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 ensure 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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Other Awesome People Doing Other Awesome Things

I try to do at least 3 blog posts every month, but if any of you readers are looking for other great blogs to follow while you wait for me to get my shit together and actually write something, I have a few recommendations.

Live Free 2 Sail Fast is another military family working to get a sailboat ready for cruising. They are on the west coast and have been incredibly supportive of our journey so far. If you think we’re crazy, they’ve got kids and a GREAT DANE on a sailboat! Follow them 🙂 https://livefree2sailfast.com/

Windtraveler has been our inspiration from day one, and got the ball rolling with thoughts of, “This looks cool. What if we could do this one day?” Their three adorable little girls are living the island life, and Mom and Dad have great tips about parenting aboard. The blog can be found at http://www.windtraveler.net/

Boats, Boards, and Babies are a family with three little boys who split time on a sailboat in the Caribbean and ‘real life’ on the east coast. They have great tips for boating and travel with little ones. Their website: https://explorenewshores.com/

Women Who Live on Rocks is a space for women writers to share funny and real stories about island life. Their experiences make me yearn for the day when I can join their ranks! https://womenwholiveonrocks.com/

The S/V Ruby Rose crew posts incredibly detailed videos about boat maintenance. They are Conor’s go-to guide for videos on engines, installation, electricity, and more. Follow at http://yachtrubyrose.com/

Jason and Nikki Wynn of Gone with the Wynns are a couple who started out with hardly any sailing experience and now cruise full time on their bluewater catamaran. Here’s their site: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/

I’m always on the lookout for other adventurers to follow, so if anyone has recommendations for other blogs, please post below in the comments section! Shout out to all the people who are making their big dreams happen.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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Does the fact that I can still do a handstand count as awesome?

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!

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!

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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Aren’t I Supposed to Relax on Vacation?

I can’t pinpoint when it happened—the moment the boat stopped being just a boat and became a member of the family. Maybe it was all my fretting during hurricane season, and the thought of how devastated I would be if we lost her. Maybe it was during our first solo expedition, and how she helped guide us safely across the water as we learned together. Instead of a mode of transportation or the vessel for our minimalist lifestyle, the boat has somehow evolved to become an equal partner on this adventure. We take care of her, and she takes care of us.

Leaving the boat for an extended period of time gives me anxiety. I think about her all the time when we’re away, even though I double-triple checked everything. Conor laughs and says I’m being paranoid. “It’s a boat, it will be fine for just a week without you!” I know he’s right. Our marina is protected, the dock lines are secure, anything electric (that is unnecessary) is off. But temperature and wind speeds are always on my mind as I check the weather back home for the latest updates.

I used to roll my eyes at blogs that would refer to their boats as ‘she’ and ‘her’. I feel the same way about people naming their cars. But a boat somehow becomes more over time. A boat has quirks and a personality that you get to know intimately while living aboard. You have to be in tune with her, and the consequences of not listening to what she’s saying could be disastrous and dangerous. I think that’s why I get so nervous leaving our boat alone—she could be yelling that something is wrong, but nobody is there to hear! Thankfully, we have some awesome liveaboard neighbors that I know will step in if there is an emergency while we are away. I just need to relax!

You’d think I would have seen this obsessiveness about the boat coming—just ask Scout, who has never been away from my side for more than three nights total since we adopted her over two years ago.

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Scout insists on being held like a toddler at every opportunity.

I am a self-professed crazy dog lady. She travels everywhere with us (hotels, planes, cars, boats, restaurants) and it never even occurs to us to leave her with a sitter. If my boat could shrink to 15lbs, you bet I’d pack her up and take her with us, too!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

 

Much Ado About Nothing

Well folks, after all that preparation, the storm slowed down to nothing and never hit us. When Conor and I went to bed on Monday night, we fully expected to be woken up at 2am due to howling winds, but were instead greeted by gentle rain around 7am. Confused, we turned to each other like, “Did we miss it?”

A tiny part of me was actually looking forward to the learning experience of getting through our first storm, but that will have to wait. At least it was good practice getting the boat ready to take a beating.

Mother Nature can be so fickle. Our hearts and thoughts are with those in Houston right now, as they have just suffered the worst she has to offer. I continue to be amazed at the stories of resilience and survival I’ve read this past week, and saddened by the devastation. Why did it have to happen?

Love,

Taylor and Conor