PORT TOWNSEND — Like characters out of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Alyce and Darby Flanagan went to sea at an early age, and lived a life of work and adventure that other children only read about in books.
The girls live with their parents aboard the Alcyone, a 65-foot gaff-rigged schooner homeported in Port Townsend Boat Haven.
“Darby had crossed the Equator by the time she was three months old,” Leslie McNish, their mother, said. “Alyce learned to walk on a beach.
Darby was 5 years old, and Alyce 9 when their family set out on their latest voyage, a 28,000 mile trip that took them through the Panama Canal to the islands of the Caribbean, then up the eastern seaboard and across the North Atlantic to Ireland.
For the two-year voyage, the girls were part of a working crew that included two deckhands, one of whom doubled as the girls’ teacher.
“We had to do chores some of the time, but not all of the time,” said Darby, now 8.
Their father, Sugar Flanagan, was the ship’s captain; their mother, Leslie, the first mate and cook. Friends and relatives also joined the family on different legs of the trip, filling up the ship’s five cabins.
“When we are under way, the girls are limited to one bag of possessions,” Leslie said.