For the 10 years we were on our sailboat, whether we were sailing under fair-weather conditions, at anchor, docked on shore, or in a dinghy going from our boat to shore, they did not wear life jackets. Was this irresponsible, was it reckless, was it total ignorance on our part, us, the parents? No. Our boat was our home -- the only home we had.
"Mama, don't let your sons grow up to be cowboys" the song goes, or in our case, sailors and rock climbers--but then again, why not? We had to hope that we gave our children the tools and know-how to craft their lives successfully, hoping that the jumble in their adolescent and young adult brains would all sort itself out.
In reality, even with 19 and a half hours, getting anything done on the boat other than eating, drinking, peeing, sleeping, is not easy. Maybe it's the rocking. Maybe it's the birds, the clouds, the soft crests of the sea. Maybe because it is so very easy to sit and look out at the ocean and completely space out.
Master navigator Nainoa Thompson was honored for Excellence in Exploration at the 2015 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards. He is one of a handful of indigenous navigators that can find islands in the open ocean without instruments, using techniques handed down through generations for over a thousand years.