Saturday, July 31, 2010


Today I found some windproof matches.

I tried one to see if it worked.

Then I tried to blow it out.

I hope I don't burn down the ocean.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Maren: When are they going to launch for good?

Darn if that isn't a good question! I'm sure you're not the only one wondering that -- including us.  We thought we might be gone by now, but just this week, we took the dinghy motor to be repaired, and they said it would take TWO WEEKS. We're waiting for our new grill to arrive and still have to sell both of our cars before we can leave. In the meantime, we're trying to get other boat chores done.

For instance, we want to buy solar panels, so we can get our electricity from the sun (your mom will like this). You might have seen one solar panel on the back of Cara Mia:

Solar panel is just above and in front of the flag.
There are newer solar panels about the same size that will give us twice as much power in the same amount of space, so we want to replace it.

Maren: Where will they go first?

When we leave, we will go north to the Chesapeake Bay. Even though you could get there by car from the Outer Banks in a few hours, it will take us several days by boat. At its fastest, the boat only goes about 7 miles per hour. Ask your mom or dad to show you how fast (slow, actually) that is next time you're in the car. Make sure there's not anyone behind you, because they'll honk!

We'll stay in the Chesapeake until hurricane season is over this fall. In the Chesapeake, we can practice sailing in a huge body of water without being in the ocean. Our boat is new to us, so we want to get to know it and get it set up like we want it before we go in the ocean.

We'll be going back to school like you, sort of. There's an online class we'll be taking to get our captains' licenses. In the class we'll learn about safety and how to find our way around (called navigation).

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


For the last three months, we've been stuck with old technology on the music front, since the stereo on the boat did not have an input to play music from our iPod.

After that long slog of putting all our CDs onto the iPod a few years ago, we were down to one CD that actually belonged to Dylan: Nickel Creek's Nickel Creek album. Now, I love Nickel Creek, but one CD for two months was getting REALLY tedious.

So Chip bought a new car stereo for only $59, (why didn't we do this three months ago?) and we toughed through installing it ourselves, a task that could have been ridiculously easy if the billion-wire plug was the same on the old stereo and new. No, of course not, so we spent an hour or so splicing wires while sweating (we had to turn off the power and thus the air conditioning).

Now thanks to technology our musical repertoire has exploded without taking up an entire room.

Thankfully the new stereo has not exploded -- at least so far.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

YOU KNOW YOU'RE OFFICIALLY A CRUISER WHEN... marvel at washers and dryers that operate without demanding quarters. have more bags than you have clothes. get annoyed when all the articles about John Kerry's new $7M sailboat talk about taxes and not the boat! takes three whole days at the in-laws, before you realize you can use HOT WATER to wash your face.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Our tenuous plan for handling our mail: Get a P.O. Box near Chip's parents in Bridgeville, Delaware. Easy.

My conversation with the post office worker went something like this:

Me: I need info on renting a P.O. box.

Dude, looking all confident: All you need is a driver's license and a car insurance card.

Me, feeling hopeful: Do I have to be a Delaware resident?

Dude, looking impatient: No, but we have to send a letter to your current residence and have it sent back to us with proof of residence.

Me, feeling less hopeful: You mean, like a physical address?

Dude, looking somewhat confused: Yes?

Me, feeling ashamed: I don't have an address. I live on a boat.

"You live on a boat!?!?"

We stared at each other for a minute or so.

Me, grasping at straws: What if I used my in-laws' address?

"Okay, what's their address?"

"I don't know. I don't live there."

Dude, longing for a customer who wants a simple book of stamps: I better go ask.

He walks away and then turns back: How long are you gonna be doing this?

As far as the U.S. Postal Service is concerned, we do not exist. I hope they notify the IRS.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


We fix, we polish, we stow, we order parts, we tilt away at a very long TO DO list that looks like this:

--Fix the water filter
--Get the dinghy motor working
--Fix the hand pump
--Organize the cockpit lockers
--Get the stereo working with the iPod
--Order the grill
--Service the air conditioner
--Clean out the bilge
--Get a P.O. box
--Research electronics
--Sell cars...

You get the idea. We're always anxious to scratch something off the list.

We ordered a fantabulous, all stainless Galleymate grill with visions of T-bones in Manteo, mahi-mahi in Hopetown dancing in our heads -- and marking "order the grill" off our list.

The grill arrived last week while we were at the boatyard. Our anticipation was so great, we had already bought the first meal to cook on it. Alas, it looked like this:


Boo hoo.

Remove "order the grill" from the list. Add:
--Box up grill and take to UPS
--Wait for new grill to arrive

[Insert your own trite phrase about forward progress here.]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


This morning I had this message from my friend Ivy:
"I thought I would transcribe the “20 questions” Maren has asked since being on your boat. Thought you would get a kick out of seeing your life through the eyes of a 6 year old. We decided this morning we would read her your blog and follow your journey. I love that you are teaching her (and others) to live their dream!"

Well, Maren, I'm so excited to have your questions. I'll occasionally put one of them here and tell you the answer. Thanks for reading. (Maybe you can send me a new picture. This one is over a year old. You're much more grown up now.)

Question #1:

Maren: “where do they get drinking water from?”

Cara Mia has a big tank under the living room floor that is made to store water. It holds as much as three bathtubs -- maybe more!

Look around next time you're at a dock, and you'll see faucets, just like the ones in your yard. When we're at a dock, we attach one end of a hose to those faucets on the dock and one end to the tank on the boat, then turn on the water until the tank is full. There's a gauge, like the gas gauge in the car, that shows us how much water is in the tank.

We filter the water as we put it into the tank and then again before we drink it. Filtering means putting the water through something that catches any bad stuff that might be floating in there. Have you ever dragged a net through the water? The net catches whatever is bigger than the holes that are in the net. Our filters work just like that, but the holes in the filters are so tiny they catch things that are too small to see.

When I lived in a house, I used water without ever thinking about it. Now that we have to carry all the water we use and then replace it, I am much more careful about when and how I use it.

TRY THIS: When you get up in the morning, fill a one gallon milk jug with water, and pretend it's all the water you have for the whole day. Every time you need water to wash your hands or brush your teeth or have a drink, take it out of the jug. By the end of the day, you will not only see how much water you've used, but you'll learn to use it more thoughtfully. That is what we are doing on the boat but with a much bigger jug!

Some day we would like to get a watermaker, which doesn't really make water, it just takes ocean water and removes the salt and other stuff that makes it taste icky. Watermakers cost a lot of money, but once we have one, we will have water as long as there is water in the ocean!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Chris Hannant
Chris Hannant

Beth Macom

Chris Hannant

Beth Macom

Chris Hannant

Chris Hannant

Beth Macom

Cara Mia
Italian term of endearment, or, literally, "My Beloved."

Our thanks to all who shared this moment with us -- and those of you sharing it vicariously.

As Chip said, 
"Dreams without friends would be like a boat without sails."

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Our newly christened vessel gave us a ride back to Manteo Waterfront early this morning, all shiny and happy, her new stainless steel cockpit rail winking at us the whole way.

The depth meter wasn't working right, so we had some confusing moments, including a little kiss of sand. Chip felt it and immediately throttled down, so the plowing was minimal. We crept back into the channel and made it in without further incident.

We've kept the new name relatively secret in hopes of doing a big 'reveal' at the party on Sunday, but as we approached the Waterfront, we needed a hand tying up for a pump out.

"Manteo Marina, Manteo Marina, this is, uh, uh"

I may not be overly superstitious, but I didn't want to invoke an old name.

So I said it.

Carl, the dockmaster, radioed back, 

"Oooh, the cat's done outta the bag!"


Half out, I guess.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Our life seems to be full of meaningful moments these days as we take our last steps to the water. Today our newly named boat was set free.

According to tradition, there are appropriate steps to follow in changing the name of a boat. Even though we are not particularly superstitious, we do love a nice ceremony, so we read the lore and then constructed our own version using rum and a metal washer with "Good Company" written on it.

And in the slant of the sun's early evening rays, following the long-held tradition of seafarers, we retired the name of Good Company by dropping the washer in the water and thanking her for many years of faithful service. 

Then Chip offered a tot of rum to the gods of the deep, and, with a toast to the four winds, we entered the name of our new sailing vessel into the log of the sea.

And, in another long-held seafaring tradition, we passed the cup of rum amongst us, our boatyard friends, our new boat and the setting sun.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Naming a boat is a challenge and not one easily conquered -- at least for us.

I've already written about all the things we will NOT be naming her, but the list of what me MIGHT name her topped out at fifty-five names. When we went to stay on the boat for the first time in April, we took along our short list of candidates, but the second we stepped onboard, it was apparent that most of those names simply did not suit her.

She is no Willow nor Sunflower. She is not sweet or lacy or in any way a Waterlily. No, this boat is substantial, regal, royal, graceful, grande in a very French way.

We abandoned the initial list and started over, scouring our family trees, lists of flowers, birds, colors, queens and goddesses. We considered foreign languages, characters from literature and lyrics of songs. But the name came quietly one night in May as I was reading in the V-berth. It was not a book title nor an author but a simple phrase that made me turn my head and say it to Chip.

For a week, we called her the new name and agreed, it was perfect.

And today we went to the boatyard to meet our boat with her new name.

I was all nerves. The artwork, we knew, was beautiful. The color we chose was perfect. But despite my confidence in all the components, I was shaking.

We approached at her bow and walked all along the mirror glass hull. Together we walked past the stern and slowly turned together to meet our new boat.

Sheer perfection. 

Tears of joy.

But for now, it's just between the three of us, our little secret until we officially introduce her on Sunday.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Good Good Company carried us safely this morning to Bayliss Boatworks in Wanchese, a one and a half hour trip from the dock in Manteo.

It made me reminiscent of the same trip with Isabella last fall. Once again we passed the long row of identical houses at Pirate's Cove. Once again we slipped under the bridge and down the narrow channel beside Roanoke Island. But this time, nine months later, even though we follow the same path, we have come so far. This time we are so near the finish line, making one final victory lap before heading out.

Since moving onboard, this was our first time to take Good Company on a trip. As we were traveling, I went below to get something from the bedroom. Here we were, underway, and here was our beautiful house just below. Perfect.

We're pulling her out of the water to do some work. First, she'll be getting a new stainless steel rail around the cockpit, in part to sport our shiny new stainless steel grill. We're also having her light blue bottom painted a darker blue, the first baby step in moving away from the blue theme (I promise it will make sense later).

Tomorrow her old name will be removed, and the hull and transom will be cleaned, buffed and waxed to a $7 million Bayliss shine.

And just before she goes back in the water, she'll get her lovely new name to be unveiled at the christening and bon voyage party next Sunday.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


With parts sorted and stowed (except for that one bin), today was tool time. We bought some soft-sided tool bags at Home Depot, forever liberating ourselves from those cumbersome plastic tool boxes that fall apart, or worse, open at inopportune moments. Besides, the soft-sided ones conform better to boat life -- and boat hatches.

The tools worked themselves into fairly obvious categories: wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, etc., and my favorite category, "McGyver tools." Things like a telescoping magnet, weird grabby tweasers for picking up small objects in hard-to-reach places, a bendy screwdriver and a telescoping mirror for those impossible to see spaces.

Everything went without incident into the three bags leaving us with a short list of items glaringly missing from our arsenal, like flat screwdrivers and wire snippers.

The tiny things went into tackle boxes:

Whew. These lazy days.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


"What do you guys DO now?"

"Stow stuff," doesn't really tell the story, but that photo does. Would you just look at that?

Today, we pulled out all the parts we have inherited from the previous owners of Good Company and all the parts we ourselves have accumulated from our previous two boats.

The job at hand went something like this:

  1. Divide parts into sensible categories.
  2. Find appropriate bins to hold each category.
  3. Find an appropriate place to stow each bin.
  4. Remember where we put everything.
We started with the easiest category: Sailing hardware. Picking through the mound like gleaners, we slowly pulled out all the shackles, D-rings, blocks and the other little doodads that we sailors love to have in our toy box. Then we snuggled them down nicely in one of the dozen or so fully locking bins purchased for this extravaganza.

The next round we pulled out the electrical paraphernalia, then light bulbs, then adhesives and sealants, category after category, bin after bin.

You know how when you move, the first round of boxes are so organized and focused? Each box has a label like "books" or "photo albums," "kitchen utensils," or "office supplies." Then you come to the end and there's a box with five paper clips, a baseball, two envelopes, a single mitten, a ragged road map, a plastic lid, a thesaurus, a squeegee and a hot pink crayon.

That's how our day ended. We now have one bin with random things like a piece of Lexan, three gas struts, a cabinet latch, four plastic cups that we can't quite identify but are afraid to get rid of them lest we find out, a dozen wooden plugs and other disparate items that defy categorization.

But that, my friends, is a bin for another day.

Monday, July 5, 2010


We unwittingly docked 100 yards from the only fireworks between Roanoke Island and Corolla. They were expecting 14,000, but by my count there were off by 10 or 11. Our quiet little marina turned into a red, white and blue mob.


Saturday, July 3, 2010


Happy Birthday, Chip! Do you remember that we celebrated your last birthday on a boat in Manteo? Honestly, I didn't either, but I cheated.

How very long ago that seems. And our To Do List?
1. Sell the wine shop
2. Sell the house
3. Sell the current boat
4. Buy our cruising boat

None of them were checked off yet. As usual, you worked on your birthday. We were still living in our house with Isabella out back. We had not yet decided what kind of boat we would buy.

Last July, we had nothing to measure the distance to our dream, no idea how far off it was or how long it would take us to get there.

But this year, with every item marked off that To Do List, we have emerged triumphant from the waiting room.

All that holds us now is four little ropes.

At last.
They say love is more precious than gold
It can't be bought, and it can't be sold
I've got love enough to spare
That makes me a millionaire  -- Solomon Burke

Friday, July 2, 2010


It's transportation week on Good Company. Now that the folding bikes are in the fold, and soon to be in the hold, it's time to get the dinghy working.

We lowered 'er off the davits and into the water. She was looking a little depressed, so Chip pumped some air in to keep her afloat.

I missed the operation, but Chip somehow got the motor off the bracket on the stern rail onto the dinghy transom without dropping it in the water, which is exactly what I would have done.

A couple of pulls on the handle/rope/pulling thingy (what's that called?) and, well, nothing. About a hundred pulls later, still no firing.

Chip says there are several things to try before we call in professionals, so we're still grounded, sort of, if you can be both afloat and grounded at the same time.