So yeah. We just recently celebrated our first year aboard. No big deal. We sold our home and our stuff and left suburbia ONE YEAR AGO and moved aboard GIRO to begin our sailing adventure.
What an amazing year. To say that we’ve learned a lot this past year would be an understatement.
To be all cliche about it… We had the best of times and the worst of times. Let me share some of our most memorable… (Broken down into three posts! See below for first four months…)
June 20, 2016. DAY ONE!!
Matt texted me as I was driving from Austin to our boat to officially start our journey. He got there two days earlier, as I was finishing up our estate/moving sale and emptying our house for the new buyers. To sum up his text: It is miserable on the boat – the portable air conditioners are not going to cut it in the Texas heat – we should find a hotel. AWESOME! Look at us! Ready to call it quits on day one! Yippee! We did it!!! We moved onto a boat!! (In Texas.) (In summer.) (With no air conditioning.) (Don’t worry, we get smarter.) (And no, we didn’t go to a hotel.)
June 21 – July 29, 2016. Frustration in Port Aransas, TX.
We basically roasted in the Texas heat for a month while trying to get the ONLY person in Port Aransas, TX who had the credentials to work on our boat after the lightning strike, to ACTUALLY work on our boat. After much frustration, we decided to make other plans and get the heck out of dodge, opting to head to Kemah, TX where we had at least three people to choose from. 🙂
July 30- Aug 1, 2016. First passage.
We sailed (totally motored) up the Gulf ICW from Port Aransas, TX to Seabrook, TX with our first overnight stop in Matagorda, TX. And another overnight stop in Galveston at Moody Gardens (the boys favorite stop! Free water park, hotel amenities and super cheap transient dockage. We even had our own chauffeur to get around the property.)
This was our first passage as a family. We couldn’t use our sails or mast because we were still awaiting repairs from our lightning strike. But we did it! We made it the whole way. And only grounded the boat once. Oops. (Not smarter yet… but soon.)
August 2, 2016. No Mas Mast. 🙁
August 2 – September 24, 2016. Sold cars, quit job, waited for weather window.
We spent nearly two months in Kemah/Seabrook, TX waiting for our mast work to be done (re-stepped on Matt’s birthday, August 30), and then waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf of Mexico to Florida. During this time, we sold our cars to our friends from Atlanta. I quit my job so we could leave Texas. And we enjoyed visiting with family and friends, old and new. We also took advantage of the marina pool often, with ‘pool drinks’ in hand.
September 24 – 29, 2016. Crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
We sailed (mostly motor-sailed) across the freakin’ GULF OF MEXICO. By ourselves. Our little family of four sailed approximately 700 nautical miles. It took us 5.5 days/nights. This was our first crossing (actually first time offshore) as a family. (Matt, however, made this crossing in reverse in October 2015 with a crew of guys when he brought the boat back from Florida to Texas.)
Just to give you some perspective… when Matt said he wanted to buy a boat and sail around the world, I asked him if we could do it without leaving sight of shore. hahahaha. When he said NO, I told him then it would probably be at least three years before I felt comfortable going offshore. And yet, here we were, crossing the Gulf of Mexico, after owning our boat for only a year, and only having a dozen or so sails under our belt.
If you haven’t read the stories of our crossing – click here to start on Day One of the trip. If you just want the highlights:
- I was seasick for the first 24 hours. Like, asleep or vomiting for 24 hours. Straight. I threw up five times. The boys ate granola bars for all meals. And Matt single-handed.
- We saw dolphins. We stopped the boat and swam in the water. We sweated our asses off. We caught tuna. We went days without seeing another boat. We had zero wind for days on end.
- Sailing at night in the middle of an ocean can be incredibly humbling, and also spectacularly beautiful, and also downright scary, and also miserably boring. Oh yeah, we almost hit another boat in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night.
- Seeing the Tampa Bay bridge after five days at sea was amazing. With no cell phone or internet or civilization, the VHF scared us when it started going off… our cell phones started pinging from the hundreds of messages we missed… and the sight of land and other boats brought a great sense of relief. We made it.
- The last day of sailing was our best day of sailing. The wind picked up, a nice downwind, and we sailed into Tampa Bay with no motor after five days of mostly motor-sailing with no wind.
- I got landsick when we got to the marina. Like, holding on to the counter so I didn’t fall off the earth.
September 29 – October 29. A month in St. Petersburg.
Awww… we loved St. Pete. The town is super dog-friendly, down-to-earth, full of good craft beer, and generally an outdoorsy, artsy, festival-ly type of city. Lots of museums. Lots of restaurants. Lots of art. Very walkable. The city marina is right in the heart of downtown. You can’t beat the location. And our dock neighbors were THE BEST! (We met The Kraken, Oceanghost, and Soulshine in St. Pete.)
As a friendly warning about the city marina, don’t let them put you in “slip” NL2. It is not really a slip. Your boat gets about two feet of dock space at your stern. You are at the entrance to the marina and get all the fetch and wake from every boat that goes by. Also, the main dockmaster for the transient docks is a real jerk – although his assistant, Doug, was funny, helpful, and loved to hand out puppy treats to all of the dogs on board. If we could have dealt with only Doug, we wouldn’t have one bad thing to say.
COMING UP IN PART TWO of our first year aboard: We head to Sarasota, FL and then spend the rest of the next four months in the Florida Keys!