Homeschooling On A Boat
Ever wondered what it would be like homeschooling on a boat? Well that is exactly what one Wolsey Hall Oxford family are doing!
Jaden (12, 13 in one month) and Amber (11) Haynes, both studying Secondary Level with Wolsey Hall Oxford, live on board the tallship Florette with their parents Rony and Nicole. They own and sail the ship and charter trips by the Eolian Islands, Italy, each summer. In November 2019, after many years of planning and preparations, they made their dream come true and sailed Florette across the Atlantic to Grenada in the Caribbean. As their live aboard teacher, I joined the family just before the crossing. We traveled across without using the engine, using only the old trade winds. After 30 days at sea, we finally arrived in Grenada and had a well deserved Christmas holiday with Rony and Nicole’s families joining us. The last three months we have been traveling the Eastern Caribbean with charter guests. Our days have been varied with days of sailing, shore days where we have experienced the rainforests and beautiful beaches and snorkeling on some of the many coral reefs.
In March we arrived in Martinique, and managed to send our last charter guests home, before the COVID-19 shut down international traffic. Since then we have been here at anchor, first as a self-quarantine, so that we could be sure we did not have the virus, before we set sail back across the North Atlantic. Now we stay here until the weather forecast gives us the go.
Since Martinique is a part of the French West Indies, we abide by the same restrictions as France. We have been allowed one hour on shore each day for exercise (staying clear of other people of course) and are otherwise confined to the ship. Luckily we have both voyage crew and teacher on board, so in many ways, life has continued as normal for us. We do school on weekdays, where the crew work with maintaining the ship, make repairs and prepare the ship for crossing. As Jaden says, ”There is not so much difference between sailing and anchoring, except that we have more shore time now than when we sail.”
The girls love to swim and dive and have both hobbies that fit with a life on board a ship, Amber is very social, likes to play games, read and join in the sailing. Jaden likes her own time and bakes delicious treats and enjoys doing her art. The girls have a selection of their toys on board, especially soft toys and Lego are well used.
To keep the morale up on board we make sure to have fun and enjoy the free time with movie nights, pizza nights, games night and a popular one is water polo match after work hours. The hour we are on shore every morning, we use by taking the dinghy to the dinghy dock and either walk or run for an hour before swimming back to the ship.
We are lucky to shut down the ship with so many people on board, it makes for a social every day life, compared to many other families. Besides the family and teacher, we have eight crew members on board, seasoned sailors and well known to the ship, so we have the best possible skeleton crew for the crossing. As safety is very important to captain Rony and the whole crew, we have been doing fire drills at 5am, practiced sail setting and dropping. We also make sure that both Jaden and Amber remembers the ship signals at sea and the rules of the road. In other words we are ready for departure, but enjoying the Caribbean weather and the slow days of prepping before we make the journey back to Europe.
On the crossing here, we had many days with good weather where we managed to do school for a few hours every day and enjoyed catching fish and learning the positions of the ship. The waves were big and some days we could not do much in ways of games and play, because we got nauseous from the rolling or hadn’t slept at night because of hard weather. So we are now getting as much out of every day as we can, since it is well known that the weather in the North Atlantic can be much harsher and the wind will not always be with us as it was coming here.
We are sending our thoughts to all who are on lockdown around the globe and hope that you all manage to keep up the spirit and stay healthy by following the rules of your respective governments.
More info about the family, ship and blog:
Ship’s position, our route so far and blogposts:
You can read more about the Haynes family’s project on making sailing ecofriendly here:
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