This trip was my and Austins second overnight excursion we took just for ourselves. No guests, nothing to worry about, infinite amounts of fun and adventure to be had. We started the morning by going into the harbor washing down the boat and filling up the water tanks. Then we went to grab supplies. By the time we arrived back to SVZV I was sweating and itching to set sail on our newly polished boat.
Since we got a later start to the day, we motored up to Honolua Bay. With the wind and current, motoring was definitely our fastest option. Motoring is fun for me, because it’s fairly straight forward. Point the boat in the direction of your destination and don’t hit anything. Austin took us out of the mooring field and into The Bay and I was responsible for the stretch between that. While I was at the helm Austin set up a fishing pole and tried to catch us some dinner. The fish were onto us that afternoon and we weren’t able to bring any in.
When we arrived at the bay I was overjoyed to discover that we were the only boat there. We had one of the most beautiful spots in the world all to ourselves. To say I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for this island and whatever forces brought Austin and SVZV into my life would be an understatement.
We anchored SVZV and stern tied her in a spot close to the rocks and reef that was shaded by the tall cliffs surrounding us. After dropping anchor, it was my job to swim out, locate the mooring, dive down ~15ft to grab the chain, and attach our stern line to the mooring. After a few attempts and a handful of curse words later, the boat was secured. As someone with no free diving experience, 15ft was a proud accomplishment for me.
Our first order of duty was kayaking around the crystal clear waters surrounding us. And if any of you know Austin, you will not be surprised that he immediately paddled us towards the waves and had us surf the kayak down a handful of them. We finally caught a decent (well, decent for my standards) sized wave and “rode it down the line”… whatever that means. It was so fun! After our kayaking adventure we had a fantastic steak dinner and enjoyed the rain and the cold of the bay.
The next morning I woke up to the sunrise. As I sat in the cockpit snuggled in warm clothes, Tuna sleeping on my chest, listening to the sprinkle of rain bouncing off the dodger, I was, yet again, overwhelmed. I swear there hasn’t yet been a moment that I am not in awe of my life and how lucky I am. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever “get use” to. And why would I? I never want to take a moment this for granted.
The sail back was a breeze.. pun intended 😉 The wind was blowing hard enough that we only needed to let out half of the head sail and we were cruising at ~7kts. Although I could definitely benefit from the experience, I love it when we don’t have to use the main sail. No need to fuss with any sail covers or try and pretend I’m not using all of my might to hoist the sail. Even with just the head sail out, I did get to practice tacking/jibing and I’m proud to say I need less direction every time we do it. After an amazing trip I can’t wait to go out again!
I feel like people assume I’m over exaggerating when I say no to plans because we’re working on boat projects. To be fair, half of the time I’m truly just sitting around stressing about those projects… But that is a boat related activity nonetheless. To give you a better idea why we are frequently busy during the week and because I like making lists (mostly because I like lists), I thought I would give you a little glimpse into the top 5 things on our “To Do” list.
* I have these listed in order of importance. That order is subjective. Ask Austin and this order would be completely different and some, dare I say most, wouldn’t make the top 5. *
Fix/Setup The Inverter.
As someone who has worked in admin since I graduated, and someone who has recently started a blog, being able to use a laptop on a boat would dramatically improve my life. I could not only work from home, making decent money without the stress of a dingy ride/ having to leave the boat during a storm, but I could watch Netflix, browse the internet, and enjoy some of the luxuries I have grown so accustomed to over the last two decades. (Ok closer to three decades, but that is neither here nor there.) Being able to use a conventional 3-prong outlet would also allow me to plug in whatever electronics I wanted (within reason)… I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.
So, what’s wrong with the inverter and how do we fix it? I have NO idea. I have watched countless YouTube videos and have a pretty strong understanding of how an inverter works. That being said, I have no idea why ours doesn’t work. Is it wiring? Are we missing a part? I have no clue. I don’t even know where to begin looking for the problem. As a woman, I was not brought up tinkering with things. I was never encouraged to take things apart and put them back together. It frustrates be because Austin always has an idea of what the problem could be and where to find it. I have to take three extra steps to get to his starting point. But hey, I’m getting into it now and learning as I go. Better late than never!
Currently we are using a single burner camp stove for all of our cooking. I’m so grateful to have that and have grown accustomed to using a single burner, but its still a huge pain in the ass. Having access to multiple burners and an oven would be a complete game changer for me. We would be able to have a much wider, healthier variety of meals. To me, nothing makes a place feel like a home quite like the smell of something baking in the oven. I love using cooking and baking as a creative outlet and I’m bummed that I don’t get to share that with Austin. He never complains, but its something that would be fulfilling for me.
How do we fix it? This part is pretty straightforward, just tedious. If we hooked it up to new propane tanks, it would probably work as is. But do a quick Google search of “Boat Fires”, and you’ll understand why we are taking these extra precautions. Essentially, we have to follow the gas pipes throughout the boat to make sure they’re not leaking. To do that, you put soap on the outside of the pipes and if you see bubbles… there’s a leak.
Why haven’t we done it yet? It’s hot as hell out here guys. I say that in every single post and I’m not kidding. It is hot all of the time. There are only two tiny little fans on the boat. This project will require hours of hunching over, drenched in sweat, looking for tinny little bubbles to appear. My eyes are stinging just thinking about it. Although its number two on my list of priorities, it’s a lot lower on Austin’s. It’s a two-person job and I can’t blame him for not being stoked to start on this project. As long as I have the camp stove, it hasn’t been worth stressing over this one.
3. Buy and Install New Water Pressure Regulator.
With all of the parts we are looking at an ~$80 purchase. As far as boat repairs go, this one is not too bad. With COVID, no job security, or guarantee of unemployment, we do have to prioritize our purchases. On top of the money, all of our deliveries are sent to our family’s house 45min away and take 1-2 weeks to reach the island. This project has proven to be more annoying than anything.
Why is it so high on your priorities list? Well, unfortunately, we cant use fresh water on the boat without it. Have you ever washed your dishes in salt water? Its gnarly. And while I have become more accustomed to public showers, I never can get quite as clean as I would if no one was watching me. I also have quite a few plants to water and take care of. We have been refilling and hauling a 5gal water jug to/from shore for necessities. Luckily the part has been ordered and is en route!
Although I love our boats interior and the feeling of being in an old school ship, the upholstery is soo drab. It’s grey (I believe it was once blue), dull, and stained. I want redo the curtains and the cushion covers. Overall, this should be pretty easy to figure out. I am by no means an expert seamstress, but with a sewing machine I’m sure I could do a great job. This project is, again, time consuming. I will have to get the fabric, measure/cut it, find a friend with a sewing machine, bring all of the materials there, sew it all together, bring it back to the boat, install everything and hope for the best. Luckily, Pinterest has some incredible resources on redoing your interior that I am planning to use as a guide.
5.Move the Mooring.Again.
So after our 6 month struggle to move our mooring block, it turns out we moved it ~50 yards off from its approved location. To register our mooring, the harbormaster will come to the mooring field with a GPS to ensure we are in our assigned location. Due to people illegally moving moorings, they are now very strict about the blocks placement. If you are following my blog, you know all that goes into moving a mooring block. So we’ve gotta go through getting the skiff, getting the dive gear, getting the lift bags, finding a driver for the skiff, moving the block, and re installing the gear one last time (hopefully).
I have to be honest with you guys. I’ve been feeling lazy, like I should be accomplishing so much more with my time. I’ve been feeling guilty for prioritizing SVZV over my social life. I’ve been embarrassed that I have a never ending todo list that I can’t get a handle on. But after typing this out I’m starting to realize I deserve to be stressed out! I deserve to be a little overwhelmed and I deserve to take the time needed to accomplish all of these projects. This is more responsibility than I’ve ever had in my life and it has been a learning curve learning how to balance “boat life” with my “real life”.
Looking at where we are from where we started back in February, we have come a really long way. I’m actually so proud of all we have accomplished so far. Next I’ll have to come out with a list of “projects we have completed”. See, I told you lists rock!
To my mother who not only gave me life but gave up hers for mine
To the person that lifted me up for 26 years
To the one that caught me when I fell
I’m bringing you with me one way or another because this is not my, but our story to tell
Some of you might be wondering what SVZV stands for. I only use her initials purposely, because to introduce her name without telling the story behind it wouldn’t feel right. SVZV stands for Sailing Vessel Zayna Vnnette. Zayna Vnnette is my mother’s name.
For those who have lost a loved one, you know that there is nothing I can say to adequately describe the pain. The all consuming darkness that eats you from the inside out and rears its ugly head every time there’s silence. The physical discomfort of every heart beat. The dreams where you can still feel their embrace. The pit in your throat blocking your breath every time you see something beautiful, hear something funny, or have a story to tell and the one person you want to share it with is gone. Forever.
Dying of cancer is a painful and ugly ordeal. My mother fought every day to stay on this Earth until she knew her family would be ok. She not only waited until I had officially moved in with my family, she waited until my two aunts and grandmother were on island to support us. More than that, I think my mom had a vision for my life that I wasn’t able to see. She knew by bringing me to Maui I would be supported and loved in a way I never imagined. She knew that the opportunities and adventures that waited for me here would give me the strength to not only survive, but thrive. She believed in the community she loved to love us when she no longer could.
I remember sitting in my moms hospital room after they shut off life support. Only my grandma and aunt stayed. She had been gone for about 10 minutes when my aunt asked me if I wanted to leave. Shakily, I was able to whisper, “ Not yet. This is the last time I’m going to see her.” I was right in the respect that I would never and will never see her physical form again. But I could not have been more wrong in the grand scheme of life. I see my mother more now than I ever did when she was alive. I see her in every sunset, every dolphin, every picture of me, my sister, or my step father I see. She is more a part of me now than I ever recognized when she was with me. I feel her warmth and love radiating from inside of me. Every smile, she is smiling with me. Every tear, she cries too. Because what am I but the DNA of the one who created me? I carry her with me. Always.
Had I not been at Longs Drugstore the day after I moved to Maui, picking up medicine for my mom.. I wouldn’t have met Austin. Had I not met Austin and fallen in love, we wouldn’t have this boat. Furthermore, had my mom not created me, I wouldn’t have this life.
I never made enough money to take my mom on her dream trip to Paris before she died, so it’s my honor to take her around the world with me now.
When we purchased SVZV she came with a registered mooring. To legally have a mooring you have to get a mooring permit, have your mooring plans surveyed and approved by an engineer, then you build it and register the boat/mooring with the harbor. We were incredibly lucky that part of the hard work was already done for us and even luckier to have a mooring. Permit approvals in Hawaii are few and far in between. Not only did we purchase a floating home, we purchased a permanent place to keep it. Sail the world then come home to the beaches of Maui? Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
What we purchased physically was a 4000lb cement block on the ocean floor, location TBD. I’ll walk you through the steps we took to build and secure our mooring. Although it all seems pretty clear and mapped out, do remember this took us around 6 months.
*Disclaimer: In this article, usually when I say “us”, that truly means “mostly Austin”. I was there every step of the way for moral support and sometimes stepping in to help, but this was a major learning experience for me. I didn’t even know what a mooring was before buying SVZV, so Austin not only had to lead the charge but he had to teach me along the way. So, if you’re reading this Captain, you freaking rock.
Step 1: Move The Block
This is actually the last step we completed. There was so much planning and organizing that went into this, we needed at least a week after every attempt to regroup and recharge. Let me break this step down into smaller steps so you can truly understand how painstaking this was for us.
Locate mooring block. This took two days and over 8 hours of hunting. For weeks we would bring snorkel masks in our dry bags and look at any suspicious square object we saw on our way into the boat ramp. Due to rough currents or, more likely, someone moving our block for *unconfirmed* reasons, our block was nowhere near its registered location.
Acquire gear to move block. Lift Bags: Our mooring block is ~4000lbs and ended up requiring 5000lbs worth of lift bags. We had to borrow 5 bags total from 3 different people. These bags were fairly large and heavy, making it difficult to store and transport them. On each attempt (oh yes, there were multiple), they had to be hauled from the car or SVZV and loaded into the dingy for every attempt. Skiff: This was a job The Squid simply wasn’t cur our for. The dive gear alone would have sunk the dingy, let alone the extra body, the loft bags, the tools, and all of the extra line. It also isn’t nearly powerful enough for the job. When that gigantic cement block comes shooting up to the surface of the water you want something strong enough to pull it in the correct direction. The force easily could have sunk the Squid. Luckily, Austin’s company has a powerful skiff we are able to borrow. To use the skiff we have to drive to his bosses house, load the skiff onto a trailer, borrow the truck the trailer is attached to, wash off the trailer, then bring the skiff back clean once we’re finished. This is time consuming. This makes me want to pull my hair out.Dive gear: To use the lift bags, two people needed to dive down to the block to attach the lift bags and fill them with air. This required, roughly: 6 air tanks, 2 wetsuits, 2 regs, and 2 BCDs, all of which had to be borrowed/ rented then returned after returning the skiff. Usually to multiple places. Divers/Drivers: Like I mentioned above, we needed two divers to move the block. We also needed one person to drive the skiff. That means each attempt we had to ask at least one person for help. We tried a total of 6 times. Yes you read that right, 6. The winning combination was Austin and me in the water with someone helping drive the skiff. For us to be able to do this we had to get scuba certified first. That ended up being a life changing experience for me but, cmon, could it have been anymore of an involved process? Could anything have been simple?
Move The Damn Block. This part is much easier said than done. Like I said above, this took a total of 6 attempts. 6 times waking up early to bring the skiff to the boat ramp. 6 days sitting in the unforgiving sun. Loading and unloading the skiff with heavy dive tanks and lift bags 6 times. 5 times being defeated. The final round, triumph.
Our 6th and final dive was the first time Austin and I dove down together to try and lift the block. The symbolism of us being able to finally accomplish it wasn’t lost on me. It made victory even sweeter. Being 45ft underwater and watching as Austin filled the 5th and final bag with air was a surreal experience. The block had been buried deep in the sand and we weren’t sure if it would budge. This time we weren’t taking no for an answer. After filling all five bags to capacity, as if it had suddenly grown exhausted, the sand slowly released its hold and the block started to rise.
The ocean went dark as the 4000lb cement slab rose above our heads blocking the sun. Sand, barnacles, debris, and seaweed started raining down as the block rose faster and faster. I had never seen a sight like it. When the block finally bobbed at the top, we surfaced shortly after. The exhilarating rush of adrenaline powered me through the next few hours until we finally let the air out of the lift bags and let our kids mooring block sink into its new home.
Step 2: Buy The Gear
On Maui there is only one marine supply store that carries the heavy duty gear we needed to asssmble our mooring. It’s ~45 minute drive away. We made that trip at least 5 times and spent a total of $2100 on everything. Anyone ever told you what boat stands for? Bring Out Another Thousand.
To assemble our mooring we needed:
6x 3/4” shackles
1x 5/8” shackle
80ft 5/8” long link galvanized chain
3x 1 1/8” heavy duty galvanized thimble
1x 1” swivel
35ft 1 1/2” Blue Steel
1x buoy 27in diameter
3. Assemble The Mooring
One one surprisingly brisk 85 degree afternoon, we loaded up the back of Austin’s Trail Blazer with hundreds of pounds of chain and gear, drove it to an empty corner of a Safeway parking lot, laid everything out on the grass, and got to connecting the pieces.
Step 4: Attach Gear To The Block
This part was pretty straightforward. We had to rent dive gear and tanks, again, which was a pain. We also had to borrow the company skiff again to transport the chain to the block. You know how much I love the process of getting the company skiff/ returning it! One we got those two things out of the way, it was a matter of diving down, attaching the chain to the block and securing it with seizing wire. This took two dives to complete. About an hour and a half in the water.
Here is a list of tips and tricks I’ve learned since I started growing plants on the boat:
1. Keep the plants in the shade. This is easily the most important part of keeping my plants alive but it took me the longest to figure out. I specifically got plants that grow well in full sunlight, because I thought they would thrive with all of the sunshine they on deck. Makes sense, right? Wrong. It’s WAY too hot for that.
Although my plants were still growing in size, I noticed their leaves were always droopy and would sometimes turn brown. Within 24 hours of moving them under the dodger in the shade they perked up. Within a few days my sunflower began to bloom.
2. Water twice a day. Because it’s so warm in Hawaii watering the plants once a day just wasn’t enough. For the plants that like to have damp soil (ex. Basil), I soak the soil first thing in the morning then give it a quick mist in the afternoon. Even plants that usually don’t require regular watering (ex. Sunflower) I’ve found I need to give them a little water every morning.
3. Plant in a larger container than suggested. I’m not sure if it’s the tropical weather or if I’m just an exceptional gardener (kidding, haha), but my plants tend to grow deeper and a little larger than predicted. I have had to move each plant into a larger than predicted container at least once.
Example: It is suggested to plant basil in soil that is 8-10in deep. My basil is in soil that is ~8in deep and the roots are running out of room. I might move it to an even larger container soon.
4. Touch the plants. This one sounds weird but I swear by it. I like to feel the plants to judge how much water/sunlight they need. Plants that are getting enough water have heavy, pliable leaves. When they need more water the leaves tend to be brittle. If the plant is getting too much sunlight, I’ve noticed their leaves get thin and crunchy. Not enough sunlight and they get soft and almost mushy.
I also think the plants like the affection.
5. When growing sprouts in a mason jar, keep them in refrigerator: it is way too humid below deck on a boat to grow sprouts on the counter. I went through four moldy, smelly, and/or gross batches before realizing my mistake. I just started a new batch that I’m keeping chilled, we will see how it goes!
Bonustip for sprouts: start small! They expand A LOT more than you would think for such tiny seeds and it is hard to properly rinse them when the container is jammed packed. I also think the jar being too full is another factor in my sprouts going bad.
All in all, I think I’m spending too much time with my plants.
As Austin and I first started sailing, I got use to doing it just the two of us. I felt comfortable asking questions and making mistakes. I absolutely loved having company on the boat and getting to share our lives, but we would rarely take people out sailing. We had a few things we needed to fine tune before cruising. It seemed like every time we crossed one essential task off the list, we found another to add. As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, we finally started to make a dent on our seemingly never ending list of projects. It took us longer than expected, but I was excited by our progress and thrilled we would have the opportunity to sail more often.
My stepfather and 11 year old sister were the first guests to sail SVZV. Unfortunately, my sister found the whole experience to be painfully slow and boring. She considers a day shes near the water but doesn’t get to swim a day wasted. As expected, the rest of us had an incredible time.
Anticipation had been building in the hours before we left. We had tied a small anchor to our dingy so we didn’t have to tow him behind the boat, and it was our first time using the new system. After testing the new anchor set up, securing the boat, and getting everything ready to sail, we had been sitting in the sun for a little over an hour. I could feel the excitement vibrating through the air as we pulled the anchor up and motored our of the mooring field. When we finally hoisted the sails and shut the engine off the sound of the wind and waves casted a tranquil haze over SVZV and all aboard. It’s moments like this where it’s hard to believe this is truly my life.
After that experience, I wanted to take every opportunity possible to take people out sailing with us. Don’t get me wrong, I have an incredible time sailing with just us two as well, but it’s a special feeling to share something new and exciting that I’m beginning to love with others. We are finally getting to the point where we can take of and sail as we please, which has been such a relief for both of us. It is an unbelievably difficult test of ones willpower and self discipline to have a boat and not be able to use it often.
I’m setting a goal for myself to accomplish by the time travel restrictions return to normal in Hawaii (who knows when that will be): I want to have enough sailing experience and confidence to take my friends and family out when they visit, but this time I will be the captain and Austin will be my first mate.
We woke up at 3:30am on a warm summer morning. We struggled to get out of bed, get dressed, and head out the door. Although I was excited to go for a morning sail and fish for some Ono, I also strongly believed the fish still would have been there if we left at 6am instead. But you know what they say.. the early bird catches the worm, or the 40lb fish in this case.
It was still dark out when we pulled up to our friends boat. He had Tupac blasting, champagne chilling in the fridge, and was ready to get this show on the road. I, on the other hand, was proud I even remembered to zip my pants. We got everything ready to go, threw the mooring line off of the boat, and headed south towards Kaho’olawe.
The crisp morning air blew against my face, filling me with energy and excitement as the bow of the boat broke through the waves taking us towards our destination. I took over the helm allowing Austin and our friend T to set up the poles. We had two poles with massive reels out, each had a large rapala on the end that dove down ~30ft when casted into the water. So we threw out our lines, tightened the drag on our poles, and waited.
And waited some more.
By this time I’m a few mimosas deep and enjoying the gorgeous views surrounding me. This was the first time anyone trusted me at the helm unsupervised. Which, in retrospect, after the mimosas, might have been questionable.. but boy was I having fun. Then I heard it.
The line took off, moving with more speed and strength then I had ever seen. I couldn’t even form words. All I could muster was “f-f-fish!”
I have never seen Austin move so fast. With the speed and determination of a NBA player going after the ball during a championship game, he sprinted to the pole holder attached to the starboard side of the boat. Moving quickly and seemingly without effort he grabbed the pole and inserted it into a fishing belt. Then he started to reel.
He reeled and he reeled and he kept reeling it in.
My arms were sore just watching this happen.
“I see it!”
“What is it!?”
“Bring it up man!”
“Almost got it!”
Below my feet, flopping around on deck was the biggest fish I had ever witnessed anyone catch in real life. We caught an Ono!!
After cleaning him up and filleting him, we took half of him home and had enough meat for the two of us to eat for a week. I love fishing, but after that experience I’m determined to keep catching big fish. Next time maybe I’ll even reel it in myself.