How to Repair the Mainsail

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.

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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.

sail1

Brought mainsail into cockpit because it was so f*cking hot out.

sail repair 2

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.

sail repair 3

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.

zach

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:

mast2

mast1

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.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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The Week Everything Broke

As I mentioned in the last blog post, we have just celebrated 1 year living aboard our boat. So how did our beloved home decide to mark the occasion? By having everything that needed to be replaced break at one time.

Let me paint you a picture: it is 3am. I have just been awoken by the dulcet cries of a hungry baby. I stumble down the companionway to the v-berth. I glance at the thermostat, and it reads 79 degrees. Shit. No wonder I’m sweating. The A.C. isn’t working. The air is still blowing but it is no longer cool.

I pick the baby up and start feeding her. All of the sudden, an ear-piercing beeping starts coming from both the aft cabin and the v-berth. The carbon monoxide detectors are going off, and I’m trying not to panic. I wake Conor up, who has miraculously slept through all of this. He’s searching for the manual binder to find out what is going on with the detectors. Turns out, it is the ‘end of life’ alert and we need new ones.

These are both significant problems, but they are 7am problems and not 3am problems. Bleary-eyed, we agree to assess the situation in the morning and go back to bed.

Two days later, we take the boat out for our second sail with baby. We have an in-mast furling system for our main, so as I’m cranking out the sail, I notice that the bottom corner has a small rip. Sucks, but not devastating. As I unfurl it further, I see a rip on the edge of the sail at regular intervals all the way up to the top. WTF??

Turns out, our main halyard wasn’t tight enough at the top, and the weight of the sail had been resting on our battens and our mainsail tore every few feet. I’m kicking myself for not realizing it during the first sail this summer. I had no idea something like that could happen, though. Just when we thought we were kicking butt at this whole newbie sailor thing, too…

So it’s been one thing after another. The good news is that this all happened while Conor was home, instead of when I was alone with baby. Silver linings, right?

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

 

sails
Does this mainsail look trimmed enough to you? That’s because it isn’t. A 4-hr sail like this and it ripped. I feel so dumb I didn’t realize how loose it was when I took this pic.

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

Lucky St. Paddy’s Day

It was race day on Saturday! The Ragged Point Yacht Club is made up of both sailboats and motorboats in Gottschalk Marina, and every month or so the RPYC hosts a sailboat race. They usually try to coincide with a holiday weekend to get the most sailors out on the water.

Everyone has been trying to get us to participate for months, but we’ve been pretty busy with Conor’s two deployments to Europe, my third trimester, and finally Miss W’s arrival (accompanied by intense sleep deprivation). I’m sad to say that actually using our sailboat for its intended purpose has taken a backseat to day-to-day life, and we’ve done zero winter sailing!

Needless to say, we had been itching to get back out on the water. Conor’s parents were visiting for the weekend and were enthusiastic about crewing a race. Because Baby W is still a bit too small for me to feel comfortable taking her as a 5th crew member on our own boat, we had to figure something else out.

Our slip neighbor, Tom, offered to take Conor and my in-laws out on his boat instead. Tom is an AMAZING sailor and worked as an instructor and delivery captain for years. He gave everyone some great (free) instruction for the 3 hr race. It paid off, because they won! What was the cost of this great experience? A couple beers and an exchange of stories.

race day 2
Awaiting instruction from Captain Tom
mike
Mike and Farley heading out
race day
Beautiful day for a race

Looking back, we should have started crewing races in California. I think we were just too intimidated to walk down to Oceanside harbor with a six pack and ask around. Who would want people with hardly any experience to crew a boat? Wouldn’t it be more trouble than we’re worth? What if we messed up on someone else’s boat?

Now that we know the culture, I laugh at our assumptions. No matter the skill level, if you love sailing, other sailors want to hang out with you! I promise it is true. You automatically have things in common with a great group of people. You don’t even need to own a boat to be part of a sailing or yacht club. The RPYC welcomes anyone who wants to participate. So if you’re reading this and want to come out and try a race, please send me a message on our contact page! You can come crew on our boat when we race, or I can help hook you up with some other captains at the marina. Don’t be scared!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Goodbye NWC, Hello Gottschalk!

The time had come to say goodbye to all of the wonderful people at Northwest Creek Marina in New Bern. As much as we would have liked to stay there permanently, the daily 2 ½ hr round trip commute to Camp Lejeune for Conor just wasn’t sustainable. We had to wait until the middle of September for many reasons, mostly because Conor had so many field ops this summer that we didn’t have enough time to make the three day trip. The good news was that because we waited, Conor’s parents were able to fly out from Washington state and help us make the journey!

DAY 1:

We left our marina around 8am on Saturday, Sept 16. The bimini and headsail were back up (thanks for the scare, Hurricane Irma), the water and diesel tanks were filled, our fridge was stocked, and our course was plotted. We were as ready as we were ever going to be! Not going to lie, I was pretty nervous. This was our first big trip with a destination, not just going out to sail around the Neuse River in familiar territory.

We said our goodbyes and cast off, heading south to Oriental. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, with 8-10 knots of wind and not a cloud in sight. The trip was going to take around five hours, and we just had to get to our transient slip for the night before five, so we put up the sails and enjoyed the day. This was my in-laws’ first time on a sailboat, and I think they caught the bug 🙂

The wind and chop started picking up around noon, so we pulled in the sails and motored the rest of the way to our spot. It was an adorable little marina called Whittaker point, the dockhouse is below:

Whittaker

As you all know, docking completely stresses me out, but with four people instead of two, it made a world of difference! The transient slip ended up being $1.50 per foot, so around $60 for us to stay the night (with power hookup). Like staying in a hotel, only you get to sleep in your own bed!

DAY 2:

This was our longest travel day, about nine hours. We needed to motor along the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) for over 30 NM and make it to Swansboro by 5pm. This was our first time on the ICW, and although we prefer sailing to motoring, it was an awesome way to see the Carolina coastline. And let me say, traveling by boat for 9 hours is wayyyyy different than traveling by car. The time flies when there is so much to see! At one point we were surrounded by a pod of at least twenty dolphins enjoying their morning feed, even little baby ones! I caught this cute moment of my in-laws that morning:

inlaws

The channel markers were super easy to follow, though it did get a little tricky around Morehead City. There was a ton of boat traffic and giant shipyards we had to navigate around. The channel also gets pretty narrow in some spots, and you have to always have an eye on your depth meter and the nav system. We didn’t run into any problems until we were in sight of Casper’s Marina, the dock we were staying at for the night. It finally happened: we ran aground. Whoops! There is a saying among boaters that there are two types of people: sailors who have run aground, and sailors who lie about having run aground. It is an inevitable consequence of boating, and I, for one, will openly admit to it!

In our case, there was an unmarked shoal closer to the ICW channel markers than we knew about. As we were heading in, we got a radio call from Casper’s Marina telling us about it, but by then it was too late! We got stuck. BUT my amazing husband, the ‘boat whisperer’ got us free somehow with a combination of reversing and wiggling. Although it was a stressful five minutes, it is just one more boating experience we can check off the list.

DAY 3

The last day dawned early, because we needed to enter New River before the tide dipped too low. We left Casper’s at 6:30 am as the sun was coming up. Today was the day we would see our new home!

Thanks to our friend/previous owner of the boat, Bob, we knew that there were a few tricky spots to navigate through as we left the ICW and motored up New River.

Tricky spot 1: “You WILL run out of water if you don’t enter the intersection of New River and the ICW at high tide.” Yep, even though we made it to the junction with plenty of time to spare, I still nervously watched the meter drop to as little as .5 ft of water underneath our keel at one point! But we didn’t run aground, yay!

Tricky spot 2: Stone’s Bay: Just after going under the Snead’s Ferry Bridge, there is a giant shoal you have to go alllll the way around before going north. Know what else doesn’t help? 20-25 knot winds and massive chop on the water. It is really no wonder why we were the only boat out that day.

Surprise tricky spot: This one couldn’t have been planned for. The Onslow bridge decided to malfunction just as we got to it, and it wouldn’t open. Do you know how hard it is to try to keep a boat in one place while you wait? The channel was narrow, the current was pulling the boat forward, and the wind was NOT our friend. Again, Conor the hero did an AMAZING job as we waited an extra half an hour for the problem to be fixed and the bridge to open. I’m seriously in awe of his captain skills, and his calm under pressure. I need to practice my steering a bit more to get on his level.

After all of this, the feeling of arriving at Gottschalk Marina was indescribable. I felt SO proud of us and happy we made it in one piece. It is crazy to think that back in June we hardly had any idea what we were doing when we bought the boat. Now, we’ve completed a multi-day journey all on our own! The best thing we ever did was jump right into this with both feet, and be okay with being outside of our comfort zones. There is really no better teacher than experience.

And as we navigate this great adventure, we will also be adding another crew member soon 🙂

announcement

 

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Wake Up and SAIL!

After waiting around for what seemed like forever, we FINALLY had a break in the weather on Thursday. And you know what that meant, right? WE WENT SAILING!

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Scout was so excited!

Words cannot describe how awesome it was to wake up with the sun shining and a perfect 5-8 mph breeze. Even more incredible was the fact that within 30 minutes, we were off the dock. We’ve gotten pretty quick at stowing stuff away that might turn into a flying projectile while we are underway. From waking up to out on the water in under an hour—definitely a perk of living on our boat.

We didn’t have a destination in mind, we just wanted to get out and see if we remembered everything from our lessons with Mark a few weeks ago. We were pleased to discover that it felt like no time had passed. I’m really glad we waited for a good weather window, though, because we were able to feel very safe and in control of our vessel the whole time. It did wonders for our confidence. Conor does better at the helm than I do (still over-correcting when I steer) but I enjoy trimming the sails and running the lines more anyway. Not the typical setup for a husband/wife team, but we make it work, and I think we are settling into a good rhythm together.

We did some upwind and downwind sailing on the Neuse River for most of the day, and headed back to the marina a little after 3pm. After being so relaxed for most of the day, it was time for the part I dreaded—docking. It is one thing to dock when a professional is standing over your shoulder giving you directions, but quite another when you’re trying it on your own. We have one of the trickiest slips in the marina, and you have to do a 3 point turn while surrounded by boats on all sides. To top it off, the wind is always pushing us the opposite way that we want to go. Long story short, we ended up doing a rather hair-raising 280 degree turn by mistake, but thank god we didn’t hit anything. We went back in our slip just fine with a little more experience under our belts and the knowledge of what not to do next time. The first one was always going to be the worst one, but we had to get it over with, like ripping off a bandaid.

But getting out on the water felt so good, and we can’t wait to do it again. It felt like freedom. Everything we needed was right there with us, and the water let us go in any direction. I’m hoping we can escape again in the next couple of days, but the forecast is looking pretty poopy. Might have to be patient for a little while longer. In the meantime, we’ve been super busy with boat projects while Conor has been on leave, including putting up our lifeline net around the boat! I’ll let you know how that’s going on my next post.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

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Um, isn’t it supposed to be summer?