Many years ago, as we were sailing around the world in our 39 foot sloop, KANDARIK, we had a watch system for our long passages. Keeping in mind that our two fabulous crew were only 4, Jamie, and 7, Samantha, our watches included them from the moment we sailed out of Port Everglades.
Here is a cute little TRUE story about Jamie, our son, when he was about 8 years old, and we were participating in a sail boat race from Darwin, Australia, to Ambon, Indonesia. The race had about 100 boats and ran approximately 600 miles.
A small fact I want to confess to, is that the Race Committee required each entered yacht to have a minimum of four adult crew members. When Andy and I were filling out the paperwork to enter the race, we somehow or other simply forgot to put the Date Of Birth of our two young crew members!
The Race Started on July 28th, Sammy’s birthday, and we were just as excited as all the other boats to be able to compete against all our cruising friends. Our watch system of two hours on and six hours off was strictly kept. This passage we had a concerted effort by all four crew members to get the most out of KANDARIK to win the race!
The wind was fresh, on the beam, and it was a fast and wet race, but that never daunted our desire to give KANDARIK her head and make a fast passage.
Andy was on the midnight to 2am watch. The wind was on the beam, the seas slapping the hull, the decks wet, the night dark with clouds, and KANDARIK was lifting her skirts and just flying along. Jamie, always hard to wake up for his watch, came into the cockpit, sleepy eyed, and took over with his two hour steering watch in the cockpit. Andy and Jamie went over the course, the trim of the sails, the speed of KANDARIK, the lookout situation with racing boats all around us, a few ships could be seen, the usual pass over of a good set of watch keepers. The race rules required hand steering at all times, so Jamie was left in the cockpit on the helm acknowledging all the information that his Dad had pointed out to him. Then Andy went below, dried off, brought the log up to date, checked our course and speed and went to the aft quarter berth where he slept near the companion hatch.
Only about ten minutes into his watch, Jamie called for his Dad to come into the cockpit. Sleeping lightly as he always did when Sammy and Jamie were on watch, Andy rushed up to the cockpit to see what Jamie wanted knowing he would only ever call him if in real need.
Jamie said to Andy, “Could you please open the forward hatch?” Astounded, Andy said, “Jamie, we are taking green water over the bow, why on earth should we open the forward hatch?” Jamie responded a little sheepishly, “Dad, I lost my last tooth today and it is under my pillow.” He fully thought Andy would understand. When Andy said, “Yes, I know that! But why open the forward hatch on a night like this?” Jamie wide eyed and with tears in his eyes said, “How is the tooth fairy going to get below if I am sitting here in the cockpit near the companionway hatch? She will be scared of me!”
Silly Father Andy immediately understood and had to think quickly. He patted Jamie on the shoulder and told him, “Jamie, the tooth fairy is very small, remember Tinkerbelle in Peter Pan that we read about? She was a tiny fairy, just like a tooth fairy. You don’t have to worry, the tooth fairy can come to your bunk through the vents and the dorade boxes. No worries there, Jamie.”
With great relief, Jamie thanked Andy and continued his watch steering a good course, keeping a close lookout, trimming or easing the sheets as necessary, keeping a close watch on the wind and weather, and making sure that all the sleeping crew aboard KANDARIK were safe during his watch.
But, all he really cared about was the tooth under his pillow, and the 25 cents that the tooth fairy would leave for him during his watch! Children brought up on a boat! The best life a family could have together! This is a wonderful life!