The First Leg

We left Gottschalk Marina on Tuesday morning and are Virginia bound! Goodbyes were happy/sad. On one hand, we were so excited to use the boat for its intended purpose—TRAVEL! On the other hand, we had to leave our safety net and boat family to do it. For our farewell, we had everyone write “Stories For Story Time” in a notebook to take with us: a favorite memory, a word that comes to mind when they think of us, or any hopes for the future.

Day 1: New River to Swansboro

Weather: GUSTY, cold, clear. Not too choppy.

Travel time: 7 hours, 27 nautical miles

Highs: Dolphins! And starting the adventure. Motor and systems running smoothly, no issues at the Onslow swing bridge.

Lows: New River Inlet is a hazard. The charts DO NOT line up with the route, too much has shifted over the past two years. It is incredibly shallow and easy to lose the channel. We ran aground and Tow Boat US had to come pull us out, and even he couldn’t find the channel again for over an hour. Proceed with caution to ICW.

Final thoughts: I’m SO PROUD of Conor for his excellent navigation and docking skills. He received some very high compliments at the marina we docked at for working against a tricky current and getting us lined up safely.

On our way!

Day 2: Swansboro to Morehead

Weather: Butt Cold

Travel Time: 4 hours, 22 NM

Highs: No running aground! And we got to our transient slip by 2pm with plenty of time to explore. Also, the dock had a pumpout service. Conor said it was the most incredible $10 he ever spent.

Lows: A few toddler meltdowns as she adjusted to this new travel routine. Plus, it was too freaking cold.

Final Thoughts: We were not as prepared for the cold weather as we should have been. When we were packing and organizing for the trip last week, it was 80 degrees. Conor forgot to get a pair of gloves out of storage before he shipped the POD. I can’t believe the temperature halved in less than a week!

Day 3&4: Morehead to Oriental + Rest Day

Weather: Significantly warmer, breezy, rolly across the Neuse River

Travel Time: 4 hrs, 22 NM

Highs: Getting into a rhythm as a family. Hanging with everyone up in the cockpit and listening to music as the NC coast went by. Conor was complimented AGAIN on his docking skills as he navigated a tricky, narrow slip into Oriental (Another cruising family said it was a “10/10”)

Lows: My nerves at the helm.

Final Thoughts: We are enjoying our extra day in Oriental to relax and take time as a family. It is starting to feel like a real vacation as we explore this adorable sailing town.

Story Time in her Oriental slip

One of the coolest moments so far was after we docked in Oriental and another sailboat family asked how long we had been doing this for. I said, “We’ve been living aboard for just over three years,” as I chased my toddler up the dock while holding a baby.

She said, “Oh, that explains the docking then! We have only been doing this since October.”

There were so many things I wanted to say to this woman, but I had to follow W before she got too far ahead. I wanted to tell her that docking used to make me want to throw up. That the learning curve is SO steep for her right now, but it will get better. That it is normal to feel completely overwhelmed.

I’ve admired many sailing families over the years, hoping and waiting for the day when we would get on their “level”. It hit me yesterday that from the perspective of this stranger, we actually knew what we were doing! Little does she know…

Last thing: confession time. I’m struggling at the helm away from the familiar territory of the New River. I’m out of practice. I have always had a hard time spatially, and maps have never been my strong point. Adding in the confusion of the charts not matching up the first two days of travel, I’ve been too anxious to do much at the wheel. My attention is also always split with what the kids are doing, and it is hard to focus. Thank goodness we decided to do short travel days.

I’ll try to update on our rest days!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

New Dawn, New Chapter

Photo cred to my awesome neighbor who works out before the sun comes up

Drumroll please…WE ARE GOING TO VIRGINIA! My head is spinning as we try to figure out all the logistics over the next two weeks. Conor is transitioning out of active duty, we have to prepare the boat for a 12-day journey, and, hardest of all, we have to say goodbye to everyone we love in North Carolina.

We will take the ICW up to Virginia Beach. Without kids, it would take about 6 days. With kids, we plan on doubling our timeframe. To complicate things further, the marina we initially picked out is undergoing extensive construction (read: no dock house or laundry available) so we are scrambling trying to find another marina up there. If you have any insights or can offer any help, please reach out to me on the contact page.  I’m so excited for this scenic journey with our little family, but a bit terrified at the same time. I plan on posting lots of pics and updates during the move, so stay tuned!

Right now, we are trying to check a million things off our to-do list, so I’m going to keep this short. Also, it is election day, so I hope some of you are reading this while in line at the polls!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I do a post on October 15th every year. Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. For those of you who don’t know our story, you can start here: post 1, post 2, post 3.

It hurts looking back on those old entries, when we were in the trenches of fertility issues, but it no longer feels as agonizing as it did when I posted them. I want to go back in time and give myself a hug, cry with her but let her know it is all going to work out how it is meant to work out. She just has to weather the storm before the rainbows.

We feel beyond blessed to have our two beautiful children. We fought long and hard to get here, and now we are ‘two and through’. It is such a relief to end this chapter in our lives and focus on enjoying our babies. Watching them grow up and become their own independent, fierce selves is the start of a new adventure. No more waiting, wondering, and pain.

This journey defined much of my 20’s. I never thought that having a family would be fraught with so many obstacles and uncertainties. When we tried one last time for baby #7, we agreed that it would be the last pregnancy, regardless of the outcome. As it turned out, baby R was lucky #7 and I was able to bring my second baby home.

The truth is, though, that it doesn’t work out for a lot of people. Their journeys do not always have happy endings. I light my candle today during the Wave of Light for my losses, their losses, and for the dreams that will never be realized. My heart breaks for it all and reminds me that I can never take anything in my life for granted. For those still struggling, I see you and send you more love than you know. I am here for you, please reach out and tell me your story.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

North or South?

I have emerged from my endless cycle of feeding/changing/rocking/sleeping and donned my ‘mom jeans’ in order to bring you this important update—we have no idea which direction we are going.

Maybe we should just flip a coin.

It is now October. How can that be? Conor has less than 60 days left as an active duty Marine. Now that the end is in sight, everyone has been asking, “What are you going to do next?”

Pre-Covid, this was a no-brainer. We planned to go down to the USVI. The timing was great—terminal pay to fund the trip down there, post-hurricane season weather, and a winter spent on gorgeous beaches.

With the pandemic still raging and a newborn baby, we have decided to push our cruising plans back. There have been so many horror stories of stranded cruisers and closed ports down in the Caribbean, and with two small kids we cannot risk being one of them.

We have come up with two choices:

  1. Go down to Florida with our bestest boat family, Zach and Corri. Reasons:
    • Boat tribe sticks together
    • Only 90 miles to the Bahamas
    • We can sail in the winter
    • We have already reserved a slip at a great marina in Fort Pierce
  2. Go to Virginia so Conor can take a civilian JTAC position. Reasons:
    • With a full-time job, we can finish paying off the boat and fill the cruising kitty
    • Conor gets to do cool JTAC things while we wait
    •  We can sail on the Chesapeake in the spring
    • There are a lot of liveaboard marina options

My heart is being pulled in so many different directions it hurts to think about. I can’t believe we are leaving the Gottschalk family and our North Carolina friends so soon. At the same time, I feel SO READY for this next adventure. If only we could decide what it will be! Maybe I should start a poll and let you all vote.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Reflections On Turning 30

If you had told me at 20 where I would be by 30, I would have laughed at you and said you got the wrong girl. I had aspirations of working in federal law enforcement, and though I hoped to be married, I had no plans for kids until after 30. I thought yoga was just a boring way to stretch. A part of me thought I would be a cheerleader forever. Grades mattered more than experience. I was afraid of breaking any rules. I cared a lot about what other people thought of me. I tried to do everything the ‘right’ way.

Who is this woman? Mother of two. Twice-published author. Lives on a SAILBOAT?

Over the past 10 years, this person has moved from the Northwest, to the Midwest, to the California coast, and all the way to North Carolina, meeting and connecting with people from all walks of life. She has survived and thrived through her husband’s multiple (and sometimes back-to-back) deployments. She learned what the terms ectopic, missed miscarriage, and recurrent loss meant all too well. She was rejected 237 times trying to make writing her career. She decided not to be afraid anymore and to redefine what’s normal. She discovered that happiness could be packed into 38 feet, with her husband and children within arms reach, on an adventure together.

This decade did not happen how I thought it would go. Honestly, how boring would it have been if it had? Instead, it was such a transformative journey that forced me to examine my own expectations, and more importantly, challenged me question why. This process of self-discovery led me in a completely different direction than the path I picked out for myself. Though at times it was uncomfortable and even painful, I am forever grateful to have gone through it, especially now instead of thirty years from now. This process of understanding my truest self will be ongoing throughout my life and ever-changing.

The only thing scarier than change is everything staying the same. I am going to embrace turning 30 tomorrow, thankful that it will give me new opportunities to grow. Who knows what is in store? I want to show my kids the world. I want to actually make some decent money with this writing gig. I want to tell my adventure buddy that I love him every day. I can’t wait to see what this next decade will bring, but with the understanding that although I cannot control the wind, I can adjust my sails. Cheers (& beers, when I can drink again!) to 30 years.

Love,

Taylor

turning 30

On Tour with Cloaked by Taylor Hobbs, Meet the Author and Giveaway

I was featured on a fellow writer’s blog. Just a fun little interview with some interesting facts about me, my writing, and my spirit animal.

Viviana MacKade

I love that the Heroine is a criminal in training. “What do you do?” “Oh, nothing much. I’m a criminal in training so there’s a lot of assignments and tons to study. Student’s life.” Simply, how cool is that?

The book is Cloaked by Taylor Hobbs, a Historical Fantasy Romance

BLURB:

 As the Cloaked Shadow, Fawkes has made his career breaking into prisons for any contract with a large enough purse. He takes advantage of the kingdom’s impending revolution by playing both sides of the conflict. Each rescue contract he fulfills turns a tidy profit until he angers the wrong duke.

Charlotte is a criminal-in-training who yearns to crack her mentor’s guarded façade, but is unprepared to confront the depths of his dark past. As her sense of right and wrong blurs, Charlotte discovers just how far she will go for the Cloaked Shadow and the sacrifices he requires.

Now…

View original post 1,081 more words

4, 3, 2, 1.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This is a difficult post for me to write, but I strive to always be transparent and honest on this blog about the ups and downs of our lives. We recently announced that we have a new crew member on the way. I have been asked a couple times over the last few months if we knew I was pregnant when we bought the boat, and what on earth we are planning to do with a newborn aboard.

Yes, we knew I was pregnant when we bought the boat. If you want the brutal truth, this is my 4th pregnancy, after 3 losses, 2 years of trying, and 1 round of fertility medication. It has been a long, hard road with no guarantees. Against all odds, the boat and the baby dream came together at the same time, and we are thrilled about it.

My first pregnancy was ectopic. For any woman, the chances of an ectopic pregnancy (outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube) are around 1/100—it is very rare but always life-threatening. Conor had just deployed two weeks earlier, so when I experienced stabbing pains in my right side, I drove myself to the ER in the middle of the night and found out the bad news. It was traumatic, to say the least.

After Conor came back from deployment, we were ecstatic to find out that we were expecting again. The immediate concern was the chance of another ectopic, because once you’ve had one, your chances are 1/6 for subsequent pregnancies. Early scans showed that the little bub was in the right place, so we announced to friends and family in person while we were back in Washington over the summer. After all, what were the chances that we would have two losses in a row? We traveled back to California, and I went in for another ultrasound at 9 weeks, only to see that the pregnancy stopped progressing. Conor was in the field for an exercise, and rushed home to be with me.

I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage, meaning that my body hadn’t recognized that the pregnancy was no longer viable and was continuing to behave as though I was still pregnant, morning sickness and all. I had to be medically induced. Not so fun fact: missed miscarriages account for only 1% of pregnancies. We had rolled the dice, and lost again.

To say I was bitter and angry at this point would be an understatement. Conor and I were both young and healthy, with zero risk factors. I only got more discouraged as the months dragged on and I couldn’t get pregnant again. My due dates passed, and I found myself thinking of alternate timelines. “Oh, I would have a one-year-old right now. Oh, I should be six months pregnant by now.” Instead, we were back to square one. Behind square one, even, because now the naive excitement of pregnancy had been replaced with bad memories and disillusionment, a track record of failure. I envied and marveled anyone who had pregnancies with no losses. It seemed impossible to me.

Eight months later, I finally got a faint positive test, which was quickly followed by another miscarriage at 5 weeks. I told my doctor I had pretty much given up by this point. We were also about to leave California. She suggested a round of Clomid as a last-ditch effort. “It won’t necessarily help, but it won’t hurt anything, either.”

I guess the 4th pregnancy was the charm. Conor and I feel beyond lucky to be at this point.

I hope my story helps anyone else going through the unique pain that is pregnancy loss. It can feel so isolating, especially because it is still so taboo to discuss in society. Women feel like they have to be so hush-hush and secretive about it, and wait until they are past the first trimester to announce to people because “What if something happens?” Well shit, things do happen. And it sucks to try to handle it on your own so as to spare other people’s feelings on the matter. I want to let other women know that they are not alone. For friends and family who support these women in your life, here are some tips to follow (and what not to say) if someone you know experienced a loss or is struggling with infertility:

1) “At least you can get pregnant.” Oh, goodie! And I can also have multiple miscarriages in a row! Definitely a win for me.

2) “It will happen when you stop trying.” Ah, yes. The truly scientific explanation, backed up by empirical data. So helpful.

3) “It just wasn’t meant to be/ God’s will, etc.” Why would you assume anything about my religion and what I believe in? Stop trying to make yourself feel better by saying a general platitude.

4) “You still have time to try again.” Well, I wanted that baby. And now that baby is gone. Any subsequent pregnancies are not a replacement for the ones that I’ve lost. They were all unique.

5) “Maybe if you wouldn’t have done ____, everything would have worked out.” Don’t you dare blame the mother. She’s also probably already obsessed about this herself a million times.

Here’s what you can do:

Say that you’re sorry for their loss. Listen to them if they want to talk about it. If they named their little passenger, refer to the baby by name. Bring meals, chocolate, distractions, whatever, don’t just tell them, “I’m here for you.” Show them. I had friends drop off care packages, check in with me months after my losses to see how I was coping, weren’t afraid to bring it up in conversation, and sent cards for what would have been my due dates. Don’t shy away from it. The mothers haven’t forgotten.

quote

There is an event tonight (October 15th) to acknowledge pregnancy and infant loss. Everyone lights a candle at 7pm and keeps it burning for an hour, creating a wave of light all around the world through the all the timezones. We’ll light ours on the boat.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Staying Fit

There are 400 steps from the marina parking lot to our boat. Our slip is the very last one. Scout is walked 3-4x daily, with each potty trip clocking in around 1,800 steps round trip. Hauling groceries requires loading up a dock cart and trying to take a week’s worth of food onto the boat without going back for round 2. Laundry requires 3 trips up and down the docks: one to load up the wash, one to switch it to the dryer, and one to load it up and bring it back onboard. We also like to shower at the marina locker room most of the time. Trash and recycling is also all the way down at the dockmaster’s office. Tired yet?

Day-to-day living on a sailboat also necessitates a certain amount of agility. Ducking under the bimini while stepping on and off the boat (holding a squirming dog), climbing up and down the ladder steps into the cabin, body contortions to avoid hitting our head in our bedroom, trips to and from the cockpit to turn the gas on/off while cooking…eventually it becomes automatic. Our bi-weekly yoga classes and weightlifting schedule also keep us limber for our lifestyle. Not to mention the actual sailing part: arms, meet winch workout.

The goal on my Fitbit is 10,000 steps each day, but since living on our boat, I usually clock between 12,000 and 15,000 without even trying. I’m walking the docks in all kinds of weather, because life goes on regardless of how freaking hot or humid or stormy it gets. Is it kind of a pain? Yes, sometimes. But our bodies are made to move, and staying active keeps us healthy. So while some days I yearn for the ease of pulling my car into a garage and taking my bags 10 (covered) steps inside, I know this is better for me in the long run. Take my word for it: boat life will get you in great shape!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

My voice echos through my empty house, my suitcase looks like it exploded, and I’ve only eaten sandwiches the past few days to avoid cooking. As I shove the last boxes into a tiny 7’x7′ container, I marvel at the fact that this POD now holds everything we own in the world.

pod
Packing tip: Use stackable Rubbermaid bins and Pelican cases. Their durability is great for long-term storage and life on a boat!

Packing up the POD is more than just putting our stuff in storage for the next 2-3 months, we are also saying goodbye to any sense of ‘home’ for the near future. Giving up our stability and security is an adjustment, but by pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones now, our sacrifices will be exchanged for greater gifts down the road. At least, that’s what I told myself last night as I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag.

For the time being, we are adrift. Well, about to be cut loose, anyway—checkout is on Friday. It is terrifying and exciting all at the same time, and we get to discover what we actually need in order to get by day-to-day. Familiar creature comforts are gone as we prepare to live out of 1 suitcase each for the next 2 months, from temporary living at an Airbnb, to driving across the U.S., to our TBD situation on the east coast.

The great news is that I heard from our broker today 🙂 I will update with boat info soon! He’s found us some truly spectacular options.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Full Hearts

Our declaration that we are moving onto a boat has only been met with incredible support from our families and friends. This post is a shout out to all you wonderful people who are cheering us on, who give us confidence in ourselves with your unwavering enthusiasm. Whether it is checking in to see if we’ve found our dream boat yet, calling for an update on the downsizing process, or even offering to help us move, we thank you.

To those who say we inspire them to achieve their goals—know that we will have your back just like you’ve had ours. For the people who embrace our quirkiness and understand the true purpose of this dream—our lives would not be the same without you.

We still have moments of doubt and fear, but we have a safety net of those we love to catch us if we fall. And, most importantly, they do not judge. Our v-berth will always be open to you all to come and experience the dream with us 🙂

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