Orbit is at the wonderful age of wanting to help out and to have responsibility. I am really enjoying this stage of his life, but sometimes it can be a bit challenging to find ways that he can safely be involved in what we are doing. We used to be able to say, no and distract him or put him in bed out of harms way. But as Orbit is getting older and more interested in things, we can do this less and less. Here’s a few ways of how we’ve included Orbit in everyday activities on Medina.
When we are sailing Orbit enjoys helping the Skipper navigate. We navigate using electronic charts on an iPad and cross check to paper charts. Because we use our iPad for navigation Orbit isn’t allowed to play with it. The last thing we want is for Orbit to start playing on the iPad while we are underway. So instead Orbit helps me cross check our position on the paper charts or in the Beacon to Beacon. The Beacon to Beacon is a easier for Orbit to use because it’s smaller and is a bit more interesting with pages of charts of different areas. Orbit likes it when I point out where we are on the chart and where we are going, particularly if there is a beach where he can go swimming.
Orbit has alway enjoyed winching. I am not sure why he has an attraction to winching. It could be the noise the winch makes or it could simply be because he sees the Skipper and I using the winches. Given his attraction, we had to come up with a way that he could learn to use the winch safely. When Orbit was smaller we’d just let him wind the winch handle in an unloaded winch. Once he worked out that there needed to be a rope around the winch, we loosely wrapped the lazy sheet around the unloaded winch but not through the self tailor. This seems to keep Orbit happy at the moment, but it is only a matter of time before he works out that the winch isn’t actually doing anything … then we’ll have our next challenge. But just putting the winch handle in the winch can keep Orbit occupied. Our winches have a locking mechanism on them, so coordinating the lock while lining up the winch handle with the winch can be a bit tricky, particularly if Medina is rolling around a bit (even for an adult!).
When we’re in a marina, one of Orbit’s regular responsibilities is to help me check the water level and fill the water tanks if required. This job isn’t something I have to ask Orbit to do twice as it involves one of his favourite things – water! Orbit removes the covers to the water tanks and I take the lids off the tanks. We both have a look and decide if the tanks need filling or not. If the tanks need to be filled, Orbit helps me organise the hose and fittings on deck. While the tanks are filling, Orbit checks the water level and lets me know when they are getting full. Once the tanks are full, I put the lids back on and Orbit then replaces the covers. He then helps me put the hose and deck fittings back in place. Once the job is done and everything is back in its place, I often get a high five with “good job mummy” at the end.
Orbit used to regularly get in the way when the Skipper was trying to do his pre-start engine checks, so the Skipper taught Orbit how to do his own. Orbit gets out his tool box as the Skipper moves the stairs from in front of the engine. First Orbit turns on the engine light, then checks the bolts are all tight with his spanner, then hits various things with his hammer and checks all the screws are tight with his screw driver. Once this is complete he turns the light out and asks the Skipper to put the stairs back in place. Orbit then announces that the engine is ready to start and tells us that Medina is ready to go. The Skipper then does his checks as Orbit packs up his tools and put his toolbox away.
There are many things on Medina that Orbit is interested in and given his personality he is going to investigate them regardless of whether we want him to or not. So the Skipper and I have to come up with ways to teach Orbit how to use the different things on Medina safely. We’ve learnt to take things slowly, to break things down into small steps and to give Orbit as much knowledge and experience as he is interested in. We have also learnt to give him space, space to work things out by himself and space to make mistakes, after all, this is how we learn.