One step forward (in Portland, Maine)

I’m sure there will be a “two steps backwards” to follow this up, but for now I’m just seriously psyched that we made a tiny little step of progress in the right direction! 13 miles, to be precise 😉

It was 40°F (5°C), overcast and we motored the entire way… but the Dickinson diesel stove ran the whole time, we all stayed warm and toasty (my #1 concern with Z is keeping him warm enough!), and now we’re tied up at our old marina in Portland, making pizzas and celebrating a little step in the staircase to progress.

Zephyr spent 90% of the time attached to me in the wrap, keeping us both warm and happy. He loves watching the waves and seeing other boats, and when all else fails a round of “Old McDonald Had a Farm” never fails to please. Especially since this McDonald has dolphins and seagulls and whales on his farm. I do a pretty great dolphin, if I may say so myself.

When he/we needed a break, Z rolled around on his rug inside, exploring the corners of the floor and looking for any crumbs I missed in my sweeping 😉 He could see us outside, watch the fire in the Dickinson, and move around at his own free will… the already baby-safe nature of boats (round corners, everything stowed away, etc) is one of the best parts of life aboard 🙂

Now we wait for a weather window, I work a little, and we finish trying to find places to store everything while enjoying a few days in the Old Port. Life is good!


This dream is a staircase (in Bailey Island, ME)

I’m realizing I’ve had it wrong all along… as our friend Bonnie pointed out, “after the last 5%… there’s just another 5%!”

Because this isn’t a one-time, one-and-done thing. It’s a lifestyle. A whole way of living. A whole heck of a lot of work right now. It requires compromise and flexibility and an acceptance that we are really not in control of anything. And it may not *actually* be possible. But while we’re still trying, we’re at the mercy of the winds, the waves, the weather, the boat, and now… Zephyr! 🙂 So having high expectations is pretty much a guarantee for disappointment. See previous post about plans 😉

Anyways, today Jon made a comment that stuck with me — that if we could make just a tiny step of progress towards our dream, we could count the day as a success.

So today we finished moving back onto Brio.

We’ve been living in my incredibly understanding mom-in-law’s house (actually, in HER bedroom!) for the last bit while we had bad projects going (epoxy, fumes, torn apart boat bits, etc), and it was time to make the official move, and say goodbye to hot water, our vehicles, the pack-n-play (although Z loves his little boat bed!), thermostats, washing machine and general house-comforts that we sooooo appreciate!!

Doesnt sound too bad, right?

Well my poor husband literally made the trip from the beach to the boat with a fully-loaded dinghy TEN TIMES to deliver all of the food, water, fuel, clothing and linens, our liferaft, my sailrite sewing machine, our spinnaker, and all the other random boat bits we’d taken off. He’d deliver a load, I’d try to find a corner of the cockpit to stash the bags in, and Zephyr happily self-entertained inside on the floor, discovering the wonders of clothespins and rug edges. He’s the best baby ever. And I’m not biased at all 😉

Anyways. In my imagination we were going to accomplish all of this moving & organizing & storing & smushing (we live on a 33’ boat… smushing is definitely involved sometimes) yesterday morning so we could sail away today to far away places… but yesterday it poured and stormed and we visited Z’s great-grandma and made waffles and sat by the wood stove with Jon’s mom instead, and sailing to far away places requires your stuff to be more stored than just smushed in the cockpit, so that plan changed.

And now we’re onboard, Z is happily snoozing in his boat-bed, half-ish of the stuff is put away, the Newport Dickinson is keeping us all toasty warm, the stars are twinkling outside our new Vetus hatch (which was one of last week’s projects) and I’m feeling pretty damn happy with our tiny little baby steps of progress towards our dream today, regardless of where we actually get to this winter 😉


Do you see it?? The dot is afloat! This is progress, people!!

The last 5% (in Bailey Island, Maine)

Zephyr enjoys sweet potatoes

This is how we feel about the last 5%

I’ve probably written this exact post on this blog before. The last 5%. The final push. The loose ends. The big hurrah. Call it what you want, the last 5% has never been my favorite.

I think to some degree it’s part of how I’m wired… I like deadlines and I do especially well under pressure, and there’s some law that says that projects will always expand to the time you allot them (especially true in boating??) but to some degree just the *idea* of packing up 4 years of life in Maine, adding in a baby, and disappearing into the sunset really is challenging! Even the last 5%!

Sometimes Zephyr helps with the Duraskim patterning plastic

One small story to illustrate the current state of affairs…

We’ve had one bimini hoop for six years (bought second-hand in Mexico, woot woot). It took approximately 5 minutes outside with Zephyr on a sunny day to realize that we needed more shade, stat. And we’d wanted to add more solar panels anyways, so a bimini project was in order!

New stamoid and strataglass weathercloths on Brio

The new bimini & weathercloths

We ordered a length of stainless. Jon drove to Portland and borrowed a tube-bending tool, to make a second hoop. We dragged that hoop out to the boat in the dinghy. We patterned the new bimini while Nancy, our amazing baby-sitter, watched Zephyr. I sewed the bimini over the course of a couple evenings, in that blessed 6:30-9:30 period when the baby was actually sleep (god bless sleep training) and we hadn’t entirely fallen asleep ourselves yet. We ordered industrial strength velcro, new solar panels, and some thin lexan sheets to go under the solar panels to give them an air gap. Cut out the lexan on my mother-in-law’s kitchen table while Zephyr slept 10′ away in her bedroom (have I mentioned I have the best MIL?? I do). Dragged that whole setup out to the boat. Installed all of it on a Monday. Went out the boat on Tuesday to finish wiring those solar panels, only to discover…

Installing solar panels on the dodger and bimini with a Makrolon windshield in between

The entire thing had blown away.



No more $500 solar panels that we just bought and installed.

I laughed when Jon told me.

Jolly jumper is the only reason we get anything done around here

Jolly Jumper: The secret to making any progress on projects with a baby!

Cuz what else can you do in the face of such a ridiculous setback?


Daddy's little helper - boat baby and boat projects are sometimes a challenging mix!

We went out to the boat to test fit the lee cloth for the vberth. Now that Zephyr has figured out how to string rolls together (“how’d you get all the way over there?!?”) the priority of lee cloths has gone wayyyy up and I’m not quite ready for him to sleep in the quarterberth yet (that’s a whole other lee cloth set up 😉 ).

While I worked on the fit of my pattern inside, Jon was outside entertaining Zephyr in the cockpit. I stopped for a minute and watched Zephyr giggle as Jon sang him silly songs and danced him around in the crisp Maine air, and it hit me: this is it. This is literally the moment of perfection I have been dreaming of. The one where my sweet baby giggles on our boat as the sun sets on the day.

Living and cruising on a sailboat isn’t perfect, and it isn’t always easy, but if you’re really lucky you get these little pearls of perfection that make everything else fade away. The highest highs and the lowest lows. Kind of like life with a newborn, actually 😉


Six months old with a pumpkin - Fall in Maine

Anyways, we’ve had lots of plans… one of which involved us leaving September 30th (that didn’t happen), another which involved us leaving this week (not happening) and the current one which involves us leaving at some point in the next 1-2 weeks. Still hopeful that one will happen 🙂

Integral fibreglass watertanks on a Nor'West 33

Integral water tanks: One of the awesome projects on the “must finish” list!

People ask me if the constantly changing schedule drives me nuts, and of course it does… but it’s also a huge part of this life. You can’t rush the weather. You can’t always know exactly how boat projects will go. And leaving in a not-ready boat in not-perfect weather is never fun.

Mommy and Zephyr in the cockpit with the weathercloths (strataglass) and bimini (stamoid)

So that’s where we’re at. Adjusting to the latest situation, wrapping up projects, watching the weather, ordering more long underwear for everyone, and wondering just how this winter will turn out…

Guess we’ll find out when we do!

(Side note: Dad’s been reminding me since I was 6 years old that ‘life’s what happens when you’re making other plans’. So I try to remind myself of this too, and enjoy the unexpected extra time here in Maine, surrounded with friends who love us and our little boy, easy conveniences like cars and thermostats and unlimited hot water and Amazon Prime, while still holding on to hope for our winter plans and checking the 5 weather sources I have like a mad-woman.)

Mommy and Zephyr in the Cockpit - Boat Baby

You can take the girl out of the plan, but you can’t always take the plan out of the girl…



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