Base Housing Problems

An interesting article caught my attention while browsing Reddit the other day: Military Survey Finds Deep Dissatisfaction With Family Housing on U.S. Bases. It just reiterated all the reasons we chose NOT to live in on-base housing in Camp Lejeune, and think outside the box instead.

I can’t say I’m surprised with what this article had to say: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-military-survey/military-survey-finds-deep-dissatisfaction-with-family-housing-on-u-s-bases-idUSKCN1Q21GR . While we had a fairly decent set up in Pendleton in our 3 bdr 2.5 bath house, we ran into so many issues with the Lincoln Military Housing Office. Everything broke down and repairs were always done in the cheapest way possible, but only after making 3+ calls to get a service person out to fix the problem.

One evening, I noticed a puddle in our laundry room under the water heater. I immediately called and (for once) the office sent someone out ASAP. Come to find out, it was because 10 other water heaters in our neighborhood had burst THAT SAME DAY and flooded homes. We were just lucky enough to catch it before the seam busted.

When my dishwasher was leaking, I had the repair people out twice, only for them to tell me I was just using the wrong dish soap (I was not) and it was basically all in my head. I went out of town for the weekend and came back to a waterbed underneath laminate floors that rippled where I walked. Cue mold specialists, industrial fans, and ruined furniture that all could have been avoided.

Those were small issues compared to what this article lists. Families are living in environmentally dangerous conditions with mold, poor water quality, lead-based paint, and faulty electrical wiring. But what is the alternative to base housing if renting or buying off-base is scarce/costly, and families need the security of base while spouses are deployed?

We chose boat life for myriad reasons—minimalism, future plans, love of sailing—but a BIG perk is being able to live on base without living in atrocious base housing. If boat life isn’t for you, I know a few families and retired military who live in an RV/camper and park it on base campgrounds. All the amenities like the commissary, hospital, and schools, but while living in your OWN home you can take with you when you PCS!

Please share your base housing experiences below, and what you’ve done to problem-solve. Military families are anything if resourceful! But when it comes to homes, we shouldn’t have to  be.

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The day we said a final farewell to base housing!

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

 

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Winter

I’m convinced that North Carolina only has two seasons: blazing hot and freezing cold. There is no in between. We seem to skip over fall and spring, leaving little time to say goodbye to summer before we are swallowed up by winter. To acknowledge this abrupt change, here is a list of some things I’ll miss, and what I’m looking forward to in the months to come.

Adios to:

  • shirtless boat work
  • the smell of sunscreen
  • coolers full of beer
  • long, hot dock walks
  • the sudden crack of lightning
  • cockpit sunsets
  • grilling
  • chirping crickets
  • humidity sticking to skin
  • fair-weather sailing
  • flip flop tan lines
  • a busy marina
  • cold showers

Can’t wait for:

  • comfort food
  • chilly nights wrapped in blankets
  • scented candles
  • holiday decorations
  • wine
  • sweaters and scarves
  • W’s first snow
  • coffee in the cockpit
  • sailing on an empty river
  • 4:00 moon rise
  • Conor’s holiday leave
  • seeing family
  • curling up by the heater with a good book

What are you sad to say goodbye to? What are you excited for?

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

bye summer

Making the Most of Evacuating

Well guys, we are still in Atlanta. The roads back to North Carolina are starting to improve but remain pretty gnarly in some spots. The plan right now is to wait a few extra days and shoot for getting home this weekend. Here’s what we know about Gottschalk Marina and how all the boats fared during the hurricane:

  • The floating docks are still floating. Yay! The storm surge was about three feet above the fixed docks.
  • One derelict boat sank in its slip
  • Three boats with some broken lines are bouncing in their slips
  • ALL the other boats were great and bobbing happily in their slips!!!
  • This means Story Time is still afloat and we have a home to return to! We’ll have to see in person if she sustained any damage but it’s looking good.

I am SO relieved. The fact that none of the boats broke loose to cause massive damage to other boats/ marina is a huge testament to how hard all of boat owners worked to prep for the hurricane. Here are some pictures that the Ragged Point Yacht Club took:

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The Gottschalk boat launch is under water, but look at all those masts still standing tall!
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This old houseboat was the only casualty at Gottschalk Marina

Sadly, our old marina in New Bern didn’t fare as well. Northwest Creek Marina faced dangerous flooding and some of the boats broke free during the high winds. Here’s what NWC looked like in the Florence aftermath:

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So many sideways sailboats 😦
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These boats broke free and are ON TOP of the fuel dock
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Thinking of all our friends at NWC

Though I am eager to go home and check on the boat, we have been making the most of our forced family vacation here. Thank goodness for USAA renter’s insurance, which has covered hotel, food, and travel costs associated with evacuating. Since finding out our boat was okay, we have been able to enjoy spending time in a big city. We took W on her first aquarium trip, and our fellow liveaboard friends (remember the packing list?) decided to come up from Florida and join us in Atlanta instead. W and I have loved having Daddy around all day!

aquarium

While we are thankful that Hurricane Florence didn’t cause too much upset in our lives, we are well aware of the devastating impact it had on the entire Carolina region. Our hearts go out to those who lost their homes, livelihoods, and family members in this disaster. Relief efforts and cleanup will ongoing for a long time. This was an eye-opening first hurricane for us.

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:

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tiny home1

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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

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

Sugar Scoop

We dodged another one. I can’t believe it. Hurricane Maria stayed 150 miles off of the North Carolina coast and is now currently churning across the Atlantic.

She passed a little closer than I was comfortable with, causing tropical storm warnings along the outer banks. The slightest shift in pressure could have pushed her ashore, leaving me to sweat it out over the last few days and constantly check the weather forecast. Thankfully, we just had two days of heavy winds and lots of chop on the water, but no real storm surge in Jacksonville.

Having never lived on the east coast before, this is my first experience with the hurricane season, and I am not looking forward to handling it each year. Is it just me, or has it been abnormally terrible this year? Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria…it never seems to stop. Seeing all of the destruction these monsters have left in their wake has me counting our blessings daily. Another part of me is wondering when our luck is going to run out, and when it will be ‘our turn’.

But in the hopes of keeping things on the positive track, we are really settling into life on base again. I’d forgotten how much easier it is when everything is within a 2 minute drive: commissary, PX, Starbucks, library, gym—our marina is pretty much in the middle of it all! Being surrounded by other military families and feeling like part of that community again has also been nice. Conor’s commute is down to 5 minutes, and it has been amazing getting extra time with him. Though we miss our NWC family and all of their impressive experience and expertise, the tradeoff living back on base has been worth it so far.

The best part about our new slip: we can step off the back of the boat and onto the dock! We are finally using one of the perks of our ‘sugar scoop’ butt. No more climbing up and over the side gate, and no more lifting Scout on and off! Gottschalk has a dinghy storage rack, so we moved our dinghy inside and reconfigured our lines for easy access. It is amazing how one small change can affect our day-to-day comfort so much. Take a look:

sugar scoop

Love,

Taylor and Conor