Caribbean Dreamin’

Over this howling northern wind, I can hear it calling to me. It is currently 35 degrees out but in my head I am lying on a beach in front of crystal blue water…

 

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Throwback to our 2015 vacation in the DR

My imagination has been running away from me lately. Conor and I are having a blast playing the “what-if” game and researching tons of marinas down in the Caribbean. It has started to sink in that by this time next year, we will be GONE! It is both exciting and terrifying as we try to get our rears in gear. Not only are we leaving the country, but the active duty “security blanket” as well. Here is our marina wishlist so far:

  • U.S. territory so work visas will not be an issue that first year
  • marina security
  • pumpout service
  • reasonable liveaboard prices+pets allowed
  • good diving opportunities
  • centrally located
  • great daysailing to other islands
  • dock amenities like storage and laundry

The biggest shock during our research has been the prices! I know we’ve had it pretty good at Gottschalk with $5 per foot per month, but most places down in the islands are $20 per foot per month. Ouch! But in some cases, the amenities are totally worth it. Here is our top contender right now on St. Croix USVI: http://www.tamarindreefresort.com/marina-en.html

I mean, come on! It would be a dream to stay there, we just have to find a way to make it happen. Good thing we still have 11 months to plan! We are prowling cruisers forums for other recommendations for a home base next year. If you have a marina you’d recommend, please reach out and let us know!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

2019 Recap Video

This is our third recap video! Check out 2017 and 2018 if you need a blast from the past before watching 2019!

So much has happened this year—Conor took a trip to Norway and also graduated from WTI. I published my second book and wrote a third. W is speaking in complete sentences and scooter-ing down the docks like a madwoman. I can’t believe we have a 2-year-old!

This year was also filled with visits from family and friends, epic sails and sunsets, and (probably) too many cocktails.

Here’s the wrap up! The accompanying song is “Wars” by the Strumbellas (thanks for a great time, Nashville!)

Wilmington Adventures

Weather woes impeded our brilliant plan to take Story Time to Wilmington for the Marine Corps ball. Here’s a short summary of what happened:

  • Set off at 7:30 am on Tuesday, Nov. 5. This left barely enough time to make the 9ish hour trip down the coast and up the Cape Fear river and into a guest slip downtown before dark.
  • Working against this trip were daylight savings time, currents, and the incredibly tricky New River Inlet.
  • Got stuck in the mud just past Snead’s Ferry and had to get a little help from Tow Boat US, putting Story Time and crew an hour behind the tight timeline.
  • Finally got to open ocean to face sudden 6ft swells.
  • Rocked and rolled 8 knots south, hugging the coastline a mile offshore before an unscheduled thunderstorm decided to pop up.
  • Had to high tail it back to the inlet in an attempt to get onto the ICW instead.
  • Due to the severity of the storm and frustration of the crew, it made more sense to return to Gottschalk. Home in the slip by 4 pm (just not the slip we thought we would be in).

We were very sad and disappointed not to be able to bring our home with us for the ball. Looking back, the ICW would have been the easier and clearer choice, but this event was a great excuse to try some coastal cruising. Regardless of the outcome, much experience was gained, and lessons were learned (and last-minute hotels were booked). We cleaned up nice and danced the night away anyway.

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Stormy Snead’s Ferry

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We are excited to try again when we can be more flexible with our timeline. Both Cape Fear and Cape Lookout are on our “to-do” list this year. As a conciliatory gesture, the weather decided to cooperate with us on Sunday and we had one of the best sails all year. We took the entire Hobbs clan sailing in 8-10 knot winds and just bopped around New River for the day in 60 degrees. Story Time still takes my breath away with how smooth she sails. We got up to 6 knots in only 10 knots of wind!

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It was fantastic to have Conor’s whole family with us this past week and we are thankful they were able to experience the good part of boat life with us as well as the frustrations. Most of all, we are grateful to have loving family who supports our crazy lifestyle.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Behind the Scenes of Sonder Village

Sonder Village was released today! Here’s the scoop on my new book and some fun facts.

  • This book is based off a news article I read in 2015 about abandoned villages up for sale in Spain. All the properties seemed to have a rich history and a story to tell. I had always wanted to play with setting as a character and this concept presented the perfect opportunity!
  • I finished this book right before going into labor with Baby W. Once she was born and I exited the baby fog, I realized I hated my original ending and rewrote the last 15,000 words!
  • I actually speak Spanish. It was one of my majors in college.
  • Early readers of this book include my parents, Conor, and my dear friend Annie B. Their honesty and support keeps me going! Thanks for slogging through early drafts, guys!
  • I pitched this book to my editor while we were in Atlanta after evacuating for Hurricane Florence.
  • The cover artist who did Sonder Village also did my cover for Cloaked
  • My favorite passage in the book is this one (I wonder why?):

Bieito transformed at the helm. Holding onto the tiller, he expertly steered them through the breaking waves, showing no hint of fear. He was right—it was a dance. Remy tried to stay out of the way as he raised and trimmed the sail. Soon they were flying. The little sailboat skipped over the choppy waves, riding on moonlight.

Their serious conversation from earlier was placed on an indefinite hold. Remy couldn’t speak right now even if she wanted to. The entire experience stole her breath away, and all she could do was hold on tight, smiling from ear to ear until her cheeks ached.

Let’s sail forever. Remy longed to just keep moving forward, into the unknown. To never see land again, and to live in the waves and at the whim of the wind. It blew all the thoughts and worries straight out of her head.

This was Bieito’s version of painting. The release of consciousness as he let his body live in the moment, just as Remy did with a brush. She looked back at him from her seat across the cockpit. The lines on his face were completely smoothed out in the silver light, and she could see the boy he used to be; a boy who got his love of the sea from his mother, and the respect of the sea when he learned how to ride it.

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Send me your questions! Anything about the book, the publishing process, or writing strategies. Happy reading and I hope you enjoy Sonder Village!

Love,

Taylor

Boat Tribe Does The Derby

The boat owners of Gottschalk Marina took a little field trip together on Saturday. We all went down to Swansboro for Derby Day! I had no idea what to expect, except for the fact that that most people were going to dress up. This, as you know, is normally a momentous occasion for boat people, especially liveaboards. I think we cleaned up very nicely!

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The event itself was impressive, though no one seemed to care much about the actual race! We had a great time hanging with our boat tribe at the docks, drinking mint juleps and crowd-watching. Our friends stayed the whole weekend. They took a 42 ft sailboat and a 48 ft powerboat down on Friday to get slips in the middle of the action. We just drove there for the day this year, but we will definitely bring Story Time next year! It is only a 5 hour motor out of New River and into the ICW.

We need to keep an eye out for other day trip opportunities like this. How lucky are we that we can just take our home with us? Time to start taking advantage of it more. Although, our friends did say that they missed Gottschalk after the third day. Can you be homesick while bringing your home with you? While travel is amazing, I think it is always nice to return to familiar territory and routine. Home is also the people you surround yourself with, and we are grateful to have such amazing friends here.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

The Triumphant Return

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.

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How we knew we were missed! Glad to be back with our boat tribe

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.

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Winter Blues

This blog is about living aboard a sailboat. Currently, baby and I are still up in Washington with my parents. Therefore, it is incredibly difficult to write insightful or interesting posts about sailboat life when we are staying in a house! Hence the blog hiatus these past few weeks. My apologies. Winter has just been so long and boring! I can’t wait until spring.

So without a boat to worry about or work on, what have I been up to? Here’s a visual:

novels

Minus the sleeping part. W is over a year old and STILL getting up 2+ times per night. I have to have faith that one day I will have my sleep and my sanity back. This can’t last forever, can it? Parents who have been there, please post your tips for getting baby to sleep through the night and nap for more than 45 minutes at a time.

In other exciting news, I am close to a release date on my second book! I’m working with my editor at Wild Rose Press right now to finalize Sonder Village and get the blurb/cover/date details to post here soon. Insane person that I am, I also decided that now would be a good time to start on a third book. I figure the more work I do now, the more time I’ll have for sailing come spring and summer! In between novel projects, I’m also doing content writing for extra $ to pay off the boat quicker.

W and I are really missing Conor and trying to stay busy. This should be the last long-haul separation before Conor leaves the Marine Corps, and I can’t say I’ll miss this aspect of our lives. I can’t remember a time in the last eight years when we haven’t had a training/trip/deployment hanging over our heads. Other military wives, you know what I’m talking about! I’m just daydreaming about cruising to the Caribbean one day to get through these next few weeks!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W