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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Deck the Halls (or should I say boat?)

I may have been a bit over-eager this year for the holiday season. These decorations were put up right after Thanksgiving:

christmas1

christmas2

For all of our talk about minimalism, it seems a bit excessive, but NO RAGRETS.

source

Plus, when your space is tiny, $30 worth of decorations goes a long way! Conor has been gone for a lot of holidays because of deployments, so I try to make December extra-special when he is home for it. We have a lot to celebrate this year, even though we can’t go home to Washington for Christmas.

I don’t think there is anything cozier than rocking gently on our decorated boat, while it is 40 degrees outside, drinking coffee, and listening to music. It gave me the motivation this week to finish the draft of my book! It’s finally complete at 91,500 words.

Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving and enjoyed time with loved ones. Sorry for the super quick post this week, but stay tuned for an update about our v-berth soon!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Making New Friends

A couple weeks ago I received an email through the contact page on the blog. It was from a lovely couple on Camp Lejeune who had been following along with our journey and were also looking to make the leap to the liveaboard life. They wanted to meet us and learn more about everything we’d gone through over the past year.

My answer? “HELL YES!” I couldn’t wait to help out somebody else out. This was the entire reason I started the blog—to connect with people, encourage them, and be there to answer any questions. Transitioning to an unconventional lifestyle is an overwhelming and difficult process, and the blogs of my sailing role models were instrumental in getting us to where we are today. During the most difficult times, when we questioned if we were making the right decisions, I remember thinking, “If they can do it, we can do it, too.” Following in their footsteps helped us navigate an unfamiliar trail. Without them, we would have been lost. So, I decided that if I could help out at least one other person realize their liveaboard dream, then my blog would have served its purpose.

I excitedly showed the email to Conor and said, “Look! We have friends!” It was inevitable that we would click—Military family? Stationed on base? Interested in sailing? Wanting to live aboard while in the military? Have a cute dog? They were us, only the us from 6 months ago!

We met up this past weekend and it went great! Hopefully we were a good resource for them as we laid out our own experience and what to look out for. I can’t wait to see what boat they end up with and have my fingers crossed that they will be our neighbors soon. In the meantime, we’ve invited them to come check out our boat and sail with us anytime.

So if anyone is reading this blog and wants to hang out, please reach out! We don’t bite. We love nothing more than to make new friends, and want to meet you just as much as you want to meet us!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Winter Challenges

As I sat at my computer earlier this week, all of the sudden I felt a drop of water fall on my head. Skies were clear (but cold), and the hatches definitely weren’t leaking rainwater. I realized it wasn’t coming from outside the boat, but inside! Condensation had accumulated on all the windows, including the ones on the ceiling. Tis the season for the great battle that all boaters must face: excess moisture inside the cabin.

window
That condensation is inside the boat!

Temperatures have dropped significantly this past week, and instead of running the AC 24/7, we have *gasp* turned on the heat! What we didn’t realize during the summer was how much our AC helped keep the moisture level down in the boat. Add in two full grown adults, a dog, daily cooking, and bathroom usage–a lot of water vapor gets released into a very confined space.

My biggest fear is mold. I’ve taken to wiping down the walls and ceiling inside the boat with antibacterial wipes every few days just in case. Other areas I need to stay on top of are underneath cushions and mattresses, and all those nifty hidey-hole storage spaces that share a wall with the hull. These areas are the most subject to consequences of temperature fluctuations and can accumulate a lot of condensation.

I ordered a dehumidifier from Amazon and we got to use it in our bedroom for the first time last night. I think it made a difference, but I’m excited to see how much water it pulls once it has been running for 24 hours. The good news about living in such a small space is that it doesn’t take much time/power to dehumidify or heat. I’m sure we will find the right balance to get us through the winter. At least we won’t be paying an outrageous heating bill this season! One of the perks of living at our marina–they don’t charge for power usage. So while the temperature drops into the 30s outside, I’ll be toasty warm and cozy in 70 degrees on the boat!

If any other boaters have advice for our moisture problem through the winter, please give us all your tips!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Dirty Jobs

This post is a shout out to my amazing husband, who takes on all of the really dirty jobs that come with living on a boat. He puts on a brave face and does it all with hardly any complaining (and trust me, some of the jobs deserve A LOT of complaint, they are GROSS!)

One of the nastier things is pumping out the holding tank on a twice-monthly basis. You can see how thrilled he is about it:

pumpout

Another dreaded chore is cleaning out the bilge. All sorts of gunk accumulates down there, especially because we are in fresh water, and it needs to be scrubbed every few months so we don’t get a weird sulfuric smell that permeates the boat. Some biodegradable dish soap, a little elbow grease with a scrubby, and a LOT of rinsing will get it done. Tip: WEAR GLOVES.

bilge

The AC filter from our raw water intake can get pretty disgusting too (ah, river water). We run our air pretty much 24/7, so that one gets cleaned every month. Tons of weird stuff grows in there. I try not to get too close.

Needless to say, Conor is quite the trooper, and Scout and I appreciate that he keeps our little home both sanitary and running smoothly. I always make sure to have a cold beer ready for him when he’s done!

So thanks, Mister, you’re the best.

Love,

Taylor

Sugar Scoop

We dodged another one. I can’t believe it. Hurricane Maria stayed 150 miles off of the North Carolina coast and is now currently churning across the Atlantic.

She passed a little closer than I was comfortable with, causing tropical storm warnings along the outer banks. The slightest shift in pressure could have pushed her ashore, leaving me to sweat it out over the last few days and constantly check the weather forecast. Thankfully, we just had two days of heavy winds and lots of chop on the water, but no real storm surge in Jacksonville.

Having never lived on the east coast before, this is my first experience with the hurricane season, and I am not looking forward to handling it each year. Is it just me, or has it been abnormally terrible this year? Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria…it never seems to stop. Seeing all of the destruction these monsters have left in their wake has me counting our blessings daily. Another part of me is wondering when our luck is going to run out, and when it will be ‘our turn’.

But in the hopes of keeping things on the positive track, we are really settling into life on base again. I’d forgotten how much easier it is when everything is within a 2 minute drive: commissary, PX, Starbucks, library, gym—our marina is pretty much in the middle of it all! Being surrounded by other military families and feeling like part of that community again has also been nice. Conor’s commute is down to 5 minutes, and it has been amazing getting extra time with him. Though we miss our NWC family and all of their impressive experience and expertise, the tradeoff living back on base has been worth it so far.

The best part about our new slip: we can step off the back of the boat and onto the dock! We are finally using one of the perks of our ‘sugar scoop’ butt. No more climbing up and over the side gate, and no more lifting Scout on and off! Gottschalk has a dinghy storage rack, so we moved our dinghy inside and reconfigured our lines for easy access. It is amazing how one small change can affect our day-to-day comfort so much. Take a look:

sugar scoop

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Goodbye NWC, Hello Gottschalk!

The time had come to say goodbye to all of the wonderful people at Northwest Creek Marina in New Bern. As much as we would have liked to stay there permanently, the daily 2 ½ hr round trip commute to Camp Lejeune for Conor just wasn’t sustainable. We had to wait until the middle of September for many reasons, mostly because Conor had so many field ops this summer that we didn’t have enough time to make the three day trip. The good news was that because we waited, Conor’s parents were able to fly out from Washington state and help us make the journey!

DAY 1:

We left our marina around 8am on Saturday, Sept 16. The bimini and headsail were back up (thanks for the scare, Hurricane Irma), the water and diesel tanks were filled, our fridge was stocked, and our course was plotted. We were as ready as we were ever going to be! Not going to lie, I was pretty nervous. This was our first big trip with a destination, not just going out to sail around the Neuse River in familiar territory.

We said our goodbyes and cast off, heading south to Oriental. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, with 8-10 knots of wind and not a cloud in sight. The trip was going to take around five hours, and we just had to get to our transient slip for the night before five, so we put up the sails and enjoyed the day. This was my in-laws’ first time on a sailboat, and I think they caught the bug 🙂

The wind and chop started picking up around noon, so we pulled in the sails and motored the rest of the way to our spot. It was an adorable little marina called Whittaker point, the dockhouse is below:

Whittaker

As you all know, docking completely stresses me out, but with four people instead of two, it made a world of difference! The transient slip ended up being $1.50 per foot, so around $60 for us to stay the night (with power hookup). Like staying in a hotel, only you get to sleep in your own bed!

DAY 2:

This was our longest travel day, about nine hours. We needed to motor along the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) for over 30 NM and make it to Swansboro by 5pm. This was our first time on the ICW, and although we prefer sailing to motoring, it was an awesome way to see the Carolina coastline. And let me say, traveling by boat for 9 hours is wayyyyy different than traveling by car. The time flies when there is so much to see! At one point we were surrounded by a pod of at least twenty dolphins enjoying their morning feed, even little baby ones! I caught this cute moment of my in-laws that morning:

inlaws

The channel markers were super easy to follow, though it did get a little tricky around Morehead City. There was a ton of boat traffic and giant shipyards we had to navigate around. The channel also gets pretty narrow in some spots, and you have to always have an eye on your depth meter and the nav system. We didn’t run into any problems until we were in sight of Casper’s Marina, the dock we were staying at for the night. It finally happened: we ran aground. Whoops! There is a saying among boaters that there are two types of people: sailors who have run aground, and sailors who lie about having run aground. It is an inevitable consequence of boating, and I, for one, will openly admit to it!

In our case, there was an unmarked shoal closer to the ICW channel markers than we knew about. As we were heading in, we got a radio call from Casper’s Marina telling us about it, but by then it was too late! We got stuck. BUT my amazing husband, the ‘boat whisperer’ got us free somehow with a combination of reversing and wiggling. Although it was a stressful five minutes, it is just one more boating experience we can check off the list.

DAY 3

The last day dawned early, because we needed to enter New River before the tide dipped too low. We left Casper’s at 6:30 am as the sun was coming up. Today was the day we would see our new home!

Thanks to our friend/previous owner of the boat, Bob, we knew that there were a few tricky spots to navigate through as we left the ICW and motored up New River.

Tricky spot 1: “You WILL run out of water if you don’t enter the intersection of New River and the ICW at high tide.” Yep, even though we made it to the junction with plenty of time to spare, I still nervously watched the meter drop to as little as .5 ft of water underneath our keel at one point! But we didn’t run aground, yay!

Tricky spot 2: Stone’s Bay: Just after going under the Snead’s Ferry Bridge, there is a giant shoal you have to go alllll the way around before going north. Know what else doesn’t help? 20-25 knot winds and massive chop on the water. It is really no wonder why we were the only boat out that day.

Surprise tricky spot: This one couldn’t have been planned for. The Onslow bridge decided to malfunction just as we got to it, and it wouldn’t open. Do you know how hard it is to try to keep a boat in one place while you wait? The channel was narrow, the current was pulling the boat forward, and the wind was NOT our friend. Again, Conor the hero did an AMAZING job as we waited an extra half an hour for the problem to be fixed and the bridge to open. I’m seriously in awe of his captain skills, and his calm under pressure. I need to practice my steering a bit more to get on his level.

After all of this, the feeling of arriving at Gottschalk Marina was indescribable. I felt SO proud of us and happy we made it in one piece. It is crazy to think that back in June we hardly had any idea what we were doing when we bought the boat. Now, we’ve completed a multi-day journey all on our own! The best thing we ever did was jump right into this with both feet, and be okay with being outside of our comfort zones. There is really no better teacher than experience.

And as we navigate this great adventure, we will also be adding another crew member soon 🙂

announcement

 

Love,

Taylor and Conor