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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tinyhome2

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!

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

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The Big Chill

How are all my east coast liveaboards out there faring during this crazy cold weather? The summer humidity seems like a lifetime ago. We were not expecting it to ever get this cold in coastal North Carolina, and the past few days have been quite the experience as we scrambled to figure out how to balance heat and available power on the boat.

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Anyone for a swim?

Our central air was working wonderfully until two days ago, when the river got too cold. Because our Marine Mermaid AC/heat relies on water intake, the system couldn’t extract enough heat to warm the boat above the low 60s. So, we turned that off (takes up too much power) and bought two space heaters. Thankfully our space is small! They are a big energy suck and we tripped the breakers more than once figuring out what appliances we could have running simultaneously. The balancing act includes unplugging the smaller heater in order to run the microwave, and god forbid we turn on the hot water at all!

For the past two days, we’ve just moved the heaters into whatever space we are occupying and shut off the rest of the boat. The v-berth has the worst insulation in the boat, so that door has been shut for a few days. We keep our bedroom door shut as well during the day and move everything for Baby W out into the main area. At night, the whole family goes into the aft cabin for a snuggly night’s sleep (or as much sleep as you can get with a newborn)!

I know that boaters up north have it wayyyy tougher than we do, and one frozen week out of the year isn’t too bad. Still, I’m really looking forward to Monday, when it is supposed to heat back up into the 60s and we can get back into our routine. The good news is that day-to-day challenges on the boat won’t seem nearly as tough after getting through this weather!

Hope you all are staying warm and dry.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Making New Friends

A couple weeks ago I received an email through the contact page on the blog. It was from a lovely couple on Camp Lejeune who had been following along with our journey and were also looking to make the leap to the liveaboard life. They wanted to meet us and learn more about everything we’d gone through over the past year.

My answer? “HELL YES!” I couldn’t wait to help out somebody else out. This was the entire reason I started the blog—to connect with people, encourage them, and be there to answer any questions. Transitioning to an unconventional lifestyle is an overwhelming and difficult process, and the blogs of my sailing role models were instrumental in getting us to where we are today. During the most difficult times, when we questioned if we were making the right decisions, I remember thinking, “If they can do it, we can do it, too.” Following in their footsteps helped us navigate an unfamiliar trail. Without them, we would have been lost. So, I decided that if I could help out at least one other person realize their liveaboard dream, then my blog would have served its purpose.

I excitedly showed the email to Conor and said, “Look! We have friends!” It was inevitable that we would click—Military family? Stationed on base? Interested in sailing? Wanting to live aboard while in the military? Have a cute dog? They were us, only the us from 6 months ago!

We met up this past weekend and it went great! Hopefully we were a good resource for them as we laid out our own experience and what to look out for. I can’t wait to see what boat they end up with and have my fingers crossed that they will be our neighbors soon. In the meantime, we’ve invited them to come check out our boat and sail with us anytime.

So if anyone is reading this blog and wants to hang out, please reach out! We don’t bite. We love nothing more than to make new friends, and want to meet you just as much as you want to meet us!

Love,

Taylor and Conor