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

Learn Our Lingo

If you ever come and stay aboard Story Time for a while, you’ll need to learn a few key phrases that are particular to our boat.

Tokyo Drift—This refers to a combination of prop walk and wind while we are attempting to dock. It is when Conor stops trying to steer and lets the boat drift its way into our slip. He pretends to be in Fast and the Furious.

Winch Wench—This term is for whoever is working the sails (male or female). I like alliteration, okay?

Drop It Low—Inside our main settee, we can lower our table and put a cushion on top for a comfy way to watch TV. Speaking of which, who is pumped for the Game of Thrones premiere tonight?!

Bumpin’—The term for the way our boat rocks front to back when a Nor’easter blows through. The dock slams down next to the stern of our boat. Bump Bump Bump. It is super annoying in the middle of the night.

Pump Out Beer—References the beers you consume both before and after doing a pump out.

Waked—When some jackass in a fishing boat zooms through the marina at 30 mph and sends you + everything inside the boat flying.

Hit The Gas—Surprisingly, not a term for under power while on our boat. It almost always means “Please turn on the solenoid switch so I can cook dinner on the stove. Thanks, honey.”

Smells Boaty—Just like how every family home you go into has its own distinct smell, every boat does too. It is most noticeable with stuff that doesn’t get washed often (bags, shoes, etc) when we are off the boat. It’s a smell you’ll have to experience for yourself to understand. Don’t worry, you will also take it back with you. It’s not gross, just boaty.

Weather Window—When I obsessively check the Accuweather app for a time period with perfect conditions before we take the boat out.

Up Help—W is also contributing to our family lingo aboard and when she says/signs “Up Help”, it exclusively means that she wants to climb the stairs and needs our permission to watch her as she ascends. This happens at least twenty times per day.

climb
LET ME OUT!

What silly words or phrases do you use while aboard? Or do you have any unique ways of communication in your family? We would love to hear!

 

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

How to Buy and Live Aboard a Sailboat in Your 20s (with little experience)

In honor of moving aboard our Catalina 380 this weekend (!) this post is dedicated to the people who want to do the same thing, but don’t know how or where to start. Having just been through this 6 month process, here is a step-by-step list of how we did it. Keep in mind, we aren’t cruising yet! This is about living at a marina in the U.S.

(NOTE- This is a LONG technical post. If you’re looking for an update on “Conor and Tay’s Big Adventure”…hi Mom, hi Dad…it will be up tomorrow)

1) Take a sailing 101 class. Make sure you actually like sailing. If you hate it but like the simplicity of small living or dock life, think about a trawler.

2) Make sure you and your partner (if you have one) are on the same page. Go to your local boat show, and tour different models. How small are you willing to go? Which boats do you fit comfortably in? Are you a fan of catamarans or do you like the traditional feel of a monohull? What would you need to live day-to-day? And last but not least: what kind of use are you looking to get from your boat? Coastal cruising or bluewater?

3) Start saving money. You will need to put between 10-20% down on your boat. Also, a lot of extra fees will pop up, so leave some wiggle room. We saved 25% of our max boat budget. (Make a note: figure out your own max budget/expenses projected at least 3 years out)

4) Research marinas in your area. If you are west coast, you might have a harder time finding marinas that allow liveaboards (some only allow 10% of slips to be liveaboards). What is the wait list? In California, it was up to 10 years. Price to dock per foot of boat? Are the facilities nice? Is it a reasonable commute to work? It would really suck to buy a boat, only to find out that you can’t live on it! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PLACE TO PUT YOUR BOAT BEFORE YOU BUY IT!

5) If the stars are aligning and you’ve found your perfect marina, contact a local BUYERS boat broker. They work for you, like a real estate agent. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Look at sailing forums, see what people have to say about certain agencies or brokers. Call around, and find someone you mesh with. I decided on our broker based on his great reputation, his bio (lived aboard for 15 years—can’t beat that expertise!), and the fact that the brokerage company as a whole promised to help newbie buyers navigate a complicated process. I wanted someone who would be patient with us and answer questions we didn’t know we had. If you don’t get that vibe, look for a better broker. They’re honest and they’re out there, you just have to do the legwork.

6) Start getting rid of all of your shit. Donate it, sell it, store the important stuff with family—and even though you THINK you’ve downsized to your bare minimum, you will still have way to much. We downsized to a 7×7 POD (only half full, too!) and I’ve discovered we will only need about a third of it all. Once it is gone, you won’t miss it, I promise.

7) Remember what I said about the boat show? Make a list with your broker about your wants/likes. You can talk make/models, but if this is your first boat, keep an open mind. Then let him or her do their thing. Our broker came back with 3 solid choices, and 2 additional boats that he thought would be a good fit, even though they didn’t fit our minimum length requirement. Lo and behold, we went with the smallest boat!

8) Once you’ve found your dream boat, you’ll need financing. You will put an offer on the boat, making sure that the deal is CONTINGENT ON SECURED FINANCING and a SATISFACTORY SURVEY. This clause is important, because if you can’t get the money or your survey sucks, you can walk away from the deal. 10% of the boat cost will go into an escrow account (remember when I said to save money?) while you find someone to finance your boat. Such a large loan that is not a house is difficult for some credit unions and banks to wrap their heads around. If you’re younger like us, they will basically laugh at you. Be prepared to have someone older than you with a longer credit history cosign the loan. Our cosigner will never pay a CENT of our loan, but he was needed on the paperwork. We went with LIGHTSTREAM for financing, a division of Sun Trust Bank, because their rates were reasonable and they allow liveaboards.

9) Schedule a survey with a certified surveyor. This will include a thorough check of the boat’s internal and external systems, as well as a haul out to inspect the bottom/keel (Ding ding! Surprise fees! See my post about our survey for more details). Your boat broker and the current owners will accompany you for this. It is an excellent time to ask questions about the boat! What are her quirks? What is their favorite thing about her? If no major issues are found during the survey, then is no need to counter-offer back and forth with the current owners regarding your original offer.

10) Now for the tricky part—GETTING INSURANCE! We hit a snag on this one. Nobody wants to insure first time boat owners, especially when your boat is a lot of money and you want to live on it. Add in the fact that we have never actually sailed a boat this size, and we were in trouble. Forums will tell you all the time to just get regular boat insurance and not tell your insurance company that you live on it, but I refused to lie. I was not going to deal with the anxiety of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, and plus, this blog would give us away in a heartbeat! WR HODGENS MARINE INSURANCE was willing to work with us, thankfully. They don’t care if you want to live aboard, and we were able to get insurance by adding in a “Captain’s Clause”. This was basically our promise to not take the boat off of the dock unless we were accompanied by a certified captain. Once we have fulfilled a certain number of private instruction hours on our boat, our captain will send in a letter to the insurance agency stating that we have enough experience to be on our own. Then voila! Restriction removed and we will be the sole operators of our vessel.

*Remember when applying that ALL boat experience is experience, even small powerboats. Every little bit counts.

11) Once you have insurance, then you wire the rest of the money into the escrow account, the old owners sign the paperwork, and you’re the proud new owner of your boat! Everybody wins.

12) MOVE ABOARD YOUR BOAT! The old owners (absolute saints that they are and knowing that we are newbies) left us a detailed manual on how things work (galley, head, AC., etc) that we’ve been slowly working our way through. Even the simplest tasks become so much harder on a boat! We’re learning, though, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our first private lesson is next weekend, and until then, I’m just focusing on not hitting my head on everything.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

PS—If you have specific questions pertaining to your own situation, please feel free to email or comment and ask! I would love to help you out 🙂