How do you eat an elephant? (in Port Washington, NY)

(One bite at a time)

(We’ve made it through Long Island Sound!)

Sailing with Zephyr - six month old baby on a boat

I literally haven’t wanted to check the weather for the New Jersey coast because Buzzards Bay and Long Island Sound felt like such huge stretches to get through. Maybe especially because when we came through here in 2014 we had a couple truly awful days of fighting tides, awful seas and wind that always seemed to be on the nose!!

So while we loved New Bedford and thought we might be there a while longer, when a perfectly windless weather window came up Sunday night we decided to go for it!

Leaving at night is a little weird feeling — it’s hard to tell how far away lights are and you get extra attached to your nav instruments — but watching the sun rise over Block Island with nary a breath of wind was 100% worth it.

Think maybe he’s teething again?

Sidenote: Have I mentioned I like motoring? I’m like a fair weather sailor who reeeally likes going new places so sometimes has to sail 😉 But especially when the lows are below freezing (our new reality), motoring means the diesel stove can be running and the boat can be toasty warm. It actually got hot last night and we had to crack hatches to let more cold air in. Standing watch in the cockpit with warm air just billowing out the companionway is a pretty great feeling too 🙂

Anyways, we reserved a slip in Port Washington and snaked our way in here super late last night, shining flashlights to make sure we didn’t run into any unlit boats at anchor. The glow of NYC lights up the area quite nicely, and the staff made it easy by letting us tie up wherever we wanted.

Sadly the $16/night days are over (New York is living up to its reputation with prices in the $70-$100/night range) but it sure was nice to wake up at a dock with easy WiFi for my 8 am meetings and hot showers for everyone!

Zephyr crunched the numbers & determined we can’t afford to stay here forever

Zephyr’s continued to be a little champ… he spends most of the day in the Boba wrap with me, the Onya carrier with Jon, or desperately trying to crawl inside on the floor. He even managed some jolly jumping while underway on this last trip (best. invention. ever)!

I will admit there’s some irony to the baby sleeping through the night while his parents are awake every 3 hours, especially since we haven’t figured out how to get sleep during the day (it’s hard to be on watch AND on baby duty, which means off watches are spent on baby duty… a conundrum I’m sure we’ll spend many more days working on!).

Anyways, so far we’ve managed to balance cruising in November while working with a baby and having some fun… so fingers crossed it continues!!

…but first, family nap time!

– LMK

First passage in 4 years — and first ever with the baby! (in New Bedford, MA)

The funny thing about trying to sum up a passage is that it was 30 hours lived in approximately 15-minute increments.

Some of those increments? Incredible. Blue skies, flat seas, baby napping in the wrap, hot coffee in hand, tunes playing, heater running, miles ticking down.

Others? Shitty gunwhale-to-gunwhale rolling motion making us all grumpy and hungry because cooking is nearly impossible, overwhelming tiredness (there’s some irony in the idea of Z sleeping through the night while his parents are up every 3 hours on watches), autopilot being fritzy just as the sun set and we were the furthest from shore (and therefore furthest from any bailout options), storm clouds rolling in and wind picking up just as we come out of the Cape Cod Canal and into Buzzards Bay (it was rough when we were here 4 years ago, and apparently that hasn’t changed!!),and the weight of the stress of the last few weeks / days / hours catching up to us, big time.

But! We made it!

We’re tucked into the nicest marina in New Bedford, with staff so friendly you kind of want to stay forever, and a $16/night price tag (including power and water) that is a far cry from the $4/foot that some New England marinas charge!

We’ve found the local diner for anniversary breakfast (6 incredible years married to this guy and it feels like the adventures are just really getting going) and explored the awesome New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Yes, we had some rough moments getting here, and yes, it’s a low of 28°F/-2°C tonight and I’m not sure when our next weather window will appear and how we’re going to balance weather and babies and temperatures and working and getting south over the next few weeks… but that’s okay. The messy middle is what makes for a good story, and we are living the heck out of every day right now.

Life is good.

– LMK

Prepping for a passage with a 6-month old baby

Funny enough, it’s not always that easy to find information about sailing overnight with a baby in New England in November… so I thought I’d share what I’ve compiled, what we’re trying, and how it’s working (so far!).

I have to add the *extreme* caveat that absolutely zero percent of this is “American Association of Pediatrics” approved, so please don’t take this as the gold-standard of parenting… it’s not. This is just two people’s attempt to answer “how do we pursue our dreams while also keeping our little treasure safe, warm and happy underway?”

Sleeping

Zephyr's boat bed in the vberth - 6 month old baby on a sailboat

Zephyr has a small bunk that is directly adjacent to the vberth bunk. It has a wall to hold him in / stop him from rolling out, and is the coziest little spot to sleep.

We also have a leecloth across the whole vberth, so even if he somehow escapes his little bunk, he’s contained in the vberth. We’re very lucky that he sleeps 6:30-6:30, so while I hope to transition him to the quarterberth eventually, for now it’s super convenient and feels safest to have him right beside us.

Playing

Lee cloth across the vberth to keep the baby in

We want Z to be able to explore and play on his own as much as possible (he is a seriously independent little man, and does NOT like to be held or cuddled all the time, much to my regret!!) so we’ve built a series of lee cloths to “baby proof” different areas on the boat.

We sleep in the vberth, but added this one so he can have a bigger area to roll around during the day and practice his crawling-attempts in.

We also have leecloths on each of the settees, so he can be on the “low” side when we’re heeled over sailing.

With that said, we’ve also found that on calm days, the cockpit well with a few cushions and toys (and Z in his lifejacket!) is a good option too.

Being outside

Makrolon windshield attached to bimini and dodger

It’s been a bit of a white stamoid-palooza around here lately, primarily in an effort to make the cockpit a nicer place to spend time with Zephyr, regardless of the weather.

I knew we wanted a bimini, and once we had a bimini, a windshield was an obvious addition. We had a small piece of Makrolon (clear acrylic) left over from the dodger project, so decided to use that to give the windshield some extra structure and shape.

It works *beautifully* and is so clear you really don’t notice it… other than how much it traps the heat pouring out of the companionway, and pushes it towards whoever’s standing at the helm. Super nice!

Strataglass and Stamoid weathercloths

We also added weathercloths with clear Strataglass windows… a project I had wanted to do for years, but didn’t get around to until we had a few extra weeks of pre-departure prep time 🙂

I loved the protection our old (super grungy) weathercloths gave us, but hated that I couldn’t see the horizon from a seated position… hence the windows! These we will most likely keep up the majority of the time, and I think they will also help keep more of the toys that Zephyr flings around contained in the cockpit.

Staying warm

Keeping Zephyr warm has been my number one concern about this whole adventure, especially as we continued to push our departure date later and later, with lows more consistently below freezing and “highs” in the 40-50°F (5-10°C) range. I’m always interested in staying warm and dry, so I have lots to say about the topic!!

Silk and wool balaclava for a baby and merino wool base layers for winter sailing

While the Dickinson Newport diesel heater runs beautifully when we’re motoring, running it while heeled over sailing is a bit of a challenge! Making me even more of a motor-boater than I’m already inclined to be 😉 No one’s ever accused me of being a sailing purist!

Full fleece suit over merino wool base layers for the coldnest nights on the boat

Aside from Googling “how do the Inuit keep their babies warm”, “camping with a baby in the winter” and any other mildly-related search terms I could come up with, here are a few things we are trying:

  • Ella’s Wool base layers — these are 100% merino wool and were recommended by our awesome NY friends who hike with their babies year-round. While pricey ($60/set), we ended up ordering two full sets so we can alternate when one gets dirty and double-layer on the coldest nights
  • Merino Wool / Silk Blend Balaclava — knit hats and hoods are obviously great, but I wanted something extra to keep his little neck warm and to cover more of his face. His chubby cheeks still stick out and need to be monitored for temperature (especially if we’re outside in the wind for a long time), but overall I’m super happy with this
  • Junior-size wool socks (to be used for socks AND gloves) — another tip from our winter-hiking friends. Z rips mittens off almost immediately, but these junior-size socks fit his little arms perfectly (his elbow goes where the heel is) and they don’t come off his feet easily either.
  • A 12-volt dog-bed heating pad — did I mention we aren’t AAP-approved parents?? Many things marketed towards pets work really nicely for babies on boats! This 12-volt heating pad draws around 3 amps, is waterproof, low-temperature and has a “chew proof” cord (quite useful for Z actually), and while it is explicitly NOT made for human use, it makes a huge difference when we aren’t able to run any real heat overnight (ie – while sailing).
  • A winter-weight sleepsack and fleece snowsuits — there are lots of these on Amazon, and the fleece snowsuit (with feet, mittens and a hood built in) works especially nicely to keep our little bundle warm. The sleepsack (without sleeves) has been perfect for nights we’ve got heat running too.

I’m hopeful that some combination of the above, in addition to all heat sources we’re able to safely run, will keep everyone warm 🙂 I’m sure things will continue to evolve over time, so I’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime… here’s hoping for some nice sailing weather!

– LMK 🙂

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