Just Keep Sailing!

Dory in her infinite wisdom advises us to “Just keep swimming!” when we are at a low point. We took her words to heart this weekend but modified them a bit. Our motto: “Just keep sailing!”

On Saturday we participated in the Ragged Point Yacht Club Father’s Day race event. It had been a few weeks since Story Time had been off the dock, and I think it was exactly what our family needed. Fun times with friends and a great day doing what we love! Though Conor has crewed on other boats for RPYC races, this was the first race with our own boat. Our wonderful friend Zach joined us in case Baby W didn’t want to cooperate and I had to switch to baby duty partway through.

There were six boats from Gottschalk that participated in the race. Our boat is supposedly the fastest, so during the staggered start we were last off the block with an 11-minute delay. Right as the race started, the wind pretty much died and everyone had a slow first 30 min. It was still pretty wonderful to look out at so many boats though! We were like the Gottschalk Armada on the river.

Rounding the first marker, the wind started to pick up and things got exciting. We were neck and neck with another boat but didn’t realize we were edging too far away from the channel. Just as we were flying toward the second marker, BUMP!

We hit bottom. Oops! Thankfully New River is muddy sludge on the bottom so it was a soft and slow impact. Conor tried to wiggle us off with the rudder and the wind, but no luck. He had to turn the engine on to get the boat free, which means an automatic DQ. We were bummed to have to drop out, but we will know better for next time.

The smallest boat ended up winning! Que Pasa and crew sailed a great race. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at sailing or learn the ropes, PLEASE reach out to us or anyone at the Ragged Point Yacht Club! We would love to have you on board for the next race.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

 

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Keep Us In Your Hearts

Hello friends. It has been a tough couple of weeks. We found out last week (on Conor’s birthday, unfortunately) that my fifth pregnancy was unviable. For those of you who have been following our journey for a while, you might remember this post where I discussed our three previous losses before getting pregnant with Baby W.

For this current pregnancy, I went in for my first ultrasound at what was supposed to be 10.5 weeks along. It turns out the babies, yes babies—it was twins—stopped growing at 6 weeks. This matched the timeline with 3 of my other losses around the same time. We are devastated. We have lost 5 babies. It doesn’t even seem possible to type it out. 5 babies. Unreal.

I had a D&C yesterday. This is a procedure to surgically remove an incomplete miscarriage because my body wasn’t getting the memo to do it on its own. I opted for the surgical route because I did the medical way with my second miscarriage and it was excruciating. I was in labor with W for 17 hours and gave birth to her unmedicated, and I can safely say I would rather do that again than miscarry with the Cytotec. The D&C procedure went great and today I physically feel fine. Emotionally, well, who knows. We are taking it day by day. Thank God we are so busy with W and we are holding her extra close.

There may be a light at the end of this long tunnel. This is about to get pretty personal, just warning you. My doctor believes I may have what is called a septate uterus. This is a line of cartilage running through the uterus that increases the chance of miscarriage in women by about 40%. If embryos attach to this instead of the uterine wall, there is no blood flow for a placenta to form. This is likely what is happening with me, because the babies all stopped growing around the same time. While it is a relief to maybe have an answer, it means another surgery. It also just really, really sucks because these losses could have been prevented if we had known. The only way to test for this condition, though, is to have recurrent losses.

So as it turns out, Baby W was pretty much a miracle. The likelihood of carrying her to term and having a natural birth with my suspected condition was incredibly low.

The outpouring of love and support from family and close friends during this time has been incredible. We have received cards, care packages, phone calls, and hugs. While it is tempting to just hide away from the world to grieve, it is also so incredibly important to talk about this.

I wanted to share this story because of the impact being open with pregnancy loss has had on the people in my life. Since writing my first story about it, I have had numerous friends reach out to me with their own miscarriage experience because they didn’t know any other women who had gone through the same thing. You are NOT alone. Even once the miscarriage is over, there is still the lingering pain of a future unfulfilled. You remember your due date. Think about your child’s future milestones. Holidays. What you would be doing this very minute if you hadn’t had a loss. It is so hard, and I think that people who have shared this experience have a special connection. We should be free to talk and heal. I channeled some of my experience into Sonder Village with a character who dealt with multiple pregnancy loss and infertility. Writing is my outlet, and a part of me needed to put it in the book to process my own emotions.

Everyone deals with loss differently. Conor has been a rock throughout all of this even though he is grieving and heartbroken, too. I am so thankful to have such a supportive husband by my side throughout all of this. After getting the bad news at the ultrasound last week, I spent the weekend finishing my next book. It was almost like a ‘fuck you’ to the universe. I am STILL ME. I am STILL STRONG. I can STILL do great things. One of my bad ass friends ran a half-marathon the day after getting her terrible news to know her body was still hers. Another friend started a business. Women are incredible, and though we may hurt, we do not break.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Anchors Aweigh!

We decided to do our first anchor out over Memorial Day. We had been looking forward to it for weeks, but come the actual day, a few elements were working against us—no wind, 100% humidity, and a heat index of 104 degrees. Sounds like a great day to experience life on the hook, right?

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Story Time at anchor!

We debated all day whether to leave the dock, until finally we decided that we would rather regret doing it than not doing it. Conor so rarely has enough time off to attempt a trip like this and we couldn’t let the opportunity pass.

At 6pm we set out. I know I’m making this sound like a grand adventure, but we were literally going around the corner to Hospital Point. Just out of sight of the marina so we felt like we were anchored somewhere exotic, but still a 20 minute dinghy ride back. It was important to keep the anchor spot as local as possible in case something went wrong and we needed to return ASAP. The other purpose was to test the systems (windlass, night lights, anchor light, battery life, etc.) and check that everything worked before we planned longer excursion later this summer.

Before we left, Conor also downloaded an anchor app that alerts you when you drift so many meters from your starting position. That way, if your anchor comes loose and you start dragging toward shore, the alarm will wake you up before you run aground. We were also equipped with these wonderful wind scoops that look like teeny tiny spinnakers. They redirect the wind down into the cabin for some nice airflow.

windscoop

By 7 pm we dropped anchor and watched the sunset. The wind picked up and cooled us off while we watched dolphins hunt their dinner. W had her bath up in the cockpit before being rocked to sleep by the waves. For a few hours, anchoring out was every bit the experience we had hoped for.

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Then the wind died at 10pm, and holy hell was it a long, hot night. FYI, wind scoops only work when there’s a breeze. There were no bugs, thankfully, but even with every window thrown open we were sweating it out. W woke up when the sky lightened at 5:15 am, so the whole family was pretty tired.

Watching that sun rise, though, was indescribable. It was a different feeling than being in our cockpit on the dock. It really did feel like an escape from day-to-day life. W thought it was hilarious that we were still out on the river and ran to and from the bow while Conor and I sipped our coffee. Fun fact: Memorial Day last year was W’s first-ever sail! It was amazing to see how far we’ve come as a family and how comfortable she is on the boat now.

Scout needed her morning potty, so the family took a dinghy ride to shore. On the way back, W fell asleep standing up with her head in my lap! Poor baby had too much excitement for one weekend. I put her down for a nap on the boat and we headed back to Gottschalk.

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W passed out standing up while riding the dinghy. Life skills.

All in all, we had a great time despite the weather. All our systems worked, but I need to look at our battery life. Our house battery was almost dead after only 16 hours, so we need to get better at conserving energy and utilizing our solar panel and wind generator to their full extent. It’s a learning process, but I’m proud that we checked off this important step.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Behind the Scenes of Sonder Village

Sonder Village was released today! Here’s the scoop on my new book and some fun facts.

  • This book is based off a news article I read in 2015 about abandoned villages up for sale in Spain. All the properties seemed to have a rich history and a story to tell. I had always wanted to play with setting as a character and this concept presented the perfect opportunity!
  • I finished this book right before going into labor with Baby W. Once she was born and I exited the baby fog, I realized I hated my original ending and rewrote the last 15,000 words!
  • I actually speak Spanish. It was one of my majors in college.
  • Early readers of this book include my parents, Conor, and my dear friend Annie B. Their honesty and support keeps me going! Thanks for slogging through early drafts, guys!
  • I pitched this book to my editor while we were in Atlanta after evacuating for Hurricane Florence.
  • The cover artist who did Sonder Village also did my cover for Cloaked
  • My favorite passage in the book is this one (I wonder why?):

Bieito transformed at the helm. Holding onto the tiller, he expertly steered them through the breaking waves, showing no hint of fear. He was right—it was a dance. Remy tried to stay out of the way as he raised and trimmed the sail. Soon they were flying. The little sailboat skipped over the choppy waves, riding on moonlight.

Their serious conversation from earlier was placed on an indefinite hold. Remy couldn’t speak right now even if she wanted to. The entire experience stole her breath away, and all she could do was hold on tight, smiling from ear to ear until her cheeks ached.

Let’s sail forever. Remy longed to just keep moving forward, into the unknown. To never see land again, and to live in the waves and at the whim of the wind. It blew all the thoughts and worries straight out of her head.

This was Bieito’s version of painting. The release of consciousness as he let his body live in the moment, just as Remy did with a brush. She looked back at him from her seat across the cockpit. The lines on his face were completely smoothed out in the silver light, and she could see the boy he used to be; a boy who got his love of the sea from his mother, and the respect of the sea when he learned how to ride it.

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Send me your questions! Anything about the book, the publishing process, or writing strategies. Happy reading and I hope you enjoy Sonder Village!

Love,

Taylor

Ding Ding Ding! Dinghy Time

Our dinghy is FINALLY in the water. It has been dry-docked for almost two years. I was too pregnant to bounce around in it when we first arrived at Gottschalk in the fall of 2017, then last summer W did not have the head control to ride in it, but this summer we plan on taking full advantage of it!

The dingy needed a good scrub and a few minutes with an air compressor, but she looks as good as new now. However, our outboard motor had some issues after lying stagnant for so long. We had trouble starting it because, as we later found out, there was debris in the carburetor. Whoops! I blame that on Hurricane Florence.

The marina manager, Sammy, has tons of experience with outboard motors and was willing to fix it right up for us. We know what to look for next time!

We took a family ride for the first time and I was kind of amazed at how quick and easy it was to get out on the water. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sailing, but it usually takes a lot more forethought, set up, and lines to leave our slip. It was so quick to just pop the family right in the dingy and in two seconds we were gone! We were able to explore some of the shallow creek area for the first time that is off-limits to bigger boats. I foresee many sunset trips out there in the coming months.

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My handsome captain out on the water

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Boat Tribe Does The Derby

The boat owners of Gottschalk Marina took a little field trip together on Saturday. We all went down to Swansboro for Derby Day! I had no idea what to expect, except for the fact that that most people were going to dress up. This, as you know, is normally a momentous occasion for boat people, especially liveaboards. I think we cleaned up very nicely!

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The event itself was impressive, though no one seemed to care much about the actual race! We had a great time hanging with our boat tribe at the docks, drinking mint juleps and crowd-watching. Our friends stayed the whole weekend. They took a 42 ft sailboat and a 48 ft powerboat down on Friday to get slips in the middle of the action. We just drove there for the day this year, but we will definitely bring Story Time next year! It is only a 5 hour motor out of New River and into the ICW.

We need to keep an eye out for other day trip opportunities like this. How lucky are we that we can just take our home with us? Time to start taking advantage of it more. Although, our friends did say that they missed Gottschalk after the third day. Can you be homesick while bringing your home with you? While travel is amazing, I think it is always nice to return to familiar territory and routine. Home is also the people you surround yourself with, and we are grateful to have such amazing friends here.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

JOMO

I learned a new phrase the other day—JOMO. It is the opposite of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and means the JOY of missing out. As introverts, Conor and I experience JOMO all the time while we retreat into our own hobbies. He plays video games while I write, and we don’t miss hitting the town on Saturday nights.

However, when it comes to cruising/sailing, we are a little envious of people who have already cut ties with the 9-5 (or in the military life, 7-6). It is hard to wait for our time to go and there is some serious FOMO when we look at boats anchored in crystal clear water next to deserted islands. Can we go now? What experiences are we missing by being in North Carolina still? Those sailors look like they’re having an incredible time. When will that finally be us?

But if we were already cruising, we would miss out on so much here. Grilled pizza date nights that turn into impromptu dock parties with 8 other liveaboards until 10 pm. Game of Thrones watch parties on the boat with not enough room on the couch. W going to her first gymnastics class and showing off her sea legs as she fearlessly traverses the balance beam. Conor getting his JTAC-E certification. Time to write with book #2 coming out and halfway through drafting book #3.

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Corri said, “Look cute, guys, so you can put this on the blog!” This was our response.

There is something to be said for stability and routine and finding joy in the present. We are focusing on turning our cruising FOMO into JOMO as we hang dockside for a little longer. Summers are SO fun here and we have many marina adventures to look forward to.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W