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Old 08-13-2017, 12:02 PM   #1
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Raise a family on a boat

Anyone here have thoughts/experiences on raising a family on a boat? I've always wanted to live on a sailboat, and my fiance's compromise is to move aboard live on a trawler. We're both in the Navy and pretty much always live near the water and love it. We are also planning on having kids in the next few years. Living on a boat is something that I've always wanted to do, but I'm starting to have second thoughts when the family factor comes into play. I always thought it would be a good environment for kids to grow up in, but we're also probably gonna spend most of the time in a marina rather than seeing the world for the next several years, as we are both working. Maybe I should just wait till the kids are moved out? I can always live in a house and still have a boat to play with. Really looking forward to any and all input.
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Old 08-13-2017, 12:29 PM   #2
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Tom Neale, a boating columnist and author, raised his family while living on his boat. He has written several books about the crusing, live aboard life style and some of them touch on the issues of raising children on board: home schooling, boarding schools for college prep, etc. I think one or more of his kids were born (but at a hospital) while he and his wife were living aboard.

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Old 08-13-2017, 04:47 PM   #3
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Really appreciate the recommendation. Already ordered one of his books, you should ask for your commission.
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:28 PM   #4
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You will get widely varying opinions. My feeling is that anything you can do to provide the kids a stable environment is positive. If you were cruising all the time, then they'd really have a problem making any long term friends plus with their education. With you at a marina, they can grow up in a town, in the same school system, with long term friends. Being military kids already disrupts childhood enough.

Now, I'm going to throw out my concern. I don't want to have infants and toddlers on a boat, always worrying about them falling in or doing something in the middle of the night. Young children are difficult enough to keep your eyes on all the time, but add docks and water to that and I see it as very challenging to parents.

You don't mention either the likelihood of transfers for you and your fiancee?

She's still your fiancee. I don't know the ages of either of you. However, it wouldn't seem time yet to have kids. Typically, you want to experience a little married life first. So, perhaps a solution is to have the boat but when she gets pregnant to get some land housing while keeping the boat.

All just thoughts but the two of you have to figure out what is right for you. So many variables in the situation.
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:49 PM   #5
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Well, I'm a pilot and probably gonna get out in a few years, and she's a nurse and probably gonna stay in. We're both about 30 and don't want to wait too long to have kids. With her staying in, we'd likely move about every 3 years. I agree with your concerns and thats kind of the wrench in the whole machine. Thanks for the input!
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Old 08-26-2017, 07:33 AM   #6
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Bigbeartr57.


There is a family that raised their daughter on a KK on youtube. I believe their channel on youtube is 3atsea or something like that. They home schooled their daughter and I believe she is off to college now. It may be worth checking it out.


Best of luck to you.


Cheers.


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Old 08-26-2017, 10:05 AM   #7
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Well I believe my life has been a wonderful one....

The story of my parents is here janice142 article The Fishing Boat

This is our boat. She's 40' and just about perfect. Daddy built her of steel post WWII.


I was born on the shakedown cruise. Some say I turned out okay.

Folks on the water are amazing. Fellow boaters span the spectrum of careers, life experiences and more. The fellow who taught me astronomy, some math, and a bit of oceanography was offered Surgeon General of the United States. Doc was brilliant. We cruised together on and off for years. I learned a small bit of Latin from a retired professor who taught at New York University.

Back then there were not a lot of children aboard boats. I read and heard comments about this. It was never a problem for me -- only busybodies were bothered by that.

Here's a picture on the tow boat Daddy ran for a time in the FL Keys.


Think of the joy your civilized children will have surrounded by people who love them. At Marina's they will be fine.
I learned to walk aboard a moving boat.

Now riding my tricycle was a bit different. I rode around the engine box. When the folks brought me to shore apparently I needed to be taught how to go in a straight line. I did circles great!

Message from me to your future kids: when Halloween is coming visit every boat in Anchorage beforehand stating you're going to go trick or treating. I used to come back with full bags full of goodies, home baked cookie bars and more. There was always a haul That would keep me in sweets until Easter.

P.S. The Easter Bunny would deliver treats too for me to boats wherever we were.

I was truly blessed.

Still am...



Personally I believe raising children afloat is the Best. I wish I had not raised mine ashore. It did them a disservice. On the other hand my ex was good looking...and I suppose I'm not the only person who has fallen for a nice looking mate. Sigh.

Good luck to you both.
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Old 08-26-2017, 12:34 PM   #8
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Janice. I'd say your story reflects a couple of important things. You were on a boat but you weren't cruising. You still had a "home", it was just on water. You got to know people and build relationships and there were other kids.

I'd say the important factors in raising kids on boats are very little different that the factors in raising on land. Education, Socialization. Healthy eating and activities. Get involved in similar activities in school or the community.

So, I'd say it can work great as it did for you or work horribly, but then I'd say the same on land. We were both on land, I even had all the material things. However, we were both raised extremely poorly and had to work hard to overcome that.
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Old 08-26-2017, 12:48 PM   #9
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Google Three at Sea. They raised their daughter on a Nordhavn 43 while cruising wide and far. That would be very different from living in a consistent location, and happen to dwell in a boat vs a house.

A good friend of mine, now in his 70s, was raised on a boat. He remains an avid boater, but hated growing up on the boat. He felt cheated out of his childhood.

So I think it could turn out any number of ways, with the particular kid(s) and the parents being major factors as well.
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Old 08-26-2017, 01:51 PM   #10
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Google Three at Sea. They raised their daughter on a Nordhavn 43 while cruising wide and far. That would be very different from living in a consistent location, and happen to dwell in a boat vs a house.

A good friend of mine, now in his 70s, was raised on a boat. He remains an avid boater, but hated growing up on the boat. He felt cheated out of his childhood.

So I think it could turn out any number of ways, with the particular kid(s) and the parents being major factors as well.
I think of that as cheating, although I know the parents are well intentioned. I've known many kids who had excellent parents but because of jobs (often military) never were in one place very long and they have felt very cheated. I'm sure the one you refer to are excellent people and parents and felt they were doing right. I had a close friend who for 12 years of school pre-college went to school in 9 different cities. He felt lonely and like he had no real friends. Everytime he'd try to make them he was gone. There was a girl he really liked in high school and ten years later he was searching for her.
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Old 08-26-2017, 02:47 PM   #11
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" plus with their education"

Home schooling is easily done if the boat goes cruising , and many awards are garnered by home skooled kids.

2 or 3 hours a day of education in stead of daily indoctrination creates better citizens
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Old 08-26-2017, 02:53 PM   #12
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Know several home schooled, cruising kids that befriended my boys growing up.

Turned out pretty similar to the cross section of the population if not better.

Cruising isnt the limiter, the parents are.
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Old 08-26-2017, 03:25 PM   #13
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I grew up on land but moved every year or so. I went to 10 different schools. I didn't see that as a problem. Moving to a new city was an adventure for me. It taught me the love of traveling, how to adapt, appreciation of different cultures, and so much more. I certainly didn't feel cheated, I really enjoyed moving and meeting new friends. These days it would be so much easier to stay in touch with old friends.

There are more ways to raise a family well than the standard traditional white picket fence method.
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Old 08-26-2017, 03:27 PM   #14
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Home schooling is easily done if the boat goes cruising , and many awards are garnered by home skooled kids.

2 or 3 hours a day of education in stead of daily indoctrination creates better citizens


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Cruising isnt the limiter, the parents are.

I see a lot of families as patients that homeschool their kids. Here is the list of reasons that I see they choose to do it.

- Religious: They want their kids to receive an education in a religious environment and don't choose or can't afford a religious school.

- Snobbery: They don't want their angels to associate the "riff-raff" in the public schools.

- Unmet educational need: There are some kids with special needs/situations where the school district has been unable or unwilling to provide adequately for their child's education.

- Perceived unmet educational needs: Same as the above the parents are just nut-cases without a foot in the realm of reality.

- Situational: Folks moving around a lot which would make consistent education in a school environment impossible.

- Personnel self-justification: One or both parents needs something to do with their time to avoid the feelings of guilt associated with not working. Therefore they collect welfare and homeschool their kids.

Of all the homeschool families that I've seen over the years, I think that maybe 1/3 of the kids are well served by the process. That may be generous, it could be closer to 1 in 4. The rest end up with educational or social deficits that they can certainly overcome, but it does put them at a certain disadvantage.

As psneed said, it is the parents that are the limiter. The problem is that most of us are not honest enough with ourselves, or know ourselves well enough to know if we would be a good home-school parent. I wouldn't. My wife would have been.

There are disadvantages and advantages to raising kids while cruising. Minimize the one, and make the most of the second.
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Old 08-26-2017, 03:31 PM   #15
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Here's a blog from some sailor friends we first met in Mexico in 2009 and saw them again this past spring in the Bahamas, 2 adults and 3 kids. They're doing great and the kids seem pretty well adjusted. The oldest one is getting ready for college. Behan writes a good blog with some posts about home schooling and cruising with kids in general.

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Old 08-26-2017, 03:53 PM   #16
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I've known many kids who had excellent parents but because of jobs (often military) never were in one place very long and they have felt very cheated.

I'd guess there are an equal number of kids from military/DoD/DoS/etc. families that feel especially lucky to have observed other places, peoples, and cultures up close and personal for extended periods.

A week-long vacation in (Germany, UK, Italy, Japan, Spain, fill in the blank.. and various different parts of the U.S.) is way different from a 2-, 3-, or 4-year tour of duty -- with enough time to learn the language (however fluent or not) and so forth. Many kids make lifetime friends...

For OP: it probably depends on how you go about it, what future tours you draw, etc. Usually the way forward can be fairly flexible; almost anything you choose now can be altered as necessary along the way. Thanks for your service!

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Old 08-26-2017, 06:23 PM   #17
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I think of that as cheating, although I know the parents are well intentioned. I've known many kids who had excellent parents but because of jobs (often military) never were in one place very long and they have felt very cheated. I'm sure the one you refer to are excellent people and parents and felt they were doing right. I had a close friend who for 12 years of school pre-college went to school in 9 different cities. He felt lonely and like he had no real friends. Everytime he'd try to make them he was gone. There was a girl he really liked in high school and ten years later he was searching for her.
That's a very common sentiment from "Army Brats".
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Old 08-26-2017, 06:24 PM   #18
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I grew up on land but moved every year or so. I went to 10 different schools. I didn't see that as a problem. Moving to a new city was an adventure for me. It taught me the love of traveling, how to adapt, appreciation of different cultures, and so much more. I certainly didn't feel cheated, I really enjoyed moving and meeting new friends. These days it would be so much easier to stay in touch with old friends.

There are more ways to raise a family well than the standard traditional white picket fence method.
That's a great example of how different kids can response very differently to the same situation.
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Old 09-03-2017, 11:59 AM   #19
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Living on a boat is not for every one. Families of 4 is not uncommon in our marina. Many people have moved off when the child started walking. Many moved off after the first winter. There is no way to know if you can handle living on a boat at all. There is no way to know how you will feel about living on a boat after you have kids.

I had a plan to sell my house and buy an apartment building. The plan was live on the boat for 5 years and then I would have the money to buy another house. I implemented that plan 25 years ago. I still live on a boat.
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