1ST BIRTHDAY — Kaiana and Naiyah celebrating with Grandma Susie and fellow cruisers Ryan, Cami and 3yr old Chloe. 2020.
2ND BIRTHDAY — Elmo Cakes were a HUGE hit. Celebrated with Auntie Erika and other cruisers. 2021
3RD BIRTHDAY — For several weeks, the girls requested… you know it… Elmo Cakes. Loved having Grandma Susie back with us! 2022.
It’s a lot of fun to create a special day for kids. But hey, it’s a celebration for us too! We’ve survived 3 years of parenting aboard a boat!
Congratulations girls on 3 years of great eating, sleeping, pooping, net jumping, floaty-swimming, respecting, learning, curiosity-ing, climbing, driving us slightly crazy, driving us deeper in love, and choosing us as parents .
We celebrated my 41st birthday by going to a new island (for us). Toau. Ah I love the fresh excitement of exploration.
My wonderful wife Sabrina made our crew a dinner of delicious tuna sushi rolls and chocolate mousse; and hid 41 strips of paper around the boat reminding me why I’m awesome. She’s the one who’s awesome!
My gift to myself? Fulfilling the dream of kite-foiling.
When our girls were born, we told friends: we would raise our twins on a boat while hosting people on trips through deserted islands. Many eyebrows were raised. Indeed, we can admit to being squeezed to the max.
It’s worth it. Guests say the babies are a highlight for them. And seeing the girls running like wild turkeys on the rocking boat, I know it’s amazing for them, too.
What about myself ? One of the unspoken challenges of parenting is that we lose ourselves, replaced by being the servant of our babies, of our family unit. We lose our time to recharge, we lose ready access to our passions, we are spread thin like the last dregs of a peanut butter jar. Which you know I love in abundance.
Sabrina and I always said, “Let’s have kids but not stop what we’re doing. They’ll go on our backs, we’ll take them with.” Ok we didn’t stop. But with twins, we had to sloooow down, stop playing as much, sadly neglect some friendships. Work-feed-clean, work-feed-clean. Repeat.
After one year of slaving, we said, we can do better. We hired nannies to help. We enrolled in Kite boarding classes. We’d kite while the girls napped.
So I’m really proud of this. It’s a dream that started in mid-2019, when we first found our new catamaran Selavi in the Fakarava lagoon, just a month before we discovered Sabrina was pregnant.
That’s when I saw Adrien, the instructor at Tuamotu Kite Camp, kite-foil easily between the sailboats, while everyone else was kiting 1/2 mile away (because they needed better wind on regular boards). He was floating on air like a genie on a magic carpet. I thought: “That’s it! I want to do that.”
So my dream became to kite-foil off the boat and back. In light wind. At a sheltered anchorage.
I could already kite board at a basic level. But kite-foiling is a different animal. We committed, and did a boat time – exchange for all the equipment with Murrays Marine in Carpenteria (thank you guys!)
We learned behind the dinghy, practiced, did kite-foil lessons, all while juggling the babies and guests on trips, which made it very sporadic.
The effort slowly paid off. Finally I could return to the boat on my own, which let me practice more regularly. Then nearly everyday.
For my birthday, we were anchored next to shore in 8 feet of turquoise water. Very light wind. I had a gorgeous session, finally dialing in the “kite loops” needed to power up, and sailed my way back to the swim step of Selavi. Two-and-a-half years in the making, I realized my dream!!
Sometimes you just see the end result, and think geez, I wish I could do that. The reality is that it’s a journey full of ups and downs, a journey of perseverance and dedication. I’m proud that as I parent of twin babies I was able to actually do something new & fun! It gives me hope that’ll I’ll also be able to fulfill my other aspirations, with patience. Writing a book, staying in touch with friends, expanding our business.
Huge gratitude for Sabrina’s support. (Meanwhile her kite-boarding is also improving leaps and bounds which brings me lots of joy)
Kite-foiling isn’t going to solve the world’s problems. But it gets me fired up, I harvest stoke big time. I shine with enthusiasm the rest of the day.
Question for you is, what can you dream of doing, if you gave yourself two-and-a-half years? Let’s get after it 🙂
Much love to you all-
The video here has a description of the trip to Toau. Thank you Patrons for your support of our video production!
For those interested in details about kite-foiling.
Some reasons why kite-foiling is awesome:
– Like snowboarding on the silkiest powder. Float like a butterfly above the water, no bumps to hurt knees.
– Go upwind like a banshee. The foil’s ability to go upwind is revolutionary. I’m so excited for sailboats to get this technology (outside of America’s Cup boats)
– Fluky light wind is fine. 8-10 knots is great. This means I can kite-foil at many of our anchorages, which are typically not possible to kite-board.
– Unlike surfing, it’s a nearly limitless resource. Plus there’s the potential cross over of wind-foiling in waves.
Downsides must be mentioned:
– Very expensive. The foil and boards are all super pricey.
– Fairly dangerous. I always wear a helmet. But kite-foiling in smooth water is safer than on waves. Going slow is ironically more dangerous, it’s easies to get knocked by the foil.
– Gear intensive. A simpler option is a new sport called wing-foiling, which has no bars, lines, or harness.
– Difficult to launch kites on monohulls. Much easier on a boat with swim steps, like a catamaran.
– Hugely addictive. Easy to get sucked in to a new sport!
How to learn kite-foiling:
– Learn to kite board first. Go somewhere (ideally) with warm water and consistent wind. French Polynesia is great 🙂 Baja California is the closest spot to California with those conditions.
– After you’re confident on the twin tip, ride a strapless surfboard, and practice in light wind. Learn to do loops.
– Learn to foil behind a dinghy; like wake-boarding but on a foil. Then you’re ready to kite-foil!
– Regardless of your skill level, take a few classes, it helps your progress a ton. I made big advances after taking two classes with Adrien (see Kite Tuamotus). Green Coco can take you there during our Fakarava trips. Another good learning option is in Tahiti.
Want to learn more information about our trips in French Polynesia?
Raising kids is the greatest of joys, and frankly, also a big challenge for mental sanity! Here are thoughts on maintaining sanity with twins on a boat.
When the girls lost their cribs & pacifiers, on their second birthday, they had a big cry for an hour. It’s understandable. So it was easy to stay supportive. But oftentimes they cry desperately and it’s NOT understandable. All that’s in my mind is, what is going on, how do I fix this, and make the chaos stop??
Personally, I have found that a crying baby can completely short-circuit my brain. The wailing noise at high pitch is like crashing thunder: a force of nature. I can’t think, I can’t do anything! My default response is to immediately try to “fix” the situation. Hungry? Thirsty? Poopy diaper? Tired? What do you want??
If they are upset enough, even if you give them what they want, it doesn’t resolve anything. They are simply upset about being upset! Unfortunately, this just makes me more frustrated and mad because I feel out of control, and I can’t make the situation better. Try holding an over-tired baby at 2am wailing their head off, when sleep deprivation is devastating your brain, and you’ll understand what I mean by this being “kryptonite for calmness” (!)
The RIE parenting philosophy has been the guiding light to help me navigate these tough moments.
The RIE approach is to constantly describe to the babies what is happening, which is referred as ‘broadcasting’. In simple situations, describe out loud what is happening (the facts). Don’t just put on the baby’s shoe while mindlessly talking about breakfast. Instead, broadcast the facts by saying, “I’m putting on your shoe on your left foot, now your right foot. After this, we will have breakfast.” This helps the babies understand what is happening right now, and what to expect soon. This helps them stay calm and empowered. If they don’t know what’s going on, they will feel insecure.
When a difficult situation comes up, RIE recommends doing the exact same thing. Don’t try to resolve the problem right away. Just keep describing, out loud, what is happening (broadcasting the facts); and ask them about their action/emotions with genuine curiosity. If they suddenly start crying, the tendency as parents is to say “Oh it’s OK, you’re OK! You need some food? Here’s some food,” In the baby’s mind, though, it’s not OK! So why are you saying that?! Instead, RIE encourages us to say it how it is: “Wow, sounds like you are upset. You must be really bothered, I wonder if you are hungry. Is that it?” This is more in alignment with the baby’s actual experience.
By broadcasting the facts (and asking non-judgmental questions) this paints a picture of shared reality between parent and baby. You clearly see each other. This is compassionate connection: the babies feel like they are being heard, which is actually the first step to resolving any issue they have. It also helps the babies understand, because they don’t actually know why they feel terrible.
Importantly, this RIE approach helps me as a parent stay calm. When my brain is short-circuiting with crying babies when I’m tired, logic doesn’t work, and I just get frustrated & upset that I can’t resolve the situation.
But awareness always works. By broadcasting the facts, speaking calmly about what is happening, there is no charge, I can remain calm. I just describe what I see and what I’m doing. Of course I want to help ease their pain, and I try things like checking diapers or offering milk/water. My logic has shifted to the background. My awareness is now in the foreground. The peculiar side-effect of this is my brain doesn’t short-circuit. It is busy expressing what is happening.
I am no longer in default “fix it” mode. I am in “observation” mode. I don’t take the situation personally any longer, it is what it is. The wonderful benefit is that I’m more effective at resolving the situation. By being unattached to the outcome, ironically, the outcome can become more favorable. Most importantly, I don’t get angry and upset, which I really try to avoid as it’s completely counter-productive.
After running a sailboat across 9 countries with countless visitors, I thought I had refined the “art of staying cool” when things are going wrong. Parenting has taught me I still have much to learn. Babies are so vulnerable, with fast emotional spikes of energy. The effort of managing daily life is constantly de-railed. Not to mention with twins, it’s more than double the fun! Usually in normal life, uncomfortable situations happen every so often, where you need to work at “staying cool”. With babies, it’s quite frequent, so it makes for excellent practice 😉
The RIE philosophy is based on the principle of Mindfulness: observation without judgment. Just as this approach is effective between parent and baby, it is effective elsewhere in life. It allows me to stay grounded in what is happening, instead of trying to logically change things and make “the pain stop”. After all, the tragedy of trying to stop the pain, is that the pain just keeps morphing; it is then fed by power struggles and damaging emotions.
The only thing that stops that cycle of pain is awareness. RIE uses “broadcasting”. We are also big fans of Non-violent Communication, which is basically the same thing, but for more complex adult interactions. For example, NVC teaches us to express and understand the facts and the others’ perspective before trying to change the situation. Both these excellent tools are gateways to mindfulness and harmony in relationships.
For the opportunity to practice this, I’m grateful for my babies and the RIE philosophy for showing me this new approach to awareness.
Want to learn more information about our trips in French Polynesia?
We left Tahiti and sailed to Tikehau, one of our favorite little atolls. At the end of January, our twins Kaiana and Naiyah were turning two years old. They started the day eating Elmo banana cakes (I didn’t know Sabrina was such an artist!) and then we threw a beach party with Erika, who was aboard with us, and other sailors from the anchorage. We played at the heavenly hoa (the channel between the motus), same place as we celebrated their 1st birthday. It’s a tradition !
Big changes were afoot. Both their cribs and pacifiers got put away for good on their second birthday. Momma Sabrina unveiled the “big girl room” to the girls’ astounded eyes. For the first nap, there was a painful hour of crying, but then they clutched their new stuffed animals and never looked back. Their resilience is inspiring. It is delightful to see them become strong little human beings.
I am reminded of the importance of milestones in life…. they define who we are, and allow us to embrace a new, better version of ourselves. This felt like their first conscious milestone.
Can you imagine helping a family take care of twin babies, on a big catamaran exploring dreamy places in French Polynesia? You might be in luck 🙂
We have 2 year old identical twin babies who are completely amazing and would love a new friend to guide them in their daily journeys. Their mom and dad (Sabrina & Kristian) would love the help so they can work on their boat & business and you know, just general sanity !
There is a 2 month minimum commitment. As compensation, once onboard all your costs will be taken care of. Qualified applicants may get their transportation and stipend too, see below for more details. We also accept couples.
in 2015 we left our jobs in California and over the next 4 years, sailed south with our Green Coconut Run cooperative to Galapagos, and across the Pacific ocean to French Polynesia. We fell in love with the island-nation and decided to stay, start a family and a business.
In 2020 our twin girls were born and we upgraded to a 46 foot catamaran, Selaví (pronounced C’est la vie). We continue to run trips sharing the magic of the islands, so we usually have guests onboard the boat.
We live aboard the boat 24/7 and are never at a marina, always at anchor. We are really active with swimming, snorkeling, free diving, surfing, kitesurfing, and SUPing. We have a yoga & meditation practice with breathwork. We try to bring the babies along with us in activities whenever possible.
We cruise between Tahiti, Leeward Society Islands, and Tuamotus (a wild place with atolls where we will spend most of our time in 2022, see our schedule). These places are all postcard paradises. See our latest newsletter for a sampling.
our parenting philosophy:
We feel that children are special beings that choose their parents to guide them in this life. As their guides, we do our best to lovingly & securely offer them choices so they can fulfill their highest potential.
We follow the RIE parenting model which focuses on treating infants with respect (ie. the golden rule… act like you would like to be treated yourself by a friend) and honoring their ability to make choices (based on their current level). This post offers a good summary of RIE.
Whereas some parents focus on “raising good kids” and “keeping their kids safe and comfortable”, our focus is to empower our kids. Perhaps it can be understood by what we try to avoid:
We avoid saying No. Instead we say: “we can’t let you do this, because it is unsafe for these reasons…”
We avoid being overprotective. We inform babies of what is dangerous, and up to a point, allow them to decide what is comfortable for them.
We avoid serious injury or trauma.
We avoid being over-comforting. Rather, we prefer to connect with their emotions (e.g. “you look scared, what happened?”) rather than dismissing their experience (e.g. “you’re ok baby, don’t worry”)
We avoid doing things mindlessly, without their consent. For example, when we put on their cloths, we give them choices, and tell them what is happening; just as you’d want if somebody was clothing you.
We avoid sugar (white & brown), with the goal to promote wholesome nutrition
We avoid screen time, with the goal to promote creative imagination (the exception is video chats)
In a parallel way, RIE is for infants as Non-Violent Communication (NVC) is for adults. Both are methods for overcoming our judgments and instead focusing on observation, presence, and empathy. Learn more about NVC here.
As a nanny and crewmember onboard, we would ask you try to apply RIE principles to your interactions with the babies and NVC principles with adults in the boat. It’s ok if you’re not familiar with these concepts. The most important thing is intention and interest in these principles. We will offer you further training in the form of basic materials to read beforehand, and more in-depth while onboard.
What can you expect from working as a nanny/child carer with us?
We try to make everyday a great experience, whether we have guests aboard or not. Usually we are anchored in beautiful locations. We are rarely moored in harbors (except maybe about 2 weeks every 2 months, or if something is broken and needs repair). We are never stuck in marinas or yucky ports – they don’t exist in Tahiti!
We work really hard and play really hard. This isn’t a relaxing, sit back and watch babies experience. This is best suited for those super eager to learn about parenting, sailing, and the ocean environment. You’ll be inspired by some of the world’s most beautiful places, but you’re also expected to work hard.
The work commitment is 8 hours per day, 6 days per week, with 1 day off per week; plus an extra free day per month. You can cluster multiple days off for a trip off the boat.
You’ll care for girls 8-11am and 3-5pm, more or less. We take turns cooking meals & cleaning, so you can expect to make one meal a day for the crew aboard the boat, about 1-1.5 hrs total. You’ll also do 1-1.5 hrs per day of boat maintenance (you can group this time into fewer days per week).
Time with the girls is more than just child care. To the extent possible, we allow them independent play time, during which time we also fold laundry, prep food, clean dishes, etc. We also try to include the girls in these daily activities of life. Like a parent, you’ll be juggling multiple things to get life tasks done.
As we usually have other guests on board, you’ll be helping when possible as a crew member.
You’re only on call during the day, not nighttime, except on occasional evening for date nights 🙂
We have 4 following time slots available this year. There is a minimum commitment of 2 months, but ideally you’ll stay closer to 3 months at a time during these periods.
January to March
April to June
July to September
October to December
Note: the automatic Visa for non-Europeans is three months in French Polynesia.
When there is space, you can sleep in your own cabin with private bathroom (labelled Aft Cabin below).
When there are guests aboard, you’ll take the single berth and share bathroom with the babies (labelled Owner’s Family below)
All tourists entering French Polynesia must be fully vaccinated.
Everyone entering the country is required to take a PCR test up to 3 days before travel, and a rapid test upon arrival. Note that these conditions may change, check Tahiti Tourisme for latest information.
On a daily basis, we only wear masks when going to stores and public places.
If spending one or more nights onshore, we require rapid tests upon return to the boat. Otherwise, life is as normal.
Hi friends, it’s Naiyah and Kaiana here. We’re a year and half old, and can’t speak many words besides “moon” and “more” and “please”, but we babble pretty good. And we just learned to walk. Sea gypsies say that us mermaids must learn by ‘walking the planks above shark infested waters’… Et voilà. This is just what happened. I’ll tell you what, that’s one way to learn FAST. Come play with us when you can! Big hugs, N & K
It all started when we anchored our catamaran Selaví in Tahiti on a delightful sandbar next to a 42 foot trimaran called Little Wing. That’s right, just like Aldebaran!
We instantly hit it off with the owners, Julie and Andy, who actually come from the town nearby Sabrina’s childhood home. Incredible!
Andy was an editor at Latitude 38. After he heard the story of our catamaran purchase, he said, “You have to share this story with readers of Latitude.”
All the skills that we learned from the 5 years of cooperative adventuring are now really paying off… and the boat purchase was a big example of this. Due to the pandemic, in August 2020 the seller thought that Tahiti might re-close and had us rush with the babies to come purchase the boat. Moving our whole life with 26 bags was incredibly difficult, thankfully we had our nanny-extraordinaire Alexandra (who’s a naturalist guide in Galapagos) to help us. Upon arriving in Rangiroa, with even more bags being shipped by cargo, feeling completely uprooted and delirious, we had a major falling out with the seller. This is the story of how we salvaged the deal under such delicate and stressful circumstances.