How to Fit 130 People on a 38-ft Boat

Yep, you read the title right. 130 people. I have no idea what possessed me to say yes to this crazy plan, but I’m so glad we did! Story Time volunteered to be one of the stops for the Camp Lejeune Officer Spouses Club “Tour of Homes” this holiday season.

First, I had to learn what a “Tour of Homes” actually was—I guess it isn’t a big thing where we’re from on the west coast? It happens around Christmastime and people buy tickets to walk through houses and look at all the festive decorations. In this case, everyone who offered to be a stop on the OSC tour also planned a particular theme, signature appetizer, and alcoholic drink. The 2019 tour this past weekend included a total of six homes scattered around base plus one surprise—US!

The other homes looked incredible. I was blown away at the attention to detail and unique looks with the Nightmare Before Christmas house, a mid-century modern vibe (think Mad Men!), and a Harry Potter wonderland. Amid such creativity, I was so nervous that people would be let down with our “Caribbean Christmas” theme and wayyyyyy fewer decorations than our counterparts. I was also watching the weather obsessively and praying that high winds and rain would stay away because we planned an indoor/outdoor event.

Here is the little blurb I wrote up for the brochure to introduce our lifestyle:

Permission to come aboard Story Time, our 38-foot Catalina sailboat! She has been home to our family of three (+dog) since early 2017. In order to become full-time liveaboards, we embraced a minimalist mindset and downsized 95% of our belongings. Everything we own now has a place and a purpose, which can make decorating for the holidays a bit challenging. Even with space limitations, our boat is still cozy and festive when all dressed up!

We decided on a Caribbean Christmas theme to represent our cruising dreams. This time next year, we will cast off and head south to island-hop for the foreseeable future. For now, we want everyone to relax during the flurry of the holiday season and remind you that “every little thing is gonna be all right”.

So, kick off your shoes, let down your hair, and drink some rum. For us, the Christmas spirit is about being surrounded by people you love. The USMC holds a special place in our hearts, and we hope yours opens to our way of life!

I hoped it set the tone for the evening to come, but I was freaking out at the thought of hosting 130 people on board over the course of 3 hours. Thankfully, they arrived in groups of about 20 and stayed for 20 min before moving on to the next house. It was enough time to send everyone down for a look belowdecks with my amazing docent and fellow liveaboard, Corri. Conor was also a great sport and cooked 40 lbs of jerk chicken to make the chilled jerk chicken and pineapple skewers while keeping everyone boozed up with a delicious rum punch.

The Gottschalk Marina family was supportive throughout the event and didn’t mind one bit that 130 strangers marched through their backyard. I had so many helpers lend us decorations, tables, tents, lights, serving trays, custom crafts, and recipes. We begged, borrowed, and stole 😉 our way through the event and in true minimalist fashion, only really spent money on food and drink. It would not have been possible without them! True boater love.

I think we were a hit. Dozens of people were intrigued by our tiny living, travel capabilities, and close-knit lifestyle. Many walked away with my business card directing them to this blog to answer further questions, so if you’re new here and learned about us from the tour, welcome! If you’re looking for downsizing tips, check out this link. If you’re looking for information on how to buy a boat and live aboard, check out this post!

Here’s a look at our tour setup:

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Punch and appetizer tent. Note the BEAUTIFUL handmade shell garland thanks to Corri’s mom.

 

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Our Christmas palm tree!

During the season of consumerism, it was a great way to show how much you can do with so little!

Happy holidays.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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2017 Recap Video

I used my (very limited) technological skills to put together a little recap video of this past year. Just a simple slideshow about our crazy journey in 2017. The song is “Sleep on the Floor” by the Lumineers. Thank you all for following us through everything!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

À La Commode!

Our boat was nearly perfect when we bought it. Minus a few changes here and there (like the lifeline nets), we really didn’t have much to do to customize it for our needs. Except for one thing: the toilet.

A good old-fashioned ‘cruising toilet’ occupied our only head. That meant a manual pump and a smell that, no matter how hard we tried, permeated the bathroom. The previous owners had installed a freshwater spray nozzle that they used to fill the bowl instead of intaking river water when they flushed, but for a variety of reasons it was creating a vacuum and causing backflow issues.

So glamorous, I know.

While that system may have worked for them as primarily weekend sailors, it did not suit our needs as full-time liveaboards. Flushing with saltwater (like a real cruiser) might have worked, but the Neuse River water is pretty gross (hence the smell). Because we will be sticking with river and coastal sailing for a while as long as Conor is stationed here, we decided it was worth it to upgrade.

Here it is:

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The little black button on the side is the electric flush

This electric toilet is a closed system, which means it draws fresh water from one of our 3 holding tanks. Plus, it flushes with the push of a button! We had it professionally installed, and though it was expensive, I don’t have to worry about a plumbing malfunction flooding our boat (gag!).

Never in my life did I think I would be so excited about a toilet, much less write an entire blog post about one. But this little beauty is going to make a world of difference with our day-to-day comfort living aboard. Yes, we might have some regrets down the line when we go long-term cruising, because it uses precious fresh water and electricity. However, we do have a watermaker, solar panels, and a wind generator for a reason!

For now, a customized bathroom is the ice cream on top of the best boat ever.

Love,

Taylor and Conor