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

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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

Nebraska to North Carolina

WE MADE IT! Not gonna lie, it has been a long few days. I’ll keep this short and to the point as we recover. Tip: If moving across the country, take more than 5 driving days to do it. Our days were intense, and the 14 hour drive from Nebraska to Knoxville, TN about did us in. Scout mutinied, and projectile vomited in the car and at 4am in the hotel room. Here was the good and the bad of the trip:

Highlights:

We surprised Conor’s sister in Omaha for her college graduation! The look on Ashley’s face when she saw us was priceless. We spent a lovely 2 days in Nebraska with my in-laws, and parted with tearful promises that they would visit us soon at Camp Lejeune.

Conor got two tattoos! On his feet (ouch!)

No speeding tickets or car crashes, and we are still speaking to each other 🙂

tattoo.jpg
Conor realizing just how much feet tattoos hurt

Lowlights:

Vomit. So much vomit.

The disturbing amount of religious billboards damning us to hell as we drove through middle America. Why do people pay money to advertise messages of hate and judgment?

Road food. I can only eat so many burgers, and I think we gained about 5 pounds each.

camp lejeune
Hello, Camp Lejeune!

 

But, despite it all, we are here. We have an appointment tomorrow with Mike Wood from Neptune Yachts to look at the boats! After everything it took to get this far, it will be surreal to climb aboard. Fun boat updates to come!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

When Plans Get Turned Upside Down

Things that are still on track: 

1) Awesome boat broker

2) 3 GREAT boats (yes, the newly-posted 44 Catalina is also a perfect fit for us!)

3) Conor’s orders are still for North Carolina

Things that were unexpected this week:

1) Someone else is interested in the Endeavor 42, and will apparently put in an offer today. Cue our panic that none of these boats will be available for us come May 10, and we won’t have any boats lined up to see. This led to a long discussion about whether or not it would be worth it for me to fly out to NC solo to get the ball rolling. I was fully prepared to buy a last-minute ticket to New Bern, but thankfully our broker talked us down, and has urged us not to rush. Spring is the high season for selling, so he is confident that even if our three current options get snapped up, he can still find us a perfect fit.

My mantra: the right boat will be there at the right time. The right boat will be there at the right time. Repeat as necessary, accompanied by deep breaths.

2) We found out that while USAA finances boat loans, they do not finance loans if the boat will be used as a liveaboard. SURPRISE! Monday was a day of intense research and many phone calls, and we discovered that most banks do NOT understand/like/approve of the liveaboard lifestyle. This has been incredibly frustrating, and our options are limited. We can get a personal loan through USAA, but the terms and APR will be pushing it. We are also exploring our options with Lightstream (part of Sun Trust Bank), as they give boat loans for liveaboard purposes. Don’t even get me started on finding insurance.

3) Our plan to live at Gottschalk Marina on Camp Lejeune has been disrupted. I was promised a slip back in January, but some of the dock pylons were damaged in a recent storm and they don’t know when they will be repaired. The two intact slips big enough to fit 40+ foot boats are also currently occupied indefinitely. However, there is another marina at the air station (a separate entity within Camp Lejeune jurisdiction) called New River that has liveaboard slips available. WOOHOO!

The downside: Conor’s 3-mile bicycle commute is now turned into a 45-minute car commute. Which means that instead of going down to one car like we planned, we have to ship Conor’s car to Camp Lejeune (goodbye, $1000 that the Marine Corps won’t reimburse). Hopefully, our stay at New River won’t be too long, and we can relocate to Gottschalk in a few months and sell the car on the east coast.

handstand
Our plans are upside down and unstable, much like the handstand of an aging former gymnast

WHEW! Thanks for reading until the end, this might be my longest blog post to date. I feel like this week was a test to see how much we really want our boat, and we are proving that we do. Shit hit the fan, but so far we have been able to find a workaround for everything.

Feel free to send us questions and comments, or any topics you want us to discuss!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Jumping for Joy

We. Have. Orders.

Yes, you heard that right…we finally have a concrete plan! I guess all those positive vibes we have been sending out into the universe worked, because we are going to CAMP LEJEUNE! We check out of Camp Pendleton on May 1st. Conor also got his dream job. It feels unreal.

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Me right now.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have an actual timeline and location. All of the plans we’ve been making over the past few months have been for the best case scenario. We have been holding our breath during the wait, just hoping for it to work out.

We got lucky. So, so lucky.

We decided to downsize, move out of our house, plan a POD pickup, and book an Airbnb for the month of April all under the assumption that everything would fall into place. It was risky (and expensive), but the payoff was worth it, because now the ‘best case scenario’ and the ‘official plan’ are united, and we have already done about 75% of the work!

I also feel like this is the biggest validation that we are on the right path. If our boat plan wasn’t meant to be, it would feel like we were swimming upstream instead. I think the universe is with us instead of against us on this one. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of hard work and planning went into this, and it didn’t just magically happen. However, anyone who has been in the military and rolled the PCS dice for jobs/duty stations knows that the odds aren’t always in your favor. Our outcome is serendipitous, to say the least.

We are grateful.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Wunderlist for Wanderlust

Our to-do list is a nightmare. Seriously. It is all over the place. But Conor found this great tool for keeping us organized and on the same page: Wunderlist. We can both access the app and add info/notes when one of us checks something off, even if we’re apart. One-stop access is so nice because some days I feel like we are chickens running around with our heads cut off. I definitely recommend it for anyone organizing a move, vacation, adventure, etc when multiple people are involved in the planning process. (www.wunderlist.com)

Here’s just an outline of what we are dealing with over the next few weeks:

  • Before we move out:
    • Get orders
    • Figure out what DITY move entails
    • Boxes for storage/move
    • Storage for short term/long term in both California and (hopefully) North Carolina, maybe PODS?
    • Send stuff not going into storage to our families in Seattle
    • Move-out paperwork with our housing office (Lease ends March 31!)
    • Sell furniture on Craigslist
    • Make 5,000 more trips to the donation center…
    • Clean ENTIRE HOUSE
    • Move-out inspection at the end of March
  • Living in limbo (in California still):
    • Air BNB or month-to-month apartment lease if we have to stay in California through April or May?
    • Transfer medical records
    • Any last-minute vet/doctor/dental appointments
    • Auto appointments for the cars
    • Sell Conor’s car
    • TAXES (shit, almost forgot about those)
    • Forwarding/change of address for mail
    • Obsessively look at boat listings and daydream about fast-forwarding to the fun part
  • Heading to new duty station:
    • Contact boat brokers in the area, start the boat search!
    • Road trip across the country/where are we stopping? I vote Nashville!
    • How much PTAD leave can Conor take?
    • Military move reimbursement?
  • Getting the BOAT!:
    • Meet with broker, look at possibilities he or she has found for us
    • Pick the right boat
    • Contact surveyor and have them check everything out
    • Get boat loan
    • Liveaboard insurance
    • Boat insurance
    • Reserve slip at marina
    • Get our boat delivered
    • FINALLY MOVE IN!

Have a headache yet? Welcome to the club. Those are just the big things on the list, not to mention the smaller day-to-day stuff that pops up. There will be a lot more detail added to the “Getting the Boat” section once we get closer. We just have to stay on top of everything and take it one step at a time.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

vxrewxv

Fingers Crossed for Camp Lejeune

There are SO many amazing benefits to living aboard on a military base marina. Gottschalk Marina at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina is our dream marina. Here are the perks:

sunset
Oceanside Harbor at sunset. Can’t wait to see the east coast views!
  • High security
  • Safety standards
  • Close proximity to commissary, PX, and hospital
  • Walking distance to the gym
  • Central to base
  • Allows liveaboards
  • Reasonably priced and it has immediate slip availability (this is the most important part)
  • SUPER helpful marina staff
  • ‘Clubhouse’ with free laundry

On the bright side, even if we don’t get Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps bases are (almost) always on an ocean. This is different from the Army and the Air Force, where it is possible to be stationed pretty much anywhere. That would be bad news for our sailboat plan if we had to be in middle America! So at least we can operate under the assumption that we will be on a coast, near water, and have a place for our boat, no matter where we end up.