We are fair-weather sailors and not ashamed to admit it. Though one day we aspire to be salty and experienced in all conditions, now is not the time to be reckless. We have a baby on board. Enough said.
I will admit it can be frustrating. In order for us to take the boat out, we have to work around nap schedules, military life, and weather windows. Basically, we have to sail on weekends, with decent temperatures, no storms or high winds in the 12-hour forecast, and be back at the dock in time for baby bedtime routine. This perfection only occurs about once or twice per month, sadly.
Before W came around, “good enough” conditions were just fine. It was a thrill to handle the unexpected, and learn on our toes. Now, it just isn’t worth sacrificing our family happiness to push ourselves to the limit on the boat. Stressed out Mama=stressed out baby, and that means lots of screaming. That is not my idea of quality family time!
So for now we are making the most of our easy sailing days, and focusing on making positive memories with our boat baby. We had an absolutely wonderful, easy sailing day this weekend with some good friends. Sunny, 7 mph winds, and 68 degrees. Conor and I actually got a few pictures together! Can you believe it’s November?
I’m hoping this won’t be our last sail of the season, but I have to accept that it may well be. Last year, temperatures dropped dramatically after Thanksgiving. If we are lucky enough to have good weather for the next few weeks, we will jump on our chance. But if there is any doubt…well, we still have springtime sailing to look forward to!
Let me start off this post by showing you the BEST PHOTO OF OUR BOAT EVER TAKEN!
Shout out to Chelsea and Chris, our B-dock neighbors, for taking this awesome shot.
Now for the updates.
We renamed our boat! You all know we decided on STORY TIME a loonnnggg time ago, but this past weekend we finally got around to putting the new decals up and having our celebration. We wanted to make it a big deal, marking our 1 year anniversary at Gottschalk Marina and surviving our first hurricane. So many amazing people have come into our lives this past year, and we wanted to thank them all for being such great friends. How do you show people you love them? Give them lots of food and alcohol!
Here was the script we used for the renaming ceremony. The first part is letting go of the old name, AT LAST, and the second part is the christening. Boat re-namings are very particular and stem from centuries of superstition. We followed a script we found online, but made some of our own modifications. The cutest one was W hitting her xylophone instead of us ringing a bell 🙂
Opening Invocation & Blessing—Tay
Ring the ship’s bell and call the ceremony to order.
“In the name of all who have sailed aboard this vessel in the past and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient god of wind, Aeolus, and the ancient god of sea, Neptune, also hailed as Poseidon, to favor us with their blessings today.
Expression of Gratitude—Tay
“Mighty Neptune, King of all that moves in or on the waves, and mighty Aeolus, guardian of the winds and all that blows before them…We offer gratitude for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past. We express our thanks that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and that she always enjoyed safe passage to port.”
Supplication & De-Naming—Conor
“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage… We implore you in your graciousness to expunge for all time from your records and recollection the name AT LAST which has ceased to be an entity in your kingdom. As proof thereof, we submit this token bearing her name to be corrupted through your powers and forever be purged from the sea”
At this point, the coin with AT LAST is dropped from the bow of the boat into the sea.
“Now the name of this vessel which has hitherto been known as AT LAST is struck and removed from all records and archives. In grateful acknowledgment we offer these libations.”
(Pour champagne into water)
Ring the bell. Everyone drink a toast.
Now to prepare for the renaming…
Rededication & Preparation for Re-Naming—Tay
“Oh mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans, to whom all ships and we who venture upon your vast domain are required to pay homage, we implore you in your graciousness to guard this worthy vessel with your mighty arm and trident and ensure her safe and rapid passage throughout her journeys within your realm. In good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea…we offer these libations to Neptune and the sea.” (Pour champagne and toast)
“Oh mighty rulers of the winds, through whose power our frail vessels traverse the wild and faceless deep, we implore you to grant this worthy vessel the benefits and pleasures of your bounty and your gentle protection.”
(Pour champagne and toast)
Placing of Good Luck Symbols—Conor
“As you likely know, part of the custom of a boat renaming ceremony is to place a silver dollar under the mast to show the boat that we will take care of every financial need the boat has. But instead of a silver dollar, we have a unit coin.
We will not place it under the mast, but instead it will be placed at the helm with promises to never steer our vessel wrong. We hope this shows the boat that we will look for fair winds and following seas, and to make her part of our great memories together.
Ring the bell. Everyone drink a toast.
“We will now perform the Re-naming.”
Ring the bell—wait for silence.
“I name this ship STORY TIME….Let it be recorded, that on this day October 6th, 2018 and forever more, this fine vessel is named STORY TIME.”
Take a bottle of champagne, shake it and spray it on the hull.
“Finally, a toast to all of you, with many thanks for coming today to help carry out our naming ceremony. Cheers!!”
Ring the bell.
Then, we partied all evening. Our inaugural sail was the next morning, and STORY TIME danced along the wind. We are very happy with how everything turned out, and are grateful for our dream boat and wonderful friends.
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.
2 of the 3 sailboats
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.
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!
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.
Lots to celebrate this week: This stud’s birthday is coming up, and we passed 1 year aboard our boat!
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.
Showing off the boat is fun. It’s like bragging about your kid, but people are more impressed.
Parenting is hard whether you are on a boat or in a house. Sleep deprivation is still sleep deprivation.
Sometimes I have no idea what to write on the blog.
It can be hard to focus on work when all you want to do is sail off into the sunset.
All boat work must be done with a beer in hand.
We still haven’t used our dinghy.
Why does the bilge always smell weird after we sail?
Conor keeps accidentally dropping AC filters into the river when he cleans them. We are on #3 now.
Using a cockpit as my writing office is super sweet, until the bugs come out in summer.
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.”
It is hard to get your significant other Christmas/birthday/anniversary presents because you don’t have anywhere to put them.
I have only worn makeup 8 times this year. Hobo boater fashion is going to catch on, I just know it.
Occasionally when the weather is horrible, I envy the people in base housing.
Doing the black water pump out always smells bad. In 4 degrees or 90. The first time or the thirtieth time.
Some friends like to exert their dominance by peeing on the boat, knowing that Conor will have to drag their urine up a hill.
Ice is a novelty.
It is okay to say, “I don’t know why it’s doing that.”
What is ‘personal space’?
The best part of Conor’s day is sliding open the hatch and yelling “Hello girls!” Even when the baby is napping.
We are thankful to be doing this today instead of 30 years from now.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
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!