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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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)
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
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)
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)
Zarcor companion way doors (2017)
Ditch kit (2020)
Anchoring & Mooring
Bruce 66lbs anchor
Delta Fast-Set Anchor
150ft 5/16 anchor chain
Assorted dock lines & fenders
Yanmar model 3JH3E 39hp
Engine exhaust mainfold replaced (2017)
Stuffing Box replaced (2021)
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nothing looks so awkward as a fish out of water, except for maybe a sailboat. Poor Story Time is up in the boat yard right now, looking sad and forlorn. Instead of slicing through the waves with full, beautiful sails, all I see is a bulging belly teetering on a skinny keel.
However, it desperately needed to get done! Check this last post about the state of our hull. We were thrilled that Bluewater Yachts was able to accommodate Story Time before the summer sailing season really kicked off. They are sanding, epoxying, priming, and repainting as we speak. This haul out process must be completed every three to five years, and next time we would like to do the bottom work ourselves. But right now, with two small children and Conor still working a full-time job (plus his Marine Corps reserves!), it just isn’t possible. Instead, we hired the professionals and braced ourselves for the bill…
And our quote came back at HALF what we expected to owe! We are still awaiting the final cost, but it looks like she will cost us around $4,000. TOTALLY WORTH IT.
Now to divert from boring boat maintenance posts, I have an exciting update about our friends on SV Minoh. After finally completing their bottom redo, Zach and Corri set sail south to Florida! They had a bumpy upwind sail with huge swells and too many pop-up thunderstorms to count. Through it all, they rocked their first solo offshore sail and made it safely to their destination. I am just so proud of them I could burst.
Corri said it best once they recovered from the trip and were all smiles again—“There’s gotta be a drug in the ocean air that causes amnesia and makes you forget just how stressful it can be out there…” As I remember our trip up to Virginia, I can definitely agree! We have to be a little bit crazy to keep doing this. Keep up with them on Instagram @microretirement.
I know I’m behind on posting once again, but a lot has happened in the past month!
Firstly, Conor was gone for 3 weeks in California. Hence, my lack of time/motivation/energy to write anything while juggling home life. BUT it brings me to my second point—
Nana and Papa came to visit! We were lucky enough to have them here while Conor was away to help out with the kids. They recently transitioned to living in their renovated van (I’ll write a separate post about that soon!) and are enjoying the mobile life. I can’t wait to show you pictures of their sweet setup. The kids loved having their grandparents up in the parking lot and I loved having the extra hands. They will be popping in and out over the next few months as they travel extensively around the east coast. If you want to check them out, their website is opentoabundance.com and Instagram @opentoabundance.
Thirdly, WE PAID OFF THE BOAT! Yep, SV Story Time is OURS. We celebrated with champagne on the bow and poured some out for Neptune’s blessing. It was a pretty surreal milestone that we have been dreaming about for four years. A big part of this was putting our housing allowance toward the boat while living in Camp Lejeune. Now that there is no longer a lien on the boat, we have complete freedom to sail anywhere, which brings me to my last announcement—
WE HAVE A TIMELINE. Get ready, folks. Life is about to get a lot more interesting in 2022. I’ll lay it all out for you soon once we have ironed the details out, but it looks like we will no longer be in the U.S. by November 2022.
Anyone else feel like change always happens in rapid fire? Day by day it is mostly the same, then all at once, life gets overhauled. After months of not a whole lot happening, we are excited to delve into planning mode!
We feel the true meaning of the word ‘boat’ as we aim to put the entirety of our tax return toward Story Time’s pre-season maintenance. This past week, the bimini and dodger got some TLC from Little Bay Canvas. They replaced a few pieces of cracked Eisenglass, tightened seams, and fixed hardware (Cost: $650). Then, West Marine had a 30% off dock lines sale, so OF COURSE we had to get in on that as well. Some of our dock lines came with our boat when we bought it, so we were past due to replace them all (Cost: $415).
Next items on our list:
New seals on hatch windows
Possibly haul out+antifouling on hull
Troubleshoot chart plotter
Patch the dinghy
Clean anchor chain
Service AC unit
Change oil/fuel filter
Power wash deck
Replace fresh water pump
Clean cockpit lockers (yuck)
Some of this is yearly maintenance, some of it should be done every 3 to 5 years. This will be our 4th summer on the boat, so we have to start thinking about the long-term chores that we’ve been avoiding up until now (thanks, babies!)
What’s really killing me is having to spend so much time doing all this when we haven’t left the dock in four months. Expenses don’t feel quite as painful when we can get out and actually enjoy the boat for its intended purpose, but the weather has been absolute crazypants this winter/spring. This week alone it went from 82 degrees and 30mph wind to 45 degrees within 12 hours.
It can’t be anchor outs and sundowners all the time, I guess. Hopefully, we will toast to getting this massive list completed before the sailing season really kicks off. To inspire us to get our butts in gear, we have been watching SV Delos from the beginning on YouTube. I’d seen their videos here and there over the years, but never consecutively. They are basically the OG cruising vloggers and have been going strong for over a decade. With our own cruising dreams within grasp now that Conor is no longer active duty military, I’m starting to get a little giddy. After all, who can put a price on dreams?