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.
Port and Starboard: left and right. (Tip: remember left/port both have 4 letters right/starboard do not)
Head sail: also referred to as the jib or Genoa. The sail on the bow of the boat.
Mainsail: the sail connected to the mast of the vessel.
Companion way: the stairs leading below deck
Lazarettes: storage lockers in the cockpit and on the swim platform used for storage
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.
Windlass: mechanical doodad that pulls in the anchor
Cleat: stainless steel post used to tie off lines to
Running lights:red and green lights located on the sides of a vessel, turned on while in motion to indicate leaving and returning
Spreader lights: high power lights that illuminate the deck
Bimini: cover above the steering wheel
Dodger: cover above the companion way
Hatch: glass windows that open and form a sealwhen closed
Thru Hull: a pipe that goes out of the boat through the hull ex:sink and toilet
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)
Jib/Genoa/Headsail: same thing
Tack: pull the port side lines to bring headsail into the wind
Jibe: pull starboard lines to bring head sail into the wind
This one is hard for me to write because it’s not a lesson I’m proud I needed to learn. When we first got Squid (our dinghy), ZV was on anchor at the outer edge of the mooring field, roughly a 15 minute ride from shore. I, having incredibly little experience, had only been in a boat with an outboard motor on a few other occasions in my lifetime. The first few times I watched the motor being started it looked easy enough. That being said, I had never even started a lawnmower before. So how could I really know? Well turns out I didn’t know. On my first attempt I sat there for 10 minutes yanking that cord, growing increasingly frustrated until I threw in the towel. Dramatically, I threw my hands in the air and exclaimed that I would “NEVER” get this stupid thing to work. And so it began.
Not being physically able to start that damn motor frustrated me beyond belief. If no one was around I could usually get it started after a handful of attempts. If we were leaving the boat ramp, or in another public location, my frustration would turn into embarrassment overs others seeing my failure. The overwhelming feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and inadequacy often pushed me to the point of tears and I would shut down. Not only was I giving up on myself, I was giving up (and often times getting angry at) Austin, who was working hard to teach me the necessary skills involved in boating.
Logically, I understand there is no shame in being a beginner and learning as I go. Logic stopped mattering when faced with a seemingly impossible task. I felt attacked and put on the spot. I’d get defensive and rude. It took me a few weeks to really look at my behavior and realize the outboard motor wasn’t the problem.. I was. This attitude I had been developing towards difficult tasks was stopping me from absorbing the knowledge I needed to know. To defeat this attitude, I had to identify the root cause of my mental block and let go of my ego.
There are still a lot of times where I get combative when learning something new. It’s something I struggle with and I’m constantly working on. At least it’s a behavior I recognize now. Being put in such a high pressure situation forces me to work on aspects of myself I don’t put much thought into regularly. For that I’m incredibly grateful. I’m incredibly proud of the hard work I am putting in, not only on the boat, but in myself as well.
As I’m sure you’ve already guessed- I can now start that motor up, no problem!
While dreaming up ideas to make this boat feel more like a home, I had a vision of creating an onboard garden. I was attracted to this idea for two main reasons: 1.) it would be nice to have fresh herbs, spices, veggies, or sprouts to diversify our meals without having to dinghy to shore. 2.) I love bringing my space to life by adding elements that are constantly growing and changing.
One day I impulsively picked up 4 plants without doing much research. I figured most things grow well in Hawaii. I was right! My basil, romaine, chives, and sunflowers are all flourishing.
When I brought them home I planted two of them and then put all four in a container. I fastened them to the stainless on the stern of the boat, then moved them under the dodger for some shade after a few hours. I originally had the idea to transfer them to a hanging shoe rack (I got the idea on Pinterest, I’ll add it below). When my plants started to grow I couldn’t bring myself to contain them in such a small space, so I transferred them into water jugs. It was also a great way to recycle!
All of my plants are now strong and healthy. I’m thinking of adding two more to my collection, but I can’t decide what I should plant. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Update: 9/18/2020. I have expanded my garden! Unfortunately, the lettuce didn’t grow well on the boat and the leaves kept rotting, so I got rid of that. I now have chives and cilantro growing in the galley (pictures to come) and will be adding more herbs to grow indoors.
Outdoors, Sunny the Sunflower is about to bloom! That has been exciting for everyone on the boat. My basil plant is flourishing. My pea shoots are doing well, but I have no idea when they are good to eat or how to eat them.. let me know if you have any experience with pea shoots and have any tips or tricks for me!
I broccoli, catnip, and mixed greens in the starter pots.. I will keep you all updated on their progress.
It seems like the right time to tell you my first “oh shit” story.
Before making the decision to purchase a boat, Austin spent a lot of time preparing me for life as a liveaboard. To him, that meant feeding me worst case scenarios and presenting the doomsday version of life on a boat. Essentially he wanted to make sure this is something I really wanted before making the commitment; and I did. He could not scare me away.
The first two weeks living on ZV were smooth sailing. Hard work? Yes. A major adjustment from life on land? Yes. Doomsday level difficulty? No. I was proud of myself and confident in my progression of experience and knowledge. Too confident.
I woke up a bit grumpy because I had to get up early to help re-drop the anchor, as the previous day Austin noticed our chain was fouled on old line and chain left on the ocean floor. It had been a few days since we last lifted anchor and we had been fine, so I thought it was unnecessary. It was my day off and I wanted to sleep in. His decision probably saved our boat.
It was a rocky morning on the boat. As the hours rolled on, conditions began to intensify. Out of nowhere, not forecasted by any weather app, the wind began howling and the waves started to increase in size and strength. We are fairly protected from storms where we are located on the leeward side of the island. But this storm came from the west, hitting us hard. The waves swelled up 10ft high. At that point I could no longer see the shore less than 50 yards away.
Already worried about the anchor setting correctly and holding ZV without dragging, I let go of my pride and called Austin as things started to escalate.
My first call went as follows:
Chelsea: “ It’s getting really bad out here. I’m worried about the motor on the dinghy. It’s slamming so hard on the waves it’s about to slide off. What do I do?”
Austin: “ Bring the dinghy in closer to the boat and tie it off”
C: “ Got it. Also, the rudder is banging from side to side and the steering wheel is slamming back-and-forth.”
A: “ Tie the wheel off to something to steady it. You’ve got this!”
It was pouring rain and the waves were pounding me, making it difficult to see and navigate the boat. I brought the dinghy in and tied it off on the cleat, making sure to put the working load to the front like Austin taught me. I located some extra line and began working to secure the wheel. As I was doing that I noticed an unmanned boat floating by.
“Shit” I thought, “that sucks”.
“That boat looks familiar” I looked up again. “That’s our dinghy”.
My next call to Austin:
C: “The Squid (the name of our dinghy) broke the cleat.”
A: “ Broke the cleat?”
C: “ Yes. The stainless snapped and Squid is on shore”
A: “Can you see him?”
A: “Keep your eye on him. I’ll figure out what to do. We’re ending the charter early. I’ll call you soon”
Waves were crashing over ZV and her bow began to dip into the ocean at the end of its ride down the face of each massive wall of water. I was watching other boats disappearing in and out of vision, hanging on for dear life as they weathered the storm.
With all the commotion, the Coast Guard zooming by on jet skis rescuing divers and paddle borders from the water, the thunderous sound of waves crashing all around me, I completely missed a small sailboat wash onto the beach. Now, I was hyper-focused on my surroundings.
I noticed another sailboat drifting dangerously through the mooring field, edging towards shore. It seemed as if the boats captain was attempting to turn it and motor to safety. In the blink of an eye it was stuck on the reef.
That’s when I made my third and final call:
C: “ You need to come get me. Now”
A: *guests loudly getting sick* “It took us longer than expected to get into the harbor. It’s a mess. Stay calm. You’re doing good. ”
The whole ordeal only lasted for 3-4 hours. I’m proud to say I only cried for 30 minutes of it. This experience was a huge lesion in emotional control and staying calm under pressure. By the time Austin got to the boat, I was filled with joy and relief that the storm was dying down and our gear kept ZV safe.
Added bonus: the day ended with an incredible sunset. Almost like the Earth was comforting us after a long day.
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!
On March 3rd 2019, I moved to Maui to take care of my mother. The next day, March 4th, I went to Longs Drugstore to pick up her prescriptions. While in line I overheard the customer ahead of me give the cashier his phone number; it had a California area code. I seized the opportunity to introduce myself to a handsome guy. I thank my lucky stars every day I was feeling bold that day. I now share my life with one of the most incredible souls I know, Austin.
Austin moved to Maui a couple years before me for a job at a boating company. On our second date he invited me on a yacht for a sunset cruise. I was quickly enchanted with him and the boating lifestyle. I began to learn about boating simply through our relationship growing.
I always prioritized traveling and knew that I wanted to live my life in a way that allowed me to experience as much of the world as possible. Early on in the relationship when Austin shared that he has a goal to sail around the world by the time he reaches 30, a world of opportunity opened up. It had never occurred to me that I could travel the world, go on adventures, and bring my home along.
When we got the chance to buy a 1989 Beneteau Oceanis 430, we jumped on it. I owe a lot to Austin. If I hadn’t fallen in love with a sailor, I most likely never would have experienced the ocean in such a life changing way. Owning SVZV has been challenging and has tested me in ways I didn’t expect. 6 months in and I already know the payoff will be worth it.
It’s hard to believe that two years ago I had never set foot on a sailboat. I had only been on three ferry’s in my life and didn’t know the first thing about sailing. I couldn’t have identified port from starboard or bow from stern.
Fast forward to today; my boyfriend, Austin, and I dove down and lifted a 4000lb mooring block off of the ocean floor using 5000lb of lift bags. In 6 months I have learned and grown more than I could have imagined. I have gained so many stories, experiences, and memories and we haven’t even started sailing.
I’ve had the desire to start a blog for a long time. For years I tried out tons of different hobbies and activities, just to see if I enjoyed one enough to do it consistently and write about it. I’ve always felt that there is nothing interesting about me and I would have to find something people would be interested in. When we attached our boat to the mooring for the first time it hit me: I already have it.