaceful as we continue to make our way, now a little faster, to Brazil.

I am in a reflective mood. We only have a few more months at sea, the last 17 months as a family sailing have flown by and we have become a close family unit. I admit that when we first left the UK and suddenly the five of us were spending 24 hours together in each other’s company it was a challenge – 24 hours a day in a small space with your 3 young children takes some getting used to as does spending that amount of time with your husband when you have become more used to being ships that pass in the night due to long hours of work. However I reflect now that those gritty first months are behind us and we now enjoy our extended times together. Ok I am not going to paint this all as a rosy picture – we have our disagreements and the children do fall out from time to time but it never lasts very long and underneath all of that there is a bond that we have formed, a close knit bond that we have come a long way and through a lot together.

We have often been asked the question, “don’t the children get bored?” and “what do you do on those long passages, all stuck together in the boat?” – maybe its your perspective but for us we don’t see it as being stuck together and there simply isn’t the time to be bored. For instance at the moment we are 3 weeks into our passage from Cape Town to Brazil – we have had a 72 hour stop over in St Helena but for the most part it has been the 5 of us joined by our good friends Paul and Jani on this leg. There have been so many special moments and I feel that the time has been spent enjoying each other’s company.

The children absolutely love games are always up for “games night” – on this leg we introduced the children to bingo! Columbus and Bluebell got the rules quickly (well I guess they are not that challenging), Willow on the other hand who has just mastered the numbers 1-10 took longer. As I called out the numbers she would look at her card for a minute and then turn to Paul who sat to her left and whisper “have I got that one?” Paul would then very kindly look at her cards and let her know whether she was a step closer to winning. She obviously had beginners luck and was romping away with the numbers – each time she got one she would punch the air and shout “yes” while trying not to shake all the counters off her card.

We have also discovered bananagrams – if you don’t have it, I recommend it – its like scrabble but easier and much more fun for children – Columbus and Bluebell love it and its been great for their literacy (we certainly have less dodgy words each time we play). I have played with them a few times, its great learning a game from your children – they are so more invested in sticking with it when they realise they are quicker at it than their mum! And of course we have monopoly – we have my old board which the children tells me is “ancient” but great because the pieces feel like they are made of metal rather than plastic – they love it, especially the property dealing and money handling. And finally card games – well we have plenty of those – Columbus is keen to learn poker from Caspar, especially as Columbus was once told a story by someone he met on these travels that they paid for their first home with the winnings from poker, so this has inspired Columbus I think.

We have lots of quizzes, you have all of course been entertained by one of these – both the adults and children create them. Paul brought a few quizzes with him on this trip – the children love picking teams and competing against each other and get pretty competitive. Bluebell and latterly Columbus enjoy cooking and baking and Bluebell has reignited a passion for sewing and has been making the rest of the crew little gifts out of felt which she has sewed – such as a lovely heart bookmark that is now in my last novel.

School work takes up most mornings – journal writing, maths, geography for the most part with some science, sailing, philosophy and art thrown in for good measure. Yesterday they learnt the phonetic alphabet and tested this out on each others names, columbus built a model lion out of balsa wood pieces, Willow made every jigsaw she could find on the boat and then her and Bluebell built a great house out of lego. Of course we have the back up of DVD films and games on the iPods and Kindles but I reflect that all of these pieces of technology could be thrown over the side and the children would manage very well in self entertainment now.

So why am I sharing all of these little day to day activities?

This morning I looked through my computer and found a poem that touched me – I found this on the 23rd January 2014, so when we were knee deep in preparation for this trip and busy with work and “life” – it made me stop and think then so much so that I copied it out in my phone and carried it around with me. I found it this morning and have copied it out below for you here:

slow down mummy, there is no need to rush,

slow down mummy, what is all the fuss?

slow down mummy, make yourself a cup tea.

Slow down mummy, come and spend sometime with me.

slow down mummy, lets put our boots on and go out for a walk,

lets kick at piles of leaves, and smile and laugh and talk.

slow down mummy, you look ever so tired,

come sit and snuggle under the duvet and rest with me a while.

slow down mummy, those dirt dishes can wait,

slow down mummy, lets have some fun, lets bake a cake!

slow down mummy I know you work a lot,

but sometimes mummy, its nice when you just stop.

sit with us a minute,

& listen to our day,

spend a cherished moment,

because our childhood is not here to stay!


That got me thinking about how we live as a family now – it made me smile 🙂

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  1. I smiled reading your reflective words on your lives, Nicola, and so enjoyed the poem too. How blessed you have been to be able to create this bond with your family in such an adventurous, forever life changing, fashion! The years will speed along, each one seeming quicker than the one before. But, my guess is, you have established family ties that will endure life’s ups and downs even after you return to life on dry land! THAT is a beautiful thing! There must always be time to smell roses, drink tea, and be connected with those you love!

  2. I’ve read those words before Nicola but after reading your blog it somehow made my eyes sting with tear more this time, such poignant words in the world we live in today. Cherish every last moment of your adventure together, I know that the time you have spent on this trip of a lifetime will remain with you all in your hearts and minds forever. You have built bonds with each other that will last a lifetime. God bless and safe travels xxx

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