Rachel is my absolute favorite one-year-old on the planet. Allow me to boast for just a moment—I promise, it pertains to our life afloat. This is our first boat baby. True, Sam was Rachel’s age when we bought the boat, but we were just weekenders back then, and he still remembers our house. Rachel, on the other hand, was conceived on the boat, spent her first hour of life in the water, and doesn’t even know what a house is. So we are getting to see what miraculous things a boat baby can do.
First, Rachel can swim, and that means without floatation. Granted, she has a hard time coming up for air, but she fearlessly dives off of the pool steps (or swim ladder on the boat) and paddles over to me underwater. No coming up spluttering, either. She’s only thirteen months old, and for a while there she swam better than she walked. Finally, she’s decided that walking is the way to go—and boy, can she walk! In this crazy weather we’re having, we’ve got a steady 30 knots of breeze and gusts to 45, and there’s a 2-4’ chop on the bay we’re in. Rachel is completely steady on her feet and has the best sea legs of any baby I’ve ever seen. When Sam was her age, he would fall down at the least ripple (or even a crack in the sidewalk for that matter) and shout, “wake!”
Another thing we like about Rachel is that she loves the engines. This is convenient since her bed is right near the port engine and it vibrates like crazy. She thinks it’s great, and, what’s better, can sleep right through the noise. Actually, she seems to be able to sleep through anything—what a blessing! She also loves the wind and thinks a wild day is nothing but fun. Big waves kind of freak her out a little (lots of shouting “uh-oh!”), but she takes her cue from us, and when we smile and whoop and holler, she smiles back and I know she will come to love the sea as we do. We just stick her in her cockpit swing and let Mother Nature do the rest.
Last, but not least, Rachel can talk. The other kids, to be fair, were also early talkers, but her vocabulary contains words that theirs did not. She recognizes all sorts of “boaps” (boats) and “fsh” (fish) and loves sea birds, “bird” being her first clearly spoken word. She doesn’t know enough to be afraid of the “wa-wa” and loves it in any form. She hates wearing “oohs” (shoes) and won’t even let us put the tiny pink dolly crocs on her baby. That’s got to be a hallmark boat kid trait. Won’t be long and she’ll be climbing in the rigging barefoot with the rest of the gang. Gotta’ love a boat baby.