Fam­i­lies puke to­gether, stay to­gether

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT -

Jan is mak­ing tea, Tony is pot­ter­ing, lit­tle Blake is draw­ing a squig­gle and I’m vis­it­ing. It’s a nor­mal Sun­day af­ter­noon, ex­cept for the wind that is whistling through the mast.

I’m on Jan and Tony Brad­dock’s boat, Alis­han, at Seav­iew Ma­rina in Pe­tone. They’ve lived on a boat for 22 years. They’ve raised their two chil­dren, Hay­den and Chrissy, in this dif­fer­ent way of life.

Jan said the dif­fer­ent way of life had made her fam­ily closer.

‘‘Our kids had their teenage years here,’’ she said.

‘‘They learnt to get on. They had to. They are now each others’ staunch­est sup­port­ers – they are stun­ning to­gether.

‘‘We al­ways tell their part­ners, ‘I hope you re­alise you’re mar­ry­ing into the whole fam­ily here’.’’

I live on a boat at Mana Ma­rina with my part­ner and I know for my­self that you do learn strate­gies for liv­ing in a small space, like a sixth-sense for when to back off. Hav­ing your own room is key - Vir­gina Woolf would ap­prove - ex­cept it’s a 1.5 me­tre by 3m cabin with not a lot of head room.

Tony and Jan used to live in a house in Levin. They re­alised they had to do some­thing dif­fer­ent, as a fam­ily, in or­der to be for­ever-happy to­gether. They chose ad­ven­ture at sea.

Over the years they have felt the pres­sure from others to buy a house, so they could get into the prop­erty mar­ket. They did put an of­fer on one once, but missed out. They looked at each other and said, ‘‘Thank good­ness for that’’.

The Brad­docks started their sail­ing life in a lit­tle fi­bre­glass boat. It was too slow for Tony. He’d whack the side of the boat with a rope, like a horse. They pro­gressed in size with var­i­ous boats un­til their ‘‘dream boat’’, a 42-foot Alan Wright de­signed Lo­tus 1280. Both teach­ers, they have also taught adult sail­ing cour­ses.

When boat peo­ple are asked stan­dard ques­tions like, ‘‘How do you live in such a small space?’’ the replies are sim­i­lar. Tony’s is, ‘‘My back­yard never fin­ishes’’.

And Jan’s re­sponse for choos­ing this odd, in­vig­o­rat­ing life: ’’You know you are alive. If you’re liv­ing a half life, you aren’t re­ally liv­ing.’’

I ask Jan and Tony if they think the way they live is odd. They say in uni­son, ‘‘It’s what we do’’. They can’t ever imag­ine swap­ping their ever chang­ing sea for a patch of grass.

I do think it’s a bit pe­cu­liar though. When some peo­ple are mow­ing lawns or shop­ping for so­fas, we’re ne­go­ti­at­ing 30 knots of wind and won­der­ing if this is the trip we’re go­ing to die.

The Brad­docks are proud that there are now three gen­er­a­tions of their fam­ily at­tached to the sea. Hay­den lives on a boat a few berths down and Chrissy hopes to live on a boat with her own fam­ily one day. Ev­ery Fri­day night their grow­ing sea fam­ily squish into the cock­pit and eat fish and chips.

When their ducks are in or­der, they’ll sail off­shore in Alis­han – they have plans. Jan has a wish to sail over the equa­tor in their own boat.

You have to be brave to hit the high seas. We sailed around the South Pa­cific last year - I’m still semi-trau­ma­tised – but it was an un­be­liev­able ad­ven­ture for so many rea­sons. And imag­ine it, sail­ing around the world. Imag­ine if you were that fear­less...

Real Boat Peo­ple: Jan and Tony Brad­dock and their grand­son Blake, 3.

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