Itty Bitty Living Space

Even before realizing that I wanted to live on a boat, I was obsessed with tiny houses. It takes creativity and adaptability to make the most out of a non-traditional home, and I just love seeing the different ways that people utilize small spaces. Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Hunters–I’m a creep. I just love touring inside people’s houses!

In the spirit of HGTV, here is a little glimpse inside the creative space-savers that we have on our Catalina 380.

We’ll start with the galley. In this picture, there is a full pantry, a fridge/freezer, all of our pots and pans, a set of 12 plates and 6 bowls, 4 glasses, 4 coffee mugs, cooking and baking utensils, a full set of knives, and whatever else I forgot to list. Looks pretty tidy, no? I’ll show you the tricks (moving counter-clockwise)!

kitchen2

Under the sink we have our knives, cutting boards, a salad spinner, two saucepans, a big pot, a casserole dish, and 2 baking pans in the back. Our cast iron skillets hang out in the oven when not in use. The not-so-fun part is that this cabinet shares space with the A/C pipe (that silver thing) and our water pump (on the left)

kitchen 1 Moving back up, underneath the blue mat to the right of the oven is our hidden pantry:

IMG_2503 (2)

It is deeper than it looks, and there is a second half underneath the false bottom! Great for storing canned goods and stuff you don’t need to access everyday. Tadaa!!

 

Kettle goes in the microwave when neither one is in use. Sometimes you gotta get creative! This thing does NOT fit in any cupboard.

IMG_2509 (2)

Underneath our microwave and top cabinets, there are little hidey-hole, shallow spaces that are perfect for things like measuring cups, cheese graters, blender bottoms, etc.

kitchen3

Moving on to the other side of the oven underneath the second blue mat: our fridge/freezer space. You can access it from the top or the front. Our little fridge also has the same magic floor as our pantry, and is much bigger than it looks!

 

Now for the table/settee area. I love love love our table. It has a handy silverware drawer attached right underneath it! Handy, right?

kitchen6

The best part: the table drops down to make a comfy bed to watch TV on! (Anyone else pumped that Game of Thrones is back??) We just throw the extra cushion on top.

couch1

Behind both of our couches, we also have some storage cubbies. I usually use them for extra supplies, like paper towels, cleaning stuff, toilet paper, etc.

IMG_2502 (2)

Back into our bedroom, we have two VERY deep cabinets on either side of our bed. Scout sleeps on top of one on Conor’s side. Great for holding extra tools or paperwork.

 

In addition to our closets (2 in our bedroom, and 1 in the v-berth), we also have these sliding door cabinets on both sides of our cabin. Just like having a dresser, only more compact!

 

In our tiny shower, there is a surprisingly large waterproof locker. Conor plans on putting his scuba gear in there eventually.

shower 1

Lastly, up in the cockpit, we have two GIANT lockers underneath our bench seats. These are the reason the ceiling is so low in our room! It is hard to tell from the photos, but they are so deep I can literally stand up inside them. Inside this one there is boat cleaning supplies, two umbrella chairs, a bbq, and 6 adult lifejackets. The other one holds extra lines, fenders, flares, etc.

cockpit1

One thing we’ve learned about boat life is that there is a place for everything, and everything needs to be in its place. I hope you liked the photo tour! If you have any space-saving tips, please share them with us.

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

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!

IMG_2482 (2).jpg
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

IMG_2481 (2).png
Um, isn’t it supposed to be summer?

One Month In

We’ve been living on our boat for over a month! I can’t believe it has been that long already. Also, I can’t believe we are already partway through July. Where did June go?? I wanted to do a quick breakdown of what we love/dislike so far (off the top of our heads). Conor is on leave for a few weeks, so it was a good time to make him brainstorm 🙂

What We Love So Far

Conor:

  • The feeling of walking on the docks to the boat after a long day at work (I mean, look at that view)
  • Sleeping on the boat
  • It is easy to determine what stuff is important when you have a small space
  • Sailing your house is pretty cool

Taylor:

  • The sense of community at the marina. Everyone looks out for each other
  • Writing up in the cockpit. My office has a view!
  • Sailing (duh)
  • Quality time with Conor (We’re always less than 10 ft from each other!)
  • Personalizing the boat and making it ours

sunset

What We Dislike So Far

Conor:

  • Our toilet. It’s a manual pump. We hate it. It is being replaced soon.
  • Learning to become “spatially aware” (aka not smacking his head on everything in the aft cabin)
  • Fixing stuff. Boat systems are different than house systems. It’s a learning curve. Google is our friend.

Taylor:

  • Laundry. Hauling 2 bags of dirty clothes down the docks in the hot sun to pay $5 per load is nobody’s idea of a good time.
  • Scout’s potty situation. We can’t just let her out in the backyard anymore to do her business! Leash+walks is the new reality.
  • Our toilet.
  • I hate docking/undocking the boat. When will it stop giving me such anxiety??

 

In other news, we will be taking the boat out on our first solo sail in the next couple of days! Weather permitting, though, we’ve had some terrible rain and thunderstorms over the past two weeks. It looks like there will be a break in the weather on Thursday and Saturday, so stay tuned for a (probably) eventful update!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

What’s In A Name?

This week we started the registration process for our boat with the U.S. Coast Guard. This paperwork is also the opportunity to change the current name of the boat as well as the hailing port. Right now, our boat is called At Last and the hailing port (shown on the back of the boat) is New Bern, NC.

The story behind At Last is very sweet. The previous owners met and married later in life, and them finding each other “at last” inspired the name. The only problem is, there are well over a hundred other boats on the east coast named At Last! Although its a great name, we wanted to rename the boat something that was meaningful to us and our journey.

We’ve had a couple of contenders over the past few weeks. I originally wanted Tabula Rasa—it means “blank slate”. I felt like it fit in multiple ways, mostly due to the fact that this is our first boat, we lack experience, and we have no idea what we are doing, so everything is new! A fresh start all around.

Conor nixed that idea though. His vote was for Transmogrifier. For those who are unfamiliar with the reference, it is from our favorite comic, Calvin & Hobbes. It is an invention of Calvin’s that turns one thing into another, fueled by imagination. The boat would be our “transmogrifier” as we turned our life inside out. I pointed out that no one would be able to understand us on the VHF radio, especially in an emergency.

So we were back to square one. At least we were unanimous on the hailing port. It will be Seattle, WA. We are pretty excited to see a little reminder of home on the back of our boat while we live so far away.

Then Conor pulled the most perfect name out of the blue: Story Time. It encompasses so many things that are important in our life together: my writing (both for this blog and my novels), our future family, and all of the amazing memories we will create on the boat to share with others. The name is simple, but evokes a feeling of wide-eyed childhood wonderment and adventure. There is nothing like getting lost in a good book and letting the real world fade away. This boat is our escape from the mundane.

What do you guys think about Story Time? My dad had his heart set on Docksmasher III, but I told him he would have to get his own boat for that. What would you name your boat if you had one and why?

When it gets closer, I’ll do a post on the official renaming ceremony that needs to take place to appease King Neptune. Sailors are a superstitious bunch, but we don’t want any bad juju out on the water!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Bareboat Cruisers

Guys, 8 weeks have already passed since we left California! We packed so much into those two months that they’ve gone by in a blink. I remember getting on our boat for the survey and sea trial, feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared as I looked at control panels, VHF radios, navigation equipment, and most of all the sheer amount of lines running back to the cockpit needed to actually sail.

Being pushed so far outside of our comfort zone on a constant basis has been exhausting; none so much as during our back-to-back, crash-course sailing lessons. SO much information was thrown at us as we got certified as Bareboat Cruisers. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was like riding a bike—scary and tricky at first, but you only have to go through the learning curve once. If you can push through, you’ll have the skill for life, and nothing can take it away from you. I’m dreaming of the day when sailing becomes effortless for us, but that will only come with practice. Right now, it is hard remembering all the little things, and we are stretched taut mentally and physically until we dock again. At least living on the boat has started to become more automatic as we settle in. It happened so gradually that it took a while to realize that I’d stopped bumping my head on things, or needing to ‘experiment’ with the control panel switches to turn the right lights on.

But here is how our ASA 104 class went: much more smoothly than our first! Aka our engine worked perfectly and I’m not deep cleaning the boat this week. What did we go over this past weekend?

  • Cruise planning
  • Boat systems (diesel engine, batteries, GPS, etc)
  • Routine maintenance
  • Emergencies
  • VHF radio
  • Docking and anchoring under power
  • Advanced sail trim
  • Sailing/reefing under difficult conditions
  • Dinghy operation
  • Navigation and weather
  • Chart plotting

That’s just what I can think of off the top of my head right now. WHEW! Now that it’s over, I am so so happy that we did it. It probably would have taken us a year to ‘baby step’ our way on our own to get to the level that our instructor pushed us to in just 4 days. Now we need to practice as much as we can and as often as we can to get our confidence up! (But to be honest, we’ll probably take it easy this weekend and catch our breath for the first time since May 1)

Love,

Taylor and Conor

104

Our First Sailing Weekend

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this blog post all week, but circumstances from our 2nd day on the water have had me scrambling to get life back in order! Here’s what happened.

On Saturday, we had our first sail on At Last with our ASA private instructor Mark Fields. It was mostly review for us, almost identical to the US Sailing weekend class we took in San Diego two years ago. We had to repeat 101 with ASA because unfortunately US Sailing qualifications don’t transfer between programs! Plus, our US Sailing class had been on a 22 ft keelboat, and this time our 101 class was on a 38 ft sailboat, so it was good to go back to basics. We had very light winds as we went over parts of the boat, rules of the road, and sailing physics. Conor was at the helm while I worked the sails, and I think the biggest victory was when he docked us back into our slip perfectly! Our 100 question multiple choice test at the end was a breeze, and I think our first lesson did a lot to get our confidence up.

Sunday: This lesson was to get our 103 certification (Coastal Cruising) and the day started off great. I was at the helm while Conor worked the sails, and we went from almost 0 wind to over 25 knots! Mark talked us through everything and helped us remain in control of our boat. It went from terrifying to a roller coaster kind of fun as the boat heeled over and cut through the waves. The exhilaration crashed through me while I white-knuckled the wheel, and my only thought when the winds died back down was, I can’t wait to do that again.

IMG_2400 (2)

The sailing part of the day ended on such a high note, but then we turned the engine on to motor back to the marina. I felt it sputter and whine, and then diesel smoke started pouring out of the companionway and up into the cockpit. I’m proud to say that no one panicked. I killed the engine and then Mark went below to try and figure out what went wrong. The manifold on our engine had snapped, a malfunction that no one could have predicted (even a very experienced sailor), so exhaust filled our aft cabin instead of mixing with the intake water and exiting out the back of the boat. We were dead in the water.

Luckily, we had seen Mark’s friend out sailing a few hours before, so he radioed Chuck and asked for a tow. I was so thankful that our first ’emergency’ on the boat was accompanied by an instructor, so we got to see how to handle everything in a calm and safe manner. We got 103 certified, and learned how to get our boat towed as a bonus!

Back at the fuel dock reality hit. The boat would be unlivable for the next two days while the fumes aired out, it needed to be deep cleaned, our engine didn’t work, and we had no power hookups (no A/C!). Conor had to go back to Virginia that night because he had a Monday morning class, so Scout and I checked into a hotel. The next morning, I rolled up my sleeves (figuratively—it was 90 degrees, of course I was in a tank top) and got to work.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were filled with phone calls, cleaning, scheduling, and repairs. Our mechanic is coming in about 30 min with the replaced engine parts to get us back up and running in time for our 104 Bareboat class with Mark this weekend. The best part of this disaster was seeing firsthand how caring and helpful other boaters are. I had so many offers to stay aboard other boats, people checking in on me hourly while At Last was stuck at the fuel dock, offers of snacks and cold drinks, and advice or a sympathetic ear. My gratitude was met with a chuckle and, “We’ve all been there.” I guess I’ll just have to pay it forward.

Love,

Taylor and Conor