A wonderfully engaging true story of a childhood and
adolescence spent on a boat on the east coast of America,
BOAT GIRL by Melanie Neale paints a picture of an
upbringing that I found myself envying.
At the early age of
one she joins her parents on their boat, the 47 foot
fibreglass sailboat the newly commissioned Chez Nous, as
they sail the Chesapeake, and by the time she is four they
have arranged to live on the boat permanently. She, her two
year old sister and her parents will spend summers in
Virginia and winters in the Bahamas, home schooling the
children and living off the money their father has earned
as a lawyer.
Their childhood sounds blissful, swimming in
the Bahamas, spearing their own fish for meals (while
watching for sharks!), spending days playing with other
boat children on the beach. Life is of course not always
idyllic, there are the usual problems of growing up;
learning about boys, worrying about her weight, getting the
school work done and all in the confines of a 47' boat,
albeit with your own giant swimming pool to cool off in!
She also describes her early adulthood where she is always
determined to have a boat to sail in, or ideally live in!
BOAT GIRL ends when she marries and has a daughter, who she
is determined to give as much of the joys of her own
upbringing as she can, an ambition I can only wish her all
the very best with. BOAT GIRL is a first rate read.
"Boat Girl" is the heart-breaking memoir of growing up
aboard a sailboat. Throughout the 1980's and 90's, Melanie's
family lived aboard a 47-foot sailboat, spending their
summers along the US East Coast and their winters in the
Bahamas. But the cruising life was not all fun in the sun.
The family had to work hard to pay for their way of life.
They dodged hurricanes, overzealous federal agents and
bullying land-kids. And they endured a boatload of family
drama. As her father published articles about how living on
a boat brings families together, Melanie secretly struggled
with an eating disorder, the alienation of being a boat kid,
and confusion over her developing sexuality. As an adult,
she lived aboard her own 28-foot sailboat and had several
relationships trying to find someone who wasn't intimidated
by her stubborn independence and free-spirited lifestyle.
"Boat Girl" weaves all this together into a story about a
girl who, once all is said and done, simply wants her own
boat and her own life.
Melanie paints a vivid picture of the trials and
tribulations of family life aboard a sailboat without
drowning the reader in the technical details of sailing.
"Boat Girl" strikes a perfect balance between a coming of
age story and a sea tale, enjoyable for boaters and