How to be a Marina Ballerina

April 17, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Meet WSE Members

At exactly 4pm, Eastern Standard Time, on Mondays, my toddler has ballet lessons. It doesn’t matter where we are, so long as I can clear a little floor space and locate the tutu and ballet slippers. (The tutu is important, without it, you get a meltdown, not a ballet lesson).

Skye at BeaufortI didn’t choose ballet for her. I chose worldschooling. We live on a sailboat and have been cruising up and down the east coast of the US her entire life (all of 2.5 years). My husband and I actually started cruising long before there was a kid in the picture and traveling with a child came naturally to me. She sat up on her own while I pushed her stroller over cobblestones in St. Augustine, FL and learned to walk while we were sailing out of Oriental, NC. She can identify several types of fish and birds, is surprisingly good with a kayak paddle, and loves playgrounds everywhere.

She’s two, so the whole “schooling” part of this arrangement is helping me count my sit-ups in the morning and singing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (an ABC song). I also started exposing her to different types of music. When Tchaikovsky came up on my list, we happened to be at a marina with good Wi-Fi, so I decided to stream The Nutcracker for a few minutes before bedtime. Eight different YouTube versions of The Nutcracker later, it was the holiday season and I took my little ballerina, tutu and all, to see a live version. I expected her to last 20 minutes – she sat all the way through.

A month later, she sat all the way through a live performance of Swan Lake. She copied all the moves, running around on the dock with her arms behind her like swan wings and kicking her legs to the side – a marina ballerina.

FrisbeeIt was clear to me that it was time to start ballet lessons. She had gone from wanting to watch ballerinas to wanting to be a ballerina and was trying to copy everything she saw. Ballet is a fairly technical art and I knew just enough to know that I wanted her to learn correctly and not set herself up for injury as she got bigger. I called a few of the ballet schools in the area, but no one wanted to take on a student right before recital season for “a couple weeks.”

My husband and I work as we travel, which means we’re fairly connected and versed in using technology to get things done. So after reaching out to friends and my Facebook groups for ideas, I was able to find a ballet teacher online. While perhaps not as perfect as ballet lessons in person, we both put on our pink slippers, point our toes, and count to eight with our relevés and pliés. We also found some videos on YouTube for younger dancers. I reached out to the creator and purchased a version I could download and have offline for days when we have limited Wi-Fi.

There are countless resources online to help supplement a kid’s education while they’re traveling. From videos on every subject under the sun to math and word games, the internet has made education accessible anywhere there’s a digital connection. For all ages, from your first guitar lesson to mastering python, there’s a course and content waiting for you. Mix this with worldschooling, and you have a powerful classroom for your child to explore. You can learn about surf and tide dynamics from an online professor then put this knowledge to practice kayaking out from the beach.

Facebook groups for worldschooling, boatschooling, and homeschooling provide excellent resources on how to find the content and materials suited to my child, my goals, and my connectivity. Having this online community has been hugely helpful in supporting the nomadic life. Meeting other parents as I travel, even those who have children of different ages, has brought not only additional resource ideas, but emotional support, friendship, and hand-me-down clothes.

Skye at Swan LakeIt takes some effort, as a parent, to find these resources for your child – especially if you’re away from your hometown and support network. It’s easy to find ballet lessons if every little girl is attending the same dance school – it’s much harder if you’ve chosen a non-traditional lifestyle. You have to be more creative finding solutions. In addition to looking online for technology solutions, explore the area you’re visiting for summer camps, after school groups, or private lessons.

Of the many experiences I hope she has as we travel the world, being able to enjoy the Moscow Ballet is only one of them. I also want her to pet owls, visit beautiful libraries, and draw chalk art all over the docks. As we go further afield, I hope she continues to quickly pick up friends and learns to play tag and built a fort in many languages. But I am also glad that, thanks to technology, if she wants to be a ballerina, we can do that, too.




Caroline, Geoffrey, and Skye are (slowly) traveling around the world, currently via a Com Pac 27 sailboat. In addition to raising the local marina ballerina, they practice law, write, and bike to the grocery store multiple times a week to pick up La Croix. This spring, they are headed up the eastern seaboard to the Erie Canal. You can follow their adventures on Instagram @Bonnie_Sea or online at