Acting Brave (in Solomon’s Island, MD)

I used to be braver. Six years ago I wouldn’t have thought twice about a little daysail to a new anchorage. I wouldn’t have checked the weather 27 times or renewed SeaTow or double-checked our EPIRB and flares. I wouldn’t have agreed to push a departure day back week after week – I would have demanded we bite the bullet and just go already! 

I don’t know if it’s the kiddo or the new-to-us-boat or January weather or long period of not sailing or just the combination of all those things, but I suddenly feel like I’m new to this all over again. I’ve been so excited to leave, to get back to the “nomadic” part of our life, but with a heavy dose of needing to psych myself up for the actual leaving part, faking brave when it wasn’t coming naturally.

The upside of this is that it’s also brought back fresh eyes to what’s around me — to see this life that I really do love to my absolute core. 

Is there anything better than sunrise at sea? 

This is where I am happiest. This is where I belong. This where I thrive – where *we* thrive – where our best sides come out and we work as a team so seamlessly we don’t even need words, just nods and eye contact and half-smiles. 

The sun rising, eyes smiling, water sparkling, a token dolphin because the scene demands it.

The only thing that could make it more magical would be if Zephyr was happily watching the waves with me, but actually he’s inside watching Peppa Pig 😆 A concession we gratefully make to buy the minutes we need to untie our spider web of lines (“how long do you think some of these lines have been tied here?”) and slowly back Brio II our of her slip, pausing to take a picture for what I hope might be the last time but won’t say out loud just in case I jinx it only to realize later that Jon took the exact same picture, standing on the bow and looking back while hoping we were moving forward.


Today was magical and tonight we’re at anchor for the very first time and there’s a gentle rain softly pattering on the deck and it’s interrupted occasionally by Zephyr shouting “no horsey!” (his interpretation of “no-way-jose” 😂) while I lie in the aft cabin in front of the heater duct, full of gratitude for this very perfect day. 

My measure of days is “will we want to tell Zephyr stories about today when he grows up?”

I’m quite sure we’ll tell Zephyr about today.
“And after you’d lived at Herrington Harbour longer than anywhere else in your little life (a true statement that horrified Jon) we finally broke the spell and fulfilled mommy’s goal to leave in January, making a break for Solomon’s Island on January 31st (cuz nothing motivates a lady like a deadline) under a bright beautiful sky and flat seas and lots of nerves about what unforeseen things would break first and by some miracle we arrived without a hiccup and you slept through us dropping the anchor and revving the engine (or at least you complained quietly enough that we ignored you until you fell back asleep) and then because you were with us we mustered energy we didn’t have to launch the dinghy and go for a toot around the anchorage, ending at the Marine Center so you could visit the fishies and otters before we came home to our warm toasty boat and had dinner afloat listening to a soft rain before we all collapsed into bed, grateful for a warm bunk and six pillows each because you and your daddy are both pillow princes”

Or something like that 🙂



Woot Woot Webasto! (in North Beach, MD)

While Amazon 1-day shipping failed us (arriving a day after the perfect little weather-window we were eyeing up), Webasto has not.

The fuel pump on the heater was indeed the problem — a piece that we were assured was “the most reliable component in the whole system” (*insert slight eye roll*) — so the upside is that it was a super-simple swap out to get my favorite piece of equipment up and running again.

Case in point: It was 23*F / -5*C here last night, with a slight skiff of ice forming over the marina, but we were warm & snug inside, completely oblivious to the gross temps outside. And on that note, maybe I should be grateful to Amazon’s delay for keeping us from leaving on this very-very-chilly morning! 😉

Of course now that we’ve got the heater working AND a battery monitor, our thoughts have turned to “HOW much power does this sucker draw???” (Answer: a lot. Like 8 amps a lot. It doesn’t run constantly, so it’s not a straight 8 x 24 calculation, but it’s still more than we’re entirely happy with).

We’ll tackle this from all angles, drawing on our favorite “cumulative benefit of marginal improvements” perspective, to see what improvements we can make.

Current ideas include insulating the heat duct (our cupboards and bilges are getting nice and toasty warm, but this really isn’t the ideal destination for that precious warm air!!); insulating the known cold areas (Brio II is a bit of a warm-air sieve, with the aft cabin having two very thin cold walls – to the lazarettes – and very little insulation anywhere); connecting our solar panels to the currently-in-the-box-solar-charge-controller (it’s on the list, it’s on the list!!); and continuing to evaluate additional offgrid power options (wind generator? more solar?).

It’s a balance between the “easy but expensive” option of more batteries and more diesel consumption and taking the long-term approach of a more sustainably set up system.

Not that any of this matters when you’re comfortably tied up to a dock with endless power, but we’d like to think this won’t always be Brio II’s home 🙂

From our toasty warm home afloat,


Projects & Plans (in North Beach, MD)

“Plans” is really a misnomer, since we really only have some vague intentions for the year (sail south being at the top of the list, but even that wavers a little when I look at the calendar and do the math and determine that at our often-slower-than-planned-speeds we’ll probably arrive around the same time the 90*F weather does… but hey, north for the winter and south for the summer does seem to be right in line with how we tend to end up doing things! Bucking the trend, I say).

Cockpit views on our Sabre 42 liveaboard sailboat

I digress 🙂

After a nice long Christmas visit to BC, we’ve been back on Brio II for just over a week, and we’ve been making pretty good progress on the project front!

New alternator for our Sabre 42 sailboat

A new alternator is in, complete with new wiring. It started as a simple swap-out, but as Jon traced wires and dug into connections, the right way to do things stood out. Of course the right way also required removing cabinetry and generally disassembling the boat, so if it were up to me we’d never do things the right way, just the fast way — but that’s why not all decisions are up to me 🙂

Boys working on a Westerbeke 46 Diesel Engine in a Sabre 42 Sailboat

Along with the alternator, we bought a Bomar battery charger and are delighted to be able to accurately measure our power usage (and the output from the alternator!). One funny little perk that you might not appreciate unless you’ve spent days staring at a battery monitor is that the Bomar has an extra-large display, so you can actually read it from across the room.

A new Bomar battery monitor letting us know the alternator is working on our Sabre 42 sailboat!

We’ve been playing the “how much does this draw” game and were intrigued / disgusted to discover that the ugly reading lights the boat came with draw 2 freaking amps each. Ugly AND inefficient, my favorite combination! They’re on the chopping block. Unfortunately new reading lights are a pricy and not-exactly-critical improvement, so they’ll have to wait a little.

We also bought and loaded 250′ of new 5/16″ G4 chain. The anchor setup on this boat was laughable, and we already had our beloved big-mama Spade (purchased before we even found “the next boat”, as a sort of engagement-ring boat-jewelry promise to ourselves that this would be the year we’d absolutely find a bigger boat to call home!). Jon marked and loaded all 250′, so that’s another big job off the list.

250' of 5/16" G4 chain

As a random aside, just in case anyone happens to be Googling the same questions I did, we discovered that 5/16″ G4 chain will very happily fit in the gypsy of a 3/8″ BBB anchor windlass.

Loading the anchor chain onto Brio II

We have a manual windlass on Brio II and while one day we’d love to upgrade to an electric one, we couldn’t quite justify it off the bat. But we also didn’t want to buy 3/8″ chain, when 5/16″ is more than enough for this size of boat (and weighs substantially less, a consideration when you think about where all that weight lives).

After hemming and hawing, I found a Cruisers Forum post that referenced anchor windlass gypsies actually accommodating a slight range of sizes, so we decided to buy 4′ to try it out for ourselves. Our 4′ test confirmed the forum folks, and we committed.

We’ll have to actually use the anchor a few times before I call it a 100% success, but for now I’m pretty excited about the idea of having a windlass of any sort!

Jon was the “manual windlass” on baby-Brio, which meant I almost always ran the helm side of things. In general we like to both be able to do all the tasks on the boat, so this was a bit of a needle in my side. Anyways, long story short, I think we’ll both be able to drop and pull anchor on Brio II which I’m quite happy about!

What else? We reglued the oarlocks on the dinghy (gotta love those old dinks), and have a port replacement in progress. We’ve also got an autopilot (with a REMOTE!) sitting in a box with our names on it to replace the dead display and brain on ours. Fingers crossed the hydraulic ram will continue to work 🙂

But lest you think it’s been all sunshine and roses, the big disappointment of the week was that our beloved Webasto stopped working. Zephyr and I were playing Legos in the vberth, enjoying the steady breeze of warm air blowing out the vent, when it suddenly just… stopped. The unit always goes through a cool down cycle, so I figured maybe we’d run out of fuel… but nope.

Looking forward from the aft cabin of our Sabre 42 sailboat - toddler feeding himself breakfast!

Still troubleshooting this one, but at only 150 hours of use it’s not the most wonderful development. Especially when it’s become my most favorite piece of equipment on the boat! (Have I mentioned I like to be warm and dry? It shouldn’t be that big of a thing, but really it turns out those are the two conditions required for Leah to be happy 🙂 ).

Anyways, all this to say we have been working away on our list of projects, keeping half an eye on the weather forecasts (lows in the 20s = “must have a working heater to even consider going anywhere”) and slowly musing about what the months to come might hold.

It’s a funny life, but it’s a good one.


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