The First Leg

We left Gottschalk Marina on Tuesday morning and are Virginia bound! Goodbyes were happy/sad. On one hand, we were so excited to use the boat for its intended purpose—TRAVEL! On the other hand, we had to leave our safety net and boat family to do it. For our farewell, we had everyone write “Stories For Story Time” in a notebook to take with us: a favorite memory, a word that comes to mind when they think of us, or any hopes for the future.

Day 1: New River to Swansboro

Weather: GUSTY, cold, clear. Not too choppy.

Travel time: 7 hours, 27 nautical miles

Highs: Dolphins! And starting the adventure. Motor and systems running smoothly, no issues at the Onslow swing bridge.

Lows: New River Inlet is a hazard. The charts DO NOT line up with the route, too much has shifted over the past two years. It is incredibly shallow and easy to lose the channel. We ran aground and Tow Boat US had to come pull us out, and even he couldn’t find the channel again for over an hour. Proceed with caution to ICW.

Final thoughts: I’m SO PROUD of Conor for his excellent navigation and docking skills. He received some very high compliments at the marina we docked at for working against a tricky current and getting us lined up safely.

On our way!

Day 2: Swansboro to Morehead

Weather: Butt Cold

Travel Time: 4 hours, 22 NM

Highs: No running aground! And we got to our transient slip by 2pm with plenty of time to explore. Also, the dock had a pumpout service. Conor said it was the most incredible $10 he ever spent.

Lows: A few toddler meltdowns as she adjusted to this new travel routine. Plus, it was too freaking cold.

Final Thoughts: We were not as prepared for the cold weather as we should have been. When we were packing and organizing for the trip last week, it was 80 degrees. Conor forgot to get a pair of gloves out of storage before he shipped the POD. I can’t believe the temperature halved in less than a week!

Day 3&4: Morehead to Oriental + Rest Day

Weather: Significantly warmer, breezy, rolly across the Neuse River

Travel Time: 4 hrs, 22 NM

Highs: Getting into a rhythm as a family. Hanging with everyone up in the cockpit and listening to music as the NC coast went by. Conor was complimented AGAIN on his docking skills as he navigated a tricky, narrow slip into Oriental (Another cruising family said it was a “10/10”)

Lows: My nerves at the helm.

Final Thoughts: We are enjoying our extra day in Oriental to relax and take time as a family. It is starting to feel like a real vacation as we explore this adorable sailing town.

Story Time in her Oriental slip

One of the coolest moments so far was after we docked in Oriental and another sailboat family asked how long we had been doing this for. I said, “We’ve been living aboard for just over three years,” as I chased my toddler up the dock while holding a baby.

She said, “Oh, that explains the docking then! We have only been doing this since October.”

There were so many things I wanted to say to this woman, but I had to follow W before she got too far ahead. I wanted to tell her that docking used to make me want to throw up. That the learning curve is SO steep for her right now, but it will get better. That it is normal to feel completely overwhelmed.

I’ve admired many sailing families over the years, hoping and waiting for the day when we would get on their “level”. It hit me yesterday that from the perspective of this stranger, we actually knew what we were doing! Little does she know…

Last thing: confession time. I’m struggling at the helm away from the familiar territory of the New River. I’m out of practice. I have always had a hard time spatially, and maps have never been my strong point. Adding in the confusion of the charts not matching up the first two days of travel, I’ve been too anxious to do much at the wheel. My attention is also always split with what the kids are doing, and it is hard to focus. Thank goodness we decided to do short travel days.

I’ll try to update on our rest days!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

Evacuation Round 2

There is nothing quite like the quiet that blankets a marina before a hurricane. You would expect that the days leading up to it would be all hustle and bustle, everyone on deck as they prepare their boats for the worst. You think it would be loud—halyards clanging and dock carts rumbling and people chatting. Last-minute laundry, canvas coming down, and engines rumbling.

Instead, tension tightens the air. Conversation is stilted; “Do you need help with anything? When are you evacuating?” Everyone keeps their head down trying to remember an expanding list of stuff left to do. We watch the horizon and worry about how much time we have left. The humidity weighs us down and fills our lungs. We move through water, drained mentally and physically. The list never seems to get shorter, and after our 30th trip up and down the docks, we are tired. Dinner consists of whatever we can scrounge from the fridge before we have to throw out the rest. Pump outs, fuel, water tanks… Oh! Don’t forget the sea cocks under the v-berth. Did anyone tape the propane valves shut?

One slip up and it could cost us a lot—even our boat. I will admit, we are more prepared this time than for Florence. In August, Boat Tribe came up with a checklist for hurricane season. I thought I would share it here:

checklist1

 

checklist2.jpg

Now, we watch and wait while Hurricane Dorian directs its wrath toward the North Carolina coast. Yesterday, we evacuated inland to Winston-Salem and are safe and sound. Story Time survived Florence, Gottschalk Marina endured, and I’m hoping we will be as lucky this time around. Keeping everyone affected in our hearts this week. If you’re in the path, let us know how you fare.

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.

hurricane florence

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