… all go on Spring Break together…
Our first full week aboard GIRO since Mosquito-gateTM, and we have another badass story to tell. It was Spring Break 2016… and we were excited to spend our days
lounging on the boat fixing everything on our to-do list, sailing in the wind getting the eff off the dock, and embracing this new life we’ve been planning for over eight years.
Within minutes of arriving at GIRO, the owners of the Lagoon 380 The Riot docked next to ours immediately came over to introduce themselves. Since we have only spent a few weekends at the boat since Matt brought her across the Gulf of Mexico in October, and all of those weekends were pretty cold, we haven’t been at the marina at the same time. They were wondering if we even existed. They live about 20 minutes away from the marina, and have owned their boat for seven years. After 30 minutes of chatting, we made plans to go out sailing with them on Friday to a nearby anchorage that they love.
***Here’s the deal… this is the life we want… perfect strangers who are now friends (especially by the end of this week.)***
With nothing but time on our hands, we spent the next several days working on the boat, and chatting with our new neighbor friends – getting lots of recommendations on restaurants and boat repairmen, and comparing upgrades and design differences between our boats.
We had lots of time for fun stuff.
We cooked yummy meals on our newly installed oven and cooktop…
…and the boys and I spent time at the beach…
…and I hung out in my new hammock and watched the sun set…
…and we had lunch with Matt’s brother-in-law…
…and we visited the aquarium…
…and the boys played with their new toys…
…and we also did some scary stuff.
Actually – the first scary thing that happened… Zach tried out his SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) for the first time after a day at the beach, and the current was so strong, it swept him out to sea! (That may be a tad bit of a panicked momma exaggeration… but not much!) It took him past the last dock in the marina… and we had to coach him to steer himself into a private dock across the channel. He made it into the dock and stopped himself while Matt deployed Austin’s brand new kayak to go save him and tow him back to the boat. Whew! We were so proud of Zach – he stayed perfectly calm and just figured out how to work his SUP and got himself to safety.
The second scary thing we did… I WENT UP THE MAST! Dude – our mast is HIGH! It actually wasn’t too bad going up. But once I was up there, the wind was freaky. The worst part was coming down. My brain couldn’t get past the idea that when Matt opened the clutch, he wouldn’t be able to hold on, and I would just plummet to the deck… (That didn’t happen, of course.) Oh – the whole reason I went up was to take photos for Matt because we didn’t think I could crank him up. We talked to our friends on The Riot and one of the folks they had working on their boat had a block system, and so the next day MATT WENT UP THE MAST!
Pretty sure that it took me about 30 times longer with the block system… the boys helped a little… I got in a workout… and Matt inspected what he needed to inspect before we lowered him back down.
More trips to West Marine…and the hardware store…
And then FINALLY… IT WAS FRIDAY!
We were looking forward to getting off the dock with our new friends. After nearly a week at the dock, with the most perfect weather, we were determined that a
little storm that was in the forecast for Friday overnight would be fine. In fact, we even thought… we would be better off at anchor instead of bumping into the dock all night. With much excitement for our first time off the dock since October, we headed out.
After arriving to Flato’s Cut in Port Aransas, we sent the boys off to explore with The Riot on their perfect dinghy, while we inflated ours… haha. We met up with them, searched for hermit crabs, found a few cool shells, and headed back to grill dinner and settle in for the night.
Around 1 am, the storm hit and we awoke to wind, pouring rain, lightning, and thunder… as we ran up to the salon, I saw Austin’s kayak about to go overboard… Matt ran out into the storm and saved it from flying off… Zach’s SUP was gone. Just gone. Zach came up too and I gave him the lowdown that the SUP was gone, but we had to focus on not dragging anchor and we would worry about it later. For the next half hour, Matt was at the helm with the engines running in case our anchor dragged and we need to move/pull anchor. (For non sailing friends – if your anchor is not set well, the wind can literally drag your boat. If you drag anchor, you have to re-set it so that you don’t drag and run into another boat or run aground.)
For the first thirty minutes, our adrenaline was so high. The lightning was crazy, the visibility was like 5 feet… we couldn’t see past our lifelines, and the wind was gusting like crazy. Matt clocked 55 mph gust before we were struck. Yes. We were struck by lightning on our boat. Everything went black. The crack of the lightning striking the boat was jolting. Matt was at the helm (outside!) and saw it hit the mast. Holy shit… it was so scary. Immediately, we had to check the bilges to make sure we weren’t taking on water. We weren’t. We had to check all of our electronics – most were dead. We had to keep watch of the anchor – still holding strong. And we had to keep calm because both kids were now wide awake and more than frightened.
The storm was super intense for about an hour and a half total. We were struck by the lightning about 30 minutes in. By 2:30 am, the lightning and thunder had moved on, but the wind and rain were still strong. We knew we survived the worst part, and were relieved that GIRO kept us safe. I put the boys to bed and laid with them until they fell asleep. I finally went to bed around 3:30 am, but Matt stayed up until 5 am making sure all was good.
The morning sun was nice to see. It was also nice to see that we were exactly where we anchored the night before. We slowly got our wits about us and we were all happy to be alive and well and still afloat. They boys craved some cuddle time, so we all piled into Zach’s cabin for some togetherness (dogs and all!)
With a bit more confidence in our boat, and in ourselves, we felt victorious over the mighty storm.
The Riot was sure that Zach’s SUP had landed on a nearby bank. I had assumed it was just lost at sea… I mean, 55 MPH winds could have taken it miles away. It never occurred to me to even look for it… but Matt took the dinghy and the boys out on a search expedition, and The Riot conducted their own search. Both came back empty-handed.
While the boys were gone, the magnitude of the storm hit me and I felt a panic attack coming on… but pushed through (with some spirits and texts from friends.) Matt and I had thought about sailing back to the marina on Saturday so we could wake up Sunday and get packed to head back to Austin… but we were both still a little shaken from the storm, and the anchorage was so relaxing (now), that we decided to just stay another night. BEST DECISION EVER.
… I will preface this part of the story by saying Matt and I may have (ahem) overindulged in the beverage department…
Saturday night was probably my most favorite night our family has ever spent together. Ever. No electronics, no screen time, no thinking about our to-do list or the broken parts of our boat or selling our house or that spring break would be over in 24 hours… we literally watched the sun set together, and then sat around the salon table and lived in the moment. We played Go Fish for HOURS while listening to music. Our kids were cracking us up. And of course, they enjoyed the undivided attention from both parents at the same time. We laughed so hard, we talked smack, we just had the best evening. And we did it on our boat.
Finally around midnight, we put the boys to bed in their hull, and Matt and I crawled into our bed on our side, and I hear Austin sing out in his best Adele voice, “HELLOOOO FROM THE OTHER SIIIIIIIDE…” and we all cried laughing… it was an evening that solidified our choice, and eliminated many doubts or concerns we’ve had about this new lifestyle upon which we are about to embark.
The next morning… instead of getting up and moving, so we could get to the marina and pack up and drive four hours back to Austin… we lounged around. We slowly started the packing up. And while I was down below, I hear Matt yell from the cockpit, “I SEE A SUP! I SEE A SUP!” What the hell??? Really??? No way!!??
I ran up to see, and Matt was already deploying our dinghy to make his way over to a shore in the distance. I looked through binoculars at two people carrying Zach’s SUP. I was thinking, “Oh no… surely they will give it to Matt if he can get to them before they load it up on their dinghy and take it away…” As I kept looking through the binoculars, I realized, OMG IT’S THE RIOT! They found Zach’s SUP!
We are still in shock that Zach’s SUP was found… and even more so that it was found in near perfect condition. I think it had maybe one little knick in it… How freaking lucky is that?? Our friends on The Riot are awesome. Even though they had searched in the same area the day before, they stumbled upon it while walking their dogs. What a great way to end our great week.
We had to pull anchor to head back and OMG – no wonder we didn’t drag anchor – we pulled up about 80 lbs of mud with our chain and anchor. haha. We left The Riot and motored back to the marina with ZERO instruments working. No wind gauge, no depth finder, no tachometers for the engines… the only thing working was our iPad with our track into the anchorage and we just backtracked the way we came in.
After a full week aboard, we finally loaded up and headed home at 7pm. Spring break was over when we arrived home at 11 pm.
A storm, a sailboat and SUP… all go on spring break together… and we all thrived.