Author : Colleen, Outremer 51 “Tacocat” owner

’Tis the season…for sailing across the atlantic.

Spares, check.
Ditch bag, check.
Rigging check, check.
Pink squid lure for fishing, check.
Offshore medical kit for adults and child, check.
Offshore medical kit for dog, check.
Bilge bin full of dog food, treats, and hygiene necessities, check.
Bilge bin full of human treats for night watch of both salty and sweet persuasions, check.
Extra bags of that one dog treat because Callie’s finicky and it’s her favorite, check.
Extra bags of that one brand of tortilla chip because Trav is finicky and it’s his favorite, check.
Lessons, books, movies, and podcasts downloaded for offline use, check.
Provisions in every nook and cranny, check.
Recipes for all the fish we’re going to catch, check.
Other protein in the freezer in case my positive thinking isn’t enough to reel anything in, check.
Sprinkles for decorating Christmas cookies, check.
Decks of cards and board games, check.
Lego Advent calendar (procured in September when an Amazon locker was available), check.
Bottle of champagne and sparkling apple juice for arrival, check.

The tiny table top tree is up in the salon, adorned with battery operated lights.  Decorations are up (strategically placed so as not to hinder visibility), and we’ve started the Christmas countdown with both Lego and chocolate calendars. The Christmas season has commenced en route to the Caribbean, providing some new tunes on the speaker and cookie baking- when the solar recharging conditions are just right to allow us to use the oven -to both pass the time and provide late night sugary snacks. While I love the holiday season, I’m leaning on it especially hard this year as it gives me some extra items and projects in my bag of boredom-busting tricks on board.

We’ve ironed out some kinks of living on board with a child and dog over the past year and a half.  But it’s true that crossing an ocean with them ups the ante more than usual.  Since we broke up the trip into multiple segments (Gibraltar-Canaries-Cabo Verde-Martinique) it all seems more manageable, but still, it’s crossing an ocean(!), and the longest passage we have done as a family to date.  We chose our Outremer 51 because it’s fast and safe, so we feel great about the boat.  I’m somewhat prepared for the resistance to take care of homeschool in the morning because the dangling carrot of kid boats to hang out with is not there.  I know the dog will still take care of her business on the front trampoline even if there’s a fair amount of swell.  I know we have all the food staples for humans and pets, and medical necessities should something arise when we’re far offshore.  But as the Chief Morale Officer on Tacocat, I’ve always been equally interested in our thriving on board, not just surviving.


Thrive vs. survive looks like attempting to balance screen time with creative time offline.  Cooking, writing, crafting, creating art, building with legos, building forts, and now we’re adding in decorating cookies and gingerbread houses, cutting out snowflakes, and writing an end-of-year letter to send out to our extended family.  It’s moving our bodies like working out with TRX, doing yoga, boxing fenders, or an impromptu dance party.  It’s stimulating our brains with puzzles, games, podcasts, and reading…oh so much reading. Admittedly, I know we have it easy with just one kiddo on board, that not only loves to read but is old enough to get lost in projects for long stretches of time independently.  Yet, still for this passage I wanted to have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep things interesting for him- and thanks to the stores in Gibraltar that had both Christmas and Halloween treats on the shelves back in October we’ve been having quite a festive time as we’ve made our way West!

For Callie (the dog) thriving looks like walks on deck – on the leash of course- treat puzzles, sniffing for hours after the flying fish crash onto the deck and leave their smelly scales behind, chasing a ball up and down the hull, chewing on a new bone or her favorite stuffed squirrel toy, and keeping vigilant watch for birds.

And somedays all we do is binge watch movies or just stare at length at the sea.  We’re sailors, not saints, after all.  We lounge in the cockpit contemplating how weird it is to be on the water for such a long time without being able to go in it, track our friend’s boats, marvel at the vast expanse of blue in all directions, wonder how we haven’t seen any sea mammals or sea life at all and imagine a giant kraken on the sea floor has devoured everything.  The “projects for passage” don’t get picked up, the days are both long yet go by in a flash. We rewrite the lyrics to Christmas songs when high on sugar and generally feeling a bit delirious from being cooped up together in a small area for such a long stretch of time.  There’s dog hair on the floor, the laundry isn’t done, we’re snippy from lack of sleep, but we’re well fed, humming along to Jimmy Buffet’s steel drum version of Jingle Bells and singing our version of “The 12 Days of Crossing”, and consider ourselves closer to thriving and not just surviving as sail on to Martinique.

Photos credits : @tacocatamaran