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!
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.
On Saturday I packed up W and we headed down to the Wilmington boat show. It was just the two of us, as Conor had been gone for the last 3 weeks (he’s back now though, hallelujah!). Even though it seemed daunting to navigate it all on my own with a baby, I definitely didn’t want to miss out.
It was…not what I expected. If you look back at one of my first posts here, I talked about our experience at the San Diego boat show. There were SO many sailboats, catamarans, and sailing seminars there that we stayed the whole day and still didn’t see everything. The Wilmington boat show was not like that.
2 of the 3 sailboats
This is a relatively new boat show that was started in 2016, so maybe it just needs time to gain popularity, but it was 98% power and fishing boat focused. In fact, there were a total of three sailboats there. THREE out of hundreds of boats. Of course we went and toured the new Beneteau 38 that was there, though. I had to see how it compared to our 2002 Catalina 380. I have to say, even if given the chance to swap our 16 year old sailboat with that brand new one, I would have turned it down in a heartbeat. I whispered to W that I liked our boat way better, and she farted in agreement. We are all on the same page about Story Time—she is the best.
The pluses of the boat show: it was well-organized and super cheap ($5 for military). There were a lot of booths set up inside the convention center and out on the docks. People were friendly and helpful. Parking was simple and there was no traffic, but that could have been because we were there right when it opened at 10am. Baby girl had a lot of fun waving at everyone and looking at boats, and I felt accomplished getting us there. It was a fun outing and I’m glad we went. I will just alter my expectations for next year!
Taylor, Conor, and W
PS- I’m going to try and update before Hurricane Florence hits, but we are busy making boat preparations and hoping for the best. Please keep us in your thoughts and all of the other people in North and South Carolina! We escaped unscathed from hurricane season last year, but I guess this year it’s time to pay up. It’s looking like a Cat 4 direct hit to the Carolina coastline on Thursday night. I can’t even comprehend the damage this will bring.
I try to do at least 3 blog posts every month, but if any of you readers are looking for other great blogs to follow while you wait for me to get my shit together and actually write something, I have a few recommendations.
Live Free 2 Sail Fast is another military family working to get a sailboat ready for cruising. They are on the west coast and have been incredibly supportive of our journey so far. If you think we’re crazy, they’ve got kids and a GREAT DANE on a sailboat! Follow them 🙂 https://livefree2sailfast.com/
Windtraveler has been our inspiration from day one, and got the ball rolling with thoughts of, “This looks cool. What if we could do this one day?” Their three adorable little girls are living the island life, and Mom and Dad have great tips about parenting aboard. The blog can be found at http://www.windtraveler.net/
Boats, Boards, and Babies are a family with three little boys who split time on a sailboat in the Caribbean and ‘real life’ on the east coast. They have great tips for boating and travel with little ones. Their website: https://explorenewshores.com/
Women Who Live on Rocks is a space for women writers to share funny and real stories about island life. Their experiences make me yearn for the day when I can join their ranks! https://womenwholiveonrocks.com/
The S/V Ruby Rose crew posts incredibly detailed videos about boat maintenance. They are Conor’s go-to guide for videos on engines, installation, electricity, and more. Follow at http://yachtrubyrose.com/
Jason and Nikki Wynn of Gone with the Wynns are a couple who started out with hardly any sailing experience and now cruise full time on their bluewater catamaran. Here’s their site: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/
I’m always on the lookout for other adventurers to follow, so if anyone has recommendations for other blogs, please post below in the comments section! Shout out to all the people who are making their big dreams happen.
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.
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?