We made it! We are back home on the boat in North Carolina. Our 14 hour journey looked like this: car—ferry—tram—plane—bus—car—sailboat. My mom is a SAINT and came along with me, W, and Scout. Don’t worry, I’m flying her back first class on Monday—she’s more than earned it!
It took about a day and a half to get the boat back up and running. It’s like we never left! My mom kept W occupied while I de-winterized everything. Huge props to Conor who cleaned the crap out of everything before he left in January. I was honestly surprised that there were no major issues and we came back to a pristine boat. It helped that our friends Zach and Corri (read their post here) checked in on Story Time for us about once per week. They emptied our dehumidifiers, checked the bilge and batteries, and made sure the heat was running.
These are a few tips we swear by if you have to leave your boat for an extended period of time:
Wash and bag all linens, towels, pillows, etc.
Prop up cushions and mattresses to help with air flow
Leave fans and dehumidifiers running to keep things dry
Bleach water tanks
Put vinegar in the toilet
Get a boat babysitter for peace of mind
Store all breakables in a cabinet in case of strong winds
Put more lines out than you think you’d need
Wipe down all surfaces + inside every cabinet with disinfectant wipes. It’s a pain in the butt but you don’t want to come back to any mold!
Damp Rid bags in every closet
For the love of God, empty your holding tank
As for the marina, we have FOUR new liveaboards that moved in while we were gone! I just love that Gottschalk is growing into such a vibrant and active liveaboard community. We love the sense of family here and sharing the lifestyle with others. It is going to be a great summer.
This is a special blog takeover by our lovely new neighbors on B-dock. We met them last fall when they were just starting their liveaboard journey. We’ve watched them go from planning, to buying their boat, to downsizing, and finally moving aboard! They are the most wonderful couple you’ll ever meet, and we are proud to introduce them on the blog!
First, tell us who you are! We’re Zach and Corri. We’re a married couple in our early 30’s who moved onto a 1975 Whitby 42 Ketch sailboat in January 2019, along with our Labrador Retriever named Hudson.
How did you come up with the idea of living aboard? We remember the exact moment that eventually led to us living on a sailboat. We were sitting in this awesome brew house in Osaka, Japan one evening during one of Zach’s work trips. We were living in Japan at the time and were doing a lot of traveling. We’d just met a couple in Thailand that sold all their stuff, strapped on some backpacks and took off to see the world and we talked about how incredible it would be to do the same. And how impossible it seemed. After a few beers and more “what if’s” we made a pact that after Zach’s work contract was over, we would travel the world for a year. Once we returned home, we started researching the best and most affordable ways to travel and we discovered sailing. We decided we would learn how to sail, buy a sailboat, live on it until the work contract ended, then set off for our year of adventure.
What appealed to you about the lifestyle? What made sailing so attractive at first was the idea that we could venture far away without ever really leaving home. We love the space and atmosphere we create in the homes we live in. When traveling in the past, we always missed our own four walls by the end of a trip, no matter how lovely the hotels were. Being able to tote our home along with us wherever we end up roaming is incredibly comforting. But we discovered something even more appealing once we started looking at sailboats to buy and spending time at marinas. We discovered that, embedded in sailing, there is an incredible community filled with so many interesting people. The community and people are enormous ancillary benefits we hadn’t thought of when we first began this journey. We’ve never met a sailor we didn’t like!
What experience did you have going into this? Zach took a weekend course years ago which qualified him to take a 22ft sailboat out for rental, which he only got to do twice because of work demands. Corri had absolutely no sailing experience (except for the one time she went with Zach on a windy ride in said 22ft sailboat). Both of us took the ASA 101 course before buying our boat, then during the delivery of the boat, we completed ASA 103 and ASA 104 enroute. Our lack of experience made our insurers, friends and family quite uneasy with our life choices at first!
What resources did you find to be the most helpful? Having a great broker who made us feel confident during the entire process (shoutout to Dave Huff at St. Augustine Yacht Sales!) and being lucky enough to have a kind previous owner who eagerly answers all of our questions, even now almost a year after buying the boat. Additionally, YouTube and Google have been invaluable resources. Our greatest on-going resource is our community — whether virtual (we are in an incredible Liveaboard Facebook Group) or in person (our neighbors at the marina are all so knowledgable).
What was the hardest part of this journey? Trying to make so many big decisions and changes while still working full time, going to school and keeping up with our social and family lives. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to find a boat and move aboard as fast as possible because we knew that’s what it took to begin learning more and saving. It would’ve been wonderful to focus solely on just one thing — getting rid of most of our worldly possessions and moving onto a sailboat. But, it wasn’t possible for us and that made it very stressful during the time between buying the boat in March 2018 and finally moving aboard in January 2019.
What was the easiest? Corri was surprised at how easy it was to get rid of things (in fact, as more things flew out the door, the stress level dropped). Zach, adapting to living in a smaller space was very easy; less to keep track of, less to clean, less to move where the wind blows.
Anything you would have done differently? No, in hindsight, there everything happened the way it needed it to, when it needed to.
What’s the next step for your family? We’ll be working to fill the cruise kitty for about another year, then we’re taking our big trip! We’re hoping to head north along Canada, then eventually pop over to Europe, but we are open for changes!
Share any words of wisdom or inspiration for people who want to take the plunge! We met a new neighbor the other day who said he didn’t want to tell anyone at work that he was moving aboard because he didn’t want them to judge him. Fortunately, he did tell someone and that someone happened to be a good friend of ours and passed on our contact info. We then gave the new neighbor all the inside details of how to navigate to the marina and getting set up. So, tell everyone about your plan to move aboard. Don’t hide it because you’re worried people will think you’re crazy. Only about 5% of the people we told were negative about it. Everyone else was incredibly supportive and encouraging, and we needed those people to continue encouraging us when the process got challenging.
Thanks so much for the great interview, guys! If you want to follow Zach and Corri’s journey, you can find them on Instagram at @microretirement.
“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!