Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Little Swedes

We went out on the boat yesterday - one of the first truly beautiful days of the season. Sunny, warm, no wind, calm water, everything blooming - really, really beautiful. Of course, we were busy with football matches and Annika's overnight, so we didn't really get out until after 4... but we packed a picnic, dropped anchor off Grinda, and just enjoyed. 

All three of the kids swam, for a sum total of 12 seconds - 4 seconds each! David and I (wisely) stayed wrapped in fleeces and watched, armed with towels and blankets for the swimmers. Clearly not being born in this country has had a significant impact on our inner temperature controls... or maybe it is age that keeps us warm and dry, rather than diving into water that makes you gasp just to put your big toe in. 

And I enjoyed being a boat wife, some thing I vowed I would never be. When we bought the boat, nine years ago (almost to the day), I promised and swore that I would know just as much about it as David - that I would be able to drive, dock, set lines, fix problems - everything that he could do. 

And for the first few years, I did just that. I had had more experience with captain-ing a sailing boat, so I was the choice for all docking manoeuvers. Those first years, every time David tried to dock, something would go wrong, he'd get in a tight spot... and then say something like, "Dammit - you do it!" and leave me the wheel. So there I'd be, trying not to hit someone else's precious boat, trying to get ours worked into a slip without injuring it - or us. All in all, a great learning experience! 

But now, David's skill at the helm is equal to mine, or better, so I'm no longer in demand in the tight spots. And of course, I missed out on running lines, so he does that, too. So I made and served dinner, sat on the front with the kids, screaming at every tiny bit of wave and wake, lounged on the back bench - and generally had a carefree time! Not so bad - this boat wife stuff!

Of course, the kids are also so much more engaged in the whole boating thing than they were before. We bought the boat when Annika was a baby, and had a wonderful summer when she was too young to move around. We could easily put her below, playing with toys, and be confident that she would be happy and stay put. The summer we had a newborn, 2- and 4-year olds was tough - too many unaware of their own mortality, and no way to leave any combination below deck. But now we have kids that can get on the boat themselves, kids who don't have to be passed through hatches but can climb around on the boat themselves, kids who enjoy being on the water (and don't just sleep), kids who can maybe even help load, unload and generally be counted on to not fall in at inopportune times (or at all). And of course, kids who can swim - what a difference!

Our next goal (after nine years) is to master the Swedish art of "docking on a deserted island" - drop a stern anchor, bow to shore, tied off on a tree. We're not too confident just yet, but it when in Rome... (or when in the archipelago...)

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