Since we have begun our cruising life two weeks ago, we have had many ups and downs with problems to solve daily. We are learning so much each day from diving in murky water to see if a rope is wrapped around the propeller to daring dingy rescues, plus learning to work as a family in a small space. It has been a very challenging, yet extremely rewarding experience. Many times I feel like Dorey and find myself saying, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…..”. So far we are working out each problem as it comes and the old saying “Cruising life is just fixing your boat in exotic locations” is coming true (although we are not quite in an exotic location yet). However, we have been truly blessed to have the chance to meet up with many old friends and family along our travels thus far.
The following are some of the major adjustments/issues in the first couple weeks…
#1 The Potty
The potty issues has been the largest issues thus far, especially with two kids that need to go potty all the time. We decided to start docking at marinas to try to ease us into the cruising lifestyle and because we had no functioning toilet, but the walk back and forth to the bathrooms was exhausting. As soon as a hear, “Mommy, I have to go potty”, I sighed and began the routine of putting life jackets on the girls, hoisting them off the boat and walking the 200 feet to the bathroom while they stopped and looked at any and everything along the way. Once in the bathroom, this same fascinations continued and deciding what stall to use takes another couple minutes. After they are done we walk back the same 200 feet and I hoist them back into the boat. Honestly, I am surprised they are able to hold it and we have not had any accidents so far. I am so excited that we now have a functioning head. Bryan installed a new one and took out the old pipes and put in a new one (not a pleasant job). This process took a little longer since we were waiting on shipping and I am sure Bryan will write about it in the future. But all is good now!
Obviously, we do not have a dishwasher, so we need to do all the dishes by hand. Plus, we need to conserve water when we do dishes. We were really bad with dishes even when we had a dishwasher, so our dishes stacked up over a couple days. This created a terrible mess in a tiny space. Bryan and I debated about how to scrub, rinse off, and dry the dishes. I never knew we could come up with so many different options. After an in-depth conversation about dishes and how to wash them and conserve water, we spent about 45 minutes washing, drying and putting away dishes. And then we realized that the water was not draining out of the sink! Apparently the valve was corroded shut and this also needed to be replaced!
#3 Toddler Meltdowns
Avery has adapted better than Leslie so far, but it might be because she is one year older and Leslie is in the middle of the terrible three’s. She can have some horrific meltdowns. On a boat with 38 feet of space, handling these meltdown have been tricky. Since the girls have their own cabin, this is the place that she is sent to “cool down”, but in such tight quarters is can be tough to even get her in this space. And when at marinas, I can imagine her yells are being broadcast through the wind to everyone. At home, it was much easier to handle these times because their was more space and privacy. Just hoping the meltdown will pass soon!
The highlights of our two weeks have consisted of time with family and friends. A day with Claire, Aaron, and Blake on the boat and grilling out; swim time with Jen; carriage rides, movies, parks, and the precious help of a hotel room with my dad and Julia; sailing through the Charleston harbor with Bryan’s family; and library time, a play, and vacation bible school with Chris, Lindsay, Harper, and Price. The generosity of our friends and family has been incredible and I am so thankful for them all!
Overall, I can definitely say that these first weeks did not go as I expected, so I am learning to not have expectations….it makes life easier!
We have officially released the bowlines! We departed on June 15th as planned around 3:30 heading towards Edisto. The day before leaving and the day we actually left was by far the my difficult in this journey so far. The house seemed to grow extra things to get rid of and the loads to the boat never seemed to end. Somehow everything fit into the boat and our house was finally empty. All the feelings of anticipation, excitement, and anxiety leading up to our actually departure created a very strange feeling. I am still in shock this day finally arrived.
Here’s a quick synopsis of our departure…..Once underway, both of the girls passed out asleep. They played hard with their cousins for the past couple of days and were ready for a nap.
This left Bryan and I time to process that we had, in fact, made the goal we set out for 3 years ago….we are officially a cruising family. While basking in the feelings of accomplishment, a storm snuck up on us and we were quickly humbled back down!! This storm came out of nowhere and was fierce right at the time we were attempting to anchor at 7 or so. By the time the storm passed and we set the anchor, it was late….much later then we want to anchor in the future. Thanks to Bryan’s mom we had plenty of groceries for dinner. The girls slept pretty well (at least on child slept in their own bed all night)!
We got up early and headed to Charleston around 6:30 am. At some point during this transit, our head became clogged and we are now at point of trying to find a solution for this unpleasant problem. So, on day 2 we encountered our first MAJOR problem and are currently without a potty…..hoping we figure out a solution soon!!!!!
I knew that the move from our house to the boat would be tough, but I had no idea exactly how mentally and physically exhausting it would be. Moving in generally is hard to do, but to downsize from an 1800 square foot house to a 38 ft boat has been extra daunting. Since we are not storing much and we have already made our storage trip to my dad’s house, every item I come across I must decide to keep or leave. We take daily trips to the boat to move in all our items, but is still feels like there is so much to bring and storage is getting tight!!
I really wanted to get the girls cabin set up first, so they could transition to the new room. I covered the walls with turquoise fabric and made a curtain to hide their toys in the front of their berth. We had a custom made “play quilt” made that will cover the bed during the day to make it more into a “play” area. I hung hammocks for their books and stuffed animals, and put contact paper in both their cubbies. When Avery saw it for the first time, she said “Mommy, it is the cutest room ever”. This made be feel so good. I have wandered/worried about what the transition would be like for them and so far I have been amazed at their adaptability.
All the furniture is gone in the house and all the toys are on the boat. We sleep in the house for one of the last times and the girls are sharing a mattress on the floor. Instead of tantrums and whining, they chase each other around the house giggling and make up their own games in my now empty closest with bubble wrap and any other random things they could find around the house. They are perfectly content without all the toys. This gives me confidence that in the coming days that they will continue to adapt and meltdowns will be kept to a minimum…..at least I can hope.
Here is a sneak peak of my favorite parts of the boat so far….
The girls room has all their toys behind the curtain and a special place to pin their artwork. So far, they have been very excited to be in their room!!
I have a picture of my mom, a devotional, journal, and keepsake from my mother in law at my bedside. All are in basket my Aunt Pam gave me years ago and bring so much comfort. I know my mom will be with me for this journey.
We hung a basket in the in head with all our Turkish towels. So far I have love these towels!
Above the spice rack, I hung a tile I bought in Antigua soon after we got married. I hope we make it there again.
And to be completely real, here is an actual picture as we move aboard. The salon is a mess, but slowly things are starting to find their place.
So, what does a family do when they have ten days left to move aboard their 38 ft. sailboat?
Our days have been spent taking items to the dump, giving away things, selling things, and virtually cleaning out the entire house of all our possessions…keeping just a few that will move with us to the boat. Additionally, paperwork like finalizing insurance, health care concerns, and making sure we have all appropriate documentation has been filling our days. We are also selling our cars and fostering our dogs, so all loose ends are in their final stages of being tied up. The girls are finishing out their last week of daycare, so at least we have the time to do all the necessary and time-consuming items. The current state of our house is rather dismal as we move everything around….
I also distract myself with little side projects like labeling things that really need no label but it make it feel “pretty” to me and putting together learning kits for the girls. I have focused on collected different items that I can use daily with them to make sure they will be on track for kindergarten and beyond!! However, I hope most of their learning comes from the experiences we have as a family over the next year or two.
I will not lie and say anxiety does not creep in, but when I spend time on the boat making it our home and learn about all the different systems on the boat, these feelings subsides and I know we are doing the right thing for us and I get overly excited. We spent our 10th anniversary on the boat sailing (actually motoring because their was no wind) to Dataw Marina to get fuel, water, and a pump out. We had lunch and a drink at the marina and I could not think of another way I would want to celebrate this special day. I have also been fortunate enough to start connecting with other liveaboard families that we plan to meet up with along the way. As the next nine days tick away, we hope to continue to make the boat our home and spend time with friends and family.
June 2016 is finally upon us. It was three years ago that we that we set this month as our departure month, actually rather arbitrarily. I think since it was the same month as our 10 year anniversary, we thought it would be a lucky month. And now it is here and it appears that we are approaching our initial goal. As I was packing up our books today I found the book, World Cruising Destinations by Jimmy Cornell, I gave Bryan three years ago for his birthday in April. While the word “World” is a little ambitious for our plans at this time, we are in fact weeks away from throwing off the bowlines!
I try not to get overwhelmed with the amount of things that most be accomplished in these last two weeks before All In becomes our home, but boy it is tough. We have a calendar on our wall that we use to keep us on track and I cannot believe how close we are to our deadline.
After three years of dreaming and planning, THIS is actually our REALITY. All pictures are off the wall and most our furniture is gone. Bryan took a few pieces of furniture we are keeping to my dad’s this past week and we will just have our beds and sofa left. We are continuously taking loads to stuff to the dump and Salvation Army. While there is definitely a freeing feeling of shedding all the “stuff” around us, I am now confronted with all the new things we will need for our journey…many of which I have no idea of yet! Since Charleston will be our first stop and we have many family and friends that live there, I figure this will be a good place to get all those “things” we forgot or did not know we needed. It is going to be a LARGE learning curve for all of us.
I have been on an emotional roller coaster the last few weeks as I closed out my school year with a job I loved, and it will continue the next couple weeks, as we move aboard. We will be leaving the only home we have known as a family of four and made many, many precious memories. However, I’m excited to see what the future holds!