We’ve spent the past few days in Tahiti fixing all the wear and damage inflicted on lines, sails and hardware over the past several months, refilling propane, doing laundry, and doing our final provisioning for Jason’s and my last month on Tahina. We’ve stocked the boat with enough food to feed four for 30 days, and I’m feeling a sense of closure set in on French Polynesia. On Wednesday, we hope to depart for Bora Bora so we can spend our final days in Polynesia doing some diving, scootering, and hiking while awaiting Karen’s return from Texas.
Yesterday we took some time off from prep work and did some snorkeling on a sunken plane and a couple of boats just off our anchorage at Marina Taina. We invited our friend Alex from Artemo to join us, since his parents were busy defrosting their fridge and cooking everything that thawed. If I haven’t said this before, boat kids amaze me. At 7 years old, some of them can be seen steering dinghies back and forth between boats to visit friends. Because they hang around adults a lot, they say the darndest things, and seem to relate to grown-ups with no sense of intimidation at all. They have a real sense of their abilities, because life on a boat demands contribution and responsibility from everyone aboard. Many appear to have developed a no-fear, head-on relationship with the world in general, and it’s captivating.
Many of the boat kids are part of a home-schooling system with tests and grading run in cooperation with an organization in the U.S., and with the real-world experience they pick up along the way, some of them have impressed me as some of the brightest I’ve ever met. But this isn’t to say they don’t act like kids, too. Lots of boat kids have siblings, and that’s important because it gives them someone to play with and relate to that lives in “their” world, but another thing they have are other boat friends.
Alex and his sister Amelia are 13 and 11, and along the way they’ve made acquaintances with other boats that have kids aboard. Over time they run into one another in different anchorages, telling stories of adventures had apart and playing while they’re together. The parents I’ve met joke that the kids have radar for other “kid boats,” and it works out nicely because they come to know friends from all over the world. In some anchorages, the kids run “kids’ nets” after the official adult nets on the radio in the mornings, doing a morning check-in and coordinating activities for the day. Sometimes parents will agree to host kids’ friends on opposing nights to give each couple a night out. We’ve even met preteens, like Sepka on A Small Nest, that make a little pocket money babysitting for other folks, just like at home.
It’s a whole other way to grow up, but talk about broadening horizons! Just another facet life on board…