Transcript: The Trials and Tribulations of Raising Kids on a Boat

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I think it’s fairly safe to say that parenting children and bringing them up is a challenging time and I’ve interviewed many amazing people on this podcast who’ve shared great insights and tips to help with this! This week I’m going in a different direction and I’m interviewing an extraordinary lady whose journey I’m sure you’ll find fascinating.

Tanya Hackney is a mom of 5 and I was thrilled to meet her and find out all about her life. Tanya and her husband followed a dream they had from when they were teenagers of doing something unusual with their lives. They wanted to hop on a sail boat and sail the world! Not only did they follow their dream but they did it with 5 children aboard the sail boat!

In this episode you’ll hear Tanya talk about their lives on the high seas and how she brought up one of her children from when they were only a baby on the sail boat.

Helen Thompson: Hi, Tanya and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. I’m so excited to have you here.

Tanya Hackney: Thank you very much for having me.

Helen Thompson: The reason I love to connect with you is because you have such a fantastic lifestyle with your five kids, is that correct?

Tanya Hackney: Yeah, 5 kids ranging in age from 20 to 10!

Helen Thompson: And you’ve taken them on a boat and you just set sail. And when we first spoke, you told me all about being pregnant on the boat and all your adventures of when the baby was born, et cetera, et cetera. So, first of all, can I just ask you to tell me all about your passion, why you decided to go on the boat first of all, and then we’ll take it from there.

Tanya Hackney: Hi. Thank you, Helen. Well, my husband and I had this crazy idea when we were teenagers. He grew up sailing, I did not. But we had this idea that instead of living a normal life, we could go do something unusual. Maybe we can hop on a sailboat and sail around the world.

And so we had this idea. Now what the idea actually looked like when we turned it into reality is very different. We never planned on having five children aboard a sail boat!. Most people in their right minds would not want to live on a boat with their five kids. But you know, maybe we’re not in our right minds, but the crazy life that we have is so much better than the same life, you know, that we, we planned for ourselves.

So we’ve lived aboard a sailing catamaran, Take Two since 2008. And when we moved aboard, we had 8, 7, 6, and a four year old and we now have a 20, 19, 17, 14 and 10 year old. And our youngest child was born while we lived aboard the boat.

Helen Thompson: Mmm, that sounds fantastic. I’m just sort of invisualizing all these four and a half kids, I’ll say, because I know there’s five, but when you were pregnant, you know, four and a half kids on a boat. So how did you cope with that? What were some of your strategies that you did to encourage those kids to be a part of a team, cause they obviously needed everybody on deck to help?

Tanya Hackney: For sure. The first year that we traveled we left our dock behind and our easy, comfy life and we traveled to The Bahamas and we didn’t realize it, but right before we left, we were surprised to find that we were expecting a new crew member. And so we ended up traveling through The Bahamas while I was pregnant. And fortunately I don’t get morning sickness and I typically don’t get seasick.

And so, yes, I’m very lucky. Can you imagine the double whammy of being sick in the mornings? It would be awful. I don’t know that I would have been able to do it. So I was able to travel pretty comfortably. I would say the most comfortable is that middle trimester where I was pretty much able to manage the family and all that by the end, you know, by that last 7, 8, 9 months pregnant, I really needed a lot of help with the kids.

And we decided to come back to the United States instead of having the baby on the boat in The Bahamas, because it was hard hopping between islands and visiting the midwives. And I didn’t want to go sit in Nassau for a month waiting for a baby to be born, which is how most of the Bahamanian women do it.

So we had a great team of kids at this point, they had been on the boat for a couple of years, so they knew the routine and everyone was very, very helpful. And we have a bell and we ring the bell and when we need help, we ring the bell and that’s the sign for all hands on deck. And that means unloading groceries, it means getting dinner on the table. It means folding the laundry or sorting the laundry or hanging the laundry. All of those normal daily tasks that we sort of take for granted when we live in a house. All of those things have to be done by hand and a little bit more extensive, more difficult on the boat. I would say so difficult that you can’t really do it alone. It requires teamwork. More so when you’re pregnant, obviously!

Helen Thompson: You’ve written a book and you very kindly gave me a chapter called ‘All Hands on Deck’. And I went to bed last night and read it while I was in bed and was inspired to buy the book because it really intrigued me and there’s so many parts of that chapter that I love, but one thing I want to pick on in that chapter was when you were fully pregnant, that you went on board a dinghy and you went and did all the shopping and then you came back. I’ve read the chapter so I know what I’m talking about, but can you give my listeners some input into what that entailed? When I read it, I thought, wow, how did she do that?

Tanya Hackney: Yeah, people are always asking us questions, like, where do you get mail and how do you do laundry and how do you get groceries? And when you are trying to buy groceries for a family, a growing family of six or seven people. It is no small task.

And so when you’re traveling and you’re island hopping, you locate the closest grocery store and you take the dinghy across the Harbor with your grocery bags and you’re pregnant. Of course, you’re waddling down the street you’re climbing in and out of the dinghy, trying not to fall in the water, trying not to drop anything, trying not to throw out your hip.

Yeah. So everything’s complicated. And then you get to town and you’re shopping in two or three places, the bakery and the produce shop and the grocer and you load everything into a cart, you take the cart down the dock. You load everything from the cart into the dinghy, and then you start your dinghy up and you head back across the Harbor through the salt spray, sometimes. Try not to get wet, try not to get the groceries wet, get back to the boat. And then you have to hand everything up to the boat. So you’re carrying the groceries. I mean like five or six times, by the time, you get back to the boat, you’re exhausted and you call the kids and the kids all come running and then you load the groceries up into the big boat, and then you have to put it all away, which is a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle.

And then at the end you’re like, that was the one thing that you could do that day. You learn to set limits for yourself and to respect the limits that are there and you plan on doing one thing a day. If you try and do more than one thing a day, you end up exhausted. And when I was pregnant, there was just that period of the day where you just couldn’t do anything else, put your feet up or take the kids to the beach and the groceries was definitely a monumental task.

Helen Thompson: Did you ever get the kids to come and help you in the boat? You being pregnant, you probably didn’t have enough room for the kids in the boat.

Tanya Hackney: Well, you’re thinking like it’s four children under the age of 10 and there is a degree to which, they’re just not that helpful. They’re very eager to help, but sometimes actually what we love to do, because it’s when you have a big family, one-on-one time is a challenge sometimes. Often what I would do is there would be a grocery helper and it would be the one person would get to come and no one else would get to come and I tried to spin it so that it was a privilege and not a chore. If you get to go to the store with mom, obviously there’s some help involved, but then you get to pick a treat at the store and that’s kind of compensation for getting to go to the store. So often I would have a helper, but again, remembering that they were all pretty small.

Sam had just turned four that year that we were in The Bahamas,

Helen Thompson: yeah.

Yeah. So he probably wouldn’t have been very helpful. He would have been eager to come with you in a boat, but wouldn’t have really been very supportive to help you.

Tanya Hackney: There’s a turnaround there because there comes an age where, your kids really, really want to help, but they’re not very helpful. And then once you’ve trained them properly, then they’re very, very helpful. But then, there’s that age where they can help, but then they don’t want to, and then there’s that sweetspot probably between say ages 8 and 12, where they want to help and they can help.

Helen Thompson: Yes, especially on a boat, that would be a good age, I think, to help because at that stage you don’t have to teach them because they’ve experienced it, so they know what to do and you didn’t actually have your baby on the boat?

Tanya Hackney: No, actually I was sewing a shower curtain when my water broke, so I went into labor on the boat and then my husband dropped the kids off at a neighbors, another family that lived on a boat in our marina, and then they ended up spending the evening with my mother-in-law and my daughter Sarah, who was seven at the time, came with us to the birthing home. And we had Rachel in a lovely birthing home in Sarasota, Florida. That was not a hospital. I had had some hospital births with midwives and I so preferred the homey environment of the birthing home.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, I was born at home and it is a much nicer experience.

Tanya Hackney: I don’t know. Maybe, there’s a part of those first moments that are imprinted. I can say that Rachel’s birth was very different in that it was a much more relaxed environment. I was supposed to have her in a tub. I was supposed to have her in the water.

 I could have just hung over the back or something. I mean, we joke about, I could have had her in the cockpit and then we just hose it all down. I had had a baby before, so I knew that I needed to be in a comfortable spot and I knew what was coming, but I ended up having her in the shower.

I was laboring in the shower, which is a very comfortable place to labor. So she just showed up and I never made it to the birthing tub. So actually the first few moments of her life after I had her in the shower, we kind of moved into that birthing tub, which was now a nice clean pool of water. And I was able to nurse her and she spent the first hour of her life just floating. So she’s always been a water baby.

Helen Thompson: Yeah. I can understand that. Because if she was on a boat afterwards, she would have got used to it. So a pressing question I’ve got is about nappies and I’m talking baby talk here, nappies on the boat and changing the nappies and the pooey nappies and you know, baby stuff. How did you manage to do all that on a boat?

Tanya Hackney: Well, I had done cloth diapers with all four of the other children. Of course I had been in a house where I had, a machine and I could hang things outside. We had been doing laundry by hand, did not have a machine or in a laundromat.

And that meant, in a bucket with a ringer and hanging it up on the lines. And my husband said to me, when we came back to the US to have Rachel, he said, well, you can either homeschool the children or be a laundress, but you can’t do both it’s too much. You know, we were spending an hour every single day doing a small load of laundry.

So what we ended up doing was we did a pretty major renovation of the boat to make space for the baby. We built her, her own cabin. So we made her a little cabin and we installed a washing machine and we have a water maker and so that meant that we could make enough water to wash the diapers.

And so we would wash and I don’t find cloth diapers to be that difficult. I feel like babies potty train faster who have been in cloth diapers because they’re much more aware of their own body processes. And I had a little potty seat for Rachel. Rachel started sitting on the potty when she was between six and nine months old.

And so, obviously at that point, it’s mommy training. You’re not training the baby you’re watching for those signals when they’re ready and you’re just kind of playing around with it. But I think all of my children were potty trained by the age of two and I credit cloth diapers with that.

Helen Thompson: I love cloth diapers. I actually prefer them because I think they’re much more natural. It’s a much more natural process for them and being able to wash them and put them up out in the fresh air like you did on the boat would have been amazing.

Tanya Hackney: Well, there’s an environmental question too, because one of the things living on the ocean is the amount of plastic in the ocean and the amount of pollution that we’re creating. And if you think of, however many thousands of diapers each child wears, until they’re potty trained. All of those diapers go somewhere. They don’t just go away. And the idea that my child’s diaper could be sitting at the bottom of a landfill, encased in plastic, in a plastic bag, possibly that diaper will be around longer than my child.

My child may be dead and buried, a hundred years gone and their diaper is still buried somewhere or, worst floating in an ocean somewhere. So we felt like even though, obviously it takes water and power to wash the diapers, it was nice knowing that we weren’t contributing to the pollution that we were seeing around us in the ocean.

Helen Thompson: And they’d be a lovely smell too, after they’d been hanging out to dry in the open air.

Tanya Hackney: Smell like the sea, yeah!

Helen Thompson: I can definitely understand why she’s a water baby when she’s been there all her life. So, so where, where did you actually travel? I’m sure you had a wonderful time traveling, so what was your favorite area where you went?

Tanya Hackney: One of the things that we loved was we did a trip up the east coast of the United States. And one of the things we do is homeschool our children and so we did a United States history cruise, where we were able to visit places where the history was happening and that was a very hands-on on location history trip. And I loved doing that with the kids and let’s see, Rachel would have been maybe two or three. So our youngest was two or three at the time and our oldest would have been about 12. Perfect ages for, absorbing history in that real life way. And then we took a three and a half year circle through the Caribbean, and we did that between 2016 and 2019.

And on that trip, I think our favorite places were the places where we did the free diving anywhere there was clear water and coral reefs. Something that sticks out in my mind is Bonaire, which is in the Dutch Caribbean. Just stunning underwater. And just making those memories as a family. Very, very powerful.

Helen Thompson: Yeah and I liked the idea of the natural history lessons, because it is natural and it’s actually there and, they’re actually seeing it and being able to feel it, feel history rather than having to read a book and saying, this is what history is. They can actually feel the history and even dive into the ocean to feel the history.

Tanya Hackney: You’re in a sense and both literally and figuratively you’re plumbing, the depths.

Helen Thompson: Gosh, I love traveling and I wish I’d had the opportunity. I don’t know how I’d cope on a boat, but it just sounds like a fantastic lifestyle.

Tanya Hackney: It has its good and bad parts. I mean, it’s certainly not easy. I think for kids sometimes, if we’re on a long passage, they can get cooped up. The year after Rachel was born, we left to go. We left the marina where we had been staying when she was born and took our first trip and we got stuck in a tropical storm. We ended up having to hide in this little bay and we were thinking it would just pass overhead. People are always saying something, it’ll blow over. Well, it didn’t blow over, it lasted five days and the wind was blowing 20 to 50 knots for five days straight and the boat was moving constantly. It felt like we were at sea, but we were safely anchored. But our poor kids were getting cabin fever and this was Rachel’s first exposure after leaving the dock and she had just learned to walk. And so the boat was moving.

So the wave would lift the bow up and she would run downhill and then the boat would lift the other direction and she would run downhill the other direction. And we could put her in the swing in the cockpit and then it was a swing that didn’t need a battery. It didn’t need to be wound up just the motion of the boat would, would rock the swing.

Helen Thompson: Very good for her physical and motor development I would have thought, being able to balance with the boat, swaying and her practicing how to walk as well. It would have been very good for her balance.

Tanya Hackney: Well, it certainly came naturally to her. They all have a pretty good sense of balance because of that.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, but when they’re that age, that’s even better. So I guess she learned to crawl on the boat as well.

Tanya Hackney: Yeah, she did. The hardest thing of course is keeping them alive. As we all know, that’s probably the new mom’s biggest fear. They hand you this sweet little baby, and then you have to go home and you’re going to try and figure it out. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual.

Helen Thompson: You’re on a boat. How do I keep this baby safe!

Tanya Hackney: How do I keep this baby alive? Thankfully, she was the fifth one and so I knew that they’re pretty resilient. They’re tougher than you think that they are. So I knew that I could feed her and diaper her and help her sleep. Once she could crawl and once she could pull herself up on things, then there was the issue of you need to keep her inside the cockpit. We were just very vigilant when they were little, because we didn’t want them crawling out of the cockpit and falling overboard.

Obviously that’s a parent’s nightmare and you also do survival swimming lessons with them. And we had nets up around the lifelines to keep them from accidentally falling overboard. We had a lot of safety procedures in place, and if children were on deck, they were wearing life jackets and things like that, but nothing replaces good old fashioned discipline.

They have to be able to hear, respond to their name. If you say, no, they need to respond to no, and to respect the rules, like you can’t go out on deck without an adult. And really just, they have a respect for the ocean. And that’s important. There’s a healthy kind of fear that you have of danger and somewhere between, nine months when they’re starting to crawl and about a year and a half, where they’ve really, gotten the discipline down, that’s probably a pretty dangerous time for a baby on a boat. You just have to be very vigilant.

Helen Thompson: Did you have any sort of issues where any of them nearly went over?

Tanya Hackney: Everyone has fallen in off of a dock from time to time. No one has fallen in on the ocean or on a passage. The first rule of falling overboard is, do not fall overboard. In fact, we’ve done these drills where we do man overboard drills. You throw a colored cushion in the water and then you circle the boat around and pick it up and they get to see how difficult that is. If we’re at sea and we see a coconut floating, we do this drill where we have the kids keep an eye on that coconut.

And then one of us will distract a child that’s supposed to be keeping an eye on the coconut and then you say, oh, where’s the coconut. And when you look back, it’s gone. I mean, it goes into the trough of a wave and you just can’t find it anymore. And I know it sounds awful to scare your kids this way, but you say, okay, if that were you, if that was your head bobbing, we won’t be able to find you.

So when we say, hold on, when we say, put on your life jacket, that’s why, because it would scare us to death to have to have to try and find someone in that vast ocean. We only have one, I think what I would call a horror story that maybe took five years off of my life when Rachel was about to, she and this is a story that’s not in the book. This is a secret, extra bonus story. She was hiding somewhere in the boat. She had crawled up into her sister’s bunk and I didn’t even know she could get up there. She was a little monkey, I guess.

And she knew she was rummaging with her sisters things and probably shouldn’t be up there. So when I called her name, she didn’t answer, she hid under a blanket. And so I was looking for her and calling her name. I went out into the cockpit, my husband was working on something and I said, have you seen Rachel?

And he said, no. I said, are you sure she’s not out here with you? Yeah, I’m sure. Okay, I’m going to go back and look again. I went all through the boat, calling her name and I couldn’t find her anywhere. And then of course I panicked. I rang the bell. I called everybody, I said, I can’t find Rachel anywhere, everybody search. And my husband dropped the dinghy and he started looking around the boat. And you have just this moment where you look out in the water. Oh my God. Yeah. It’s it is a very scary thing. Now, it’s the illusion of safety when you live in a house, you think that you’re safe, but bad things happen everywhere. It happens. Bad things happen on the ocean, they happen in a neighborhood. Any one of my kids playing out by the driveway could have been run over by a car. So I don’t think that living on the boat is especially dangerous, but it’s still scary.

Being a parent is scary because there’s a little piece of your heart wandering around, outside your body.

Helen Thompson: Well, that’s right. And you’ve got to take care of all those kids, whether you’re in a boat or not on a boat, but as you say you don’t want to scare them, but you’ve got to bring them up to be accepting and respectful of the water.

Tanya Hackney: Yeah and they’re all wonderful swimmers. We needed them to be. If you’re going to have water in your backyard, you had better teach those kids to swim. So they all swim well. I think Sam is my fourth child. He swam well by age two and a half. He could swim for pennies at the bottom of a swimming pool. People would think this tiny kid was drowning and I’d say, no, no, no, don’t worry he’s just picking up pennies off the bottom. So the survival swimming where you teach them to float on their back until you can save them. That was, of critical importance.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, I’ve got a bit of a swimming instructor background, so I understand, an importance of survival swimming, not only when you’re on a boat, but in general. You’ve got to be able to teach kids how to survive in the water. What about the sharks and all the stingers, and all those lovely creatures? After you were talking about teaching them to swim, I was thinking about those kinds of things.

Tanya Hackney: You have to be really careful. You don’t want your kids to be afraid of the ocean, if that’s going to be in your backyard, you want them to have a healthy respect, but you also don’t want them to be terrified. So you’re very careful about what movies they watch.

Helen Thompson: So you wouldn’t show them Jaws for instance!

Tanya Hackney: We’re from Florida. We were used to having sea creatures in our backyard. We swim with nurse sharks all the time. I don’t think sharks are particularly terrifying and they’re not interested in us for the most part. Stingrays, you learn how to do the stingray shuffle if you’re at the beach. Where you shuffle your feet along the bottom because you want to give them warning. You don’t want to step on a stingray, you just want to alert it, that you’re coming. So you’re making vibrations and you’re not gonna startle it so that it stings you. Probably the most annoying thing is we call them Itchy-burnies, larval coral polyps (also known as sea lice), but there’s a season in Florida between May and June when I think a certain coral species, maybe it’s fire coral are spawning and you have these sea lice, it’s a larval phase of some sea creature that creates sort of itching and burning, like almost like bug bites. And that can be irksome. It’s really the little things or jellyfish stings. You just need to know how to treat those things. You know, whether it’s a vinegar or baking soda or ammonia, there’s things that you have on hand so that you know what to do when you have a sting.

Helen Thompson: And you need to do it quickly too, because if you’re in the middle of the ocean, you’re not going to have a doctor or you’re not going to be able to rush them to hospital that quickly.

Tanya Hackney: Right, so we became experts as much as we could about everything. We took safety courses and medical, we carried extensive medical kits and medications that thank the Lord we have not really had to use much of our emergency stuff. Mostly it’s cuts and burns and splinters. We have a lot of splinters that we’ve had to remove.

Basic first aid, you definitely have to have a lot of basic first aid supplies on hand and know how to treat those things.

Helen Thompson: And is your boat made of wood or fiber glass?

Tanya Hackney: It is actually a custom wooden boat that was built in the Netherlands in 1991.

Helen Thompson: Oh yeah you mentioned that in chapter 8 about the bell. I remember reading that about the lovely old bell. There’s an old fashioned type of bell and it’s got the name of the boat on it.

Tanya Hackney: Yeah, it looks properly dusty and corroded. We don’t polish it up too much because we like it, we love that balance.

Helen Thompson: So I could talk to you all day about this. Is there anything else that you would like to add about being on a boat? I love traveling, as I said, I could talk to you forever about all your adventures, but I don’t know how long the people want to listen to our lovely adventures on the boat. Is there anything particularly that you’d like to add?

Tanya Hackney: I’m just thinking of maybe the message that I would want to tell myself, maybe when I was a new mom before I could even imagine that we would be doing this on a boat or even having a baby on a boat. And that would be that children are amazingly tough and resilient and that they benefit so much from the fresh air and the sunshine and the freedom and not to worry so much. I guess I would always tell a new mom not to worry so much. We worry so much about the health and safety of our children, because we love them. But then we need to relax a little bit and really just enjoy life.

Also, if I could do it on a boat with five children, then I don’t know who your listeners are, but you know, whatever obstacles they have or whatever they feel, is difficult or impossible about having a baby, because it is, it is really hard. It’s not impossible. If I can do it with five kids on a boat, then, then surely they can do it, you know, in a house wherever they are.

Helen Thompson: I was thinking of the sleepless nights. That must be quite hard on a boat, but then you’ve got the boat swaying. So that would probably help soothe them.

Tanya Hackney: I think so. I think it’s a lovely rocking. The boat rocks me to sleep too, not just the baby.

Helen Thompson: So you said to me, when we first spoke that you’ve massaged all your babies and all your children. So how did that go? What was your feeling on infant massage? Would you recommend it to somebody?

Tanya Hackney: Oh, yes, of course. Like what a wonderful bonding time with your baby. I discovered it early on. My dad is actually a massage therapist and he had a therapist in his practice that was learning. She was becoming an infant massage instructor and she needed a Guinea pig. So, I got to learn for free. And so she sat down with me and with my newborn baby and taught me how to do infant massage.

And then that kid, that lucky firstborn child got an infant massage. Every day that kid got a massage. By the time I had the fifth baby, the second kid got a massage every other day. The third baby got a massage, on bath nights, whenever bath night was. The fourth kid, got a massage occasionally like once a week.

And by the time Rachel came along, she got one, whenever I remembered and whenever we had , a still moment. But it was a wonderful way to connect physically with your child. And it was very soothing. I feel that it helped with tension or frustration. And obviously you want to find a time when they’re calm and happy and it became a part of our bedtime routine and I think it’s hard to tell cause they can’t talk to you, but I think they look forward to it. Honestly, I think, it became a time, for once they’re older, laughter and just a really nice way to connect with your child. They feel loved when you’re touching them.

Helen Thompson: Did you have any kids when you were massaging them that had issues like constipation, colic, reflux, or even just any sort of digestive issues that you felt that baby massage helped with.

Tanya Hackney: I think my oldest child and this could have been because he was born in a hospital and I had tested positive for group B strep. And so they had given me an antibiotic and I think that he struggled with digesting milk, not my milk, but when I would eat dairy products, I know things now that I didn’t know back then, but I think he had a bunch of gas problems. He wasn’t necessarily colicky, but one of the techniques that the massage therapist had taught me was what we would call the bicycle. You might be familiar with that one. Peddle the little feet, like they’re riding a bicycle, and that definitely helped with his gas.

Helen Thompson: Yeah, cause there’s a lot of techniques from baby massage that you can do. One I like is the I Luv U stroke. It’s just such a nice way to ease those problems when your baby’s upset and your baby’s crying and you know that they’re crying because they’ve got digestive issues. And you just give them a cuddle and quieten them down so they’re not crying and then just give them a little rub on the tummy and do that massage stroke. And it’s just so nice because as you say, it’s helping with the touch and it’s telling them that you love them and it’s okay. And they’ll feel better later. So I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Tanya Hackney: Yeah, it was a wonderful way to cuddle with your kids and I have really nice memories of them as babies.

Helen Thompson: I’m so glad because I come from a childcare background and an infant massage background, so it’s lovely to hear moms who have experienced it and loved it. And you obviously learnt when to massage and when not to massage and how important touch is. Respecting touch and teaching them to respect that touch is valuable.

For sure. I think you’re doing wonderful work, just promoting that method of connecting with your child.

So, I’m just curious, what are your older kids up to now? Are they still living with you?

Tanya Hackney: Let’s see, my oldest child just moved off the boat earlier this year in January, he moved off and he’s independent and he’s learning to fly airplanes. He loves to fly. He’s funny because he loves to go deep and he loves to go high. He’s my free diver. And also my pilot and I think he’s had a successful launch. He’s feeling pretty confident as an adult. All three of the teenagers came back from the Caribbean and started taking college classes.

In Florida, you can take college classes for high school credit and get credit simultaneously. It’s called dual enrollment program and it’s free college classes. So all three of them are working or have finished a two year degree that they got for free, which is wonderful. And so he’s finished that up and then my son, Aaron is 19 and he’s got an old truck that he’s rebuilding and he has a job at an auto parts store and he’s kind of got one foot out the door. He’s about ready to jump ship. And then I have a 17 year old daughter who is still figuring out what she wants to do, but she’s got a little bit of time with us left and then a 14 year old who’s doing homeschool high school.

And then of course, my boat baby is now 10 and we’re doing homeschool together on the boat. And she’s very competent in the kitchen, in the galley, I should say. And a very creative kid.

Helen Thompson: You have written a wonderful book. How can somebody find out about this wonderful book, if they want the same experiences and want some tips on how to do it?

Tanya Hackney: So the name of the book is Leaving the Safe Harbor, the Risks and Rewards of Raising a Family on a Boat. It can be found at Amazon, should be able to be purchased anywhere around the world. Obviously a little easier to get it on the Kindle than on paperback but we do have distributors on different continents.

My blogs that we’ve been writing since 2008, pretty much everybody in the family has contributed at one time or another. So you can read all about our life there at and of course I’m on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest as well.

Helen Thompson: Wow, you’ve had an amazing lifestyle doing that. So thank you so much for sharing all that. I loved hearing all about it.

Tanya Hackney: Thank you so much. Excellent. Well, I have so enjoyed talking with you about this little part of my life, and I’m grateful to be able to talk about babies because I love babies.

Helen Thompson: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you too and I look forward to reading the book.

Tanya Hackney: Thank you so much.