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:

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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

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All About Our Boat

I’m typing this as I sit in the cockpit of our new home, underneath the bimini cover, listening to the rain fall onto the marina. Neighboring boats are gently rocking, the only sound from them is an occasional echoing ring as lines sway into the mast. There are no pounding feet on the dock, no rumble of dock carts rolling past. Residents are cozy in their own little world, tucked away and waiting for the summer downpour to pass. I’ve got tasty raspberries on my left, Scout snuggled on my right, and I’m finally ready to introduce you to our beautiful boat.

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We chose a 2002 Catalina 380 that was kept in pristine condition by the previous two owners. The boat is 38 ft long, with a 4ft 10 in draft, making it shallow enough to sail comfortably almost anywhere we want to take it. It has an aft cockpit, so our master stateroom has a very low ceiling that we are adjusting to (and by adjusting to, I mean accidentally headbutting and then cursing loudly to numb the pain). There is an entrance to the head (bathroom) from our bedroom, as well as from the galley (kitchen). There is only one bathroom on board, but it has a separate stand-up shower and lots of counter space. I would much rather have one large bathroom than two small ones!

The galley has a three-burner stove, a small refrigerator/freezer, sink, and lots of counter space, but minimal storage that we will have to figure out the best use for. The settee (blue couches) make up the kitchen table area/living room. The table can drop down and an extra cushion put on to make a double bed for guests. There is also a TV, surround sound, and internal AC/heat throughout the interior. At the very front of the boat is the v-berth, which has its own door, separate sink, bed, and storage closet.

What drew us to this particular boat was the fact that it looked brand new. (It also lacked that gross boat smell that all the other used boats seemed to have, which I believe is indicative of neglected ‘under the surface’ issues) The layout of this boat makes it feel incredibly spacious on the inside, comparable to older boats that are 44+ ft. We thought, why pay for the extra maintenance/dock fees/upkeep on a bigger boat, when you can have everything you want in a more convenient size? We also realized that this was the boat for us because you can actually sail it single-handed. All the lines lead back to the cockpit, and there is an automatic mast furler! The winches are purposefully oversized, which is a great strength equalizer for male and female sailors, allowing everyone to be an active participant.

I truly believe that we found the best Catalina 380 on the market. It is currently cruising-ready (even if we aren’t!), equipped with fancy navigation, water-maker, and customized tiny comforts of home that are too numerous to list. Even though this boat was at the top of our budget, I’m so glad we did not get a fixer-upper. With our limited experience combined with jumping right into liveaboard life, it would have been too confusing to have things falling apart around us!

So without further delay, here are some photos! (Taken the day before in glorious afternoon sunshine)

 

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Looking down from the stairs
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Galley
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Navigation Station (and all of our manual binders stacked up)
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V-berth
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V-berth sink
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Master stateroom straight ahead, the closed door is the head
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Scout’s room, apparently

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Head w/ separate shower
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Cockpit (where we spend most of our time)

Rocking Our Gypsy Souls

I can’t believe we have less than 2 weeks left in California. Sometimes I think we’ve been so focused on our next duty station that we’ve forgotten to appreciate the last, incredible bits of now. This past month has been such a transition, and we’ve been completely distracted by the practical details. Taking a step back, I’m finally starting to get a wee bit nostalgic whenever I gaze out at the endless Pacific. The desire to be out there, surrounded by wild blue, has been driving our dream forward, and it seems almost wrong that we won’t sail our boat on this ocean for a LONG time. I am west coast, born and bred, and a piece of my heart will always be here. There is something about the Pacific that speaks to me, and I think Van Morrison sums it up best:

Hark, now hear the sailors cry

Smell the sea and feel the sky

Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

And when that foghorn blows I will be coming home…

One day we will be back and sail up to Washington. We just plan on having a lot of adventures between now and then.

 

Love,

Taylor and Conor

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The biggest Van Morrison fan (aka my mom) feeling zen at the ocean. One of my favorite pics of her. Our families will miss us, but they get it.

 

My New Obsession

It’s a dangerous one. It sucks you in until you’re so deep down the rabbit hole you have no idea how you got there. You stop yourself, hours later, and try to remember why on earth you are looking at a $1,000,000 yacht that’s in South Africa when you started off searching for a sailboat in North Carolina.

Yes, my friends, I’m talking about www.sailboatlistings.com and www.yachtworld.com. These two sites are great search engines for (trying) to narrow down your boat search. The only problem is, my imagination gets a little too carried away sometimes. It is easy to get caught up in the fantasy of the ‘perfect boat’ and focus everything you would be missing out on if you stuck to your pesky parameters like budget and location.

Despite its addictiveness, it is a fun way to educate yourself on the different boats that are out there and what the market looks like. Every few days I like to check and see if there are any new listings that would be a good fit for us. We have an ever-changing list of possible boats as our favorites cycle out and other options pop up. It can be sad to see a contender get bought by people who aren’t us, but Conor and I firmly believe that the right boat will be there for us at the right time.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

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So many boats, too many options! I want them all

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:

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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.

Waiting for Orders

I tell curious family and friends, “Yeah, we are moving Spring of 2017. Don’t know where to, yet. Or when.” Then I shrug, determined to roll with whatever comes. Still, I am met with incredulous stares from people who have never been through a PCS move before, and can’t believe all the last-minute uncertainties that it entails.

We have been lucky so far, and have lived in Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA since early 2014. Yes, I will be very sad to say goodbye to gorgeous southern California. We have had a BLAST here, and it was such a great way to spend our early married years. But when we moved here, I knew it wasn’t going to be forever.

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These ladies had my back during the first deployment. We have made some truly wonderful friendships here. 

It is hard to feel settled when you know that everything is only temporary. Housing, neighbors, friends—you get a clean slate every few years. Trying to enjoy the last few months here has been difficult as we try to balance looking forward to a new adventure with saying goodbye to the old. Among the things I will miss most are my workout classes and my wonderful writers group.

We should know by March (at the latest) where we are going, and we will be moved out of our house by March 31 (we aren’t renewing our lease). In the meantime, to keep from twiddling our thumbs, Conor and I have started clearing out a bunch of crap we have accumulated to make the move easier. Just waiting, wishing, and hoping we get the location we want, and trying not to get frustrated!

Love,

Taylor and Conor