ICW Sailing (in Beaufort, SC)

As someone who takes pride in “delivering what I promise”, I struggle with changing plans.

Sailing off the South Carolina coast with 11-month old Zephyr

We set out from Charleston on a bit of a rough note — I thought it was slack but there was clearly still current running, so we very nearly, *nearly* slammed into our neighbor (I had to ask Jon if we’d hit, cuz it was sooooo close, and Michael, the owner of that very-nice-boat-I-almost-hit-at-5am shouted, “Bravo!” when I finally got us turned and facing the right way!), only to get out of the Charleston Inlet in the pitch black and into a big lumpy mess of a seastate, rolling us gunwhale to gunwhale while Zephyr protested and we wondered why we were so eager to leave the dock…

Changing baby diapers while underway - daddy duty on a little sailboat

Find a man who will change diapers by headlamp while underway, and hold onto him with everything you’ve got

We’d been so set on leaving Charleston and heading off overnight, that we’d never really looked at everything in between. But as we rocked and rolled and tried to reassure Z that his world would one day stop rolling again, the futility of continuing to choose to be out there hit us.

Sailing with a baby on a little cruising sailboat

There were all sorts of interesting options in between! And anyways, why were we trying to get to Florida??

We purposely never set a “destination” for our winter down south, other than somewhere that wouldn’t snow on us. This was intentional because I knew that if we said “Florida” or “the Bahamas” or “South Carolina”, I’d feel a huge responsibility to follow through on what we said (and after eight years of boat ownership, I should know better!).

Sunrise out the porthole on NorWest 33

But there are strange sorts of competition and stigma that exist around cruising — people breathlessly taking in our smaller boat and miniature crew-member, gasping “are you going to the islands?” with wide eyes (and I did, in fact, want to sail to the Bahamas)… But I never wanted to say we were going there in case something came up and we couldn’t end up sailing there.

Which it did, of course. And somehow the little decision to change our plans from sailing overnight to Florida to just popping back in to the ICW felt symbolic of our whole winter…

Charleston to Beaufort, SC on the outside - not quite the most efficient route

So long story short, I’m still working on accepting that not everything has to happen this year, and it’s okay to adapt plans to meet your circumstances.

Nor'West 33 Sailboat at Anchor in South Carolina

We’re cruising with an 11-month old, on a 33′ sailboat, working around a full-time corporate job schedule.

Boat baby underway in the cockpit

Flexibility is key.

Thankfully Brio doesn’t mind a change of plans, so we found a great little inlet (South Edisto Island) and jybed back towards shore, settled the motion, and had a freaking awesome downwind sleigh ride right back into our beloved ICW.

Say what you will — I know some people hate the ICW (“the ditch”) — but I love it. You can sail (if you’re up for some active sailing!), you can anchor every night, you can see every mile of this beautiful coast… and you don’t have to rock and roll and stress about night watches and baby happiness.

Dolphins at sunset while cruising on a Nor'West 33

Dolphins heralded our entry into the ICW, the golden sun set with a pod leaping around our anchored boat, and we slept peacefully with not another soul in sight.

Sailing with a baby in his Salus lifejacket in the cockpit with weathercloths upAnd then the next morning, we had one of those picture-perfect days; cruising wing-on-wing at 5-6 knots in a 10-12 knot breeze, sun sparkling, tunes cranked in the cockpit, Zephyr happily pointing out birds and boats and points of interest on land…

Nor'West 33 sailing wing-on-wing down the ICW - who says you can't sail in the ICW?

This is why I love sailing,” I whispered to Jon, “and I’m so thankful we changed our plans.”



Small But Mighty (in Charleston, SC)

Can you spot the cruising boat, nestled in amongst the big ladies? 😉

Small cruising boat as a tiny home liveaboard

We kicked tires for a while before we found Brio (and before we had any money! haha), but always with the same goal in mind: to buy the smallest boat we could stand, in the nicest condition we could afford, so that we could be happy with her for 3-5 years.

Baby onboard! Living on a little sailboat with an 11-month old

Can you spot the boat baby?

“10-foot-itis” is a real thing in the boating world (and maybe in the housing world too??), so 8 years later I’m pretty proud that we’ve been able to make our little 33′ lady work for us, despite the Maine winters, new crew, and cruising challenges!

Small cruising boat as a tiny home liveaboard

As a sidenote — I always think it’s funny when people ask if we’ll live on Brio forever. “Definitely not!” is always our answer — “we want a bigger boat someday” 🙂

PS – It’s awesome to have some cool drone shots from our new Charleston friends (thanks Ryan and Brooke!!) I’m officially adding “drone” to the someday-wish-list!

PPS – The radar is back! Yay for working radar!!

Daily Boat Life (in Charleston, SC)

Boat baby in a tub - 10 months old

The tub does double-duty as our coat-storage tub when it’s not full of baby and bubbles

Zephyr is currently obsessed with birds. Pelicans are his favorite, but egrets are a close second, and he’ll settle for a seagull if neither of the above are around. So we spend a good portion of every day pointing out birds and trying to get him to learn the sign for “bird” (currently he only knows “milk” which means he signs “milk” any time he wants anything… which is especially fun when you’re the daddy — aka the ‘milk broker’ — and can only broker the next milk, not actually provide it!).

Boys in their shades

Boat baby munching on an apple in the quarterberth

Little man loves tiny apple peel bites

As we approach Week 8 of life in Charleston Harbor Marina, we’re definitely finding our rhythm… babysitting offers have started pouring in, the hotel staff know my name too (not just Z’s), and we’ve figured out which drivers of the morning “boater” shuttle are willing to make a few extra stops (post office, West Marine, Trader Joes, etc) and which are sticklers for the grocery store only run.

Charleston Harbor Marina - trolley to do errands

We took this beauty to the post office & turned a few heads…

We rode the water taxi into town last weekend… Z is definitely a boater at heart. If you ask “where’s the ship” he’ll delightedly point out any passing freighters, no additional prompting required. So the water taxi was a hit, although the weird kid was more excited by the seagulls and ships than the leaping, frolicking dolphins so we might need to work on the sign for “dolphin” too 🙂

Water taxi into Charleston

On the boat front, another new radome was shipped to us here, it didn’t fix the problem (!!!), so we shipped the remaining radar pieces off to radar-repair-purgatory (aka: New Hampshire). We don’t know exactly when we might get it back (and be able to continue a little further south), but we do know that it won’t be this week, and probably won’t be next week either.

Boat baby in the radar box

At least the radome box makes a good toy

Playing with a hammer in the cockpit - who needs toys?

Who needs toys?? Just give the kid a couple of hammers (and stand back)!

The lack of a plan drives me a little nuts, but at least when I know we can’t leave it takes the constant-questioning away — and means we can just settle into making the most of our time here… Put the cruising guides and charts away for a bit, and quit obsessing over Florida-inlet options and the Gulf Stream patterns and where we might spend Zephyr’s birthday. Zephyr will turn one no matter where we are. And we’re renting a car and going on a roadtrip this weekend. So that’s enough for today.

Digital nomad - office by the pool for the day

“The office”

The Brio Trio with their super cool shades

In the meantime, we’ve got a good little routine going… we wake up and watch for birds out the vberth hatch, we have breakfast together, I work in the hotel while the boys hang out on the boat, we meet for lunch (and milk brokerage), Z goes to bed around 6pm (despite us being 4′ away — god bless battery-powered white noise machines!) so we get a few hours of “us” time (oh hello, husband, I remember you!) and we start every morning with a chorus of dadadada-mamama-dada-mama-da-ahhhhh’s sometime between 5:30 and 6am…

Boat baby snuggled up in the vberth

…Other than the mornings that Z decides 4:30 is wakeup time (seagulls? boat wakes?) and then I hide under the covers and try to figure out what time it is while Jon waits for direction on whether he can “let Zephyr out” (of his zip-up lee-cloth bed) or not 😉 It’s like having an unruly puppy who demands milk a lot.

Boat baby playing in the cockpit

Can't miss the hot chocolate bar at the Beach Club

Have I mentioned the afternoon hot chocolate bar??

And in the few moments of quiet between all this, Jon works on Brio and continues to make little life improvements for us all (Those cockpit speakers? They’re installed! And amazing!! Although now we have to remember to double-check if they’re on before we crank the morning Shakira booty shakin’ tunes 😉 Not sure our neighbors appreciate our cockpit speakers as much as I do!!!) and I continue to sneak peeks at the cruising guides and dream of where the next months might find us…

Charleston Harbor Marina - cute boys


Boat baby reading his boat book

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