Cruising Mom: Erika Lelievre
Boat: previous – 44’ Kalik (sail) & 42’ Kadey Krogen (trawler)
Crew: husband, Charles; kid, Lucie (10)
Site: Kids4Sail Facebook Group & kids4sail.com
We first ran across Erika’s Facebook group after having run across zero kid boats during our first three months of cruising. (That experience inspired our Finding Other Kid Boats article.) We knew there were other families cruising the east coast of the U.S., but where the heck were they? Kids4Sail’s ‘location roll’, which happens at the beginning of every month, helped us see where the kids were and confirmed that we were most certainly not alone. But…Kids4Sail is SO much more than their location roll!
Erika, the group’s creator and friendly admin, kindly answered a few of our questions…
What boat do you have? Who’s on your boat? Where are your cruising grounds? What are your cruising plans?
Right now our boat is a bubblegum pink 8′ sailing dinghy named Dinky Lu. I’m not sure that qualifies as actually having a boat, but it was the boat that my daughter, Lucie, learned the basics of sailing on at age 5. We just aren’t comfortable being “boatless”! I come from a boating family, my great grandfather having a schooner and my grandfather had lived on his sailboat in Block Island, RI during the summers. My father also invested his life heavily into boats. So, naturally, I joined in. My husband got kicked out as a teenager and found a half-sunk boat – and that was his start. Charles and I lived aboard for almost 10 years and had our daughter aboard, so she’s been a boat kid right from the beginning. Recently, I’ve had to take a pause in the cruising life to care for family, but we’ll be back out there someday! We’ve cruised on a 44′ Kalik (sail) and a 42′ Kadey Krogen (trawler), but I’d like to start fresh with a catamaran and see where that takes us. I embrace different experiences, including cruising with different boats.
Where is your homeport? What did your pre-cruising life look like?
Our homeport is Stamford, CT in Long Island Sound and we know the whole US east coast very well, having cruised the ICW as well as outside. In the beginning of those 10 years I was a high school science teacher and decided not to return after having such a positive experience with home/boatschooling Lucie.
What’s your best piece of advice for moms new to cruising?
The best piece of advice is to be easy on yourself. It’s a lifestyle of hard work and a test of patience around every corner – from homeschooling to just simply hoisting groceries out of the dingy. If you’re easy on yourself, laugh often, and willing to get dirty and sweaty, then you’ll be really happy living aboard a boat!
What is something you struggled with when you first started cruising as a family? How did you overcome it?
Our hardest lesson to learn while cruising was taught to us two days into casting off. We were waiting for weather for a week to get to Cape May, NJ. We became impatient and soon regretted the decision big time, even after having many years of experience in our home waters. We learned the hard way, to always appreciate where you are – even if you’re stuck in a place that wasn’t part of the plan. I think you’ll find just about everyone warns not to rush and let the weather tell you when and where to go. Be kind to yourself every day, while letting Mother Nature win – every time.
For those that don’t know, what is Kids4Sail?
Inspired by my daughter, Lucie, one of the most free-spirited, accepting, and inquisitive humans I know, I hope Kids4Sail captures those sentiments in a very positive way. My wish is for Kids4Sail to be a safe and comfortable source of support and information. It’s a place for like-minded people to come together with similar experiences – whether celebrating milestones or facing challenges. I want it to be helpful for the experienced and a source of inspiration for the not-so.
What inspired you to create Kids4Sail?
Lucie is Kids4Sail’s inspiration. 9 years ago, while cruising, we found it really difficult and frustrating to find kids for Lucie (an only) to play with. Yes, we stopped and played at playgrounds with others but there’s just something about connecting with other kids like yourself – boat kids – no matter the language. There were forums like SSCA and Cruisers Forum, but no sailing family community. Nothing that I could use to see who was around or contact other families like ours, with questions. It was a bit of a lonely situation. There were some websites, but very few “real” people to make connections with. We’re such a niche of a community. Not only are we living on the water, but we are raising our families on boats. I started Kids4Sail, which was just a website back then, to see if there were other cruising families around our area. And then it was like a social experiment, because since cruising families travel, word got around – all over the world. And before I knew it, I saw there were SO many families out there just like ours, which was really comforting to know. In recent years there has been an increase in the numbers of full-time sailing families and it’s great to see! I can’t wait to get back out there and put myself on the location roll! Just that little action alone will feel like an accomplishment, and funny enough, it’s in the group I founded! I never got the chance way back when!
What’s the most important thing, you’d like people to know about Kids4Sail?
In the last few years, while I’ve been hard-aground in a house with great internet, I’ve been fostering Kids4Sail and trying to build it into a platform that is the most helpful and supportive that I can make it. I love doing it, it’s my way of giving back and it feels so rewarding whenever a picture pops up of a meetup or any evidence of families finding each other. I try to make Kids4Sail adapt to whatever current cruisers will find helpful or inspirational. From a poll of what members would like to see from Kids4Sail, in the next month Kids4Sail will have an official group burgee which can be bought at Kids4Sail.com and sent from me to you. We will also be releasing an updated monthly Newsletter (thanks to the moderators, Kelly and Carla!). And a weekly podcast has started – which is a funny thing, since I had never even listened to one before! If anyone has done any of these things you’ll know that it can be a lot of work. The first podcast alone took 10 hours to figure out how to edit! Again, I love doing it and am absolutely willing to put in the hours.
What’s the best way to tap into Kids4Sail?
The best way to tap into the resources in Kids4Sail would be to actively look through everything listed on the “announcement” post or description. Get involved in the community by helping others, as well as ask questions that might be answered easily by others. Don’t be shy. Add yourself to subgroups, get to know people and make connections. The only thing I ask is that everyone is respectful. Please use all of the resources to your advantage, that’s why I put in the time!
How can cruising families support Kids4Sail financially or otherwise to help you continue this great resource?
I’ve been asked that a lot over the years. When we start adding burgees (any leftover proceeds will be donated to The Sea Monkey Project) and putting in MANY hours a week on newsletters, podcasts, and monitoring the Kids4Sail FB group, things can get a bit hectic financially. There are monthly hosting fees for the website and podcasts, and there is mucho money out to order burgees. I’ve absorbed the costs the last 8 years and will continue to do so, happily. It will always be free, but if families would like to contribute to the upkeep of the community, I can understand that, and that would be OK. I really hesitate here to even do that because the LAST thing I want to do is make Kids4Sail about money – it’s so much bigger than that, and I really do love the work. How to help otherwise?? Get involved! Be part of the support system. If you have a great idea, let’s discuss, and maybe you can head up the operation. I’m open to all sorts of new ideas – even if it has me sitting in my closet making podcasts…
Kids4Sail is THE BEST Facebook group for family cruisers. Our family has benefited greatly from this group, and after watching it continue to grow, I asked Erika how I could help. Now I, and Carla, from SV Mahi, help Erika as group moderators. If you’re not already a member, we encourage you to join and reap the amazing benefits of this online community.
Since Kids4Sail just started selling official group burgees, CMB purchased an extra to giveaway!
As Erika mentioned, all leftover proceeds will be going to The Sea Monkey Project’s Project – a cruising family’s amazing plastics recycling machine? Check it out!
To be entered into this giveaway, just subscribe to our newsletter before April 1st and you’ll be entered. (Already receiving our newsletter? You’re automatically entered!) Our newsletter shares tips about cruising as a family. And don’t worry. We won’t SPAM you. We won’t share your email address either. We only send you an email once a week that shares notables that every cruising family can use with top posts and timely tips that don’t necessarily get published on the site. Let us help you save time. We’ve done the work so you can just do what you love…spend time cruising with your family!