Part 2 of Sailing With A Toddler & A Dog: Lessons Learned


If you read last weeks post on sailing with a toddler and a dog, you could not be blamed for coming to the conclusion that I have sworn off the endeavour forever. If you had even asked me if I wanted to keep sailing during the day that post was devoted to, I would have snatched your tongue out for daring to  suggest there was even a possibility that I might want to continue. But as I ended the post I mentioned how a day on land made things better. And the next week and a half improved immensely and taught me some valuable lessons on how I want to sail.

First off, I need to learn how to sail.

Above and beyond the very fact that I need to be able to take over if Patrick is unable to sail, I also need to know what is normal and what is not. I was terrified the first few days, something which most certainly distracted from any chance of enjoyment. Although we had strong winds, we were far from storm conditions. Yet not knowing what to expect or if something was even normal did not help convert me into an enthusiastic sailor. Here I am clutching my seasick baby (while I still thought she was just ready for her nap, as it was about that time) and generally terrified the boat is going to capsize. Good thing I trust Patrick.

Yes, that was me whimpering in the background.

So my first task is to take a course and get my sailing license.

Second, we need a bigger boat.

We are not of the belief that bigger is better. We had just as much fun on our little Honda 125 ccs as we did on our BMW 650s. And in retrospect Patrick feels his first round the world motorcycle, a BMW R 100 GS Paris-Dakar was too big.

Little bikes are easy to pick up!


 But the 650 is easy on the butt!


she& getting a R 100 out of the mud is not so easy, but it is still fun ….

And so when we are looking at trips with bikes to take us around the world versus sailboats, we are actually looking at upgrading our space. Even the Pinguin at its 6.5 meters is huge versus a tent. And you do not need to pack and unpack everyday.

So we are not looking for a massive boat. We are looking at something between 10 – 13 meters. We need enough room namely to

  • have space to store bikes and/or strollers
  • a dinghy
  • enough room to stand up straight
  • a place to be able to put our clothes (the Pinguin’s closet is where we store our food. Living out of a suitcase is not fun, on a boat or not.)
  • a place for Emma-Justine (and soon her brother) to safely play
  • a fridge

Hanging out with daddy on calmer seas


As the wind calmed down (or I accepted that we were not going to flip the boat in 20 knot winds and hence I calmed down) I enjoyed our sailing days … for the most part. At least the sailing ceased to be a problem. However, food and space did present itself as an issue.

As mentioned above, I am not looking for nor do I need a giant spacious boat. For me sea worthiness is far more important than being able to have a floating living room. And anyone who knows Patrick and myself knows that we are not great accumulators of stuff. But I do need basic comforts. Like being able to stand up straight over long periods of time.

Living in a cramped space I can deal with. Living hunched over I can not.

Although it is fine for weekend sailing, if we are going to live on a boat for an extended period we both need to be able to stand up in the saloon (living room) and gallery (kitchen).

Our neighbours for the night. 


We also need to have space for a dinghy. This is a no brainer for cruisers. But even for short term trips we need a dinghy. We like to wild anchor as much as possible, we find that to be part of the joy of having the freedom of a boat. But without a dinghy its a late night and an early morning with a dog who refuses to accept a pee pad on board. Mango is a wonderful dog and he refuses to make waste in his personal space. Even when we give him permission. A quick trip to shore would be so much easier with a little dinghy!

We would also like storage place for 2 small (fold-able?) bikes and bike seats for the kids, or a stroller. Children are quickly too be big to be carried in a wearable baby carrier, and although Patrick loves the act of sailing, I am much more intrigued with the places we can visit ashore. That means we need something to cart our children around in, and we need enough space to store it.

Us anchored and waiting for a bridge to open. Emjay is only allowed on deck without her life vest when we are not sailing and one person (usually me) is watching her 100% of the time.



The final must for me is a fridge. I love food. I can not always tell you what the name of the city we visited was or even what attractions we saw while there. I can tell you about that amazing stew with cashews that I had in Novgorod or  that I crave the Pad Thai served at the food market next to the Blue Finn guest house in Bangkok. For me travel is more about the culinary aspects and observing daily life of the people who live there. I would rather hit the local food market than shop for clothes. So being severely limited in what I could cook and therefore eat was devastating for me. And put me in a less than ideal mood towards the end. In fact by the time we motored back down the Oder I was ready to scream at the sight of any packaged noodles; be they pasta, udon or other.

Motoring back to Berlin on the river Oder. At this point the weather is matching my mood as I dream of freshly prepared dishes made of ingredients that go bad outside of a fridge.


The good news is that all of the above are fixable – with a different boat. But few people would recommend long term sailing for family of 4 on a boat that is 6.5 meters. We knew the Pinguin would not be the boat we would use to set sail on when we finally did so when we bought it. (I know most people refer to boats as shes, but I just do not feel the Pinguin is a boy or a girl. My bikes were both girls. The Pinguin is proudly gender neutral). Instead it was a low investment boat where we could discover if sailing was something we wanted to pursue as a family or not. And if so what are the conditions we need to do so.

Because in the end that is what makes a journey successful or not. Less what others need for it and much more what you do.



About Sherrie

Sherrie was born and raised in Newfoundland, has her home base in Germany, and at any given time can be found just about anywhere in the world. Addicted to books, travel, chocolate and motorcycles, a perfect day for her is riding her bike followed by drinking good coffee and reading a good book or writing one.

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