Boating 101

Top 5 Things I Should Be Doing Instead Of Writing This Post

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. *

  1. 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!

2. Oven/Stove.

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.

We do have a camp stone with two burners but due to its size it has to be used outside.

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!

4. Interior Upholstery.

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.

You can get a idea of our cushion covers and blinds.. you can also see the camp stove we have been using. Plus little Tuna!

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!

Boating 101 · personal

Mooring? More Things.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

This is roughly the setup of our mooring. Some structural/material differences.

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.

Step 5: Crack Open A Beer

Because you deserve it.

Boating 101 · personal

First Time

Sweat dripping from my forehead stinging my eyes, the sweltering sun above burning my skin as if it were only yards away, I wrapped the furling line around the wench and muscled out a few more cranks, tightening it as much as I could. We had been in the sun for a few hours at this point and it was taking its toll on me. My day started with a brisk jump into the ocean and a scrub of the bottom. We needed to haul SVZV out and repaint the bottom, as our current paint was so worn down it required scrubbing every other week and a lot of elbow grease. After that we stowed everything away, took off the sail cover, pulled up the anchor, and motored out of the mooring field. I was thrilled to go out sailing on SVZV for the first time, but this was my first sailing experience where I wasn’t a guest and I needed to help, so I knew it was going to be a great learning experience and a lot to absorb.

First we brought up the main sail. Looking back I can easily identify the process we went through, but at the time I was completely lost. There were so many moving parts and foreign words I could barely follow Austin’s instructions. After jumping the main halyard to help bring up the sail, I moved back to tighten the luff on the wench. Next we unfurled the head sail and headed downwind. Sitting in the shade sweaty and winded, it took me a moment to notice the silence.

The boat was effortlessly gliding across the water and the only thing I could hear was SVZV splashing in the water. It was so calming and tranquil I forgot I was exhausted a moment earlier. I was finally able to take in the beauty around me. I could get use to this. Since then I have become more comfortable around the boat while underway, but I have a long long long way to go.

Boating 101

The Language of Sailing

Below is a list I compiled of basic sailing terminology that I quickly had to learn upon moving aboard ZV. A lot of these words I had never heard in my 26 years of life. I will continue to update this list as it grows.

  1. Port and Starboard: left and right. (Tip: remember left/port both have 4 letters right/starboard do not)
  1. Head sail: also referred to as the jib or Genoa. The sail on the bow of the boat.
  2. Mainsail: the sail connected to the mast of the vessel.
  3. Companion way: the stairs leading below deck
  4. Cabins: bedrooms
  5. Head: bathroom
  6. Lazarettes: storage lockers in the cockpit and on the swim platform used for storage
  7. Anchor snubber: a line attached to a cleat and hooked onto the anchor chain when it is dropped. It’s purpose is to reduce tension on the chain.
  8. Windlass: mechanical doodad that pulls in the anchor
  9. Cleat: stainless steel post used to tie off lines to
  10. Running lights:red and green lights located on the sides of a vessel, turned on while in motion to indicate leaving and returning
  11. Spreader lights: high power lights that illuminate the deck
  12. Bimini: cover above the steering wheel
  13. Dodger: cover above the companion way
  14. Hatch: glass windows that open and form a sealwhen closed
  15. Thru Hull: a pipe that goes out of the boat through the hull ex:sink and toilet
  16. Main Halyard: line that goes to the top of the mast. Raises mainsail. (Halyard lines can be located in different places on boat so always refer to it as “____” halyard)
  17. Jib/Genoa/Headsail: same thing
  18. Tack: pull the port side lines to bring headsail into the wind
  19. Jibe: pull starboard lines to bring head sail into the wind
Beneteau Oceanis 430
Boating 101 · personal

And so it begins

ZV officially became ours on Valentine’s Day 2020. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift. We had a 50/50 chance of getting the boat, so it was a surge of surprise and relief when we found out she was ours. The first night I was overcome with emotion. Our sudden acquisition came with a lot of responsibility and required a lot of hard work. We still had to give our 30 day notice at our apartment, move out, downsize by at least 75%, and figure out logistics. I didn’t know how we would manage it all, but I did know we had taken a huge step towards making our dreams come true.

We had to wake up at 4:30am the next morning to move ZV out of the harbor and onto her anchor in the mooring field. Part of this process involved me being on the boat alone, while she was in motion, in the dark. I was terrified. It’s funny looking back on such a trivial moment and recognizing it sparked the beginning of my growth and development as a sailor.

That morning we dropped anchor for my first time. The day was spent settling into our new home. That night, however, was not so idyllic. Austin set an alarm to go off every other hour to check the anchor as it was windy and we didn’t trust our gear yet. Austin, however, hit “stop” instead of “snooze” by mistake.

I woke up to the sound of chain scraping and the boat being jolted to the side. I instantly woke Austin up. Our anchor had dragged and we drifted dangerously close to two other boats. At that point we had got all of the sleep we were going to get that night. We made sure to keep our boat safe and moved as soon as the sun came up. After that, you can bet your ass we got a lot better at dropping anchor!