After Florence

We. Are. Home.

I can hardly describe the relief I felt as we drove into the Gottschalk Marina parking lot after a 10 hour drive from Atlanta. When I saw the dock house intact and all the sailboat masts standing tall, I almost cried. I just felt so proud of our little marina and all of the responsible boat owners who helped insure we would all make it through this hurricane. The power was already back on to the slips, the bathrooms cleaned out, a new washer and dryer were up and running, and everyone was hard at work on their boats.

You would hardly know that just a few days ago, the river tried to consume the marina. Now the only pieces of evidence left from this failed attempt are muddy floors, some broken wood boards, kayak dock damage, and felled trees nearby. After a force of nature tried to destroy everything, life has miraculously returned to normal.

I keep hearing stories about other marinas in the area that didn’t fare as well as we did, and I am so grateful we had a boat to come home to. This was the first true test of Story Time’s fortitude, and she weathered the storm like a champion. There was absolutely no damage to our boat, inside or out. The automatic bilge pump did its job and everything was clean and dry. When we left her two weeks ago, I remember being fully prepared to lose her in the worst case scenario. I envisioned the best case scenario as some damage, but still livable while we fixed her up. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine NO DAMAGE in a direct hit from a Category 2 hurricane. I should go buy a lottery ticket.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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Cheers to a great homecoming!
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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!

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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

Hurricane Florence

Currently watching Hurricane Florence circle ever closer to the North Carolina coast…from our hotel room in Atlanta. Yep, we are nowhere near this destructive storm and have evacuated to Georgia.

To say the last three days were hectic would be a gross understatement. Sunday we were nervously watching the forecast and making to-do lists. Monday we were taking down canvas, bimini, sails, and wind generator. Tuesday was the ‘Oh Shit’ realization that we had to leave, and we worked from 5am to 5pm getting the boat ready. All of our interior closets, drawers, and cabinets had to be stuffed with padding and taped down. Water tanks were filled for ballast, lines were taped down in the cockpit pocket, everything that could be moved off the boat was put into storage. Once the inside and outside were as hurricane-proof as we could make them, we centered the boat in the slip and tied all of the lines we had to the dock.

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Our marina is located in a fairly decent hurricane hole with floating docks. The storm surge is projected to be around 6-8 feet there. I’m mostly worried about the high winds and one of the boats in the marina coming loose. If the boats can withstand the wind without significant damage, then the flooding and storm surge will be no problem. Boats will do what boats do–float!

My heart was still in my throat when we left, though. There will be damage to our home, either the boat or the marina, that much I know. I just hope that it won’t be insurmountable and that we and our friends don’t lose it all.

To lighten things up, here is a text we got from our dear boat friends who made it safely to Florida:

“I think I was drunk when I was packing originally. I’ll give you a rough inventory of what I determined were ‘essential items’… Electric toothbrush charger (but not the toothbrush apparently, that’s at home), a tent (no other camping gear), 10 lbs of dried beans (nothing to cook them with–pot, stove, not even a spoon), all of my bottles of wine, every pill bottle we had, and 4 raincoats for our party of 2.”

I laughed so hard I cried when I read this. People are the most important things in life. Everything else is extra.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

A Very Crabby Morning

We had an unexpected guest on our boat this morning, and he made a lot of trouble for something so small.

The A.C. had suddenly stopped working. It wasn’t completely unexpected, because the tide had been out for a couple of days. We were sitting in a lot of mud, and that is what usually clogs up the raw water filter. Clogged filter= A.C. trip.

So with a sigh, I pulled up the floorboard and unscrewed the filter, and just about had a heart attack. A crab popped out and scurried into the bilge! He was the size of a quarter and super fast. I managed to coerce him into a mason jar and set to work getting the A.C. back on.

Nothing. The compressor didn’t turn on, and neither did the fan. That meant it was an electrical issue. Our little friend had blown the fuse!

Replacing the fuse was a pain in the butt. To reach it, I had to unscrew our settee bench, pull the cover off, find the fuse, put in a new one, and put everything back together again. Also, all of our tools were over in the dockhouse. I loaded W up to go get everything we needed and got to work. It is always a race against the sun when dealing with an A.C. malfunction, and I was very glad it wasn’t too hot out yet.

Here’s a visual:

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Step 1: Capture wildlife
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Step 2: Contain infant
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Step 3: Break apart living room
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Step 4: Figure out where fuse is, then replace. (It is the circular knob on the very bottom of the electric box)

Long story short: I am woman, hear me roar. This boat mama got everything up and running in 45 minutes.

Oh, and our new friend was set free to make trouble elsewhere.

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Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you all have a fun and safe Labor Day weekend.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Fire on the Dock!

On Monday night, I took Scout outside at 8:30pm to go potty. Everything was quiet and normal. Scout did her thing in the parking lot and we headed back to the boat. As we crossed the metal bridge from the dockhouse to the floating dock, I noticed a bunch of smoke coming from slip #54. This slip contains a little-used cabin cruiser (I’ve never even met the owners) exactly in the middle of B dock.

It is funny how my brain tried to rationalize it. At first, I thought it was someone running their engine and it was just exhaust, even though it was dead silent. I just couldn’t connect what I was seeing. Then I saw sparks shooting from the electrical hookup and realized, OH SHIT.

Scout, in her usual fashion, had already started to hightail it back to our boat ahead of me. I frantically called her back before she got too close to the fire, and then decided I needed an adultier adult to help.

I banged on the closest boat to me, the Colonel’s boat. He is also a liveaboard, thankfully. He barreled out and grabbed a personal fire extinguisher off his boat. He put out the fire and switched off the fuse box while I called 911 from a safer distance.

Within 10 minutes it seemed like the entire Camp Lejeune fire department had arrived. They checked the hookup box and boarded the boat to check for damage inside. I had to give a statement regarding what I saw. Luckily, the fire was contained to where the power cords connected and nothing else was affected.

I think I saw the fire within minutes of it starting. I’m trying not to think too hard about what could have happened if it started in the middle of the night. The dock could have gone up, as well as some of the neighboring boats if it got really out of hand.

Hopefully this was a freak occurrence, a once-in-a-lifetime scare. I’m thankful that nobody got hurt and that the liveaboard community is so vigilant and prepared. We are here 24/7 to keep an eye on the marina and our boats!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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Thank goodness for fire extinguishers!

Lucky St. Paddy’s Day

It was race day on Saturday! The Ragged Point Yacht Club is made up of both sailboats and motorboats in Gottschalk Marina, and every month or so the RPYC hosts a sailboat race. They usually try to coincide with a holiday weekend to get the most sailors out on the water.

Everyone has been trying to get us to participate for months, but we’ve been pretty busy with Conor’s two deployments to Europe, my third trimester, and finally Miss W’s arrival (accompanied by intense sleep deprivation). I’m sad to say that actually using our sailboat for its intended purpose has taken a backseat to day-to-day life, and we’ve done zero winter sailing!

Needless to say, we had been itching to get back out on the water. Conor’s parents were visiting for the weekend and were enthusiastic about crewing a race. Because Baby W is still a bit too small for me to feel comfortable taking her as a 5th crew member on our own boat, we had to figure something else out.

Our slip neighbor, Tom, offered to take Conor and my in-laws out on his boat instead. Tom is an AMAZING sailor and worked as an instructor and delivery captain for years. He gave everyone some great (free) instruction for the 3 hr race. It paid off, because they won! What was the cost of this great experience? A couple beers and an exchange of stories.

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Awaiting instruction from Captain Tom
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Mike and Farley heading out
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Beautiful day for a race

Looking back, we should have started crewing races in California. I think we were just too intimidated to walk down to Oceanside harbor with a six pack and ask around. Who would want people with hardly any experience to crew a boat? Wouldn’t it be more trouble than we’re worth? What if we messed up on someone else’s boat?

Now that we know the culture, I laugh at our assumptions. No matter the skill level, if you love sailing, other sailors want to hang out with you! I promise it is true. You automatically have things in common with a great group of people. You don’t even need to own a boat to be part of a sailing or yacht club. The RPYC welcomes anyone who wants to participate. So if you’re reading this and want to come out and try a race, please send me a message on our contact page! You can come crew on our boat when we race, or I can help hook you up with some other captains at the marina. Don’t be scared!

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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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!