Well guys, Conor is back in North Carolina to do Marine things. W and I are still hanging in WA because he is going to be so busy, but we miss him so much! Thank God for Skype.
To commemorate what a great year we had as a family, I put together a little recap video for 2018. Our 2017 video is here, and our 2018 one picks up right where that one left off! It is crazy to look back and see how tiny W used to be. This year consisted of sleepless nights, two cross-country trips to WA, boat work, long summer nights, great sailing as a family of 3, and more. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed that I was able to put this together just a week after New Year. The 2017 recap video didn’t get posted until March 2018. I think I’m more on top of it this year!
The song is ‘End of the World’ by the Dirty Heads. Thanks for following our journey!
While we are still quite a ways off from our cruising dreams, I feel like the next 18 months are going to fly by. We need to start thinking ahead and planning for the future, especially for our financial future. Active duty military life has been a safety net for us, but soon we will be out in the “real” world. So guess what I did? I got a job.
Well, two jobs really. Freelance writing and contracting gigs that I can do from the boat while W is asleep. I am a content creator for an athleisure wear company called DYI and write things like mailers, product description, and ad campaigns. My other job is working for a company called Elite Editing. I’m just doing some of their blog posts right now, but eventually will be editing manuscripts for people looking to self-publish novels and writing the accompanying blurbs/taglines.
Don’t get me wrong, writing novels is still my #1 passion. Actually, I couldn’t have gotten these other jobs without having “Traditionally published author” on my resume. The opportunities came up thanks to some wonderful friends who thought I would be a good fit and encouraged me to apply. Plus, the hours and schedule flexibility were just too good to pass up! As W gets older and more independent, I can increase my workload. Right now, it is great to squirrel away extra money for our cruising kitty.
I feel like I finally have my feet under me with regards to parenting and boat life, and it is time to slowly ease back into the workforce. My book, Cloaked, is still going strong and I have another book on the way (more to come on that soon!). Between writing novels, book promo, two freelance jobs, keeping up this blog, and raising a baby, my brain is always going 100 mph!
Writing, writing, writing, all day long. I never thought I would be able to write for a living, and now that dream is coming true. We will see how it all balances out, especially with the craziness of Marine Corps schedules, but for now I’m staying on top of it all. If anyone has any organizational tips, send them my way!
We are fair-weather sailors and not ashamed to admit it. Though one day we aspire to be salty and experienced in all conditions, now is not the time to be reckless. We have a baby on board. Enough said.
I will admit it can be frustrating. In order for us to take the boat out, we have to work around nap schedules, military life, and weather windows. Basically, we have to sail on weekends, with decent temperatures, no storms or high winds in the 12-hour forecast, and be back at the dock in time for baby bedtime routine. This perfection only occurs about once or twice per month, sadly.
Before W came around, “good enough” conditions were just fine. It was a thrill to handle the unexpected, and learn on our toes. Now, it just isn’t worth sacrificing our family happiness to push ourselves to the limit on the boat. Stressed out Mama=stressed out baby, and that means lots of screaming. That is not my idea of quality family time!
So for now we are making the most of our easy sailing days, and focusing on making positive memories with our boat baby. We had an absolutely wonderful, easy sailing day this weekend with some good friends. Sunny, 7 mph winds, and 68 degrees. Conor and I actually got a few pictures together! Can you believe it’s November?
I’m hoping this won’t be our last sail of the season, but I have to accept that it may well be. Last year, temperatures dropped dramatically after Thanksgiving. If we are lucky enough to have good weather for the next few weeks, we will jump on our chance. But if there is any doubt…well, we still have springtime sailing to look forward to!
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.
Well guys, we are still in Atlanta. The roads back to North Carolina are starting to improve but remain pretty gnarly in some spots. The plan right now is to wait a few extra days and shoot for getting home this weekend. Here’s what we know about Gottschalk Marina and how all the boats fared during the hurricane:
The floating docks are still floating. Yay! The storm surge was about three feet above the fixed docks.
One derelict boat sank in its slip
Three boats with some broken lines are bouncing in their slips
ALL the other boats were great and bobbing happily in their slips!!!
This means Story Time is still afloat and we have a home to return to! We’ll have to see in person if she sustained any damage but it’s looking good.
I am SO relieved. The fact that none of the boats broke loose to cause massive damage to other boats/ marina is a huge testament to how hard all of boat owners worked to prep for the hurricane. Here are some pictures that the Ragged Point Yacht Club took:
Sadly, our old marina in New Bern didn’t fare as well. Northwest Creek Marina faced dangerous flooding and some of the boats broke free during the high winds. Here’s what NWC looked like in the Florence aftermath:
Though I am eager to go home and check on the boat, we have been making the most of our forced family vacation here. Thank goodness for USAA renter’s insurance, which has covered hotel, food, and travel costs associated with evacuating. Since finding out our boat was okay, we have been able to enjoy spending time in a big city. We took W on her first aquarium trip, and our fellow liveaboard friends (remember the packing list?) decided to come up from Florida and join us in Atlanta instead. W and I have loved having Daddy around all day!
While we are thankful that Hurricane Florence didn’t cause too much upset in our lives, we are well aware of the devastating impact it had on the entire Carolina region. Our hearts go out to those who lost their homes, livelihoods, and family members in this disaster. Relief efforts and cleanup will ongoing for a long time. This was an eye-opening first hurricane for us.
On Monday night, I took Scout outside at 8:30pm to go potty. Everything was quiet and normal. Scout did her thing in the parking lot and we headed back to the boat. As we crossed the metal bridge from the dockhouse to the floating dock, I noticed a bunch of smoke coming from slip #54. This slip contains a little-used cabin cruiser (I’ve never even met the owners) exactly in the middle of B dock.
It is funny how my brain tried to rationalize it. At first, I thought it was someone running their engine and it was just exhaust, even though it was dead silent. I just couldn’t connect what I was seeing. Then I saw sparks shooting from the electrical hookup and realized, OH SHIT.
Scout, in her usual fashion, had already started to hightail it back to our boat ahead of me. I frantically called her back before she got too close to the fire, and then decided I needed an adultier adult to help.
I banged on the closest boat to me, the Colonel’s boat. He is also a liveaboard, thankfully. He barreled out and grabbed a personal fire extinguisher off his boat. He put out the fire and switched off the fuse box while I called 911 from a safer distance.
Within 10 minutes it seemed like the entire Camp Lejeune fire department had arrived. They checked the hookup box and boarded the boat to check for damage inside. I had to give a statement regarding what I saw. Luckily, the fire was contained to where the power cords connected and nothing else was affected.
I think I saw the fire within minutes of it starting. I’m trying not to think too hard about what could have happened if it started in the middle of the night. The dock could have gone up, as well as some of the neighboring boats if it got really out of hand.
Hopefully this was a freak occurrence, a once-in-a-lifetime scare. I’m thankful that nobody got hurt and that the liveaboard community is so vigilant and prepared. We are here 24/7 to keep an eye on the marina and our boats!
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!