name is Jessica Miller. I am ten years old, and Iím from Golden,
Colorado. I recently finished sailing around the world with my parents.
It took nearly five years, and we visited places with names like the
West Indies, Tobago, Panama, Galapagos, Singapore, Madagascar, and many
You may ask how I happened to end up on this amazing adventure.
Well, my mother was in a business that was doing very well. So, we found
ourselves in a financial situation that allowed us to do something likeÖ
buy a boat and sail around the world! But that didnít mean I could
I am lucky enough to be home schooled and have my mom for my teacher.
My mom is lucky that I am an only child. School consists basically of
spelling, grammar, math, history and music. I do not use a boring
program. No, my dear mother puts together a wonderful, fun, interesting
program that takes three to five hours depending on my mood. Sometimes
we play hooky from school and make up for it on a weekend.
I was five years old when we started. Here is an early picture of my
classroom at sea. Iíve changed a lot since then!
There were lots of interesting field trips, too. Like looking over
World War II relics with some local kids in the Marshall
Or getting some first hand experience working a sugar cane press with
boat kids in Madagascar...
This is how my everyday life on the boat tends to flow.
"Jessie, Jess, itís time to wake up. Itís time to wake
UP!" comes my momís voice.
"Ahhh! Mom! What a wake up call," I say and turn over onto
"Well it worked didnít it?" Mom giggles.
"Go away, Iím sleeping!" I grouch.
"All right young lady! Five more minutes, but then itís time
to get up and do your list."
The list my mother refers to is my list of things I do before I start
school: wash face, brush hair, sweep floor, take vitamins and brush
teeth. It goes on, and on, and on, until I finally start school. After
reading this, you might think my life sounds quite normal, OR DOES
Well, it isnít much different from most kids untilÖ
What I do after school depends a lot on where we are, or if there are
kids around. If weíre in a nice place with sandy beaches and clear
blue water, I might go skurfing! Skurfing is a sport that I thought up.
Iím not the only one who discovered it though; boat kids around the
world use it today! You stand or sit on a surfboard, hold onto a towrope
and ride around the bay while towed by a dinghy with a fast outboard
engine (we use a 10 hp motor).
If Iím really bored, I might do something like this:
If weíre in a marina with kids, we all get together and play games
like tag, capture the flag, hide and seek, or cops and robbers. If weíre
in an icky marina or bay, my friends and I might go over to somebodyís
boat and play or watch a movie. If I donít have kids to play with, I
read, play computer, or visit with my parents.
Weeknight activities vary a lot; Dad and I play music, or we watch a
movie after we have dinner. If it is a nice evening, I like to go up the
mast in my climbing harness and watch the sunset. On Sundays, we play a
game like Life, Uno, or cards. Sometimes we get together with other
yachties for drinks or dinner. We may go to the beach for a barbecue or
just have sundowners (refreshments) aboard. When weíre by a town, we
might treat ourselves to dinner ashore.
It is important to be sociable when you are with different people all
the time. That is, if you want friends! One of the best ways to
be sociable Iíve found is a dinghy raft-up. Someone might come up on
the radio and say, "This is (state the name of your boat) and Iím
organizing a dinghy raft-up at five oíclock. Everyoneís invited.
Bring your own drinks." If there are a lot of boats in the
anchorage you could have a very big group. You tie all the dinghies
together and then you tie onto a mooring or just float around the bay
watching the sunset. Once it got really crazy! It was after dark and we
politely invaded a large catamaran. Its occupants were trying to be
party poopers and avoid the raft-up. But we wouldnít let them!
moved the party onboard.
It can take a long time to get from place to place in a boat, since
our boat only travels about six and a half miles an hour. Going from
a tiny island in the south Atlantic Ocean, west of Africa) to Fortaleza, Brazil,
for instance, took us fifteen days.
that time I played my keyboard, helped my mom in the galley (kitchen),
did some schoolwork, played computer games, and read. Sometimes I stayed
up with my mom on her night watch and helped her stay awake. I think I
do an excellent job of it! Tee hee hee! Passages do get boring.
hey! Itís part of my life. I like being in the middle of nowhere
ocean) because it makes me feel like we are the only people in the
entire world. Once in a great while I get seasick. My parents say we
were in rough weather when we sailed from Tonga to New Zealand, but I
canít remember anything really bad.
People might think that being in the tsunami in Thailand would be the
most exciting thing thatís ever happened to me. But I really didnít
know what was happening at all. My mom told me to close the hatches
(boat windows) and put on my life vest. She muttered something about a
tsunami but at the time, I didnít know what a tsunami was supposed to
be! So, you get the point. It wasnít very exiting for me until a
couple hours after it had happened. It was my birthday and the
restaurant where we were supposed to have my party had collapsed. So we
had it on the deck of our friendís big boat. We were lucky because our
boat and our friendsí boats were all ok.
One of the most exciting things I did on this trip was parasailing in
Thailand. I love being up high; so naturally, it was a blast!
really have to do anything. The guides did everything! I just sat there
while they got my harness on. Soon I was soaring at one hundred feet
above the water!
Traveling has also given me the opportunity to go rock climbing in
explore tropical islandsÖ
go scuba divingÖ
and experience many different cultures that most kids only get to
read about in books...
I have also had many wonderful wildlife experiences. I fed
bananas to lemurs. They would jump onto my shoulder and eat bits of
banana out of my hands. The biggest highlight, that I can remember, was
that I had a pet chameleon named Chip! He stayed aboard for two weeks.
It was fun feeding him grasshoppers because he turned from tan to green
when he saw the grasshopper and his tongue uncurled and shot out quickly
a long way to stick and catch the grasshopper. The way he moved was
interesting; he rocked back and forth with each step. He looked like a
little mouse when he turned. We let him go on a branch with lots of
ants. He went right into hunting mode. Iíd like to have another
I was fortunate to sail around the world with my parents for five
years. If I hadnít, I might never haveÖ
Made friends with a tortoise ...
Taken a ride on an ostrich ...
and an elephant ...
Fed a lemur ...
Cuddled up with a snake ...
Or kissed a chameleon!
I know I wouldnít have met so many friends.
Most kids that are new to cruising think that they will set out to
sea and never see another child again. Itís not like that at all!
There are hundreds of kids out there sailing and making friends, just
like you might be doing soon enough. Iíd like to offer the following
advice to those fortunate children whose parents decide to take them
sailing: Donít worry, and remember; YOUR PARENTS ARENíT TRYING TO
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