A novel life at sea with baby on board

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 4:07am

A floating library that sailed into Hong Kong this week has been the only home one little crew member has ever known - three-year-old James Blair is the youngest member of a family that has lived on board for four years.

They are just one of the families among the 400 volunteer crew members aboard the Logos Hope, which sails around the world, offering books and charity work wherever they go.

Matthew Blair, 38, from Australia, his wife Heidrun, 37, from Germany, and their two other children, Rebecca, seven, and Amy, five, joined the ship when it was launched in 2009. James was born on land in Australia before joining them on board.

They have a two-room cabin of about 350 sq ft. Bathrooms are communal. Besides always having a book to read, the children get to go to school on board.

"We made this choice for our children to grow up - at least for a few years - in this environment because we believe it's very good for them," said Heidrun. "Sometimes when they are coming from school they'll ask, 'Which country are we in today?'"

But Heidrun added: "We don't have perfect children and they have bad moments - and when that happens in the dining room, I find that very stressful."

The family now feel it's time to move on and will settle in Germany this June.

Logos Hope opens today until April 1 at China Merchant Wharf, Kennedy Town. A HK$10 admission fee gains access to half a million discount books. The ship will remain in Hong Kong until late May for maintenance work.