• close family • small boat • big world •

Morning Ritual

July 11, 2015

by Paula 
At anchor, Saline Bay, Mayreau, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Different commute, same morning coffee.
Sometimes the same old is just right.

We are creatures of habit, and back on land we settled into routines more easily than we might have wanted to. Work, school, activities… at times the days slipped into weeks without anything particularly new. Don’t get me wrong – life was good. But some of our day to day life became monotonous. This changed dramatically when we chucked it all to do this,

No groceries today. Most stores on French
islands are closed on Wednesdays.

Life on the sea is definitely not a settled existence. Not much out here is constant, consistent, or easily controlled. Much of what we relied on without a thought has now become an ever-present concern. Do we have enough water? Where will we get more? What is the level of our batteries (should we be conserving power)? Can we find a wifi connection? Is there a grocery store? If so, does it have bread, decent meat, fresh vegetables?

Our home - for a few days - in
Les Saintes, Guadeloupe

Even our home moves from place to place. We’ve stayed a couple of months in one spot from time to time, but mostly we are on the move fairly frequently. Just when we figure out the water / grocery / wifi situation, we pick up and move again. In each brand-new place, we start all over again.

A bit disconcerting to be anchored so close to Les Pitons of
St. Lucia. Daystar is at the bottom right.

And whenever we do decide to stay put, we can't be totally sure we will really stay put. High winds or strong currents could break loose our anchor  causing our boat to drag out to sea (if lucky) or onto shore or into another boat. It’s a rare night that we don't wake up at least once to check on the boat.

Good weather...for now.
Travel for us means taking our home and ourselves along an unforgiving path. Weather predictions are just that – predictions – and we cannot assume that wind and waves will cooperate. Most passages are fine, but not all have been so. The arrival of a sudden squall means we could find ourselves in conditions that are downright frightening. A moment of inattention near unfamiliar land could run us aground, stranding the boat or in severe cases sinking it.

Schoolwork is done at all hours.
We’ve purposely established our homeschooling schedule to be quite flexible. Often, we head ashore to hike or venture out to snorkel during morning or afternoon hours, and schoolwork is put off until evening. Since our kids are teens, they are able to do much of their work independently, and they can adapt their daily work to accommodate their sleep needs, interests, social activities, and goals each day. However, I need to be available to check work, to help explain concepts, to assist in editing writing, or to create new content. My concentration on my own project is frequently interrupted by a required shift into teacher-mode.

Kid-breakfast on Twentse Meid.
"Luperon class of 2014" friends at the
Dinghy Dock Restaurant in Culebra, PR
There’s no such thing as a week-end out here. Most families have saved enough money so as not to have to work. Shorter, more flexible school schedules mean that cruising kids are free more of the day than land-based school kids. Impromptu activities are the norm, whether hiking, diving, or just hanging out. There's always someone up for some sort of activity at any given time. 

Of course we asked for all this uncertainty by going cruising, but I’ve never thrived on chaos. I find comfort in a sense of
order, so I insert a bit of routine each day. This helps me feel a bit more in control and helps counter some of the unease that creeps in with such a dynamic existence.

My ritual comes before the sun – or the rest of my family – is up. I’ve always been an early riser, and that has not changed here. Every morning I follow the same routine. First thing, I put on water for my coffee, brush my teeth, and boot up the computer. This time of day is when my brain is freshest and I am most productive. I use the first couple hours of the day to calmly do my computer work without interruption: creating schoolwork, writing blog posts or articles, sending email, etc. Once I've got my coffee steaming in my favorite cup, I can really kick it into gear.

Preparing for Greg's morning coffee.
As I work, I go back and forth from the computer to the galley to complete the rest of my coffee-making ritual. We use the Clever Coffee Dripper, a handy little device that Greg praised in one of our first blog posts. After my cup has been made, I put more water in the kettle to boil for Greg’s coffee. He is the ultimate coffee achiever, and he requires a minimum of 32 ounces to get going. Making his coffee requires a systematic process of steep and drain, steep and drain, four times over, making sure to balance the caffeine strength in each of two 16-ounce thermoses.
My favorite mug, a gift
from an old friend.

Greg appreciates that his coffee is ready and waiting the moment he wakes up. However, this is less an act kindness on my part than one of self-preservation: it reduces the length of time Greg is awake but un-caffeinated.

I love my morning coffee. And my little coffee-making ritual is just the right way to start my day. It’s my little piece of order in an otherwise chaotic existence.