Friday, September 28, 2012

Life Aboard - the first 3 weeks

 The other night we realized we'd been living aboard for over 2 weeks now, today marks 3 weeks! We moved aboard in Portland and haven't looked back. Little by little the boat's become a home. We've done a lot more purging, giving a lot more of our "stuff" away (all totaled there were 8 trips to Savers AKA Goodwill including the return trip we had to make when we mistakenly gave away a box that had all our winter mittens, hats and gloves - wishful thinking?). 

We held onto a few select things here and there to move aboard to make the boat comfy and feel like home and the other night as we settled in we both said, "we love our microliving life - this feels like home!". Today we bid adieu to our old land based apartment "The Dupe" and the new tenants were already moving in. It was bittersweet but like I've continually said throughout this process - you have to let things you love go to make room for new things to love. 

So I thought I'd give you a little taste of life aboard our first 3 weeks. It's been FULL of visitors - from family to friends to co-workers to fellow boaters. Everyone wants to see this new boat of ours. Some come to investigate to see the how he*l 2 adults and a dog could possibly fit, some come to check out the design, some come to sit on the aft deck rum in hand and soak up the lifestyle. It feels awesome to have such incredible support for our dream out there...thank you to all who have come aboard and shared our happiness with us! Now, you all have to promise to come back in February - OK? OK?
Capt Tim & first mate Toby
Capt. Molly at salute!

A Sunday afternoon Pizza Party with The Farrell Four
Madeline & Mommy in the cockpit
Commuting to work - not bad!

The walk home from work

Our new "front" yard off of our aft deck

Our new neighborhood

Moving "stuff" aboard - where will it all go?
The weather board by the marina office

A typical boat scene - Tim in the engine room, Toby lounging on the bed

Toby lounging on the bed - again. 
Happy Toby in the Sun

Hanging in the cockpit

Life Jacket - he acts like a weirdo when he's in it
A little tour of the boat set to Guns 'N Roses - is there any better soundtrack? This is for Catta!
We've made a lot of updates since this video

So tonight's our first night aboard without anything else to do (i.e. move out of our old house, work commitments, visitors, etc.) and it's raining...Oh Well! We have a full cockpit enclosure that we'll be rigging up so happy hour in the cockpit will still happen - besides we have been gifted A LOT of rum the last 3 weeks, it's got to be enjoyed :)


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Anniversaries & Firsts

Today, September 18th, is our 2nd Anniversary. Thinking back to where we were and what we thought for our future life 2 years ago is so interesting. I was STILL in graduate school and inching closer to graduation. We had taken our first real step towards this dream of moving aboard a boat by looking at our first potential boat on Labor Day weekend before our wedding but the reality of the dream was not yet close to clear. But we were excitedly joining our lives together forever and our dreams became intertwined.

Our wedding was perfection - Home grown and so full of love. A tiny chapel in the woods and BBQ in the backyard complete with pies rather than cake. In our vows I vowed to Tim that I'd never stop coming up with crazy ideas like buying Volkswagen buses or sailing to Fiji. I vowed I'd never stop mixing life up with him and building stories we could tell our grandkids. So far, so good. 

At our reception my brother Pete gave us a toast and gifted us two books: 
"How to Sail Around the World" and "The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat". He told everyone in the tent about our plans and it was in that moment that the reality of our dream came into focus a bit more. All those who were there, who love us, now knew we were on a path and it was up to us to follow through - thank you to Pete for giving us that much needed and greatly appreciated accountability. As Pete says, "You've got one life, Live it." We love you more than you'll ever know Pete, thanks for being our first and best supporter. 

And now here we are today, September 18th, 2012. We own our dream sailboat, we have moved aboard, already faced some technical challenges (i.e. water and lights), had many a laugh and thanked our lucky stars for our safety plus had a nice rum drink or two with friends and family aboard. And now tonight we are facing our first, real New England storm moving through. I came into work today to this alert from the local news station:

Issued at: 3:27 AM EDT 9/18/12, expires at: 12:00 PM EDT 9/18/12

Wind advisory in effect from 6 pm this evening to 6 am EDT Wednesday, The NWS in Gray, Maine has issued a wind advisory, which is in effect from 6 pm this evening to 6 am EDT Wednesday. 
Winds, south 35 to 45 mph with gusts over 50 mph. 
Timing, early this evening through late tonight. (NO SLEEP TONIGHT ABOARD) 
Impacts, southerly exposures, especially near the shoreline (OUR MARINA) and along hilltops, can expect the highest wind gusts. This will down tree limbs leading to some power outages. (GOOD THING WE RUN ON A BATTERY)
Precautionary/preparedness actions,
A wind advisory means strong wind gusts of 46 to 57 mph can lead to damage due to downed tree limbs and scattered power outages. 

So we will secure another couple lines to the boat, add a fender or two, stow what we can, batten down what we can and hunker down for what will be a very bumpy night. Toby will sleep on top of us I'm sure as he'll be very scared and we'll ride out this night and see what Mother Nature can throw at us. There's no doubt we'll never forget this 2nd Anniversary - isn't that what marriage is? Riding through the storms together? That's never held more meaning...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reasons Why Wednesday: She carried us through the storm

Reason Why #7: She carried us home safe

So here we sit aboard safely in a slip at the gorgeous Wentworth Marina, bellies full after a homemade dinner from the galley, Jimmy Buffett on the radio, glasses of red wine and another "project" in process. Last Saturday seems like a lifetime away but when we stop for a second and think about what we went through the fear still shudders through us. 

Lists, Lists & More Lists
So, flashback: we arrived in Portland last Friday afternoon with the biggest smiles our faces could contain and excitement abounding. We hit up the marine store with lists and longer lists to outfit our boat for the weekend's trip, picked up Jill's cousin Chris, our crew, at the Greyhound station, provisioned our galley and cracked the first boat drink aboard. 
Before stepping aboard our boat for the first time! 

First Boat Drink on our very own Boat - rum & diet with
Portland's Old Port in the background
After some delicious beers at Novare Res in Portland we made back to the boat for a good night's sleep to prep for the trip south in the morning. Around 4am the wind had picked up a lot and Tim went out to secure another line to the dock. At 7:30 Tim's parents and the last member of our crew, Tim's brother Andrew arrived to the docks. The sky was grey and the wind was strong. Fog had come down the Fore River and the outlet from Casco Bay to the Gulf of Maine was barely visible. It was cool and VERY breezy. We listened to the NOAA weather forecast over the VHF radio over coffee - "Small Craft Advisories" were issued for Casco Bay and Saco Bay but it sounded like Sunday was going to be worse so we made the decision to head out - we had the crew, the provisions and the excitement. 
Casting off the dock for the first time in our new boat!
As we left the Fore River and entered the Gulf of Maine we went into a fog bank. A huge cruise ship was appearing out of the fog. Eerily there was no other boat traffic heading out. The waves were choppy and the winds were blowing around 15 knots - perfect weather for sailing our boat. 
Cruise Ship appearing out of the Fog at the mouth of the Fore River

Skies were ominous... 

Portland Head Light in some light choppy waves
We raised the sails and were cruising between and 6-7 knots, already very impressed with how Zephyr handled in heavier winds and waves. The waves were starting to build. The forecast we'd listened to hours earlier had said it was 4-6 foot seas with 10-15 knot winds. At this point it was consistently 5-7 foot seas and the gusts were topping 15 knots. Spirits were high and our boat was handling the heavier seas masterfully. Plowing straight through those big rollers without being turned or tossed. We passed Kennebunkport, our original planned stop over. The Sunday forecast we'd heard hours before had made us think that the next day was going to be worse and so we decided to push on south and try and make Portsmouth by nightfall. Still there were no other boats out and channel 16 on the VHF was eerily quiet. This is when things started to turn... 

A video before things really picked up - Zephyr mastering the 7 footers!

First, our side shroud, one of the cables that holds up the mast lost its pin and disconnected. A screwdriver and some electrical tape was a good, quick fix. The waves built some more, now consistently above 7 feet. The winds were topping 18 knots. We still felt good about making Portsmouth by sunset. Then our mainsail ripped off the boom. It's a self-furling main so there is no "dropping the sail" it must be furled in. The furling didn't quite wrap tightly and we ended up having the sail rip back out slightly as the winds were now over 20 knots and the seas were hitting 9-10 feet. This was not good. We turned towards to shore hoping for a safe harbor in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine. Fear began to take over on the boat at this point. Waves were 10 feet, the boat was heeling at 60 degrees and as you sat on the high side you could look down from the crest of a wave at least 15 feet to the trough of the oncoming wave. Still, our boat rallied through, never letting her bow get buried or being tossed broadside to waves. She was simply amazing in those seas and winds. Her heavy displacement, lead keel and incredible build proved to us that she is capable of handling most anything Mother Ocean throws her way. 
Words cannot describe the calm and control that the helmsman, Cousin Chris, exhibited that afternoon. Among the huge waves and winds and whipping main sail Chris piloted the boat with a smile on his face and a demeanor that calmed the crew. As we approached Cape Neddick, York, Maine we received a cell phone call from Tim's parents who'd been following our trek south in their car. They'd run into a local sailor, Peter Hughes, who warned us not to anchor in Cape Neddick. In the waves and wind we'd end up dragging anchor right into the seawall. He urged us to continue on just a little further south to York Harbor. The thought of spending even another 5 minutes in the seas and wind was not something we'd wanted to do but we turned back out, rounded Nubble Point Lighthouse which had at least 75 onlookers who'd come down to watch the giant waves and made for the red nun marking the entrance to York Harbor. Tim's parents said the gasps and the "what are they doing out in these seas" cries from the onlookers at the lighthouse riddled them with fear as they watched our boat disappear behind 10 foot troughs of the waves. Peter Hughes assured them that we were OK and though we were getting tossed around a lot we were going to make it to safe harbor. I'm glad we didn't have to hear the gasps of fear, we had enough fear on board amongst ourselves. 

Chris masterfully guided us into the York River and up the channel and within 2 minutes and a few hundred yards it was dead calm. We truly understood the meaning of "safe harbor". We tied up to the fuel dock at York Harbor Marine and thanked God, Poseidon, Buddha, St. Brendan, the patron saint of Mariners, karma and whatever else we could think of for delivering us to safety. We especially thanked our boat, Zephyr. She was as strong as we could have ever imagined. Her issues with the sail and shroud were user error and a result of deferred maintenance, not something wrong with her. She took those waves and wind and carried us over and through it without once showing any sign of being overpowered. Mr. Perkins, her engine, exhausted himself to give us enough speed to plow over the waves rather than be crashed into by them. Our trust in Zephyr grew exponentially that day. 

Peter Hughes (thank you to the spirits above for connecting him to us that day) spent an hour helping us untangle the mess that had become the main sail. There are a few holes that were ripped, not bad considering that sail flapped in 35-45 knot winds. We'd expected there'd be strips of fabric left. Sailors say that every patch in a sail is a story. We certainly have a good story for the couple of patches we'll have to get. We cracked open the best tasting beers we've ever had, I cooked up homemade jambalaya and as a crew we relived the afternoon, the fear, the exhilaration, the craziness. We commended eachother and thanked God and those we love in heaven who watched over us that afternoon for keeping us safe despite our poor judgment in going out that day. We learned a lot! Small craft advisories = do not go out. Consistently increasing winds + waves = turn back. There are no safe harbors for our size boat between Kennebunkport and York. When there is forecasted waves from an offshore Hurricane = don't go out. CHECK EVERYTHING IN YOUR RIGGING BEFORE HEADING OUT!

Capt. Tim taking her home on Sunday
The next day was drastically different. Calm seas, light breeze and a short 1 1/2 hour sail south to our new home port at the Wentworth. We were so much more appreciative of the weather because of what we'd been through the day before. A harbor seal greeted as we approached the entrance to New Castle and monarch butterflies flew next to us as we turned towards home - It was a perfect moment. We were greeted by our families and friends who were cheers'ing and clapping as Tim came into the slip. We disembarked, hair matted, eyes dry, muscles sore from being so tense for so long the day before. We were different, we felt stronger and also so humbled by what we'd come through. We'd learned the inconsistent and powerful nature of Mother Ocean and the steadfast strength of our boat. We'd also learned a lot about ourselves, we'd cheated disaster, we'd rallied through with many surface bruises from being tossed around on deck but with a strength and trust in ourselves that can only be achieved when you conquer something like we did. 
Coming into Little Harbor on Sunday
 So now we have some fixing to do to our girl - sails to be patched, shrouds to be secured... but it feels like an honor to be able to fix this boat that did so much for us on Saturday. She got us home safe and now it's our duty to be sure she is at her best before we ever challenge her like that again. 

"Confronting a storm is like fighting God. All the powers in the universe seem to be against you and, in an extraordinary way, your irrelevance is at the same time both humbling and exalting."

Franciose LeGrande

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Turmoil, Tumult & Elation

Turmoil: A state or condition of extreme confusion, agitation or commotion 
Tumult: A violent agitation of mind or feelings
Elation: Pathological euphoria 

Yup, that pretty much sums up the last week in the world of Jill, Tim and at times Toby. There's been so much going on it's hard to sleep, hard to catch your breath, hard not to want to hide under a pillow and wait for life to calm down. But that's not what this experience is all about - it's about rejoicing in the tumult, embracing the turmoil and soaking up the elation. 

Let's get the elation part out first - the boat is "good to go!". We heard from the broker and owner today that the 4 major things that we needed resolved in order to close on the boat are fixed and she is ready for us! Her shore power system was fully reviewed and verified in good order by a marine electrician this morning, her hot water pump is working to produce hot water, her VHF is in working order and the exhaust plug that blew during our sea trial is plugged once again (i.e. no more hole in the boat, no more water rushing into the engine compartment). 
The check from the bank for our boat loan is in the mail to us this afternoon arriving tomorrow and the closing is scheduled for Thursday. 

This news could not have come at a better time because since the sea trial last Tuesday we've been in moving and purging mode of our land life. This weekend we rented a U-Haul and packed up all of our furniture to give away to a friend of my mom's and we stored a few important/sentimental items at the Cape house. There's no more pictures on our walls, there's no table to eat at, there's no couch to lounge on, there's not even a shower curtain in the bathroom at our Duplex now. Our home life is in utter turmoil
As everything else was being packed & moved this
was the only box that remained
Leaving our stuff behind at the Cape House yesterday afternoon - our record player, our photos of friends and family, the wooden jewelry box that Tim made me our first Christmas together - was very emotional. Knowing that these things were no longer going to be in our daily lives was hard and at the time we hadn't received word that the boat was going to happen - talk about tumult, we were riddled with it the whole 3 hour ride home last night.

This weekend as were ridding our lives of our stuff for a boat that we didn't know if we owned yet we were a mix of emotions. It was hard to be alone because the "what if" thoughts would take over. Analysis Paralysis was running rampant. We sought out times with friends to remind ourselves that what we're doing is awesome, exciting and worth it. We had to be reinforced and our Cape friends delivered in such a big way - thank you to our families, Michelle and family, Catta, Kyle and the beauty that is Cape Cod for helping us during this tumultuous weekend, we needed it more than you'll ever know. 

So today we sit with a boat that's good to go, a check on its way, a crew at the ready to sail the boat with us from Portland to Portsmouth next weekend and our families planning to welcome us upon our arrival on Sunday. Our house is a mess, there's more moving and purging to be done but for now we're embracing the feeling of expectation and sheer excitement

Stay tuned...