Extreme Parenting: Raising Three Toddlers On A Sailboat In The Caribbean
A “traditional life” never appealed to Scott and Brittany Meyers. Instead they envisioned a different sort of life… on the water.
In 2010, the newlyweds set sail from Chicago, making their way around the east coast of the US and through the Caribbean island chain to Trinidad. While there, they discovered they’d soon welcome a third crew member. In 2012 they were joined by their baby girl, Isla. The trio bought a bigger boat and sailed from Florida to Grenada, where they were shocked to discover they were pregnant again. This time, with TWINS. Haven and Mira, born in 2014, proved their biggest adventure yet.
Despite being told that life on a boat with three babies under three simply could not be done (and was foolish, irresponsible, and crazy), they decided to carry on their life at sea. After a year’s stint on land adjusting to life with twins – they brought their fledgling crew aboard their boat ASANTE (“thank you” in Swahili), made the British Virgin Islands their home base, and have been floating ever since.
The Meyers family has traveled more than 10K nautical miles, visited 13 countries, and experienced a lifetime of adventures. Their girls have fed remora fish from their boat, named their own “pet” barracuda, splashed with baby sharks, seen flamingos in the wild, sailed through squalls, played on some of the word’s best beaches, examined strange sea creatures, lived among people of many cultures, and every night are lulled to sleep by the ocean.
Twins on a boat!
16 month old twins, Haven and Mira, enjoy a hug during their nightly sunset watch.
Free-range kids, encouraged to explore
While Scott and Brittany are very mindful of safety – they do take a more “free range” parenting approach and let their girls explore. As a result, all three girls are totally fearless and excellent climbers! “Boat babies don’t have the space to go out,” Brittany says, “so they go up!”
Imaginations run wild
Living with less ‘stuff’ means the girls often use their imaginations to play. This is the superhero alter ego that Isla created – AQUAGIRL!
Getting creative for fun
These children do not have television and toy space is limited, so they get creative for fun. Here daddy rigged up a halyard swing!
A tiny floating home
The kitchen (or “galley”) is small but efficient.
Living big with less
This is the bulk of their living space, but they almost never feel cramped. Most of their waking hours they are outdoors, hiking, paddleboarding, or at the beach.
Close knit tribe
While tantrums, meltdowns and tough days still happen in paradise, getting to spend 24/7 with their girls is a huge perk of this lifestyle.
Amazing cultural experiences
Isla saw this man climb up a tree, get a coconut, and cut it open with a machete – just for her.
Playing with sharks
In Anegada, BVI the girls discovered a secret shark breeding ground and got to see real, live baby sharks swimming only feet from their toes.
Laid back island life
Big sister Isla moved onto the boat at 6 months old, so now – naturally – she’s an old salt! She logged over 5K nautical miles before her second birthday!
Unique family photos
While getting all five together for a photo isn’t always easy, it usually is with a pretty spectacular backdrop. Photo taken at The Bubbly Pool, Jost Van Dyke
Life Hacks … or Boat Hacks?
Having three little ones on a boat means you must get creative. Since there is no room for a large stroller, the family uses two cheap umbrella strollers with connectors to get the girls around.
Less stuff – less need
This is where all the girls toys are stored, they make due with less. The couple is very strategic about what they bring aboard because space is so limited. “A place for everything and everything in its place” says Brittany.
Never too many books
One item they don’t limit: BOOKS! Despite the fact that none of the girls can read, they spend quite a lot of time “reading” their books.
Twins Haven and Mira peek down at mommy from a hatch (while daddy is on deck with them).
Typical nightly view
Watching the sun set and saying “goodbye sun, thanks for a great day” is one of the family’s traditions.
Sailing with three kids under three is not easy. The parents make use of tethers and harnesses and life jackets to keep the girls safe – but even still, most sailing is done during naptime.
Wind in their hair
Since Daddy carries a 200 ton USCG Captain’s License, teaching his girls to be good sailors is a priority. But the couple keeps it simple these days, only sailing 2-3 hours to each new destination so the girls (and parents!) don’t get burned out and can play ashore. “If we can’t see it, we don’t sail there,” Brittany jokes. “There are no medals for sailing crazy long distances with kids.”
The lifestyle is definitely not “normal”, yet they enjoy many things all kids do; play dates, friends, and visits from family. They are loved, healthy and happy. “It’s an incredible way to grow up,” says Brittany.
Baby wearing for the WIN!
In the islands where paved roads aren’t always available, the couple opts to “baby wear” using soft structured carriers. One parent wears two babies, the other wears one with the family backpack.
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