The Boat School: An Update on the First Semester

FLVSCompDr. No has been attending the Florida Virtual School for three full months now, in addition to the two “traditional” homeschooling classes I am teaching him.  However, I want to give an update on how FLVS is working for us so far in our travels, because it presents a unique set of challenges to us this school year because of the need for a certain amount of weekly Internet connectivity.

We’ve been traveling along the east coast of the U.S. and usually not staying offshore more than 48 hours so far this semester, mainly because we’ve had people to stop and see along the way.  So, we’ve been able to stop in marinas, and stop and anchor within cellphone range for Dr. No to get online.

However, since leaving Norfolk in the beginning of November, we have had to plan our offshore passages around his school schedule AND the weather windows.

As Dr. No got further along in the semester, he was required to attend an occasional virtual class, and collaborate with classmates once in a while.  Additionally, he needs to attend DBAs: Discussion Based Assessments; weekly with his teachers.

After the first time Dr. No had an “academic crisis” because we were offshore (even though we warned him, told him to plan and communicate with us, etc), and not within cell range, he’s become VERY good at sitting down on Sunday evenings and plotting out his entire week.  Then he tells us of his major days/times, and the “either/ors” (I have this thing to do, and I can either do it on Tue. morning, OR I HAVE to do it on Thurs. evening).  Then he asks us… “Which one can work for our sailing schedule this week?”.

So, we look at his schedule, the weather window, and then determine what is in the realm of the possible for that week.

Out first real decision came when we were trying to get to Beaufort, SC.  Dr. No had virtual classes he had to attend that week, and we were still fairly new at sailing offshore.  As a note, he only has to attend these virtual classes once every few weeks, but that week in particular was a DOOZY for him academically.  After getting to Morehead City faster than we’d anticipated, we plotted a direct course to Beaufort — just to see how long it would take us. We originally planned to hop along the coast and take a few days to get there; however, we determined that we could actually get there in one of Dr. No’s either/or school windows.  He HAD to attend a virtual class that week for his most important class, AP U.S. History.  And, after that quick offshore leg to Morehead City, we realized we could get all the way to Beaufort and STILL make Dr. No’s “OR” class date– meaning the virtual class on Thurs. evening– with a full day to spare!

He enjoys working hard at his school work, and he’s learning to balance the cruising lifestyle with the requirements of his virtual school.  For example, we went into Beaufort, SC on Veterans Day.  While a month previously, Dr. No would have just stayed at the boat alone all day to do his school work; however that day, he grabbed his notebook and came along with us and our friends into town for breakfast, and the Veteran’s Day parade, and sightseeing.  He had to take two phone calls that morning from his Geometry and Biology teachers; but he excused himself from our festivities, found a quiet place, and took both of his phone calls throughout the day in downtown Beaufort.

Dr, No taking a cal from his teacher in a quiet place along the Beaufort, SC waterfront.

Dr, No taking a call from one of his teachers in a quiet place along the Beaufort, SC waterfront.

One was to discuss a question he had on an assignment; and the other was a DBA, so he was discussing the chapter segment to show mastery, in order to get the password to take the segment exam.

Here, Dr. No is measuring the stairs, and every angle so that he can draw a complete set of plans for the stairs.  Ultimately, he has to build a scale model from that set of plans for his Geometry class.

When we were transiting between Daytona Beach and Stuart, FL, he had a major assignment due in Geometry.  He had to pick a piece of furniture in his home to replicate in scale.  He had to draw the plans, and the mathematical proofs, and then build a scale model of the object.

However, I have to say, it’s been great.  While he works really hard at his school work, and sometimes I wish he’d let loose more, he is learning to balance the two, now that we’ve finally found that magical place called cruising.

For example, after we left Pennekamp State Park and were motoring out to a mooring ball at Molasses Reef, he had a DBA scheduled with a teacher that morning.  So, he chatted with his Geometry teacher about the most recent assignment, and illustrated mastery of the concepts as needed for that week.  And at the end of the discussion, she asked him, “Where are you now?”  [because most of his teachers now know that he lives on a sailboat and is traveling].  To which he replied, “Actually, we are motoring out to Molasses Reef off of Key Largo to go snorkeling for the day.  Then we’re going to anchor out at Rodriguez Key for the night.”  To which she replied, “AH!  That is Awesome! Have fun!”

His Biology teacher, in a DBA while we were at Pennekamp Park, asked him to discuss ways in which his home uses renewable energy, recycles, or utilizes other environmentally friendly practices.  SOOOO….you know, we live on a boat…. he jumped at the chance to explain how the solar panels on the boat harvest energy from the sun and we live off the grid as much as possible; how we reduce waste and recycle everything when we are in port, and how we have a Type I MSD system on our boat.  They then started a conversation about him living on a boat, at which point she shared that her parents owned a catamaran when she was a kid, and her family cruised the Bahamas for 3-4 months every year when she was a kid– and HOW SHE LOVED IT!  At that point, she shared with him that she actually lives in Key Largo and we were in her back yard!  He got such a kick out of that, and the conversation served as such a bolster for his lifestyle, too!


So far, it’s working well.  We’re able to keep up with Dr. No’s school schedule, with our sailing *nonschedule*.  Honestly, that’s the best part of this:  to not be on a schedule.  We can work around Dr. No’s school schedule!  We’re still always within a three day sail to the next set of islands, and Dr. No can push to get his weekly assignments done

However, the real test will come after the new year, when the second semester starts.  At that point, we expect to be outside of the U.S. , testing Internet connections and also testing our sailing, scheduling and cruising/art-of-the-unexpected skills over the next several months.

The first test will be Cuba [as long as our USCG paperwork is approved!].  Marina Hemingway in Havana has Internet, and we have T-Mobile, which has full cellular and data coverage in Cuba.  We’ll let you know how it goes!  Viva la Cuba!








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