Thursday, July 20, 2017

16 Days With a Toddler on a Boat...Will We Live to Tell the Tale?


Ben and I with Ben's dad outside Andropolis Cottages in Sturgeon Bay - 2008

Neither Ben nor I grew up on boats, but Ben did have the experience of traveling to the same cabin on the lake in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin every summer as a kid.  His memories of fishing, swimming, playing with other kid visitors (many of whom also visited every summer), and most of all his memories of family time made a lasting impression and are cherished still today.  I was lucky enough to also go along with the family once Ben and I started dating in 2006 and later were married.  When we thought about having kids, we knew we wanted to create the same type of memories for our own family.


Cruising the North Channel with a Baby

Dana and RJ anchored in the North Channel in 2016

Fast forward 5 years after marriage... RJ was a newborn and we were planning our summer adventure aboard Seapickle.  We had cruised the North Channel three summers before, and were hooked.  By this point we were MUCH more comfortable navigating and finding anchorages, so it just seemed natural to go back again with a baby aboard.  He was 6 months old when we left for our 16 day trip in 2016 (read all about it here), and while it had its challenges, we were committed to making the North Channel the place RJ looked forward to every summer.

We meet many people every summer in the North Channel who have cruised it many times, but it is less common to meet someone who grew up cruising there with their parents, and even less common to meet another cruising family with a baby or toddler aboard!  We set out every year hoping to make new friends and hear of others' adventures, but now that RJ is along with us we also make it a priority to try to meet other "kid boats" whenever possible.  I  can't think of better childhood memories than the ones we're making together with RJ on our boat. :-)

Then that Baby Turned into a Toddler

Captain RJ at the helm - 17 months old
 2017 boating season came around and our sweet baby was now a toddler.  And that toddler liked to climb... everything.  And that toddler could not sit still for a second.  What was this 16 day living on a boat trip going to bring?  To be honest, we were pretty nervous.  I was researching what kinds of toys to bring along to keep him occupied, what kind of safety measures we needed to keep him safe while anchoring, and who else has done this kind of thing?  (I didn't have much luck finding answers to any of those questions in my online research)

RJ trying out his climbing skills aboard Seapickle at our marina
As our trip grew closer, I started collecting and putting away toys to bring on the trip.  I "borrowed" some from my parents and kept them hidden, to bring out a few days or weeks into the trip in case of emergency.  I couldn't find any information about boating trips with toddlers, but I was able to gather information from blogs I found about camping and hiking with toddlers to help put together medical and emergency kits.  In the end though, boating with a toddler is a lot like living at home with a toddler... we just happen to be floating on water and toys can be thrown overboard.

2017 North Channel Boating Trip


Ready to go on our 2016 trip
Our 2017 16 day cruise starts tonight after work, which means I better finish packing and mentally preparing for an overnight drive to Spanish, Ontario where we will launch the boat.  Wish us luck, and we will be back to post about our adventures soon!