This is our third recap video! Check out 2017 and 2018 if you need a blast from the past before watching 2019!
So much has happened this year—Conor took a trip to Norway and also graduated from WTI. I published my second book and wrote a third. W is speaking in complete sentences and scooter-ing down the docks like a madwoman. I can’t believe we have a 2-year-old!
This year was also filled with visits from family and friends, epic sails and sunsets, and (probably) too many cocktails.
Here’s the wrap up! The accompanying song is “Wars” by the Strumbellas (thanks for a great time, Nashville!)
Well, folks, it finally happened. After 2+ years of living aboard, my phone decided to go for a swim.
W and I were playing up in the cockpit yesterday morning. She was of course wearing her life jacket, but decided to try and step off the boat by herself. I grabbed her before she succeeded, and in doing so I sacrificed my phone.
PLOP. Right into the river.
I looked at her. She looked at me. “Mama. Uh oh!”
Yep. Uh oh was right.
I think drowning a phone is right of passage for all boaters. I’m actually surprised I held out this long. A wave of acceptance washed over me as I stared into the murky depths below. Sighing, I went to procure a net. My wonderful neighbor Ron came out and used his expertise to fish for it. Apparently, this was the fourth phone he’d scooped up this year.
Five minutes later, it was back in my hands, covered in mud. It had a case on it, but the port covers were not all the way sealed when it dunked. I wiped it off as best I could, put it in a bag of rice for 24 hours, and hoped for the best.
There was nothing more to do, so why stress? Surprisingly, it ended up being an awesome 24 hours. I kind of liked not being able to talk to anyone, be “on call”, feel guilty for not responding to people right away. No hotspot, no internet, nothing but the here and now. I was completely unplugged and totally present.
W and I had a wonderful day. After my weekend trip to Nashville to celebrate my mom’s 60th, I missed our quality time together. It was quiet and sweet, just the two of us. After she went to bed, instead of procrastinating with Netflix I did some boat projects that had been on my to-do list for a while and got some editing done.
This morning, miracle of miracles, the phone worked when I turned it back on. It is a little janky—the speakerphone works but not regular audio, the center button freaks out, and I am having trouble importing pictures to my computer—but it lives. I thought for sure it was done.
I am happy and grateful that my phone works, but this past day was a great reminder to slow down. I want to make it a regular thing, maybe once per week. Turn everything off and not worry that I’m missing out on something. The cruising lifestyle requires this, so it will be good practice for next year!
As the tagline for this blog points out, ‘we are a military family sailing by the seat of our pants’. Therefore, when I saw this quote, I immediately felt it in my bones:
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” —General George Patton
We are learning as we go. We are not boat experts, or salty sailors, or even semi-experienced cruisers. Yes, it is scary. We could have waited to live this life until we felt more prepared, had better timing, weren’t raising a toddler, no longer in the military…waiting, waiting, waiting…
What we have is messy, sometimes chaotic, difficult, and time-consuming. Constant learning curves, fixing what breaks, and always getting interrupted whenever we settle into a routine. It is decidedly not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. I would take this life a million times over rather than still be in the planning phase, too afraid to pull the trigger until I answered all the ‘what-ifs’ that kept me up at night.
Right now I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is mostly about writing, but her advice for creative living beyond fear is also applicable to liveaboard life, or for anyone who yearns to live passionately.
She says: “And you have treasures hidden within you—extraordinary treasures—and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing these treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”
So if you have faith and focus and courage and devotion, you already have the tools you need to put your plan into action. Figure it out as you go, but don’t wait forever to make the decision. What would you do if you were not afraid?
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.
We are fair-weather sailors and not ashamed to admit it. Though one day we aspire to be salty and experienced in all conditions, now is not the time to be reckless. We have a baby on board. Enough said.
I will admit it can be frustrating. In order for us to take the boat out, we have to work around nap schedules, military life, and weather windows. Basically, we have to sail on weekends, with decent temperatures, no storms or high winds in the 12-hour forecast, and be back at the dock in time for baby bedtime routine. This perfection only occurs about once or twice per month, sadly.
Before W came around, “good enough” conditions were just fine. It was a thrill to handle the unexpected, and learn on our toes. Now, it just isn’t worth sacrificing our family happiness to push ourselves to the limit on the boat. Stressed out Mama=stressed out baby, and that means lots of screaming. That is not my idea of quality family time!
So for now we are making the most of our easy sailing days, and focusing on making positive memories with our boat baby. We had an absolutely wonderful, easy sailing day this weekend with some good friends. Sunny, 7 mph winds, and 68 degrees. Conor and I actually got a few pictures together! Can you believe it’s November?
I’m hoping this won’t be our last sail of the season, but I have to accept that it may well be. Last year, temperatures dropped dramatically after Thanksgiving. If we are lucky enough to have good weather for the next few weeks, we will jump on our chance. But if there is any doubt…well, we still have springtime sailing to look forward to!
We are SO lucky to be surrounded by conscientious and considerate boaters. Because our facilities at Gottschalk are shared by everyone with a slip, having kind liveaboard neighbors is a must. It is very different from having neighbors in an apartment or house! Here are some of the unspoken ‘rules’ of Gottschalk Marina that everyone seems to abide by. They make for a happy environment and a community that we are proud to be a part of.
If you’re doing laundry, set a timer. We only have one working washer and dryer right now, so it is extra important to free up the machines for the next person to use ASAP! I try to work around W’s nap schedule so I don’t leave clothes for too long while we are stuck on the boat.
Everyone takes their bagged trash all the way out to the dumpster in the parking lot. There is a small trashcan by the bathrooms, but we all go the extra mile to get it off the docks.
Leave the bathroom nicer than when you arrived. Remarkably, there are very few bathroom complications for the amount of people sharing two bathrooms. I know I always close the shower curtain so it can dry, clean my hair out of the drain, replace the toilet paper, etc. All these little things take just a few seconds, but when everyone does them, they stay clean!
Return the dock carts to the front when you are done using them. There are only two, so there needs to be at least one available for people hauling groceries, laundry, supplies, and more. I know I appreciate it because I already have my hands full with a baby!
Rinse the pumpout caddy when you are done using it. Enough said.
Always request permission to come aboard someone’s boat. Even if the part you’re stepping onto is technically outside, you are still basically stepping into someone’s living room uninvited if you don’t ask. As liveaboards, our boat is our home. I wouldn’t open your front door and barge in.
Anything you were surprised by? What are the ‘rules’ of your neighborhood or marina? Post questions or comments below!
Just because we are small on space doesn’t mean we are small on flavor. Welcome to a new segment of the blog: Cooking With Conor! I’m proud to say that my husband has mastered the art of cooking on the boat, and I want to share some of his favorite recipes with you all.
Cooking on the boat isn’t that much different than cooking in a small apartment. Our galley is surprisingly well-equipped. We have a three-burner propane stove, an oven, a microwave, a fridge, and a deep pantry cabinet. Our favorite part, though, is our little grill outside.
It hooks up to a stanchion, but Conor flipped it around so he could stand on the dock instead of hunched over in the cockpit. We use this little baby just about every day during the summer. When it gets up to 100 degrees out, we try to do everything we can to avoid heating up the inside of the boat! Plus, you can’t beat the evening view.
Here is one of our favorite ‘boat life’ adaptations: grilled pizza.
Looks amazing, right?? Super simple too. It’s a salt pizza dough, just find a recipe you like online and adapt it to taste. Roll it flat, coat with oil, and stick it straight onto your grill. Let it cook for a few minutes until firm, then add your toppings. For this pizza, he put tomato sauce, goat cheese, pancetta, and onions. Let the whole thing sit for about 5 more minutes. The key with grilled pizza is not to overload it with toppings. Keep it light so the dough is crispy!
This was another great one: tomato sauce, mozzarella chunks, and prosciutto. Add arugula after you remove it from heat.
While Conor is a master chef, I am rather lazy when it comes to boat cooking. Especially when Conor is gone, the last thing I feel like doing after a long day is cooking an elaborate meal for one when W goes to bed. Here is the Tay style of boat cooking:
Hot Logic. Note: This is my personal opinion, I have no affiliation with Hot Logic. They have no idea me or my blog exists. This is just a tip for people with boats, offices, dorms, etc.
Hot Logics are basically little lunchboxes that you can plug in to cook your food! At some point in the afternoon, I can toss in a frozen fish filet and some veggies into a pan, coat everything in olive oil and spices, and plug in the Hot Logic. When dinner time rolls around, my food is cooked, I have one dish to clean up, and I didn’t have to turn on the oven. Kinda like a crock-pot, but everything fits in our little oven when not in use! We have two mini ones and a big one. They are also great for keeping food warm when cooking for a lot of people in a small galley.
Anyone care to share your favorite cooking tips? What makes your life easier? Favorite recipes? Comment below!
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.
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.
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!