Baby Sleep at Sea: The evolution of the baby-keeper-inner (in Charleston, SC)

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat

It’s interesting how much being a parent is about keeping your offspring contained. Cribs, carseats, baby gates, pack-n-plays, highchairs… you name it, there’s a lot of ‘keeping in’ going on.

Having a baby on a boat doesn’t seem to be any different, there are just fewer off-the-shelf solutions to choose from. So I thought I’d share how Zephyr’s little boat-bed has evolved so far (knowing that it’ll probably change again before I even finish writing this!!) with a whole bunch of sleeping-baby photos 🙂

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

Initially, Zephyr had a shelf. Quite literally. It used to be a deep sail locker, but Jon added a recessed shelf so that Z could sleep near us without being right in bed with us.

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

This was especially convenient for the middle of the night wakeups (pre-5 months).

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

I didn’t really realize how much newborns are like slugs. They move around but at a rate juuuust barely perceptible to the naked eye (and they definitely leave a trail of sludgy spit up / diapers / baby drool behind them 😉 )

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat

While this worked really well, we realized quite quickly that Jon was waking up throughout the night, afraid that he was going to roll onto the baby… so we added a little half-wall to the bed. This did the dual job of preventing Zephyr from rolling out of bed, and keeping Jon from rolling onto his son. Perfect!

This worked perfectly until about 5 months, when Zephyr started sitting up on his own and could do a slow scoot down his bed to where there was no wall.

I’d previously built a lee cloth to block off the whole vberth, so at this point we started enforcing the vberth lee cloth during all naps. This blocked off the whole bed so that even if he escaped his bed he couldn’t fall out and onto the floor.

That worked really well for another couple months. But then we left the boat for 3 weeks to visit my family for Christmas, Zephyr learned to crawl, and we were suddenly completely behind on the boatproofing front. Dang!

Our little sailboat baby loves playing with the wheel

After a couple really stressful nights where Jon woke up to a baby attempting to crawl over his face and out of the vberth (bad baby!), we hyper-prioritized a new lee cloth system.

Where will the baby sleep on the sailboat - little bed in the vberth with a half-wall

Time to dig out the ‘ole Sailrite and set up my cockpit sewing station…

Helping mommy sew lee cloths in the cockpit

Sidenote: Sewing on a boat is way less fun than sewing on your mother-in-law’s living room floor. But given that I’ve sewn a dodger, bimini, windshield, and weather cloths in the last 12 months, I’m wayyyyy more setup than I’ve ever been for project success. Oh and duraskim (patterning material) is 100% my favorite thing.

How strong are those snaps anyways? Testing the new lee cloth

This system includes some Zephyr-proof snaps (twisty ones, since the usual ones give when he throws his little body at them) and full 360 degree wall-to-wall coverage, so no little babies can crawl out in the middle of the night.

The finished vberth lee cloth for the baby's bed

Some may call it a ‘baby cage’, but I prefer baby-keeper-inner. Whatever it takes to keep the kid from falling on his noggin’, right??

The finished vberth lee cloth for the baby's bed

Even Kevin (Zephyr’s favorite little elephant) approves.

Kevin the elephant approves

Kevin the elephant approves

Here’s hoping this system lasts us a while!


Laptop Life (in Charleston, SC)

“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what kind of work do you do??”

I get asked this a lot**, maybe especially when people see me heading down the dock, drybag full of laptop chargers, headphones, work phone, snacks and other electronic paraphernelia (the boater’s briefcase?), while Jon stays onboard with Zephyr.

I always say that I’m incredibly lucky — I have a page from my 2009 dream book that says “cruise the world with a reliable enough source of income that we don’t have a ‘come-home’ date” and somehow by the grace of God and all that is good in the world, that’s the reality we’re living right now.

Most mornings we get up, have coffee and breakfast together, and then I pack up my drybag full of electronics and head out to this week’s ‘office’. Some weeks it’s a coffee shop. Others it’s a marina lounge. I’ve worked in friend’s houses, hotel lobbies, restaurants, picnic tables with good cell signal, laundry rooms, cars, buses, airplanes, the cockpit, and when there are no other options — from the boat, either while Zephyr naps or by kicking them out of the boat.

Jon and Zephyr will usually visit for lunch and nursing breaks, and I’ll head back to the boat in the late afternoon. Some days require working again after dinner, but others I can kick off early and we can go on adventures together. It’s a give and take setup.

Becoming a virtual worker is not that unique anymore — Maine especially seems to attract them, given the remoteness of some areas — but it’s interesting to see what the realities of “remote work” look like for different people.

The first time I met someone who worked 100% remotely, and had a husband who also worked 100% remotely, I imagined that meant Costa Rica in the winters, French countrysides in spring, beaches on the Maine Coast in the summer… but when I asked, the reality was that she had an office on the first floor of their house and he had one on the second and most days they didn’t even have lunch together. I was floored.

Why would you work remotely and not work REMOTEly? I didn’t get it. But for some people, just the ability to pop a load of laundry in while you wait for your next meeting to start or to not have to commute or own a car is enough of a draw. For others, the idea of the complete isolation and lack of structure is not appealing. It varies.

It’s not always ideal — this week I had a cleaning lady trying to vacuum around my feet while I was in the middle of a video conference, unable to move or ask her to please wait without disrupting the whole meeting — but as long as I have internet and my laptop, I can make it work.

I’m an employee working for (an actually wonderful) little slice of Corporate America. When I last worked from the boat (as a self-employed consultant) it was a little harder — I didn’t make enough money to justify staying in marinas or paying for reliable internet, so I’d patch together whatever source of wifi I could find and work like crazy when it was convenient.

Now I have an annual salary with benefits (more critical in the USA), so we can afford to cruise with Jon at home taking care of Zephyr and we can stay in marinas and justify whatever extra expenses it takes to make working work.

Add to that that I actually *love* the work I do, including my incredibly flexible and supportive manager and co-workers, and it’s a pretty sweet position to be in.

I remind myself of this daily, especially any time I feel like complaining that Jon and Zephyr get to play in the sun while I’m tucked away preparing for my video conference call, or feel frustrated that I have to shower from a plastic bottle with water warmed by a kettle while sitting on the head (toilet) or hike across town to the one coffee shop quiet enough for my meetings one more time. I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s been 100% worth it so far.

Jon definitely has the harder job some days — as all stay at home parents can attest to, I’m sure — and I could not do this without his incredible support. I’ve never made a major career decision without him, and playing stay-at-home-dad is not always a dream — so I am super thankful that we can work as a team. We’ve taken turns being primary income-earner over the years and while I enjoy both sides of that coin, I also appreciate that nothing is forever — jobs, lives, homes, babies — so you might as well make the most of the setup you have today.

It’s an amazing world and time to live in, and to be honest, this is a big part of why we continue to choose to live on a little boat — so we can keep our life overhead low, save the money we need to have the freedom we want, and be able to experience cruising with a baby at the pace that we dreamed of.

We came very close to buying (and financing) a bigger boat last year, but when we really looked at the sacrifices that would mean — years of no cruising, full-time daycare for Zephyr, and full-time work for both of us — we decided we could live with 33’ of space after all.

Leah of 2009 had the dream, Leah of winter-2015 definitely didn’t appreciate the grind to get to this setup, but Leah-of-today — enjoying poolside wifi and hot chocolate bars in the afternoon — is super grateful.


**For those that ask, I’m an instructional designer working on global leadership development. Sometimes I tell people that I help design online training to teach managers how to be managers. It’s super fun & always challenging, I work really hard to be a productive employee, I’m always aware of what a privilege this setup is, and I love it!

New States (in the Waccamaw River, South Carolina)

The very best part of this winter is that we haven’t had much of a schedule… we wanted to get to the Carolinas, we wanted to have a warm winter, and we wanted to spend as much time together as possible… and so far we’ve (mostly) achieved all three!

It *is* crazy how much energy and attention a baby takes… Zephyr adds fun and wonder to each day, but he’s also a freaking lot of work!

We returned to Brio with a very different baby than we left with… this one MOVES, constantly!

Jon wants to duct tape a pillow to his head and I’m just praying the Kruger genes gave him a hard enough head to survive the stand-up-fall-down stage.

…although all that activity does make the quiet moments even more treasured. A sleeping baby is my favorite anchoring companion 😉

Meanwhile, South Carolina is just as beautiful as we remember, if a little less green than it was in July 2014.

As we compared old pictures with today’s, we couldn’t help but wonder who was watching Zephyr when the old pics were taken. I guess maybe it does become hard to remember life before a baby!

We did touch bottom for the first time last night… poking into an anchorage on what turned out to be the wrong side of the channel marker. Oops!

My only excuse is that it’s too easy to do when you’ve got ICW markers mixed with inlet markers mixed with creek offshoot markers! At least it was soft mud, so we were able to just power through to deeper water.

Meanwhile, we’re enjoying the southern sense of humor and style! 😉

…And another friendly state in Zephyr’s book and a happy day for our little family 🙂


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