Mommy and Me Boat Show Weekend

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.

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.

boat show 1
Boob naps are the best naps

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!

Love,

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.

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Other Awesome People Doing Other Awesome Things

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.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

handstand
Does the fact that I can still do a handstand count as awesome?

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.

sail repair1

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

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