Author Confession

In a bid to flex my stagnant writing muscles, today I’m going to confess my deep, dark, author secret—

I’ve never read copies of my own published books.

I’ve held them, hugged them, and handed them out, but the last time I read both Cloaked and Sonder Village, it was on a computer screen to approve the final galley copy before publication.

At first, I think it was because by the time the books launched, I was so sick of editing them through for errors that I had them memorized. Then months passed and I still couldn’t crack the spines. Now years have gone by, and it’s been built up so much in my head that I’m too scared.

I was at a different place in my life and in my writing career with these books. I like to think I’ve grown enough to look back with fresh eyes, but I am afraid of the cringe. Writers tend to be a finicky lot. We chase perfection and are frustrated when our own works do not measure up to the authors we idolize. The story I remember writing is not the story that will appear on the pages. I don’t think my ego can handle the blow right now. Pitching my current project has been particularly heart-wrenching and I have little enough forward momentum as it is, so I’m not sure if looking backward is the answer. Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough.

I’ve had enough space from high school to look back at these photos, at least! Here’s to celebrating how far we’ve come, and how much farther we must go.

Love,

Taylor (and Conor, W, and R)

Now What?

This is the longest I’ve ever gone in the past five years without posting on the blog. It wasn’t because nothing happened, quite the opposite in fact. We have moved across the country, bought a house, Conor started a new job working from home, and we are in the middle of setting up an entirely new life. I couldn’t bring myself to post after the final goodbye to the boat in February mostly because, well, I’m not sure which direction to take this site.

I know that I want to keep writing here. I love looking back at the entire summary of our liveaboard experience and I’m so happy I kept the blog as a log. Now that our lifestyle is no longer as “unique” or “adventurous”, I question why anyone would keep reading about it. This is no longer a sailing/liveaboard guide. I keep my kids and family off social media for the most part, so it definitely won’t morph into a mommy blog. Conor isn’t active duty, so no #militarywifelife. Does that mean…it’s just me? My thoughts? Is that enough to keep this going?

I guess I can try. I have a feeling it will have a heavy emphasis on writer’s block, publishing industry frustrations, and impostor syndrome. My identity the past decade has been my role in relation to others, but now I am moving ever so slightly beyond the demands of babyhood and into brief moments of toddler and big kid independence. There is more space to breathe and to carve out an identity of my own.

I want to keep writing books. I want to turn it into a viable career. I haven’t published anything since 2019, but not for lack of trying. In 2020 I rewrote an early project of mine, which I pitched but didn’t get picked up. I wrote another book in 2021 and started pitching it in early 2022 but I don’t know if I should give up on that book as well. Once we are done moving in, I’ll sit down and start yet another book. It is daunting and terrifying. Now that we are rooted, I’ll finally have time to dedicate real energy to marketing, drafting, editing, pitching…and what if I still can’t get my big break? My previous excuses are now no longer relevant. It’s just me, and if I have what it takes…or not.

Maybe this blog needs a new title.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Officially Boat-less

This is a long-overdue update. SV Story Time is under new ownership! And as much as we miss the boat, a mental to-do list a mile long was instantly wiped away after we signed the paperwork. I am happy and grateful that something we loved so much will get the time and attention she needs to really shine. However, that mental space is quickly filling up and I’m trying not to get overwhelmed.

We have now turned our focus to the upcoming move to Washington. A mortgage is secured, job applications are sent out, and we are slowing putting the pieces together. BUT—holy hell, this house hunt. Prices in the Puget Sound have skyrocketed over the past few years and it’s giving me a panic attack. This is completely new territory for us, and I am afraid of making the wrong choice. Factoring in schools, possible commutes, location, construction, cost…it makes me crave the simplicity of before. Don’t like where we are at? Pick up and move. I know this is part of the process of putting down roots, but knowing it needs to happen vs. actually doing it has my mind in turmoil, and I’m not really sure how to fix it.

This past year has been a humbling experience. I say this as I check my inbox to receive yet another query rejection for my latest book (I think the count is in the 30s or 40s now). Some days, it feels like we have it all figured out. Others, it’s “Dear Author (ouch), I just don’t feel that this project is the right fit for me. Thank you for considering me for your manuscript and I wish you great success with your writing career.”

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Officially the end of this chapter. Thank you to everyone who has followed along this transformative journey. It’s been a great 5 years.

I Want It All.

I want to travel and live abroad. I want routine for my kids to thrive. I want to write more books. I want to contribute more to our household income, instead of as a hobby. I want to be a present mom. I want an identity outside of them. I want to keep living minimally. I want a house with a huge kitchen for my husband to enjoy. I want to buy another boat. I want to set down roots. I want to meet new friends in exotic places. I want to deepen and nurture the connections with existing family and friends. I want the ocean. I want to rest. I want my MFA. I want to have everything right now.

And it is impossible.

There is simply not enough time or energy to accomplish everything. It is vital that we dedicate these important resources in a meaningful way, and these past few years, I have been spread too thin. I have focused much of my energy on external growth, the growth that is easy for me to see and measure—the boat adventure, publishing books, raising children. This ‘tree’ of mine has grown noticeably taller, branches spreading out in every direction, always moving up up up and seeking more more more.

But what about my roots? The core and foundation, the stability that allows for strength, has been neglected as we seek the next exciting thing. I realized I need to spread my roots down deep and work under the surface for a while. The year up in Virginia has been lonely, and both Conor and I find ourselves longing for community and connection. For family. For the childhood friendships that lasted through adulthood. As Mary Schmich said, “Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.”

These amazing people have cheered us on while we experienced living in California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Virginia. Celebrated the birth of our children and career successes, but it has been from so far away. I yearn to be present in the lives of people I care about in real way, through the ups and downs. I want to dance at their weddings, hold their babies, and simply be with them without a return to the airport. I want to show the people we love how much we love them. After a decade away, I think it’s about time.

 We are moving back to Washington.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

2021 Recap

I know I’ve been posting very infrequently on here lately. These last few months have been filled with reflection, planning, and asking questions. Where are we headed and what are we doing? I’ve been quiet on all social media as we try to find our footing and take our next steps, but I knew I needed to put together one last recap video to commemorate our final year on the boat. If you want to watch them all in order, here is 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. 2021 marked 5 years with our beloved Story Time, and it astounds me to see how much we accomplished and the life we built together.

There will be some new developments and projects in store for 2022. I’m excited for them, even though they are not boat related. I’m hoping for career pivots and fresh challenges, so stay tuned. I’ll post more in the new year, and much more often from now on! Thanks, guys.

We hope 2022 brings hope and joy to you all.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Cold Feet

When I last updated, everything was going swimmingly. But when has boat life ever been uncomplicated? Our contract fell through, and SV Story Time is back on the market.

After an awesome sea trial, survey, and haul out, the potential buyers got cold feet and backed out. In hindsight, there were some red flags about them that we chose to overlook. They were also very nervous first-time buyers and didn’t seem to be able to fully commit.

It just sucks. The boat was off the market for 6 weeks while we waited for the surveyor that they insisted upon (who found no major issues with the boat, btw), we lost out on the five other calls that came in about her, we had to pay slip fees and insurance for all these extra months, and now we are solidly into hurricane season. On the bright side, the survey report found no surprises and we KNOW Story Time is in good shape. I just hope we find a new family for her soon!

A general family update: I have spent the last three weeks holed up at my desk finishing my next novel. It is DONE! I’ve also had some outpatient leg surgeries done to repair my veins that blew out due to pregnancies (thanks, kids!) so I am trying to make the most of this waiting time. We are just stuck in limbo right now with things that are out of our control, but it feels good to make progress in other areas.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

The Two Happiest Days

They say that the two happiest days of a sailors life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it. We will find out if that’s true this week! SV Story Time is ours for only a few more days as we head into the sea trial and survey on Thursday.

I do remember being happy when we bought the boat, but it was just one emotion buried underneath the rest. When I look back on that day, I remember a lot of other things. Mostly I was overwhelmed. Nervous. Excited. Naïve. Nauseous (9 weeks pregnant). Terrified. Oddly content. Yeah, that last one surprised me, too. I was content because it felt right. Right place, right time, right boat. We were on the right path and finally DOING IT.

I’ll probably cry when it comes time to sign the papers, no matter what the adage says. I am thankful how quickly the boat sold and not having to worry about it during another hurricane season. No more time troubleshooting issues and the never-ending maintenance that boat ownership entails. Relief to be done. Sadness at saying goodbye. Gratitude toward the boat for housing my family and our memories. Excitement at the next adventure to come. And yes, contentment, because I know that this is the right choice.

The next owners are lovely people. This boat likes to pick her family and seems to attract first-time boat owners just like us. They plan to teach their twin grandsons how to sail and while I don’t think they will be liveaboards, the boat will be utilized and cared for. They have a lot of sailing and racing experience and belong to a yacht club up north. They have been waiting to finally buy their dream boat, and this week it will become a reality! I am so happy for them.

So maybe I will be happy the day we sell the boat.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Story Time is Under Contract!

This might be the fastest sale on record. S/V Story Time went on the market on Monday, 8/2 and we accepted an offer on 8/5. Of course, the title transfer is dependent on adequate sea trial and survey, but holy moly.

Before COVID, the average time for a boat to be on the market was 365 days. Ours was less than a week. Our lifestyle change had good timing, because there are very few used boats for sale right now. Inventory is so low that boats get snapped up fast. People are looking for a socially distanced hobby that also allows for travel—SAILING!

On July 4th, we decided to put plans into motion to transition off the boat. July 24th, we moved into an apartment. August 2nd, boat went on market. August 5th, boat was under contract. The timing was definitely in our favor.

In a way, I am grateful that everything had to happen so fast. It was like ripping off a band aid. It was hard, busy, and messy, but it would have been worse to languish in limbo. Movement happens fast in our family. Decisions are made and we throw ourselves full-force into the effort. More about the new owners to come and why we picked them.

Meanwhile, we are adjusting to life on land. After living on a 38ft boat, a 1,000 sq ft apartment feels GIGANTIC. We are still keeping the spirit of Story Time alive in our home by living simply with minimal furniture and clutter. The kids love the space to play but W talks about the boat every day. I hope that she will have memories of her life aboard this boat when she is older.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Looking for the World’s Best Catalina?

Then look no further than our 2002 Catalina 380 SV STORY TIME!

Our listing is live on Bay Harbor Brokers! Please check it out and spread the word! She has been loved and lived in for the past four years. She has been an integral part of our family, housed my babies, and kept us safe on so many adventures.

A quick peek at some of the details:

Sails and Rigging

  • Z-Spars deck stepped double spreader mast
  • In Mast mainsail furling
  • Garhauer mainsheet traveler system
  • Schaefer marine roller furler for genoa
  • Adjustable Garhauer genoa cars
  • Secondary movable Garhauer genoa cars
  • Secondary genoa halyard
  • All control lines run into cockpit
  • Lewmar Ocean Series 54st 2 speed winches for genoa
  • Lewmar Ocean Series 40st 2 speed winches for main/halyards

Electronics

  • Raymarine ST-60 Speed
  • Raymarine ST-60 Depth
  • Raymarine ST-60 Wind
  • Raymarine ST-5000 Autopilot Controller
  • Raymarine RL-70C Chartplotter/Radar
  • Raymarine Radar mounted on mast
  • Standard Horizon Intrepid VHF t Nav Station
  • Standard Horizon remote ram mic at helm
  • Raymarine ST-60 Multi at Nav station
  • Blue Seas Tank monitor system
  • West Marine FM/AM/CD player

Galley

  • Princess 3 burner oven
  • West Bend built in microwave
  • Large double Stainless Steel sink
  • Built in garbage can w/ access in counter top
  • Large ice box w/ drain
  • Large front load/top load refrigerator/freezer
  • New Dometic refrigeration system (2020)

Electrical

  • 2 X 30 amp shore power inlets on transom
  • 2 X 30 amp power cables
  • Separate 120v breaker panel in cockpit locker
  • 2 X Solar panels
  • Solar controller
  • Wind generator
  • Xantrex 2000 inverter/charger
  • 3 AGM house batteries (2018)
  • 16500 BTU Mermaid AC/Heat (2019)
  • Koolair raw water AC pump (2020)
  • West Marine 60psi fresh water system pump (2021)

Additional Information

  • Stainless steel transom mounted dinghy davits
  • Solar panels mounted above dinghy davits
  • Large sugar scoop transom w/ hot/cold shower
  • Large fold up swim ladder on transom
  • Dodger/Bimini/Connector w/ full zip on screen enclosure
  • Full lifeline netting
  • Mercury 4hp Dinghy motor (2011)
  • Lifesling
  • Wind Generator
  • Zarcor companion way doors (2017)
  • Ditch kit (2020)

Anchoring & Mooring

  • Maxwell windless
  • Bruce 66lbs anchor
  • Delta Fast-Set Anchor
  • 150ft 5/16 anchor chain
  • Assorted dock lines & fenders

Engine

  • Yanmar model 3JH3E 39hp
  • Engine exhaust mainfold replaced (2017)
  • Stuffing Box replaced (2021)
  • Approx 1500hrs

Please feel free to contact us with any questions! I know that emailing a broker can be a bit intimidating. We are happy to chat with anyone who is interested in the boat or “knows somebody who knows somebody” who is looking for a boat like ours 🙂

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Intermission

Sorry to drop this on everyone out of the blue, but we have decided to take a break from living aboard and have made the agonizing decision to put SV Story Time up for sale.

I know that you’re sitting there thinking, “WTF??” Trust me, we are too. It was a sudden decision that came to a head this past weekend while we were sailing. Let me see if I can lay it all out in a way that makes sense and start from the beginning.

When we decided to embark on this journey, it was a new and exciting adventure. It was also a way for us to move forward and focus on something other than our three miscarriages. We had no idea if we would be able to have children and we needed a new dream in case it never happened. Sailing and traveling was a way for us to keep our marriage strong during difficult times.

Lo and behold, as we were in the process of buying Story Time, we found out that my fourth pregnancy was viable! Baby on board it was, and I don’t regret a second of it. We have loved raising our family onboard this incredible boat. Our life at Gottschalk marina was filled with so much joy and connection to our special community. We learned that we LOVE minimalist living and can face challenges and discomfort head-on.

We just celebrated 4 years living aboard. In those 4 years, we have lived in two states and brought home 2 babies to this boat. Originally, we were only supposed to be dockside for 2.5 years while Conor finished his Camp Lejeune billet. Then he had to extend a bit. Then COVID hit. And here we are, four years later and STILL a year out from heading down to the USVI. However, we were able to pay off the boat and add to our family during this time.

Which brings me to this past weekend.

4th of July anchor out

We sailed the boat across the mouth of the Chesapeake this weekend to an anchorage that looked pretty neat. It was the first time sailing with just the four of us. When we moved from NC to VA, we motored up with ICW and R was still a tiny baby who liked to sleep in a wrap the entire time. Well, that tiny baby has turned into a full-fledged handful and there are just not enough adults onboard to make this a safe situation anymore.

A peek at the hot mess

Sailing was supposed to be a team effort between me and Conor. It was do-able with one kid, but with two kids, it leaves one parent totally occupied dealing with the kids and the other parent solo-sailing. The conditions over the 4th of July were a bit rolly, but nothing extreme like a pop-up storm or an emergency, and we struggled. It really fucking sucks to admit this.

The kids are just too little to be safe down below when we are on the lean. They need to be older to make this work and be active participants instead of safety hazards in the cockpit. If we had an extra set of hands or crew, we could still realize this dream. But the boat is not big enough for crew. It left us with the realization that at this moment, with this boat, it cannot work.

We are not willing to remain dockside for another four years and wait for the kids to get big enough. This boat deserves to be sailed. So, we are taking an intermission and plan on moving abroad to Europe for a few years.

Europe was always the plan after we were done being full-time liveaboards, but we decided to use it as a pause before we return to the boating lifestyle. The good news is that the second time around, we will be starting the journey with YEARS of experience under our belts. We will know exactly what to look for in a boat, how we want to split our time, and set ourselves up for a successful adventure as a family instead of pushing through with the wrong fit. I am looking heavily into catamaran sailing. We are also able to charter and captain a boat anywhere in the world and live out some vacation dreams in the interim. To be honest, it will also be nice not to have to hold our breath for 6 months out of the year waiting for a hurricane to hit. 3x in 3 years on the east coast has been exhausting, and it is only getting worse in the Caribbean.

Not giving up, just moving the timeline

I am feeling so many mixed emotions. The certainty that it would be selfish of me to insist we continue down this path at this stage in life. The feeling of failure that we didn’t make our “end goal” with Story Time. Contentment that we know we will get where we want to go, just on a different boat at a different time. Frustration that we can’t do it right now. Excitement to try something new. Guilt at selling the only home my babies have ever known. Exhaustion at the process of selling the boat. Gratitude for a loving husband who is by my side through it all. Tears, tears, tears. So many tears.

I’m still going to call this blog Cannons to Cruising and will still be documenting our lifestyle on here. Like I said, we WILL be returning to the ‘cruising’ aspect of this, but you might have to read about traveling through Europe for a while before we loop back around! Thanks for sticking by us and all your support through the years. I hope all of this makes sense.

So much love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Can’t imagine not living on the water anymore, but I have her hand in mine.