Life on the Hook

There are problems with our paperwork and Matt has to go to the Port Captain’s office. He wouldn’t have known this if he had not been checking out some marinas and one of the guys asked to see his paperwork. Apparently, the Port Captain in Cozumel did it wrong. They are used to pushing through big cruise ships, not sailboats.

The officials in Isla Mujeres seem unwilling to help fix it, but just as it looks like we might have to sail back to Cozumel, the Port Captain makes a phone call and has the paper sent over. It takes a full week to get it taken care of, including two trips to Cancun on the ferry. Poor Matt is out of his mind. For most people this takes just a few hours to do all the paperwork.

In the meantime we meet up with our friends the Kortmans. They are staying in an RV park in Cancun so I take the boys over on the ferry one day to get some much needed play time. The next day they come over and spend the day on the boat. We try to go sailing but the water is a little rough, so we end up back at the anchorage, swimming and hanging out. It is fantastic to see them and we end up hanging out several more times.


The day after Matt gets the paperwork sorted, I set out with the boys to find a dual-language school I have read about. We finally find it and go inside. The woman, Marissa, is very friendly, and there are 3 siblings from Canada who speak both Spanish and English. There are only three rooms, but a nice little yard with two turtles. It doesn’t take much to convince me. I ask the boys if they want to stay or come with me and return tomorrow, and they both are excited to stay.

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Matt confused when I arrive back at the boat without kids, but I am triumphant. The boys and I have spent pretty much every day together for the past year and a half and we are all ready for a break from each other. They want other kids to play with, and I need time to build my teach gardening empire.

The commute to school is a little unusual. First, we jump in the dingy and motor to shore, landing among the fishing launches on the beach. Then we either walk, or usually take a cab to the school. At first the rides cost 40-50 pesos apiece, but one day it is only 15. I have a hunch that I am being taken for a tourist when I ask how much so the next day I just hand him a 20 and wait for the change. It works! Now our rides to school are less than a dollar.

Of course, there was that time when the dingy motor broke and we had to row a couple days before Matt got it working again!

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After I drop the kids off, I usually go to the grocery store and load up on fresh veggies and other products we haven’t seen since the states. Everything is super cheap. I fill two big bags and walk back to the dingy. Then I have a few precious hours to work, do yoga, or whatever I want! I feel like a liberated woman!

Matt does the afternoon pick-up most days. He does his errands, then gets the kids and takes them to a plaza where they hunt for dragons and play for a while. Then they cab or walk back to the dingy. Back at the boat the boys play or swim until dinner.

About once a week a northern blows through and we have to keep watch on the boat to make sure the anchor doesn’t drag. Sometimes it does so we learn to put out two anchors. Sometimes other boats drag, so we have to watch out for them. One time, I see a boat dragging right for us and Matt drives us out of the way so we don’t get hit. There is nobody on the runaway boat so he gets in the dingy, drives over and boards the boat to save it from hitting other boats.

On the weekends we clean the boat or go to the beach, almost like a normal family. The restaurants are outstanding and even the street food is great. It feels nice to stay a while a get to know a place.


We fall into a rhythm and the days pass quickly. Before we know it a month is gone and Amy arrives. The boys are elated to see her. Our rhythm changes to include a lot more beach time, pool time at her hotel, sea glass seeking, and meals out in restaurants. It is fun to be more like a tourist for a few weeks and to have a good friend around to talk to.

Saying goodbye to Amy is difficult for all of us. She is like family for us. She is our lifeline to the regular world. We haven’t really made any new friends and life gets pretty lonely out here.

Just after Amy leaves, when things seem hardest, we meet another couple with a 3-year-old girl, Ani. The boys are so happy to have another boat kid and are instantly best friends with her. We are so happy to have cool, fun parents in the same situation as us to talk to. We go fishing one day with everybody, they have us over for dinner, Ani goes to school with the boys, and we trade date nights. They are gone a lot for work, but we make the most of the time when they are around.

We eat breakfast with the sun rising over the island. We watch the island come alive with fisherman, cruisers, and people making their way to work. Boats full of vacationers go by to snorkel, or on a booze cruise. We have ups and downs just like on land. The boys are cranky, we are stressed, things break. But every evening we eat dinner watching the sun set over the Yucatan, and see the island settle down to rest. We know we are lucky to live in such a beautiful place. To live in a different culture, experience new and different things, and to be able to spend so much time together as a family.

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3 thoughts on “Life on the Hook

  1. Will there EVER be a better picture of the four of you than this latest one?! And Matt, you make me laugh with the “ever present” beer bottle 🙂 . Keep posting, please, Saskia. This vicarious experience is the greatest.


  2. So wonderful to read this! We sip it like a fine wine. You are spreading peace and joy as great ambassadors wherever you go. Those boys will have much to draw from in the challenging years ahead. Sending love from the great deserts.!


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