We congratulate Vancouver SA’er “Zonker” and his family on recently completing a long circumnavigation, but we congratulate the parents more on raising an incredible young lady (and wonderful writer) en route. We were blown away when we read a speech the home/boat-schooled Maia prepared for a group of female sailors; here’s an excerpt:
As many of you know, I’ve been sailing around the world since I was little.
I’ve completed my circumnavigation, just a few days ago actually.
We left Vancouver, Canada when I was seven, and we’ve sailed 37000 nautical miles miles. I’ve spent over half my life on our catamaran, which isn’t exactly a normal childhood. But it is a great one. There are ups and downs, as there are in anything, and it’s taught me a lot about my self and the world.
Hopefully it’s made me a better person, and at the very least, it’s made me one with more exotic anecdotes than I might’ve had if we stayed on land.
I was nine when I did the Puddlejump, and most of my time was spent doing school, reading, constructing elaborate desserts out of play-doh, and counting the flying fish that had ended up in our nets.
Now that I’m older, things are a little different.
I still do school and I still read, but now I listen to podcasts, cook, clean, take watches, binge watch TV when I’m feeling lazy and write stories when I’m feeling productive.
Passages are a chance to take a break from the outside world and do all the things you’ve been meaning to do but never got around to.
So write. Read. Play an instrument, paint a picture. If you have good balance, do some yoga. If you’re still in school, catch up on it. Fish. Make sushi if you catch a fish! I seldom catch fish.
Enjoy yourself and your time away from the world.
You’re also away from the internet, which can be very, very hard. About three days out, I start getting twitchy.
What’s happening? What are my friends doing? What’s going on in the world?
But now I’ve begun to view my time away from the WiFi as a way to decompress, if you will. The internet is a marvellous tool but it can get stressful too. And another cool thing about crossing the Pacific Ocean is that you get serious bragging rights. That’s something you can bring up at parties and at school for the rest of your life.
Kids on boats. I’m sure you all get a lot of questions from people who don’t live on boats.
Are you just taking a break? Do you go to a new school everywhere you travel? How do you keep up with the world?
And at least with me, a more than a few people have assumed that I’m a maladjusted, anti-social weirdo because of my unconventional childhood.
But you know what; I think we’re pretty cool.
We’re seeing more of the world at this young age than many of our peers ever will.
Many of us make friends with people all over the world, and we learn more about the earth and its issues than you ever will by reading about it in a newspaper or a history book.
One of my favourite parts of cruising is the chance to meet women all over the world, from so many different backgrounds.
When I was in Fiji, we met the oldest female chief in the country and took part in a traditional sevu-sevu ceremony. She was in her nineties, and her skin was dark and worn from the sun. She smiled at me joyfully as I offered her the kava roots I held.
When I bought a sari in Sri Lanka, women would stop on the streets to offer their own ways of wrapping it and to tell me their stories of their first sari. A twenty year old plantation worker had helped me wrap it for the first time, busily folding and pleating the silk as she explained how most Sri Lankan girls would have a party to celebrate getting their first sari, similar to a Bat Mitzvah or a Quinceañera. I still have that sari, carefully tucked away and protected from damp. It still smells like fresh black tea, and I still remember practising wrapping it and folding it over and over again in the cockpit of my boat until I could do it in five minutes. The first time I tried it, it took about thirty minutes.
Read the rest of the speech here.