Welcome back! It has taken me almost half of a year to recap our first year aboard our sailing catamaran GIRO! Thanks for sticking with us… this is the final post on the subject… covering the last three months of our first year aboard. If you missed Part One, Two, or Three… or you’ve plain forgotten what the hell happened because, let’s face it, I’m the worst blogger in the world… Feel free to click the links to go back and catch up.
After leaving the Bahamas, we arrived in Miami and headed to Dinner Key Marina. We originally tried to get into the mooring field at Coconut Grove Sailing Club, which is right next door in a protected cove, but we were told there were not any open spots for visiting boats. So, we decided to grab a mooring at Dinner Key even though the mooring field seems to have zero protection. But it is one of those mooring fields that everyone knows, and everyone stays at, even if they complain, because the location is ideal. We actually stayed at Dinner Key Marina once before at the dock during our sail school mosquitogeddon. But we were not in a financial position to spend money for a slip at the dock this time around… And after living off-grid since November, a mooring ball seemed like a much better option for us.
Dinner Key Marina. April 9-11, 2017
Here is my tl;dr of the 48 hours we spent on the mooring ball at Dinner Key Marina: HELL NO NEVER AGAIN OMG WHAT THE HELL NO NO NO NO
What I’m trying to say is… NOPE. I know I get seasick… but usually while actually SAILING… not sitting on a mooring ball or at anchor. IN. A. CATAMARAN. And yet…
The seas were like 2-3 foot choppy waves with absolutely zero protection. The monohulls around were bouncing so hard we could SEE their KEELS! Yeah… I was in scramble mode big time… there was no way in hell we were staying in this mooring field, but the weather was so bad we couldn’t leave. I was ready to abandon ship.
So I did what any normal person would do… I basically begged the Coconut Grove Sailing Club (CGSC) manager (with many emails and phone calls over 48 hours) to find us a spot. When we went ashore (to escape the hell of the mooring field), we could see empty balls at CGSC, so I just kept contacting the manager. Finally, I beat her down enough… she relented and said that there was one ball that could fit us, but the owners would be back in the next couple of days and we would have to leave when they arrived. SOLD! I was like, “Can I come right now??!” And an hour later, we were in the very protected mooring field of Coconut Grove. HEAVEN. Seriously. HEAVEN.
SPOILED at Coconut Grove Sailing Club! April 11-25, 2017
We started planning on where to head next since we thought we only had couple of days, and we needed a weather window to get somewhere protected, but then the miracle of all miracles happened… the manager told me there would be another ball opening up the day we had to be off the current ball, and we could move there for two weeks if we wanted. YES! PEOPLE ARE GOOD AND NICE AND I SHOULD NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT PEOPLE EVER AGAIN! (but don’t hold me to that because there are other people in the world that ARE horrible people that need to be complained about… I think we all know at least one… probably the same one… sigh…)
We LOVED the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Besides the obviously, gloriously, calm water, they offered free shuttle service back and forth from the dock to your boat, 24/7. The location in Coconut Grove is amazing… so many awesome restaurants and things to do within walking distance. We even got to meet up with Sailing Luna Sea (who are the bravest people we know because they stayed on their mooring ball at Dinner Key for like a month on their monohull!) Needless to say, but when we got together for sundowners, we invited them over to our boat.
While still in Miami, our neighbors from McKinney, TX came for an impromptu visit after their flight was cancelled to the Bahamas.
Puerto Rico. Didn’t happen.
If you remember from our Bahamas adventure, we had high hopes that Matt would be approved to work from Puerto Rico when we got back to Miami, and we could sail down and adventure from the Caribbean. Yeah… That didn’t happen… We were totally bummed. No Puerto Rico, no crystal clear waters, no half-day sails to the VIs, no exploring a new island… sigh.
But I am a firm believer that things work out the way they are supposed to work out… I have no regrets in life… if PR wasn’t supposed to happen, then it wasn’t meant to be… and even though we were sad because we had already started planning our weekend trips in our head, we had to let it go and focus on a new path, and determine our next steps… Side note: I’m writing this recap after Hurricane Maria. Although I feel thankful that we didn’t move to PR in the summer (and have a different recap to share with you of potentially losing our home, and waking up to the devastation that the island is STILL living through), there is a huge part of me that wishes we were down there right now helping to get the island back in shape. If you want to help, there is a group called Sailors Helping that is coordinating relief efforts!
Back to the story! If we were going to have to stay in the U.S. for the next year, we needed to decide if we were going to keep our boat or buy a bigger one… Spoiler: We buy a bigger one.
Buy a new boat? SURE! WHY NOT?
Our trip to the Bahamas was really a test of our Lagoon 380 boat…do we even want to keep living on a boat? If so, what all do we need to do to our boat to make it work for us? Or do we want to get a bigger boat with stuff already on it? (The stuff we didn’t even think about buying when we bought the Lagoon 380 because we had never owned a boat before so we HAD. NO. IDEA.) We came back from the Bahamas with the following answers:
- Do we even want to keep living on a boat? YES. YES. YES. We had THE BEST time in the Bahamas. Even though it was a short trip… we could see ourselves living that life for years. We just couldn’t see ourselves doing it with the state of our current boat. But we had no desire to leave the cruising life.
- If so, what all do we need to do to our boat to make it work for us? We have two growing boys… and limited space on where to store food, gear, stuff. We would need to add more solar, an arch… and if we were going to spend the summer in Florida, we would need air conditioning (with no place to put it.) We added everything up, and we would need to spend $20k to get our boat fitted for everything we wanted, and that would leave us with even less space after we added all of the stuff on board. Not to mention that Matt was hitting his head about 10 times/day on the 380… why spend that much money on a boat that felt too small for us?
- Or do we want to get a bigger boat with stuff already on it? YES. Of course we do! Who doesn’t want a bigger boat?!? But HOW were we going to pay for a bigger boat? And did we really want to get rid of a boat that we had just re-fit almost completely?
Before we left for the Bahamas, we were already thinking about bigger boats, so we drove up to Fort Lauderdale from Marathon and looked at some. The Lagoon 420 has always been my dream boat. When we started looking at boats WAY back when we first came up with this idea, we looked at all of the Lagoon models, and the 420 was my absolute favorite. I loved the layout. I loved the space. I liked the helm being in the cockpit area and not on a flybridge. I just remember it being everything we wanted. Matt wasn’t sold on the 420 because of its sailing ability. It is pretty much a tank. But after living aboard for a year, we realized, we are fair weather sailors. And 6 kts or 7 kts or 8 kts doesn’t really matter when you are on boat time. We are cruisers. Not racers.
While in Fort Lauderdale, we visited a Lagoon 420 named Northern D’Light… it had just been put on the market. It was an owner’s version, which was on the top of our must-have list if we were going to buy a new boat. But we went to see the boat mostly because we wanted to know if a Lagoon 420 would actually FEEL that much bigger than our 380, or if we were just fantasizing about it being much bigger.
We scheduled an appointment to view the boat, but our broker didn’t meet us at the boat… he asked the owners to show us. The owners were awesome. They were the original and only owners. They took meticulous care of the boat. The boat was in pristine condition. They spent an hour telling us all about the boat… showing Matt the engines and systems, and showing me the custom cushions and washing machine and PANTRY. It was everything I remember about Lagoon 420s. SO. MUCH. BIGGER. We fell in love with a boat that was a steal of a price for a 420, but it was WAYYY out of our price range. So, we put it out of our minds and went to The Bahamas…
When we got back from the Bahamas, and decided we definitely wanted a bigger boat… we knew Northern D’Light was the boat we wanted. Only problem: it was already under contract. EEEK!
Fort Lauderdale. April 25 – July 8, 2017.
With our time running short in Miami, we took the first perfect weather window to leave our sweet gig at Coconut Grove Sailing Club. We had a great sail and caught some tuna on our way up to Fort Lauderdale.
We grabbed a mooring ball at Las Olas Marina when we arrived in Fort Lauderdale. The first ball we pulled, Matt threw back. He said it looked really worn out and not very safe. We moved to another ball that looked much newer. Always trust your gut on these type of things. About a week later, the mooring field was full and the boat that took the ball we skipped ended up drifting our way… the ball had broken loose! Luckily the owners were on board and able to avoid hitting any other boats. With no other balls open, they just dropped anchor in the mooring field for the night. Hopefully they got their money back!
Once in Fort Lauderdale, we were determined to find a new boat for us. We looked at E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. We visited every single catamaran that was bigger than our boat for sale in a 100 mile radius. Even other Lagoon 420s… but they were in bad shape. And we couldn’t shake Northern D’Light. I just knew it was supposed to be our next boat.
While visiting another Lagoon 420, we told our broker… “If the Northern D’Light’s contract falls through, we want it. Call us and we will buy it.” He told us the owners had asked about us and why we didn’t buy it. They liked us and really wanted to sell it to us. And then he said, “Well, you can always put in a back-up offer.” Really? Oh crap. I guess it is put up or shut up time. Were we really going to stretch and buy an amazing boat? Could we afford it? We would have to sell our boat! Oh no!
Buying a boat, Selling a boat, Living in two AirBNBs, and Surviving Summer in Florida
We had to get off our Lagoon 380 so we we could clean it up, take great pics, finish up projects, put it on the market, and show it. We needed a dock to do all of that… the mooring ball wasn’t going to cut it.
We searched and searched and searched for a place to dock the boat that wouldn’t cost us ALL THE MONEY. Because we had no idea how long it would take to sell our boat, we didn’t want to be paying thousands of dollars every month to leave our boat on a dock while we found a buyer.
After talking to pretty much everyone in Fort Lauderdale, we FINALLY found dock space behind a private residence for a VERY REASONABLE price. We just couldn’t live aboard while docked there. So, we had to find an Airbnb to move into quickly, before we could move the boat to the dock.
Again, we were looking for the golden unicorn… a place that was furnished, had availability for two solid months, would take two kids, two dogs, and a kitty cat, and wouldn’t cost us ALL THE MONEY. Easy peasy, right? Well, we only found ONE place, and it was only available for three weeks, not two months. And it wasn’t super convenient. But it was priced right and it was cute and it had a fenced in backyard for the dogs! So we took it. And it had mango trees for days!!
But HOLY GEEZ people, thinking back on this, I’m SHOCKED we were able to find ANYWHERE!
We moved EVERYTHING off the Lagoon 380 and into a storage unit, or brought it with us to the Airbnb (stuff like food, clothes, tools, electronics, etc.) It was a total mess on our boat… but once we cleaned everything out, we took some great photos and listed it online!
Meanwhile… GUESS WHAT!
The first deal fell through on Northern D’Light! And our back-up offer was accepted… we were officially buying a Lagoon 420 for a lot of money!
And then… GUESS WHAT! We got a contract on our Lagoon 380! Nine days after listing it. And we were officially selling our home for more than we purchased it for (of course, we put a lot into it… and the sales price pretty much covered most of that also!)
And at some point we hung out with our friends Zach & Lindy on SV Holiday (the days all kind of run together at this point), but I don’t think we got a photo of us together. 🙁 NEXT TIME!
After three weeks (and an unexpected trip to Texas for my grandmother’s funeral), we had to MOVE all of our stuff from one Airbnb to another Airbnb because our time was up on the first. Luckily, our new place was 5 blocks from our soon-to-be new boat, and about one mile from our old boat! And it had an AVOCADO TREE in the backyard!! (YES… we actually found TWO places willing to rent to us, with all of our crap, our kids, our dogs, our cat, and our ridiculously small budget.)
And then we surveyed our new boat.
And surveyed our old boat.
We were running out of days to come up with a name for the new boat for all of our coast guard documentation, and no one liked any of my name ideas, so we ended up keeping Giro. And we didn’t even name her Giro II, so it became super confusing when Matt would say things like, “we need to go to Giro so we can get stuff for Giro.” Holy hell I could not keep up with which flipping Giro we were talking about when we were trying to buy stuff for new Giro and sell old Giro, and I was tired of calling new Giro, “new Giro,” so we decided to call “old Giro” “Original Giro” or OG for short.
And then we officially bought our new boat on June 14. And sold our old boat on June 16. So we owned two boats for only two days.
LUCKY. So. Freaking. Lucky. I’m still not sure how the hell we pulled that off, but the gods were kind to us.
And then we went to Texas on the 15th for a family LAKE HOUSE VACATION. You know, because we needed to get away from all that ocean for a bit.
When we got back from “vacation,” we moved ALL THE STUFF from our storage and Airbnb onto new Giro, and we moved off land again… because we were able to live aboard in our new slip, even though it was behind a residence. The residence was a “church” and exempt from laws. Or something. We didn’t ask too many questions. But there were some tax advantages, so if you are looking for a way to avoid all laws, start a church.
And then we met the Bibas from Life in the Key of Sea when they motored by and yelled out to Matt. And we held a renaming ceremony!
And our friend Steve came to visit. (no photo?)
And had a fun birthday party for Zach with our friends on Izula.
And THEN WE HAD TO LEAVE FLORIDA for insurance purposes. We had to be north of the Florida/Georgia border (North of 31.5 degrees) by July 15. So we took off on July 8 and headed for Virginia!
There are lots of details I’ve left off… But there are over 3,000 words above, so I’m going to publish this as it is, otherwise we’ll be finishing our second year aboard soon. 🙂 In later posts, we’ll update you on how we afforded a new boat, what we are doing now, and what our plans are for the future.
For now, let us know if you have questions! We’re happy to share any lessons we’ve learned… Thanks for reading to the end. YOU are the true hero.