“Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix has everybody talking. Thrift stores nation wide have seen a huge surge in donations since January 1st, which I find kind of ironic, considering the madness that is Black Friday in November and the huge push for gift-giving during the December holiday season. BUT I am excited that people are starting to embrace the idea that less is more and stuff doesn’t equal happiness!
So to go along with this theme, we are doing a little throwback post in honor of Throwback Thursday! I’ll take you back to the very beginning of this blog and show you how we downsized from a 3-bedroom house to a 38-ft boat.
2018 was an absolutely amazing year for our family. Our little girl turned 1 and is signing/talking up a storm. More importantly, WE survived our first year as parents! Conor kicked butt at work and got his JTAC-E certification. I published a book and signed the contract for another. We had some great sailing experiences and became friends with some awesome people. Here are a few highlights:
I want to make 2019 as great as last year. I’m a big believer in goal setting, and do not limit it to New Year’s resolutions. Two or three times per year, Conor and I will sit down and write out a few goals we have for the near future. We keep everything in a running Word document, so it is fun to look back on and cross things off, whether it took us a few weeks or a few years to accomplish them.
One of the most important things with goal setting is being able to reflect and see evidence of your accomplishments. It is okay to celebrate! And in order for a goal or resolution to feel ‘complete’, I have to be as specific with my wording as possible. It helps to break it down from a vague idea to something that feels do-able. Otherwise, how can I judge if I’ve really done it? I’m coming up with new goals all the time. Some are a little easier, like “Tell my family I love them every day”, while others require a plan.
Here are a few of my plans for taking on 2019. See how they would look as a ‘resolution’ vs. a ‘goal’:
Resolution: Get healthy
Goal: Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. No more skipping meals because I feel too busy. My diet is just as important as the baby’s, and I need adequate calories to be the best parent I can be. Try to do yoga 2x per week.
Resolution: Be a better writer
Goal: Finish drafting another book this year and aim for 3-4 blog posts per month. Read 1-2 new books in the genre I’m writing to keep up with current trends/audiences.
Resolution: Sell more books
Goal: Work on my self-promotion and advertising with Cloaked. Come up with a better step-by-step marketing plan for Sonder Village this spring before the book is launched. Interact more on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram with readers. Actively seek out local author events. Try not to be so shy!
Resolution: Get better at sailing
Goal: Take the boat out at least every other weekend and practice more at the helm. Plan an anchor-out trip this spring. Participate in yacht club races. Get W more involved as she gets older and assign her little jobs to do while underway.
This is just the start. More goals are on the way!
How do you plan on tackling 2019? We would love to hear from you!
Let me start off this post by showing you the BEST PHOTO OF OUR BOAT EVER TAKEN!
Shout out to Chelsea and Chris, our B-dock neighbors, for taking this awesome shot.
Now for the updates.
We renamed our boat! You all know we decided on STORY TIME a loonnnggg time ago, but this past weekend we finally got around to putting the new decals up and having our celebration. We wanted to make it a big deal, marking our 1 year anniversary at Gottschalk Marina and surviving our first hurricane. So many amazing people have come into our lives this past year, and we wanted to thank them all for being such great friends. How do you show people you love them? Give them lots of food and alcohol!
Here was the script we used for the renaming ceremony. The first part is letting go of the old name, AT LAST, and the second part is the christening. Boat re-namings are very particular and stem from centuries of superstition. We followed a script we found online, but made some of our own modifications. The cutest one was W hitting her xylophone instead of us ringing a bell 🙂
Opening Invocation & Blessing—Tay
Ring the ship’s bell and call the ceremony to order.
“In the name of all who have sailed aboard this vessel in the past and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient god of wind, Aeolus, and the ancient god of sea, Neptune, also hailed as Poseidon, to favor us with their blessings today.
Expression of Gratitude—Tay
“Mighty Neptune, King of all that moves in or on the waves, and mighty Aeolus, guardian of the winds and all that blows before them…We offer gratitude for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past. We express our thanks that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and that she always enjoyed safe passage to port.”
Supplication & De-Naming—Conor
“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage… We implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name AT LAST which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this token bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea”
At this point, the coin with AT LAST is dropped from the bow of the boat into the sea.
“Now the name of this vessel which has hitherto been known as AT LAST is struck and removed from all records and archives. In grateful acknowledgment we offer these libations.”
(Pour champagne into water)
Ring the bell. Everyone drink a toast.
Now to prepare for the renaming…
Rededication & Preparation for Re-Naming—Tay
“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, we implore you in your graciousness to guard this worthy vessel with your mighty arm and trident and ensure her safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm. In good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea…we offer these libations to Neptune and the sea.” (Pour champagne and toast)
“Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel the benefits and pleasures of your bounty and your gentle protection.”
(Pour champagne and toast)
Placing of Good Luck Symbols—Conor
“As you likely know, part of the custom of a boat renaming ceremony is to place a silver dollar under the mast to show the boat that we will take care of every financial need the boat has. But instead of a silver dollar, we have a unit coin.
We will not place it under the mast, but instead it will be placed at the helm with promises to never steer our vessel wrong. We hope this shows the boat that we will look for fair winds and following seas, and to make her part of our great memories together.
Ring the bell. Everyone drink a toast.
“We will now perform the Re-naming.”
Ring the bell—wait for silence.
“I name this ship STORY TIME….Let it be recorded, that on this day October 6th, 2018 and forever more, this fine vessel is named STORY TIME.”
Take a bottle of champagne, shake it and spray it on the hull.
“Finally, a toast to all of you, with many thanks for coming today to help carry out our naming ceremony. Cheers!!”
Ring the bell.
Then, we partied all evening. Our inaugural sail was the next morning, and STORY TIME danced along the wind. We are very happy with how everything turned out, and are grateful for our dream boat and wonderful friends.
As I mentioned a few posts back, we recently tore our mainsail. We still have a full summer of sailing ahead of us, so we needed to fix it ASAP! Here was our process:
Got a sail repair kit from Amazon. Sail thread, wax, some special sewing needles, sail tape, and a palm pusher (like a thimble, but hardcore). $50 total.
Brought down the mainsail, got a bit discouraged that we had SEVEN tears of varying lengths.
Laid out the mainsail on the dock and applied sail tape.
Brought mainsail into cockpit because it was so f*cking hot out.
Hand-sewed for 3 hours, fixed 2.5 tears. Must follow zig-zag pattern back and forth along each seam to reinforce, and realized we were in for more than we thought. Conor worked on it from the crack of dawn the next day and 10 hours later he was done.
Hurricane Chris passed by east coast.
High winds + in-mast roller furler – mainsail = HORRENDOUSLY LOUD BANGING. No way could we hoist our mainsail up while tied to the dock in such high winds. Needed a temporary fix.
Had the bright idea to shove pieces of pool noodle into the mast to keep the furler from banging. Recruited our friend Zach (who recently bought his own 42 ft liveaboard) to go up in his bosun’s chair to do it for us.
It worked! All was quiet while we waited for the right conditions to pull out the pool noodles and put our sail back up. Borrowed the bosun’s chair again, and this time I was initiated into another part of boat life—my own trip up the mast! Check out the view:
Fun fact: I am usually terrified of heights, but it was either Conor hauled me up the mast, or I tried to haul his 200+lbs 60ft up in the air. I picked the easier choice. Once pool noodles were out, we put up our mainsail and quickly rolled it up into the mast.
We went sailing the next day, and winched it out with our fingers crossed. SUCCESS! You can’t even tell where it was repaired. Sails held strong and we had a great day out on the water.
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:
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.
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.
Speaking of bedding, I know some people were curious to know how we secured W’s crib to her mattress:
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!
June was an expensive month for us. It will always be an expensive month because that’s when we owe our annual insurance as liveaboards. Thankfully, we were able to switch insurance companies this year for a much cheaper option.
We were previously insured through Lloyds of London. We were grateful that they would insure us in the first place (read about our insurance struggles as a first-time boat owner here) but when it came time to re-up this year, we were disappointed that they were going to charge us the same astronomical rate, even though we were accident-free and ASA certified now. They also required a ton of paperwork hoops to jump through.
After shopping around, we realized that it was way easier to get insurance when you’ve had insurance and were able to get a much more reasonable rate through Pantaenius ($1,000 annually vs $3,600 annually). So what did we do with our savings?
Got a new A.C. unit! Our old one was 16 years old and on its last legs. We had it professionally installed, and Conor watched the process from start to finish. He is getting to be quite the expert on boat systems.
There are also some personal and decorative touches we have planned for the boat. Details and photos next post!
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.
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.
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!