I would like to introduce you to Scott, Brittany, Isla, Haven and Mira of Windtraveler. They don’t get the award for being our first sailing family, but they do get the “I’m totally impressed with you” award for sailing with 3 little kids. Whoop! Whoop! I’m doing a little dance for you over here Brittany. I am going to guess this is no easy task, especially when they get ill or have sleepless nights. I don’t know how you do it. Is there wine involved? But, hats off to you lady. If we ever meet in the real world I will bring you a trophy.
This post was originally shared with our readers over a year ago, now the girls are older, they have a new boat and business is thriving. It might be time to get an update from them. For now we will settle for this oldie, but goodie.
I love that we are doing something so many people said we couldn’t and shouldn’t (live on a boat with three toddlers) but mostly I love seeing the incredible effect it’s had on our girls. ~ Brittany
There is so much to share with all of you about this amazing family. Brittany and Scott met while sailing and now they have a whole tribe of adventurous young ladies with them on this amazing journey. I love that they are open to change and how honest Brittany is about their thoughts on education, travel and their future. I truly believe these two parents are setting an example of adaptability, flexibility and dream chasing for their three young daughters that will forever impact their lives.
As long as what I am doing and where I am inspires me, and as long as I have my family and good community around me, I will be happy. ~ Brittany
Please read this post from top to bottom. And repeat. Ponder! Question! And consider what your dreams are and how you can bring them to fruition. Come on folks! If these two parents can do boat life with three young kids then what the heck are you waiting for? It IS possible!
Ok, enough of my chatter. Grab a cup of coffee, a comfy seat and get ready to be inspired.
Introduce us to the people you live with?
Brittany (36): mommy, writer, reader, traveler, passionate lover of life, fun and making connections with people (usually over drinks). Totally besotted and in love with her family, island life, and “tiny living” on a sailboat. Scott (39): daddy, working sailboat captain, kiteboarder, fixer of all things, former ironman and lover of introducing people to the joy of sailing. He has a love/hate relationship with the boat, mainly because he’s the one who has to fix it all the time. Isla (4): Our resident free spirit. Extremely intelligent, energetic, determined, creative, theatrical, loving little girl who lives to make people laugh. Has a smile that lights up a room. Has the most expressive face. Loves books. Possess mad climbing skills and can practically scale a wall. Loves living on a boat in the islands, but does miss family and friends back home too. And finally, our twins: Haven (2): our resident “Gerber Baby” who is spirited beyond belief, strong-willed, outgoing, boisterous, mischievous, joyful, curious, fearless, goofy and when you catch her on a good day, she’s impossible not to fall in love with. On a bad day? Look out. Strong as an ox and loves to break rules. Best giggle ever. Seems to also love living on a boat and on an island. Mira (2): Our resident snuggler. Thoughtful, pensive, super smart, sweet as pie and slightly more mellow than her exuberant sisters, but full of spunk and attitude as well. Loves music, dancing and swimming. Excellent small motor skills. Eyes that can melt your heart. Loves to tinker. Gives the best cuddles and has cutest tush of the bunch. Has mastered the stink face. Again, seems to love boat/island life.
Where are you in the world and what are you living in?
We live in our 44 foot monohull sailboat on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
Why did you choose to live in your current arrangement?
Scott and I met sailing. It’s always been a big part of our lives and when we found out that we both wanted to live on a sailboat and travel, it sort of put our relationship on the fast track. We set sail in 2010 pre-kiddos and covered over 10K nautical miles from Chicago down to Trinidad. We had our first baby, bought a bigger boat and sailed another 5K nautical miles from Florida to Grenada and back up the island chain. Then we discovered we were pregnant with twins. We decided long-range sailing wasn’t for us with three babies on board, but weren’t ready to give up the lifestyle. So we decided to settle in arguably the best cruising grounds on earth, the British Virgin Islands. We can live on our boat and in a matter of hours be at anchor in any number of amazing islands without the stresses of bad weather, overnight passages, and covering big distances. We can also work here so we no longer have the added stress of wondering where our next paycheck will come from. It’s a win/win/win in every way for us.
What do you do to personalize your unique (less traditional) living situation?
I (Brittany) am very sensitive to my surroundings and love my home to be nice, comfortable, and clean. Personalizing a boat is tricky, as first and foremost it’s a boat and must be functional. There’s very little room for superfluous decor (like vases, nice fruit bowls, or tabletop adornments) because a boat gets tossed about a fair amount. Then there is the aspect of storage space, of which sailboats don’t have a ton of (comparatively), so things that take up a lot of room are immediately vetoed. “A place for everything and everything in it’s place” is an adage many cruisers live by and keeping tidy is really important when you live in such close quarters. A boat cannot easily be ‘rearranged” because everything is attached to the hull, and wall space is limited – so we make due with what we have and spruce it up in simple ways. I have made our boat feel very homey and cozy with bright colors, nice throw pillows, some nice (non skid) floor mats, a few carvings picked up on our travels, Caribbean prints and nice pictures on the walls (of places that have great meaning to us – Chicago and St. Joe, MI). We have small meaningful trinkets as well; a string of prayer flags in the cockpit, a statue of Ganesh in the main cabin, figures of Buddha through the boat as well as Evil Eyes stuck on the walls throughout the boat (they are not evil at all, but a talisman meant to ward off misfortune or danger). I also love scent and I have a small USB powered essential oil diffuser that fills our little space with fresh, healthy smells. Small touches that take up no room and don’t alter our boats integrity (and ability to up and go in a moment’s notice) but make it more personal, comfortable and special.
Tell us your favorite and least favorite room in your space and why?
My favorite ‘room’ is probably our cockpit. It’s very large and roomy, more than most any other cockpit we’ve seen in our boat’s size rage, and it’s super cozy. At anchor, we have a 365 degree view of the ocean and whatever picture perfect bay we happen to be in. It’s fully covered so there’s shade, but you can also get on the ‘sunny side’ and lounge in the fresh ocean breeze. Our kids love hanging out up there and it is more like a ‘family room’ than anything. I’ve also added some cute outdoor pillows so it looks nice as well and it’s just a really peaceful, comfy place to hang out and be surrounded by beauty. My least favorite room is our aft bathroom. It makes very little sense, is really small and cramped, has zero counter space and includes a sit-down shower which is so bizarre and awkward we almost never use it, and instead opt to shower on our aft deck or at the marina showers when we can. Our next boat will have a stand-up shower, I do miss that.
What is the biggest misconception you had about your current living situation before you started living in it?
Hmm. That’s a great question…That you can sail around the world in two years! haha…that was our original “plan”. There is a saying among the cruiser set that says, “Plans are written in sand at low tide” which basically means that, on a boat, a plan is simply a nice idea or a guideline. Life, nature and your boat will most likely dictate otherwise and it’s best to “go with the flow” and be open to change. We are now 5 years in and have settled in the Caribbean. Knowing what I know now about cruising, I cannot imagine you’d see much of anything if you sailed around the world in two years. It can be done, for sure, but it’d be way more rushed than we’d enjoy.
What is the one household item you carry with you every time you move or the one item you cannot live without?
I’m not very domestic so household goods don’t hold too much value to me…not that I am a minimalist, because I am not. That said, two things I carry with me every time I move house is my computer and my Kindle. I often say that as long as I have a mode to write as well as an arsenal of books to read I will never, ever be bored – so those things would rank high for me. Then, my camera.
What do you miss most about permanent, stationary, traditional living?
Not much, to be honest. I am in love with the way we live. Things like a proper shower, washer dryer, large refrigerator and dishwasher are missed on occasion though. As are everyday conveniences and stores (Trader Joes! TJ Max!) that people on land take for granted. It’d be nice not to spend $10 on a carton of strawberries too, but – hey – the rum is cheap!
What is the one item your children (if you have children) carry with them to make their unique (less traditional) home more comfortable?
Our kids are very young and not really attached to any particular material things, but each twin has her own “lovie” as well as a crocheted blanket that they sleep with every night. I would never go anywhere (to sleep) without those things. And white noise machines! Boats are noisy, not to mention very small, so we do what we can to drown out the background sound. As long as we travel with these things, our kids sleep well.
Do you have a pet joining you in this journey?
If so, has this been complicated? Any advice? No pets. Many people do live on boats with pets, but I have three toddlers and I need another life to care for like I need another hole in the head. No thanks!
What is your best resource to find items you need for your place?
We live on a small island so I do my shopping on amazon.com and have visitors bring stuff down for me every time they visit. Other than that, stuff we “need” is usually for boat maintenance (a never-ending job) and that is purchased here at the local yacht chandlery (store dedicated to boat parts and spares and such).
If you could only have one of the following in your home which one would it be and why?
space, natural light, dishwasher or above average internet.
I don’t need much space, we are basking in natural light all day/every day, and I don’t mind doing dishes by hand – so for sure I would say above average internet. “Above average” internet down here in the islands is literally non-existent so, yeah. That’d be nice.
If you were to compare your unique (less traditional) home decorating style to a kitchen appliance or gadget what would it be and why?
A hand mixer. Simple, funky, well-coordinated and gets the job done.
How do you keep traditions alive for your family in your unique living situation?
We are a very young family, our kids are age 4 and under and for all of their lives we’ve been semi-nomadic or living on the boat, so as far as ‘traditions’ go, we don’t have too many. Probably should work on that…(scribbles note: must. start. traditions.)
How do you decorate for the holidays in your unique (less traditional) home or do you skip it all together?
Because we have little ones on board we do lots of crafting. Christmas we had a tiny tree, strung up lights and then decorated the boat with our Christmas crafts. For Valentines Day we made 30 valentines and handed them out to all our friends at the marina. We don’t have a ton of decor (again; space) but we keep the spirit going. That said, we’re not nuts for holidays. We just do the biggies.
What is your favorite part about this lifestyle choice?
I love living so close to my girls. They are rarely more than 5 feet from me at any given point of the day. I love that we are outside, in nature, almost 24/7. I love island culture. I love living on a boat. I love that our lifestyle is always challenging yet always inspiring. I’m forced to use my mind, creativity and resourcefulness daily. I love that. This lifestyle keeps me on my toes, kind of shows me what I’m made of. It’s high highs and low lows, which suits my nature.
Many traveling families subscribe to the “house is not a home” theory. What is home to you?
Right now, our boat. This island. It feels so much like home to me and I love it. But, really, we’ve bounced around a lot and we’re not totally attached to any one place. When we go visit our families in the states (my family live outside Chicago, Scott’s is in Michigan), we feel like we’re “home” in those places too. As cliché as it sounds, home is where the heart is. So if family is there, we are home. It’s more of a mindset than a place, I think.
What makes you love the place you live?
I love challenging myself. I love that we are doing something so many people said we couldn’t and shouldn’t (live on a boat with three toddlers) but mostly I love seeing the incredible effect it’s had on our girls. Living on a sailboat on a small island is like going back to a simpler time. We don’t have television, we have probably 10% of the toys most land-based families have, and we are surrounded by a great, multicultural community. There’s a great “village” mentality here and our girls have so many people here – workers, visitors, expats – at the marina that adore them. We are outside almost all day/everyday in the pool, climbing trees, or on the beach and I love that we are living so vividly with less. It’s always an adventure. Always. And I am constantly inspired by something here; it might be a person, a cultural exchange, a connection, a sunset, the raw beauty of the ocean and the islands… I crave that kind of inspiration. I love to collect stories and there is no shortage of them in this lifestyle. They’re not always great, mind you – but it’s always an adventure. I am very grateful every single day.
Can home be a person, or an idea?
To me, home is whatever, whoever, or wherever makes you feel safe, familiar and connected. So, yeah. I think a home can be those things. Like I said before, I think home is more like a state of mind in a moment. Seeing an old friend can feel like home, walking into a childhood house can feel like home, a waft of perfume can feel like home, an old college sweater can feel like home, a stranger with whom you connect with on a cosmic level can feel like home…I think ”home” can be a lot of things depending on the person.
Words of wisdom to anyone considering venturing out into the world of unique, less traditional homes?
Allow yourself to be inspired, think outside the box and understand that once you break free from ‘traditional’ thinking (and traditional thinkers) a world of possibility opens up to you. Be open to it.
Anything else you would like offer?
Living on a boat takes a tremendous amount of gusto and work. It’s not for everyone. And while my Instagram feed would have you thinking otherwise, it’s not all palm trees, sunsets and tropical slushy rum drinks. This is not an easy life. It’s an incredible life, for sure, but it comes at a price.
What is next for you? Will you continue to live in your current home or try something different?
If you asked me, I could tell you I would live on a boat forever. Not this boat, per say (we would like a slightly larger one with three cabins – aka bedrooms) and not on this island (so many places to see!), but I could live on a boat for a very long time. Who knows though? There are so many interesting ways and places to live, and perhaps a more ‘traditional’ life might suit us down the line. As long as what I am doing and where I am inspires me, and as long as I have my family and good community around me, I will be happy. That said, we have settled on this island for the foreseeable future, so this will most likely be home for the next 5 years or more.
How do you educate your children?
For a while I was all gung-ho on homeschooling. But then I had three toddlers three and under running around and was like “HELL NO!” If we were transient and my husband wasn’t working so much (so that I could get a break from time to time) it would be a different story. But as it is, I am with my girls alone almost every single day, solo-parenting from breakfast to bedtime almost seven days a week. And did I mention my twins are age two? Three toddlers is no joke. School sounds lovely right about now! Since we’ve settled on this island for the foreseeable future, we’re most likely going to enroll them in one of the excellent private schools here, probably Montessori if we can. Since our eldest is just turning four, this isn’t too pressing of an issue at the moment, but she wants to go to school and we are weighing our options. In the meantime, I think our girls are learning an astonishing amount by just being outside, being read to daily, playing like children and interacting with the world around them, and I really enjoy staying home with them. Most of the time. 😉
How do you make a living?
When we first left, we left on savings. After a year, my husband got his captain’s license and then worked as a relief captain for Island Windjammers. This was a great gig and gave us the money to keep cruising. When the twins came we went into “life plan” mode and knew we wanted something more stable, that we could invest in and grow. We now run Aristocat Charters (www.aristocatcharters.com) a daysail company on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, where we live. We were transient nomads in the Caribbean for a while, but having three kids in just shy of two years gave us the kick in the butt to settle down for a while and make some serious money. So for the next five years or so, that is our plan.
Quote to ponder:
I think home is more like a state of mind in a moment.
Seriously! Right? Pretty darn cool! Brittany is a load of inspiration and quite funny as well. I love that she does not take life too serious, but also has her priorities, passions and her three littles always on the top of her list. Great job mama (and papa). It gives me great joy to see other families living authentically and spending copious amounts of time with their children. These little girls will venture out on their own one day with a bag full of skills that came from the lifestyle you have provided. Thank you for being part of this funky series. I hope we meet in person one of these days. And I will bring the trophy mentioned above.
Interested in living like the Meyer family? WorldTowning’s services can help make this sailing story ‘your reality’ and we can do it all stress free. We will be there with you every step of the way.
Inside A Traveler’s Walls is where we feature families living in less traditional and unique homes (tents, boats, camper vans, yurts, flats, etc). If you think you might be one of those families and are interested in being profiled, please contact us for details.