Celebration Week

Lots to celebrate this week: This stud’s birthday is coming up, and we passed 1 year aboard our boat!

Conor bday

I am such a lucky lady.

But because Conor doesn’t like to make a big deal out of his birthday, the rest of this post will be about our year aboard. This is a random collection of thoughts with contributions from both me and Conor, in no particular order.

  1. Showing off the boat is fun. It’s like bragging about your kid, but people are more impressed.
  2. Parenting is hard whether you are on a boat or in a house. Sleep deprivation is still sleep deprivation.
  3. Sometimes I have no idea what to write on the blog.
  4. It can be hard to focus on work when all you want to do is sail off into the sunset.
  5. All boat work must be done with a beer in hand.
  6. We still haven’t used our dinghy.
  7. Why does the bilge always smell weird after we sail?
  8. Conor keeps accidentally dropping AC filters into the river when he cleans them. We are on #3 now.
  9. Using a cockpit as my writing office is super sweet, until the bugs come out in summer.
  10. I am bad at taking Instagram photos. I don’t have the patience. Usually I look at my phone and say, “Meh, that will work.”
  11. It is hard to get your significant other Christmas/birthday/anniversary presents because you don’t have anywhere to put them.
  12. I have only worn makeup 8 times this year. Hobo boater fashion is going to catch on, I just know it.
  13. Occasionally when the weather is horrible, I envy the people in base housing.
  14. Doing the black water pump out always smells bad. In 4 degrees or 90. The first time or the thirtieth time.
  15. Some friends like to exert their dominance by peeing on the boat, knowing that Conor will have to drag their urine up a hill.
  16. Ice is a novelty.
  17. It is okay to say, “I don’t know why it’s doing that.”
  18. What is ‘personal space’?
  19. The best part of Conor’s day is sliding open the hatch and yelling “Hello girls!” Even when the baby is napping.
  20. We are thankful to be doing this today instead of 30 years from now.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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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

Cabin Fever

What does cabin fever look like? This:

cabinfever

 

The kitchen table is dropped down 90% of the time now, our navigation station is for diaper changes, and despite all the coffee I’m drinking, I can’t seem to get anything done on the manuscript I’m trying to edit. There’s laundry piling up, Scout is going stir-crazy, and W won’t nap. I’m not even going to show you the v-berth. If anyone has any survival tips, now is the time to give them!

Today marks 1 week of ridiculous winds, and I am officially going insane. This Nor’easter is kicking our butts. Literally, the butt of our boat is taking the brunt of this weather and loudly drops up and down all day and night. Gale force winds last weekend and now high seas/chop have rendered it difficult to leave the boat.

At least I can find solace in the fact that this past week has been abnormal for the region. One of the other liveaboards told me that in all his years, he had never seen the wind blow so hard for so long here. Abnormal seems to be the theme for our first year on the boat: a fearsome hurricane season, a freakish bomb cyclone in January, and now a blustery March. Fingers crossed that next year will be milder on all accounts!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Mini Vacation in a Tiny Home

We took our first family ‘vacation’ over Valentine’s Day, and we stayed in a remodeled shipping container for two nights. Conor found a great deal on Airbnb (I LOVE Airbnb) and I had always wanted to see what this type of tiny home was really like. It seemed to be a good idea at the time… until you factor in a tiny baby as well!

We headed down to the Carolina Beach area, a bit south of Wilmington. We just needed to escape from the Jacksonville/Camp Lejeune area for a while (anyone who has lived here will understand) to enjoy the last few days of Conor’s paternity leave.

The shipping container home was SO COOL, take a look:

tinyhome3.jpg

tinyhome2

tiny home1

tinyhome4
The reality of traveling with an infant and a dog

The beach was beautiful, the restaurants were awesome, but OMG our boat baby would not sleep. Having spent every night of her short life surrounded by marina sounds, the shipping container felt too open, too echo-y, and too stationary! Without any gentle rocking, the sound of waves slapping the hull, the creak of straining lines, and the musical tap of a neighboring halyard, Baby W was VERY cranky. As soon as we got back home, Baby W passed out for a 4 hour nap. I told Conor that the next vacation we go on, we are taking the boat with us.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

firstbeachday
Of course she slept through her first trip to the beach!

An Interview With My Parents

The title says it all. Both my parents visited for a week to live on the boat and help out with the new baby. They tag-teamed it–my dad came out first (during that horrific freeze), and then basically high-fived my mom at the airport as she started her week-long shift. I am so, so grateful for all of their help. They dove right into caring for their grandchild and the boat life all at once. I thought readers might be interested to hear their perspective on the whole experience:

What was the most surprising thing about living aboard for a week?

Dad: How cozy it all is.

Mom: It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be! It was roomier than expected and light–a pleasant surprise!

What were the hardest challenges for you?

Dad: Navigating in such a small space. I’m sure it takes awhile to get into a good groove. Also, in the dead of winter, it’s too dark.

Mom: Water! Using it, conserving it, disposing it, and refilling it.

What were your major likes and dislikes about marina life?

Dad: Chilling up in the cockpit is amazing. I could stay out there all day, as there is lots of activity, critters, and craft to look at. The only thing better would be doing it from a moving boat! However, when the river is frozen, it is BAC (butt-ass cold), and since there’s nowhere to go, it is sometimes a little too cozy.

Mom: Had it been warm enough to spend a lot of time outside, it is a stunning, relaxing environment. Marina people are the best ever! It is a family that takes care of each other. However, in 28 degree temperatures and 35 mph wind, you had to walk to shower, do laundry, and even use the bathroom!

How did it feel to return to your house?

Dad: Like I was in some resort. Everything is sooooo far away. The trek from the fridge to the sink took about an hour and a half. It was also great to sleep in my own bed.

Mom: CONVENIENT!

What did you miss about the boat after returning home?

Dad: This one is easy. No Tay or Miss [W] are at home.

Mom: Miss [W]

What did you learn during your week here?

Dad: That I’m so proud of both of you. You are really forward-thinking and also way out of the box. Plus you really nailed the grandkid-o-meter.

Mom: That there is value in living with less.

Any additional thoughts?

Mom: There is something so nice about being rocked to sleep. There is something not so nice about being blown heavily around at night, lines squeaking and wind howling. Oh yeah, and never take a sleeping pill offered by your child!

 

Major kudos to my parents for embracing everything in the middle of winter. To be honest, there were a few times these past weeks where I questioned our sanity for doing this. It is SO much harder when the weather won’t cooperate. But, the other 10 months out of the year, there is nowhere else I’d rather be! I’m so happy that my family got to experience a little slice of our life. And, btw, they ROCK as grandparents! Thanks YaYa and Padre!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

winter

Happy New Year!

Even though I am sleep deprived and beyond exhausted, I just couldn’t let today pass without acknowledging the New Year and what 2017 brought us. This has been the craziest adventure, and I can’t believe how much changed in just one year.

Last January 1st, we were living in a house in California, trying to figure out our next step. Conor didn’t have orders, we had no real plan, and were realllllyyyy ready to say goodbye to a difficult 2016. Since then, we’ve gotten rid of (almost) everything we owned, road-tripped across the country, embraced life on the east coast, bought a sailboat, learned how to live on it and sail it, made wonderful friends at two different marinas, Conor kicked butt at his new job, I finished my fourth novel, and we had a BABY!

So I sit here with the newest member of our family, in our own little boat, marveling how I got here. It took one year of pushing ourselves toward new things at every opportunity, and throwing fear out the window, but we did it. Gosh dang it, I’m proud of us.

2017 will be hard to top, but 2018 is already shaping up to be another incredible adventure—parenting! Baby W, Conor, Scout, and I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year. May you persevere and accomplish all your resolutions, dreams, and goals—we will be cheering you on!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

baby