The Project(s) That Couldn’t (in Charleston, SC)

10-month old Zephyr experiences ice cubes for the first time in the cockpit

Lest you think it’s all hot chocolate bars and sunrises… You know the little engine that could? We’ve got the projects that couldn’t.

Charleston sunset through the porthold from Charleston Harbor Marina

There were the weather cloths that just needed a few grommets to finish them off… an Amazon deal (for 1000 grommets… your first clue 😉 ) on nickel-plated steel that ended up rusting to bits within literally DAYS of installation. Fun fact: removing grommets is way less fun than installing them.

There was the anchor locker drain hose that needed replacing (let’s just say that the old hose install involved a decent amount of duct tape…). Seemed simple until we discovered that the marine store shipped us the wrong size of hose. Discovered, mind you, after we’d emptied the entire vberth storage locker into the main area, I’d climbed down into said locker, and Jon was full on baby wrangling Zephyr (who was *certain* he’d be most helpful in my lap, as I juggled heat guns and holesaws, trying to make the hose situation work).

The swim ladder hardware we installed (turns out we haven’t swum off the boat in YEARS) didn’t actually work with our swim ladder (but a little metal filing by Jonathan at least fixed that one).

The hole for the cockpit speakers (which we’ve been carrying around in a locker for literally 8 years!) ended up an inch too high (blame Zephyr) so now we’ve got a 7” hole in the cockpit to patch (and another hole to drill! Maybe we’ll have speakers in 8 more years…)

The port integral water tank work (a saga too long and unresolved to share in entirety) created such a fiberglass dust cloud that I literally sent Jon to buy (another) Festool Hepa vacuum. We left the other one in Maine, thinking we’d never need a huge vacuum on the boat… but it’s been one of the more missed items! So off to buy a vacuum to finish a dusty project Jon went. Zephyr and I hung out by the pool, under J’s orders to stay out of the chemical muck.

And then just when we thought we’d gotten a handle on the biggies and had a weather window for our jump to Florida, the B&G Vulcan 9 radar gave us a “No Radar” message (in the midst of the worst fog we’ve had since leaving Maine, of course). This puppy is less than a year old, so the good folks at B&G shipped us a new radome immediately… but unfortunately they shipped it to our billing address instead of our current mailing address, so there’s a new $1700 radome on its way to snowy Maine, where it’s really not that useful to us…


It’s a cruising truism that this life is about working on your boat in exotic destinations… so I guess I should be grateful that we at least like our boat and we like working on her!

And — it goes without saying — we’re enjoying Charleston and the marina here, so a few more weeks (waiting for our lost little radome to finish its tour of the United States of America and arrive in South Carolina) won’t hurt 😉


Finding balance (in Charleston, SC)

We thought we’d stay a month, make it easy to head back to Maine for a week of work and visiting, but we like it here… so we may stay a little longer 🙂

9-month old baby on a sailboat cruising in Charleston tiny home afloat

Being in Portland was bittersweet… wonderful to see the community we had found, and sad to know we were just visiting.

But as someone who has left quite a few “homes” behind over the years, I stand by that it’s better to leave when you’re still sad that you’ll miss a place than to stay until you’re completely burnt out and never want to set foot there again. This way we keep our Portland memories in the awesome-adventurous (if occasionally freaking cold) box, where they belong.

“How do you decide how far you’ll go?” a coworker asked me. I couldn’t think of an answer. Some magical formula of weather windows, the appeal of certain areas, days we can sail, and the amount of energy we have to dedicate to sailing?

The ICW is a bit like a highway, generally moving everyone up or down the coast along a well-worn path. We can roughly map out plans (50 miles/day, 3 travel days/week) but plans are loose and easily tossed aside for nice people, nice places, or the need for a few lazy family-nap days.

So trying to plan out the next few months is a bit vague too… we’ve got cruising guides, lots of math, rough ideas of where it might be fun to spend Zephyr’s first birthday… but really, no set plans!

Plus it is *really* nice here, in this little slice of marina-resort world, with friendly folks, easy weather, daily shuttles to the grocery or marine store (dangerous for perennial-project-pursuers like my husband!) and an easy work set up for me.

So we’re just hanging out a little longer, living our funny little life on our funny little boat, until the next wind shift beckons (a-la-Mary-Poppins) and it’s time to continue south!


Working while cruising with a baby on a little sailboat

Baby Sleep at Sea: The evolution of the baby-keeper-inner (in Charleston, SC)

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat

It’s interesting how much being a parent is about keeping your offspring contained. Cribs, carseats, baby gates, pack-n-plays, highchairs… you name it, there’s a lot of ‘keeping in’ going on.

Having a baby on a boat doesn’t seem to be any different, there are just fewer off-the-shelf solutions to choose from. So I thought I’d share how Zephyr’s little boat-bed has evolved so far (knowing that it’ll probably change again before I even finish writing this!!) with a whole bunch of sleeping-baby photos 🙂

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

Initially, Zephyr had a shelf. Quite literally. It used to be a deep sail locker, but Jon added a recessed shelf so that Z could sleep near us without being right in bed with us.

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

This was especially convenient for the middle of the night wakeups (pre-5 months).

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat - sleeping right beside the vberth

I didn’t really realize how much newborns are like slugs. They move around but at a rate juuuust barely perceptible to the naked eye (and they definitely leave a trail of sludgy spit up / diapers / baby drool behind them 😉 )

Newborn baby bed on a 33' sailboat

While this worked really well, we realized quite quickly that Jon was waking up throughout the night, afraid that he was going to roll onto the baby… so we added a little half-wall to the bed. This did the dual job of preventing Zephyr from rolling out of bed, and keeping Jon from rolling onto his son. Perfect!

This worked perfectly until about 5 months, when Zephyr started sitting up on his own and could do a slow scoot down his bed to where there was no wall.

I’d previously built a lee cloth to block off the whole vberth, so at this point we started enforcing the vberth lee cloth during all naps. This blocked off the whole bed so that even if he escaped his bed he couldn’t fall out and onto the floor.

That worked really well for another couple months. But then we left the boat for 3 weeks to visit my family for Christmas, Zephyr learned to crawl, and we were suddenly completely behind on the boatproofing front. Dang!

Our little sailboat baby loves playing with the wheel

After a couple really stressful nights where Jon woke up to a baby attempting to crawl over his face and out of the vberth (bad baby!), we hyper-prioritized a new lee cloth system.

Where will the baby sleep on the sailboat - little bed in the vberth with a half-wall

Time to dig out the ‘ole Sailrite and set up my cockpit sewing station…

Helping mommy sew lee cloths in the cockpit

Sidenote: Sewing on a boat is way less fun than sewing on your mother-in-law’s living room floor. But given that I’ve sewn a dodger, bimini, windshield, and weather cloths in the last 12 months, I’m wayyyyy more setup than I’ve ever been for project success. Oh and duraskim (patterning material) is 100% my favorite thing.

How strong are those snaps anyways? Testing the new lee cloth

This system includes some Zephyr-proof snaps (twisty ones, since the usual ones give when he throws his little body at them) and full 360 degree wall-to-wall coverage, so no little babies can crawl out in the middle of the night.

The finished vberth lee cloth for the baby's bed

Some may call it a ‘baby cage’, but I prefer baby-keeper-inner. Whatever it takes to keep the kid from falling on his noggin’, right??

The finished vberth lee cloth for the baby's bed

Even Kevin (Zephyr’s favorite little elephant) approves.

Kevin the elephant approves

Kevin the elephant approves

Here’s hoping this system lasts us a while!


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