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    My name's Amanda Hacking. I'm eighteen, and I live with my mom (Sue) and dad (Jon) on our sailboat, which is currently in the Indian Ocean. That's sorta the short-and-sweet of it.

    What used to be on this page was a list of things I liked to do... hobbies, really. Except they were all basically what I liked to do back in the "real world." (I put quotes because, out here, one wonders if this is actually the real world.) But that was a long time ago, and won't be again for a considerable (unknown) amount of time. So. The question people ask me all the time is: What do you do to keep sane? Or something to that effect, anyway.

    A lot of my time is spent on school. Not as much, really, as people who are slaves to the school-bell for about 9 months a year. Instead, I'm a slave to the books about 4 hours a day, all year round, minus "vacations" - any time when I don't do schoolwork. This could be a week or two when we have visitors, the first few days of a passage, when we go on "field trips" ashore... there really are a lot of them. But this means I get no weekends or summer holiday. Vacation. Whatever it's called.
    Then, for my free time. A lot of that is taken up by boat-work, though not as much as it used to. Still, we occasionally get things breaking down or needing to get repaired or worked on, and now that my brother's not on the boat, I'm usually the one assisting my dad in these ventures. (Standing at the top of the mast, holding the wind-vane in one hand, the mast with the other, trying to attach the vane to the mast with my pinkie finger, and yelling down "it doesn't fit!" Fun, huh?)
    But it's not all like that. Now that I've got my (really, truly) own computer, I get to spend a lot more time on it. With no internet connection, that means that I've been spending a lot of time recently working one of several novels... one with my mom, which has been in the making for about 4-5 years now (and is almost done!) and about five wild flights of fancy of my own. And of course I enjoy reading books. Too much, some might say. But occasionally I feel like I've read every single book on this boat about five times over. It's never true - there are always a bunch of books I would never ever read. But I have now stooped to reading school-assigned books... meaning classics. Joy of joys. In Brisbane, there was a library near by, and I spent a BUNCH of time there reading more books that I could never buy - especially in Australia, where the prices are so high.
    And then I've got music. I collected a bunch when we were back in the states, and that entertains me quite well (as do my father's comments of "That's music?"). But I've also got two guitars on board, and my mom's keyboard. When it all gets to be too much for me, I can sit somewhere doodling on my electric, trying to figure out why all the riffs in the book sound so cool and why I can't think up something equally cool-sounding on my own.
    All this, I think now, sounds like quite a lot. But I don't do it all in one day. A lot of times we're sailing, or doing stuff ashore, or stuff in the water - snorkeling and diving and such. Those are fun times. And when there's other teens around, we'll usually hang out during the afternoon and evening, or after dinner. Swimming, walking around town, shopping, watching movies, etc.etc.

    Another question has been, How did you like the idea of sailing around the world when your parents first mentioned it? And how do you like it now?

    As most people who know me know, I'm not exactly a typical teenager. Rather, I'm not like all the school-going, metropolitan, cliquey teens. I've grown up around nature a lot, and there were times when I didn't quite fit in. I suppose before I got onto the boat I may have been more typical. But now, after four years of the cruising life... I can definitely tell how different I am now. I don't think the cruising life is for everyone, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like if all the big-city people in the world got out and cruised a while.

    I wasn't too sure about living on a boat and sailing around the world, when my parents first brought it up. Actually, when it was just a theoretical possibility, I was thrilled. It seemed so cool! But when the question was actually, "do you really want to do this?" my response was a big "um." I had been hearing all my life about my parents' first sailing adventures, and parts sounded cool, and some didn't. For instance, getting pirated. Not on my "to-do" list, thank you!
    I was interested in seeing more of the world, however. Before we left on this huge adventure, we had been on two major trips. In 1998,we went to southern Africa for 8 weeks during the summer. Two years later, in 2000, we went to New Zealand and Australia, NZ for 3 weeks, and Oz for 6. Australia is actually where the initial thought of cruising came up; we chartered a bareboat for a week or two in the Whitsundays, which was my brother's and my first multi-day live-aboard sailing adventure.
    As I was just getting into middle school, I really didn't want to leave my friends. But I also wanted to go sailing. Dilemmas, dilemmas. Not that I really had a choice. But I think it's turned out for the best. Occasional visits from my friends have kept me sane, ditto with our two visits back to the States, and being out here has been a blast.
   The sailing I don't mind, as long as it doesn't get too rough, and I enjoy being on the helm. Or reading, or sleeping. And tinkering with the sails to get that extra tenth of a knot of speed. It's fun meeting new people down here, though sad when we've been in one place for a couple weeks, met new people, and then have to leave, and they're going to be going the opposite direction. It seems to be feast or famine where teen boats are concerned. Teen boats tend to clump together when they find one another, but we're not exactly sailing at the same speed as everyone else, so I get periods with lots of fun and others with no one. In the Pacific we were traveling slower than most other boats, so they passed us by, and the Indian Ocean with its monsoons is two-directional, so you can meet boats traveling a completely different direction.

    When there are other teenagers around, we do all sorts of things. When we're in town is different, of course, from when we're out in the islands, but we tend to have fun no matter what we do - even if it's just sitting on one of our boats or on the beach or at the bar just talking and hanging out. When we've been in one place a long time we tend to just veg, but when we first get somewhere we get out, explore, wander around, throw a party in the park just for the heck of it... it can get pretty random and fun, actually.

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