Visit from YaYa

I almost titled this post, “It Rained for 2 Weeks Straight”. Our terrible weather also coincided with a wonderful visit from my mom, who came all the way out from Seattle to spend some quality time with her grandbaby. I planned to have an awesome post about my mom’s first sail (ever!) but you’ll all have to be satisfied with mini-stories from the dock instead.

It is hard to believe we didn’t have a weather window to take the boat out the entire time my mom was here. We had AM and PM thunderstorms EVERY DAY. It was ridiculous. If you remember one of my previous posts, “How to Sail With a Baby”, while W is so young, we are only comfortable taking her out if there are no thunderstorm watches. I also wanted my mom’s first time out to be an easy sail, so we just kept waiting and waiting for better weather that never came. Today, of course, it’s sunny out with a perfect 10mph NE wind. LASKDFHLKDSHGODIFGGAHHHHHH

However, this trip for YaYa was a lot more fun than the one in January. That one included a screaming newborn, snow, and being stuck inside the boat. This time, we had cocktails in the cockpit, bbq’s, and field trips with an always-inquisitive 7 month old. Other highlights included 4—count ’em—4(!) dates for me and Conor, one even on our actual anniversary! We went to fancy dinners (as fancy as you can get in Jacksonville and Swansboro), the movies, and a couple’s night with friends. YaYa spent quality time with W, while Conor and I remembered what it was like to just be us. It made me wish we were on the west coast to be closer to family.

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Airport snuggles with YaYa

Other news: for our anniversary, Conor and I gave each other the extremely romantic gift of a TRX. I want to finally get back in shape post-baby and build muscle again, and it is the perfect workout kit for boat life. It all fits into one little bag when not in use! It hooks around the mast. Here we are trying it out:

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We were all very sad to see YaYa go, and we will miss her very much!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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Pinterest Worthy?

We’ve finally accomplished some mini-projects for the inside of the boat. Just a few little touches to make life more comfortable, easier, or homier. My favorite is this cool spice rack that Conor put up:

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All you need are some powerful magnetic strips and jars with magnetic tops. Add in a label maker and you’re set! No more digging through the pantry for spices in the middle of cooking.

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We also put up this great photo wall using a company called MixTiles. They are high-quality photos printed on foam, and they just stick right to the wall. Easy to swap out, too. $9 apiece and they are boat-proof. No glass frames in here!

Now that it is summer in North Carolina and everyday is around 100% humidity, we are trying anything and everything to keep our interior cool and dry. We stuck a product called dri-deck under our queen mattress and the v-berth mattress. It helps with air flow, especially in the v-berth, to keep bedding from getting damp. I’ll be interested to see if it helps in the winter, too.

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Speaking of bedding, I know some people were curious to know how we secured W’s crib to her mattress:

crib

Simple straps! Easy peasy, and that thing doesn’t move at all. There’s an adjustable strap running through each leg separately, then up and around the mattress. All 4 legs of that thing are locked down.

That’s about all of our interior updates. Each little project over the last year has customized it to our family, and it definitely feels like home!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

How to Sail with a Baby

memorial day 3

After 8 long months at the dock, we finally went sailing again! Memorial Day weekend was just too gorgeous to ignore, and the water was calling to us. It was the first time with our little family of 3 (plus Scout, of course) and we had a blast. We weren’t as rusty as I feared we would be. Story Time sailed like a dream, and seeing her sails up filled me with such joy and contentment.

memorial day

While we were prepping the boat after a stagnant winter, I was jittery with nerves. How in the world could we safely sail with an infant? Were we negligent parents to even consider doing so? Let me tell you, seeing my baby girl gaze in wonder out at the water while safely strapped to her dad made all doubts fly out the window. Here’s how we sailed with a baby, and cardinal rules we have decided to follow:

1. Wait until baby has good head control. For us, that was 5 months. W can roll over and is close to sitting up unassisted. She is huge for her age and has strong body control. I definitely wouldn’t take a baby out who is younger than 3 months, but that is personal preference.

2. Pick a day with perfect weather. We had a max of 10 mph winds, and it made for such a calm experience. If there was any chance of high winds or storms, we would not have gone out.

3. Go over your casting off and docking steps. Who is doing what, when, and with which line. Review it over and over until you’re confident with your plan of action. Worrying about the baby took up massive space in my brain, so it was necessary to be able to move without second-guessing myself as we left the marina and came back.

4. Stay local. Don’t push your luck and risk a fussy and unhappy baby who is hot and tired. We only sailed around New River and were gone a total of 4 hours. As W gets older, we will go for longer stretches, but this was a good start.

5. Babywear. Seriously. We have a Lillebaby carrier that can be adjusted to both me and Conor, and W loves it. Conor wore W during the sail because he was at the helm the whole time. I like to run the sails, so I needed to be free to maneuver. This brings me to rule #6:

6. Baby does not leave the cockpit, ever, except to go down below into the cabin with Mom to eat/stretch out/etc. If she is not in her Lillebaby, then she is in her Stohlquist infant lifejacket.

7. For casting off and docking, baby goes in her crib down below. She protested a little when we were casting off, wondering why she couldn’t be in on the action, but it was better for her to fuss in a safe place for 5 minutes while we got underway. While we were docking, she was quite content to wait for us and babbled in her crib. Her crib is strapped down in the v-berth, and won’t move.

8. Leave and return while your marina is open and there are staff members to help you. It is quicker and smoother than trying to do it with just two people. I’m a fan of whatever makes life easier with a baby.

memorial day 2

All in all, it was easier than I expected it to be. I had thought that we might need to rig up some sort of car seat contraption in the cockpit to put W in while underway, but once we came up with these rules, it was pretty much unnecessary. We are looking forward to more adventures this summer, especially anchoring out. If you have any additional tips for sailing with babies, please post them in the comment section!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

2017 Recap Video

I used my (very limited) technological skills to put together a little recap video of this past year. Just a simple slideshow about our crazy journey in 2017. The song is “Sleep on the Floor” by the Lumineers. Thank you all for following us through everything!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Cabin Fever

What does cabin fever look like? This:

cabinfever

 

The kitchen table is dropped down 90% of the time now, our navigation station is for diaper changes, and despite all the coffee I’m drinking, I can’t seem to get anything done on the manuscript I’m trying to edit. There’s laundry piling up, Scout is going stir-crazy, and W won’t nap. I’m not even going to show you the v-berth. If anyone has any survival tips, now is the time to give them!

Today marks 1 week of ridiculous winds, and I am officially going insane. This Nor’easter is kicking our butts. Literally, the butt of our boat is taking the brunt of this weather and loudly drops up and down all day and night. Gale force winds last weekend and now high seas/chop have rendered it difficult to leave the boat.

At least I can find solace in the fact that this past week has been abnormal for the region. One of the other liveaboards told me that in all his years, he had never seen the wind blow so hard for so long here. Abnormal seems to be the theme for our first year on the boat: a fearsome hurricane season, a freakish bomb cyclone in January, and now a blustery March. Fingers crossed that next year will be milder on all accounts!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Mini Vacation in a Tiny Home

We took our first family ‘vacation’ over Valentine’s Day, and we stayed in a remodeled shipping container for two nights. Conor found a great deal on Airbnb (I LOVE Airbnb) and I had always wanted to see what this type of tiny home was really like. It seemed to be a good idea at the time… until you factor in a tiny baby as well!

We headed down to the Carolina Beach area, a bit south of Wilmington. We just needed to escape from the Jacksonville/Camp Lejeune area for a while (anyone who has lived here will understand) to enjoy the last few days of Conor’s paternity leave.

The shipping container home was SO COOL, take a look:

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tiny home1

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The reality of traveling with an infant and a dog

The beach was beautiful, the restaurants were awesome, but OMG our boat baby would not sleep. Having spent every night of her short life surrounded by marina sounds, the shipping container felt too open, too echo-y, and too stationary! Without any gentle rocking, the sound of waves slapping the hull, the creak of straining lines, and the musical tap of a neighboring halyard, Baby W was VERY cranky. As soon as we got back home, Baby W passed out for a 4 hour nap. I told Conor that the next vacation we go on, we are taking the boat with us.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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Of course she slept through her first trip to the beach!

Daddy’s Home!

This blog is about sailing and living aboard, but it is also about military life too, and how sometimes, it can all be really, REALLY hard.

Conor deployed a week after our baby was born. He’s back now, and was only gone a month, but it was still a rather sudden and unexpected departure. The possibility of the training exercise had been tossed around since September, and had been definitively called off around Thanksgiving. We had both breathed a huge sigh of relief, until halfway through December when all of the sudden it was back on. It threw us for a loop and added so much stress on top of, you know, having a baby. I am so thankful he was there for the birth, as I know many other spouses are not so lucky, but it was SO hard to see him go and say goodbye to our little one.

This was the reason I had rotating help with my parents, who both flew across the country to be with me for two weeks. My sister also came out for a long weekend. Boat life added another layer of complication to the situation, but at least I had babysitters! At three weeks post-partum, I did a pumpout and dragged the cart down the docks, through the snow, and up the parking lot hill. Our water tanks had to be filled, and because of the freezing weather, hoses had to be connected from the dockhouse and run all the way back to our slip. This was all doable with an extra set of hands to watch the baby while I did it all, and set us up for the next two weeks while baby and I were mostly on our own.

All told, Baby and I were alone for ten days total while Conor was gone. I learned to never leave the boat for just one thing. If I was going through the effort of loading baby up in the stroller or wrapping her in the babywear wrap, I needed to get stuff done. I’m sure I made quite a sight stomping around the marina, baby strapped to my chest, bag of laundry in one hand, and leash in the other. Or pushing the stroller, all of our PO box mail shoved into the diaper bag, dragging a dock cart full of groceries behind me.

Respect to all military moms, and moms in general. You work hard and get sh*t done, all while being the adult in charge of keeping one of Earth’s newest members alive. I am proud to join your ranks.

Conor’s homecoming was one of the sweetest moments I’d ever witnessed. We are very happy to have him back. We survived January!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

dads home