I know I’ve been posting very infrequently on here lately. These last few months have been filled with reflection, planning, and asking questions. Where are we headed and what are we doing? I’ve been quiet on all social media as we try to find our footing and take our next steps, but I knew I needed to put together one last recap video to commemorate our final year on the boat. If you want to watch them all in order, here is 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. 2021 marked 5 years with our beloved Story Time, and it astounds me to see how much we accomplished and the life we built together.
There will be some new developments and projects in store for 2022. I’m excited for them, even though they are not boat related. I’m hoping for career pivots and fresh challenges, so stay tuned. I’ll post more in the new year, and much more often from now on! Thanks, guys.
Sometimes I feel like a bloodhound on Story Time. I’m actually more useful than Scout! For whatever reason, anytime there is a problem on the boat, I usually smell it first. Conor lives in fear of when I catch a scent, because inevitably, it leads to more boat problems for him to fix.
I saved our butts twice when our AC electrical box overheated. In October, the central air was running, and it suddenly smelled like bacon. I called Conor at work and made him come home. At first it seemed like an overreaction, but it was discovered that one of the wires had started to melt and it was a fire risk. The second time it happened (in January), the fuse holder overheated at 3am. My brain screamed at me that something wasn’t right, and I woke up from a dead sleep to that same scent. For anyone freaking out right now, we now have a new Mermaid Air AC electrical box. Even the manufactures couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it—it was just some freak thing! It had been working fine for 2 years before and suddenly decided to crap out. Very scary!
In other instances:
Conor cooking on the stove. Me: “Babe, the propane is low.” Him: “Did you check it today?” Me: “No, I just smell the difference.” Lo and behold, time to change the tank.
Opening the fridge. “Oh shit. R must have kicked the switch panel during his diaper change.” Yep. Thankfully, it was off less than 2 hours and we didn’t lose the groceries.
Watching TV. “Bilge pump isn’t working.” I guessed it. The automatic float switch stopped working (suuuuuper old) and needed a replacement. I scrubbed the bilge after Conor wired in a new one.
And everyone’s favorite: “Holding tank is getting full.” “I don’t smell anything!” “We have three more flushes. Trust me.”
To sum up: boats are quirky and have unique smells. If you are tuned into them, it can warn you of minor problems before they become MAJOR problems. I’ve lived in fear of COVID for obvious reasons, but what really petrifies me is the possibility of losing my sense of smell! I never realized how much I’ve relied on it to sense the inner workings of the boat until there was a chance I could lose it. Counting down the days until I can get the vaccine.
We can STAY! After signing our permanent slip lease at Bay Point Marina this week, we get to stay in the land of beautiful bathrooms, a pool, restaurant, pump out service, short work commute, beach, brewery, and park. If you put down every wish list item we had in mind for a marina (including pet-friendly!), this would be it.
We feel so incredibly lucky that they have allowed us to join their liveaboard community. When I called back in November, the dockmaster said that they were no longer adding any more liveaboard boats. For those that don’t know, marinas usually have a cap on how many liveaboards they can support and sustain. It isn’t about the slip availability, it is about the infrastructure to support people living there long term—laundry, pump outs, showers, garbage, parking…
The plan was to come up to Bay Point and stay in a transient slip for 30 days while we sorted out our new life in Virginia. Walking around, I wistfully said to Conor, “I just want to stay here so badly! It is perfect for the kids.” So, we took a chance and asked with our fingers crossed.
I was completely prepared to have to move to a different marina in January. It would have sucked big time to leave this awesome area, but honestly, I didn’t expect the owner to say yes. We are A LOT with two small kids and a dog. Our family is loud and a hot mess most of the time. By adding one boat, they were adding a dose of chaos yet unseen to this pristine marina.
Despite it all, they took us in. Maybe it was the sight of W scootering down the docks. Maybe it was Scout’s wagging tail. Maybe it was sweet R’s eyes peeking out from his stroller. Maybe it was the desperation of a mom on the edge. Regardless, we have a new marina to call home. Now I can breathe.
Highs: Such an easy travel day that we combined what would have been two short days into one long day and decided to take an extra day off at Dowry Creek Marina. They had FREE LAUNDRY and a pumpout service! Also squeezed in a grocery run with their complimentary marina car. I highly recommend this marina; their staff was great.
Lows: Bugs! It was very swampy in this section.
Final thoughts: This day gave us a taste of what it would have been like moving the boat just a few weeks earlier. It was incredible to have a few warm days and a full-service marina to get ourselves sorted halfway through the trip.
Day 7: Dowry Creek to Alligator River
Weather: Colder and windy
Travel time: 8 hours, 39NM
Highs: Hanging with my husband up in the cockpit while both the kids were napping. Music, snacks, and conversation. It felt like an afternoon date.
Lows: Alligator River Marina was terrible and had an unresponsive staff. The marina’s bathrooms were not cleaned recently and totally gross. We had to get ourselves off the dock the next morning in 30 mph winds that kept pushing us back. Definitely my least favorite stop of the trip.
Final thoughts: Having very little help casting off and docking the last few days made me see how far we have come as a team. We CAN do it with just the two of us.
Day 8: Alligator River to Elizabeth City
Weather: Gusty with large swells
Travel time: 6 hours, 30NM
Highs: Conor threaded the needle to get us into tiny Lamb’s Marina. It is a small stop just off the ICW and soooo narrow. Zero maneuvering room but he did great!
Lows: Got our asses handed to us in 4ft swells. Albamare Sound pounded us for almost three hours as we crossed over to Elizabeth River. W slept through most of it down in the v-berth and R was strapped to me in the cockpit.
Final thoughts: We got to see how Story Time experienced rougher waters. She did GREAT! I’m excited for us to sail offshore this summer.
Day 9: Elizabeth City to Norfolk
Weather: Cold and calm
Travel time: 9 hours, 37NM
Highs: Up at dawn to make the lock times! It was tricky to time leaving the marina with enough light, as well as factoring in the 2 hours it was going to take to make it to the first lock. We made it with 15 minutes to spare.
Lows: Our toilet had some issues. After a long day, the last thing we wanted to do was troubleshoot the head. Turns out there was significant calcium buildup in the discharge hose. Gross.
Final thoughts: This was the hardest day. We had to go though two locks with a tight timeframe and make it to the next stop before the sun went down. Being under a time crunch added a new level of stress to family travel. I’m glad the whole trip worked up to this day so we had enough experience to navigate it correctly.
Day 10: Norfolk to Virginia Beach
Weather: Cloudy, humid
Travel time: 5 hours, 27NM
Highs: The last day of travel! We arrived on Thanksgiving. SO much to be thankful for—boat, babies, and marriage were all in good shape.
Lows: It really hit me that we were no longer at Gottschalk. I didn’t know all my neighbors, W felt overwhelmed and was missing “home”, and we had to start over here. Moving is hard.
Final thoughts: Bay Point Marina is completely gorgeous. It has a pool, restaurant, hotel-like dock house, and is in the cutest neighborhood. After being on base for three years, it feels strange to have so much within walking distance. I can’t wait for COVID to be over and go do stuff.
And there you have it, our grand NC to VA adventure with a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old. 245 Nautical Miles. It was the best trip ever! I don’t recommend it.
I’ll give you guys a little tour of our new spot next post. Time to get our feet under us and check some things off our boat chores list while we don’t have to travel for a while.