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

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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

80s Rock Anthems and Audiobooks

Drum roll please…WE ARE ON THE ROAD! After all those months of preparation, interim living, and tying up loose ends, we’ve finally left the Golden State. Conor and I packed up the car early on Monday morning and drove toward the rising sun. I promised myself that I would give an update every day, but failed on the first day (of course) so here is how the first TWO days of the trip have gone:

Day 1 was a long haul—San Clemente to Albuquerque (12 hrs)

Highlight: Stopping for lunch to visit my WONDERFUL great-aunt and great-uncle in Prescott, AZ. I hadn’t seen them in years, and they are very much my ‘grandparents’ in every sense of the word.

Lowlight: When Conor accidentally dumped an entire bowl full of wet dog food onto my lap. I don’t know who was less pleased, me or Scout.

 

Day 2 was Albuquerque to Colorado Springs (6 hours)

Highlight: Visiting the candy store in NM that supplied the blue ‘meth’ rock candy for Breaking Bad (see my badass self below) and walking around Old Town.

breaking bad

Lowlight: It’s freaking freezing in Colorado. Like, there’s snow on the ground. In May. I don’t understand.

 

I almost forgot to thank our lovely California friends for a great send-off! We decided that instead of tearful goodbyes, we wanted to make it a happy ‘see you later’ event, so all of our friends joined us for an Open House at an outdoor bar. We had a steady stream of people coming by all day to drink a beer, wish us luck, and give us hugs! (Disclaimer—I may have cried a bit once it was over).

bon voyage

Time for sleep before our next adventure tomorrow.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Starting Our Vacation (and Boat Search)

 

It’s official, folks, we are out of the house! Though I’m sure you will miss my posts about downsizing, minimalism, and moving…JK—even I’m sick of writing about it. Now that the PITA part is over, we can get to the fun part! I am excited to focus on our adventures in San Clemente and our boat search over the next few weeks.

As I mentioned in my last post, our boat broker has come back with two AMAZING boats for us already, and will be sending along the link to a third boat sometime this week once it has been uploaded. Right now, we are looking at a 42′ Endeavor (1989) and a 48′ Bavaria (2000). We are waiting to see the details of a 44′ Catalina (1989).

Both the Endeavor and the Bavaria have everything we are looking for—center cockpit, fiberglass hull, blue-water sailing capability. The Bavaria has room for us to grow into, while the Endeavor fulfills all of our needs right now, and is at the right price point. I can’t say which we are leaning towards at the moment, at least until we can compare the Catalina as well. We should be able to view all 3 of these boats in person once we get to North Carolina (if they are still on the market) before we make any decisions. I am confident that we will just ‘know’ once we’ve found our new home.

I have a feeling there will be a pro/con list for each of the boats posted sometime soon for you guys to see 🙂 Until then, we are spending the next month recovering and unwinding with numerous glasses of wine before diving into May. Thank you for all of your encouragement and sticking with us as we orchestrated the move!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

6. More. Days.

We are in the final stages of moving out! Sorry there haven’t been as many posts during these last two weeks, but you guys really haven’t missed anything. We’ve been doing more of the same—getting rid of stuff on Bookoo and Craigslist, cleaning out the house room by room, and making numerous trips to the dump.

Here’s the really fun part over the next few days: I get to pack up the POD all by myself! Conor has a field op, and it’s on me to move us out.

Every time I almost have a panic attack, I remind myself that no matter what, by the end of the month, it will all be over, because it has to be. There is no other option. I will do the best that I can to prepare everything, but by the time I need to check out of the house, nothing will keep me here. Didn’t have time to fix the holes in the walls? Charge me, I don’t care. Didn’t mow the lawn? Okay, fine me the $25.

No matter what happens, come March 31, I’m tossing the keys to the housing office and burning rubber out of here. The end result will be the same regardless, I just have to breathe.

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Re-creating our move-in photo, with our furry little helper

I’m daydreaming about April, and our month-long Airbnb vacation in San Clemente. When we get to relax and unwind for a month while still in California before taking a cross-country road trip, all of this will seem worth it. Middle of April is also when our boat broker in New Bern, NC will ramp up the search for our perfect boat!! We should have 4-5 boats lined up for us to see in May.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

PS- If anyone you know needs a washer/dryer or a couch, send them my way. They are the last few things we need to get rid of by next week!

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

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