A quick update for everyone—we are safe, we are back, docks are still standing, boats are still floating. Thank you to everyone who kept Story Time and all of Gottschalk Marina in their thoughts during Hurricane Dorian. We know how lucky we were to just get a small taste of Dorian before he headed out to the ocean. Hopefully this will be the only evacuation this season (knock on wood).
So happy to be back to normal life, and I can’t wait for this part of the year to be over.
This weekend, I planned to have an epic post to share with you all. The original Labor Day weekend plan was to motor to Swansboro, stay the night, offshore sail in the freaking OCEAN, stay another night in Swansboro, and then return to Gottschalk with some incredible stories.
Then Hurricane Dorian appeared on the horizon, and plans changed.
Instead, we did an overnight raft up with some of our bestest dock buddies and stayed in New River! For those of you who don’t know what a raft up is, it is when one boat drops anchor and the rest tie up on either side. For this raft up, there were 4 boats in total—Zach and Corri were the “anchor” boat on Minoh, Story Time was on her port side, April Fools (a catamaran) was on the starboard, and the littlest boat was a 26-footer on the end.
It was a ton of fun to be able to walk across 4 boats to eat, drink, chat, and take in the views. 80 degrees, cool breeze, light chop, and surrounded by laughing friends… anchoring out always feels like something out of a dream. It is so removed from real life I wish everyone could experience it. In such perfect weather, it was hard remember that there is a very real hurricane threat lurking.
The next morning, after coffee and breakfast and amid W’s absolute obsession with her “CoCo” (Corri), we hit the beach. Can you tell we were still a bit in denial about the hurricane to-do list waiting for us back at the marina?
I’m thankful we took the time to enjoy ourselves before hurling into this week and all the drama it will bring. Boats are a LOT of work and can be a pain in the butt, especially around this time of year. It was nice to appreciate Story Time for all the joy she brings to our lives before cursing a lengthy checklist while Dorian bears down.
The boat owners of Gottschalk Marina took a little field trip together on Saturday. We all went down to Swansboro for Derby Day! I had no idea what to expect, except for the fact that that most people were going to dress up. This, as you know, is normally a momentous occasion for boat people, especially liveaboards. I think we cleaned up very nicely!
The event itself was impressive, though no one seemed to care much about the actual race! We had a great time hanging with our boat tribe at the docks, drinking mint juleps and crowd-watching. Our friends stayed the whole weekend. They took a 42 ft sailboat and a 48 ft powerboat down on Friday to get slips in the middle of the action. We just drove there for the day this year, but we will definitely bring Story Time next year! It is only a 5 hour motor out of New River and into the ICW.
We need to keep an eye out for other day trip opportunities like this. How lucky are we that we can just take our home with us? Time to start taking advantage of it more. Although, our friends did say that they missed Gottschalk after the third day. Can you be homesick while bringing your home with you? While travel is amazing, I think it is always nice to return to familiar territory and routine. Home is also the people you surround yourself with, and we are grateful to have such amazing friends here.
Because Story Time is officially back at it this season! Sunday was our first sail of 2019 and MAN did it feel great to be out on the water again. 75 degrees and sunny with 5-10 knot winds means that winter has finally lifted. Conor is home from Norway at last, and there is no better way to reconnect as a family than doing what we love all together.
It didn’t matter that we discovered a rip in our mainsail (again! Seriously, wtf) and the wind died on us for about an hour out there, because our engine ran great, our rigging looks good, and Story Time seems no worse for the wear after hanging out in her slip for the past 4 months.
We had a magical encounter with a pod of 6 dolphins that played around our boat for at least 20 minutes. I could have reached out and touched them, they were that close. I was a bit nervous to see how W would cooperate while we were sailing now that she’s extremely mobile, but she loves her sailing harness and was very into ‘helping’ with the lines.
Looking at this picture makes my heart so full. She’s only 15 months but ready to dive right in to every adventure. I can just see the little girl she’ll become—brave and fierce!
I’m keeping this post short and sweet so we can get back to family time, but now that Conor is home I will be able to update more frequently with sailing and liveaboard life. After only 2 posts in March (gah!) I promise to be more on top of it in April.
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.
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.
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.
shirtless boat work
the smell of sunscreen
coolers full of beer
long, hot dock walks
the sudden crack of lightning
humidity sticking to skin
flip flop tan lines
a busy marina
Can’t wait for:
chilly nights wrapped in blankets
sweaters and scarves
W’s first snow
coffee in the cockpit
sailing on an empty river
4:00 moon rise
Conor’s holiday leave
curling up by the heater with a good book
What are you sad to say goodbye to? What are you excited for?
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:
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:
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!
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.