V-berth for Baby

Though our nursery might not be Pinterest-worthy, I thought you all might like to take a peek at what we have planned for when Baby gets here! Because our space is so limited, our rules for baby gear were that it had to be compact, fold-able, dual-use, or travel-friendly. After a LOT of research, I was able to find the perfect stuff to fit our lifestyle (we hope, I’ll update once Baby gets here). I put brand names in the post so people can find these items if they are interested, but please know that I have no affiliation with any of these companies.

Here it is! So glamorous, right? Let’s start with the basics: the mattress. Any boater will tell you how difficult and frustrating it is to get sheets for a v-berth mattress. Nothing ever fits quite right, and forget about a mattress cover. Luckily, we have an amazing friend at our marina who runs a canvas shop who offered to take on the impossible task of custom bedding as our baby gift. We have an insert that completes the triangle, but we needed the bedding to have a special fit when it is removed in order to have easy access to the drawers underneath (read: lots of velcro). It won’t be used as a bed again for quite some time, but I’m happy that the mattress will be protected from poop/spit up in the coming months.

vberthfull

Turning around from here, to port is the in-room sink (handy for diaper changes) and starboard is the closet. I’ve used a shoe hanger over the back of the door for quick-access items (socks, hats, pacifiers, swaddle blankets).

Inside the closet are diaper supplies, clothes, and pump supplies:

closet

And we can’t forget about the books! The other side of the v-berth wall shelves will be for toys when Baby is old enough.

books

Now for our gear, starting with the stroller. We chose the Mountain Buggy Nano travel system, which is pretty much the lightest travel system on the market. The stroller is 13 lbs and can be folded up to fit in airplane overhead bins. The car seat is only 8 lbs and can accommodate a child up to 44 lbs.

carseat

Baby will sleep in our bedroom for the foreseeable future, and will be in the Summer Infant SwaddleMe bassinet right by our bed. This bassinet can also fold up flat for easy storage/travel. This is the setup:

bassinet

Once Baby is ready to transition to a crib, she will be in the Lotus travel crib by Guava Family. The crib is very easy to pop open, and stores super easily. It will be strapped down/secured onto one side of the v-berth mattress (how we accomplish this is TBD at the moment). This is it all folded up:

crib

For bath time, we have the Luxx baby folding bathtub which hangs in a small locker inside our shower.

For diapering, we have the Bumbo changing pad, which is easy to wipe down, portable, and heavy enough to stay put. I am already totally in love with our diaper backpack, which is by Bag Nation and has SO many pockets. It is currently our hospital “go bag”, which is why it looks so stuffed.

I can’t WAIT to use our high chair. It is a Phil&Teds lobster high chair that folds up so tiny when not in use. We also have a completely collapsible baby bottle drying rack that will come in handy.

bottlerack

Last but not least, have you ever seen a cuter life jacket?? If you’re looking for a life jacket for your little one, there are very few on the market that are certifiably safe for infants. This one is a Stohlquist Infant PFD for babies 8-30lbs.

lifevest

That’s all of the major stuff we’ve planned for. If anyone else has suggestions for baby gear in a tiny space, please share! Hopefully this was a fun insight into how we plan on making boat and baby work. Now we wait…

Love,

Taylor and Conor

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A Reader Lives A Thousand Lives

deviate

I grew up in the suburbs, in the same house for twenty years, and had never even heard of a liveaboard until three years ago. So what spurred this examination of different types of living, and gave us the courage to do it ourselves?

Books.

My first ‘ah-ha’ moment came from reading Timothy Ferris’ 4 HOUR WORKWEEK. It talks about travel, escaping the bonds of a traditional 9-to-5, and alternative ways to make money. Most importantly, it discusses ‘dreamlining’ and laying out goals for what YOU want to accomplish out of life (not what is expected of you). Though with Conor in the military, we weren’t able to take the ‘4 hour workweek’ part of it literally, the message of the book got us thinking about how we could make the most of our lives and try new things while he was still in the service. If you’re wondering how to break out of a rut, start with this book. He talks about things I had never assumed were possible, and will truly make you re-examine the validity of “The American Dream”.

If that book inspires you, here are some more that have influenced me along the way:

THE ART OF POSSIBILITY is a great non-fiction for examining personal and professional fulfillment. It gives a set of twelve practices for bringing creativity, and thus unexpected possibilities, into your life. It was helpful in slowly changing my perspective to embrace change and challenges.

Another one of my favorites is called THE ORGANIZED MIND: THINKING STRAIGHT IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD. This book made me realize the importance of living simpler, and how it would affect my overall happiness. It got me to look into tiny living and minimalism, which eventually led to boats! It is good to read in conjunction with FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE because they have a lot of parallels. Focus on what makes you happy, instead of spending useless time worrying! Don’t waste your brain power.

This is one that I just finished, so I can’t really say that it inspired us to get the boat, only that it reinforced my belief that we made the right call! DEVIATE by Beau Lotto teaches how to think, not what to think, and how by changing our perspective of the past we can influence our future. It explains why human hardwiring makes it difficult for us to live with uncertainty, and how to reengineer our brains to perceive a different reality, one that encourages creativity and innovation. The picture at the top of this post is an excerpt from the book.

As you can tell, I LOVE to read, and if anyone has other recommendations for me, I’m all ears! Please share your favorite books and what they have inspired you to accomplish.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Putting Up Lifeline Nets

This post could also be titled: “How one weekend turned into three”, and is all about how we made a project a lot more complicated than it had to be. But the great news is now we don’t have to worry about any precious cargo falling off the boat!

We knew when we bought our boat that lifeline netting was a must. It basically turns your boat into a giant playpen and gives an extra level of security if you have pets or children aboard (though they should always be supervised while on deck regardless, even at the dock). It doesn’t look pretty, but it is functional.

We asked one of our neighbors how long it took to put up his netting, and he told us 22 hours. We naively thought that he was exaggerating. Nope. Turns out, this project is meticulous, time consuming, and an all-around pain in the butt, especially outside in the summer heat. So we thought we’d do it a different way, and ended up paying the price. Lesson learned: never try to take a shortcut.

We bought two packages of 50ft lifeline netting ($50 ea) and dacron line for securing the bottom of the net to the boat. For the top of the net, we had the genius idea of using zip ties instead of running line through the diamonds, which would have kept everything much neater and less tangled. We ran the first 50ft section from gate to gate, around the bow of the boat (and had some to spare). Here’s what we ended up with the first weekend:

zip1
Freshly zip tied around the bow
zip2
Zip tied net with tails trimmed. Looked neat and tidy, right?

The zip ties were helpful in holding everything in place while we measured out the netting and secured the bottom, but we shouldn’t have assumed they would hold forever. We used white zip ties, which we soon found out had about a three month shelf life outside, because the UV rays from the sun would break them down. Talk about a safety issue! So we had to run the line through the top AFTER everything was already secured to the stanchions. Then once the line was through, we had to go back and snip off every single zip tie (without accidentally cutting the net!). We also ran another line through the middle of the net for extra security. That was weekend #2. Here’s what it looked like:

net1
Netting with dacron line wrapped around the center lifeline and through the top diamonds

Weekend #3 (this past weekend) Conor finally finished the stern of the boat. Our second 50ft piece wrapped around the back, and was trickier because of the extreme height changes and the catbird seats. Instead of stretching the net horizontally, it needed to be stretched vertically. He also had to figure out a way to tie the bottom of the net to the gates, while still making them easy to open. The solution: carabiners! He tied a loop knot at the bottom of the dacron line at the gates and hooked them to a carabiner to be easily slipped on and off when we unlocked the gate. Like this:

 

This is the lifeline netting wrapped around the catbird seat:

net2

Oh, and we also found out that you should replace your lifeline netting every two years. We’re vowing to do this right the first time around in 2019! At least we learned from our mistakes. If you’re putting up your own netting, feel free to ask us a question!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

net3
Our very scruffy puppy is happy with the results!

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 🙂