The first lesson of parenting is really to expect the unexpected. Funnily enough, the exact same can be said of liveaboard sailing.

One of the great challenges of sailing out from a country like New Zealand and on to remote islands like those of Melanesia is that you have to be prepared and try to pre-empt as many potential hiccups to your happy plans as possible. This same thing happened when we first left the UK and when we set off from Pacific Mexico to French Polynesia. The big difference between then and now is that I also have to try to predict the misfortunes that could occur to my two teeny crew members as well.

Boats can store a lot of items, more than any landlubber might think, so we have plenty of space to provide for all manner of gear on board. Boats also tend to have multiple back-ups for when something fails or breaks, and we try to perpetuate that with every new thing we introduce on board. Likewise I take the same stance when it comes to health and safety.

So, our route this year takes us from well-stocked and plentiful (but expensive) New Zealand to the islands of Vanuatu, the Solomon islands, the outer islands of Papua New Guinea and then over the top into Indonesia, which has around 18,000 islands (although this number appears differently wherever you look, I imagine that everybody simply loses count…).

Suffice to say that’s going to be a LOT of island time this year, some of them very remote, with few supplies, shops and resources of their own. So, in my somewhat shaky role as doctor-mama-bear, I have re-stocked the medical kit on board and upped the anti somewhat, to allow for all sorts of illnesses that our small fry may or may not get. Calamine lotion for chicken pox (which neither one has had yet), nit lotion and combs in case they get head lice and worming pills in case they get that. Insect bites getting infected by being scratched with a grubby fingernail are commonplace in these parts so I’ve loaded up on antiseptic cream, steroid cream, antihistamine cream and anti-biotic creams too. I’ve got us anti-biotics for the adults and anti-biotic powders for the kiddos, numerous varieties of allergy and seasickness tablets as well as all the standard types of painkillers.

We’ll also be headed to places which all show as bright red, high incidence, on every malaria map that you look at. This means permethrin-treated (insecticide) mosquito nets on every bunk, screens on every hatch and a veritable trunk of repellents ranging from gentle-baby-natural-herbal types to hardcore-100%DEET-atomic-blast-level-mass-mosquito-genocide types to cover all bases. We also have anti-malarial meds and malaria testing kits onboard to help verify any suspicious symptoms.

And, as always, we’ve armed ourselves with some pretty thorough and helpful advice from our cruising friends who’ve travelled this same route before.

Although, I should add, that some of my other preparations involve things like making sure I have birthday presents stashed away for the little ones and ensuring there’s enough ingredients onboard to whip up some fairly special cakes for said birthdays as well, so it’s not all about fighting illness.