personal

November Update

After starting off blogging with a bang, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. It’s not that I have lost any of my passion or drive to do it, I just haven’t had much down time. Recently, there has been a lot of changes to life aboard SVZV. As things are starting to open up in Hawaii, and the quarantine restrictions have been lifted for visitors, our magical dream world where we were making money, not having to work, and enjoying life on our own schedule quickly started coming to an end.

A month or so after the additional $600/week in unemployment aid had run out, my card got denied for a $9 dollar purchase at the gas station. After the shame wore off from embarrassing myself in front of a line full of people, a crushing realization hit me like a tidal wave. I could no longer deny it. There was no more “waiting to see what’s going to happen”. I had to get a job. ASAP.

This was incredibly stressful for me for many reasons. But three things in particular made finding a job far more difficult than usual.

**Before I start, I should clarify that I am so grateful to be in a position where I’m able to be picky about what jobs I apply for. To have job opportunities available at all. Im grateful that I am healthy enough to get a job. Although I complain about it, working is a part of life and I accepted that a long time ago. I am very aware that these are what would be considered “first world problems”. But nonetheless. I was distressed and I can’t pretend I wasn’t.

Firstly, I am not someone who has a career I am passionate about. Not one of my hobbies involve skills that I can use in the workplace. Nor am I good enough to sell any of the things I make. I am a person who works so I can enjoy my life. I do not enjoy working. I have had plenty of jobs I liked, but not one I liked more than spending 8 hours at home doing whatever I pleased. So obviously, the lockdown was a dream for me.

I had all day, everyday, for 7 months to do what I pleased. Work on myself, work on the boat, garden, write a blog post, whatever. The beaches were empty. The streets were empty. There was no traffic going anywhere. For me, this was a paradise I didn’t think I would get to experience until I retired in 30+ years. I got a taste of the good life and I wasn’t ready to let go.

Second: I absolutely loved the job I had before the pandemic shut everything down. I was incredibly lucky to have got the position. I had just started working for this company in November 2019 and my last day was March 13, 2020. At first we were all hopeful things would return to normal and we would all be hired back, but things didn’t turn out that way. So it was disheartening to start the search for something new.

Lastly, there were not many places hiring. With Austin’s job picking up, us sharing a dingy and a car, and my lack of confidence of driving the dingy in the dark (I’m afraid of hitting things, ex: a whale) this made my options even more limited. It would be overwhelmingly difficult if I had a job where I got off at 10pm, had to have Austin dingy in to get me, dingy him back to shore at 5am for work, then start my day. There are plenty other of scenarios I could give you, but you get it. The logistics were difficult.

Then, like everything else in my life since moving to Maui, the solution fell into my lap.

Whilst applying for jobs, I sent out two applications for remote positions. Usually those types of job offerings are too good to be true and there is some sort of catch, but what the heck? I usually have office jobs where I work on a computer all day anyways, might as well do it from home. A remote job would solve our scheduling problem. It would alleviate our anxiety about leaving the boat unattended if unfavorable wind or swell came in. It would also provide us with a reliable source of income that could be earned anywhere we traveled in the world. So with all that in mind, I took the time to apply to what I assumed was most likely a scam.

Three weeks had passed and I hadn’t heard back from anyone. I had just accepted a part time position as a coach for little league soccer. The day after accepting the position, I got a voicemail in response to an application I had submitted, asking if I was still interested. Long story short, I now have a full time position that is %100 online. It is absolutely perfect for me. I accepted the position the day I got the offer and agreed to start training the following Monday.

This was all exciting and wonderful but I had one big problem. We do not have working power outlets on the boat and we had no access to WiFi. Immediately, Austin and I came up with a plan.

Over the next week of training/ my first few days of work I was bouncing around place to place and town to town, borrowing amenities from my friends and family. During this time I was able to research and order everything we needed. Once we had everything, I would be able to work from SVZV wherever we find ourselves in the world. In the end, we decided on two things to get the job done.

1. SkyRoam

Skyroam is a global hotspot that connects to mobile WiFi in over 130 countries. The hotspot itself is a small orange disk and comes in different sizes. I chose the basic one and it cost us $119 before delivery. It offers unlimited internet in the US for $49/month and globally for $100/month. It works far better than expected! Not only has it allowed me to do my job with no problem, I can stream movies with no issues, and it connects to multiple devices so both Austin and I can use it at at the same time. It also stays charged for 8+ hours without needing to be plugged in!

SkyRoam disk and power cord

2. A generator

I can’t take credit for this one. This was all Austin’s idea. I was originally looking at power banks. They usually run $75- $200 and store quite a bit of power in them. The biggest issue with this idea was, they have to be charged once their drained. That means I would have to find a place to recharge the power bank daily. Kind of defeats the purpose, right? That’s when Austin suggested a generator.

Since I don’t know anything about generators I let him pick one out. He found a small 1600-watt portable generator that we could have shipped to Home Depo for $375. I’m told that’s a really good price!

A-iPower 1600-Watt Gasoline Powered Portable Generator

At first I was incredibly concerned about the noise. After watching a video of the same generator online, I thought the roar would be so loud I wouldn’t be able to relax or focus on my job. Turns out it’s actually pretty quiet! Where we have it set up outside I can barely hear it over the fan while sitting below deck in the lounge. I was also worried it would be difficult learning how to use it. Surprise: it’s super easy!! Far easier to start than the motor on the dingy. Just turn the nob to “run”, give the cord a slight tug, turn the switch to “eco mode”, and you’re good to go!

Excuse the mess: we are doing some maintenance on our hatches. To the starboard site you can see where we have the generator placed. We run the power cord through whichever hatch is closest to where we need power.

With Austin adjusting to being back at work and me starting a new job, we haven’t been out sailing much for the past couple weeks. We have been focusing on maintenance rather than starting new projects. We also spent a week in the harbor (more on that story later). Here’s to hoping we find our groove soon and my next update will be filled with adventure, fun stories, and beautiful scenery!

Views from the harbor: early morning the day we left the slip
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.

Gardening

Green Sailor with a Green-ish Thumb

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.

Current plants: sunflower, basil, pea sprouts Just planted: catnip, broccoli, spinach x2 Not pictured: cilantro, chives

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!

Bonus tip 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.

personal

Sharing Is Caring

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.

Holland’s favorite part of the trip

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.

Slowly getting the hang of this sailing thing
Gardening

Sprouting Up

Day 1: letting the sprouts soak for 8-12hrs

Update: after 3 days the Mung Beans began to sprout.. but they did not look quite right. I think the humidity caused them to go bad. The garbanzo beans turned to mush after a few days.

I am going to try again, this time with broccoli sprouts. I’m going to keep them refrigerated to see if that defeats my humidity problem. Let me know if you have any suggestions of what sprouts would do well in a warm, humid environment! Or if you have any growing tips for sprouts.

Day 3: Mung Beans. I tossed them after this photo.

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.

personal

Smooth Sailing

I knew when we got SVZV, she would come with her own set of challenges. The physical labor I already knew would be an adjustment. I’m lazy by nature and a even chore as simple as scrubbing the bottom of the boat every 2-3 weeks was daunting. I had mentally prepared for the loss of air conditioning, WiFi, and almost all other luxuries I held as constants in my life. Although I knew it would be an uncomfortable adjustment at first, and poor Austin would have to suffer through my attitude at times, there was never a doubt that the payoff would be worth it. Owning a boat was by far the most responsibility I had ever taken on and I fully understood the effort that I would need to put in to maintain it. Only, for me, I’ve found the biggest challenges aren’t related to the maintenance of the boat.

Becoming the owner of a new sailboat was a lot like becoming a new parent (I would imagine). Since we were on anchor at first, we couldn’t leave her unattended for a long period of time. We couldn’t come back past sunset as it was a long dingy ride to and from the boat ramp. We couldn’t go out sailing past sunset either, as it’s ill advised to drop anchor with no light out. There were no more spontaneous drives or nights out. Everything was planned and we ran on a schedule. We took shifts watching her if the other had to go out for the day. Even when I did go out, I found I had to alter what I did in my free time.

I enjoy eating out, happy hours, decorating my home, bargain shopping, trying new Pinterest crafts, and other things that cost money. Now when I get paid, I first think about what we need to get done on the boat and how I can put each dollar to better use. Having something I am monetarily responsible for has had a wonderful effect on my life. Although it does cause me some stress and heartache at times, I found I am more creative and innovative than ever. I’m in the water constantly and get regular exercise. I was recently dive certified and on the road to becoming a dive master. Getting dive certified was a necessary decision for us to maintain our mooring and take care of SVZV. A practical skill set introduced me to one of the few things I can truly say I’m passionate about. It wasn’t easy to transition into an (extremely) more frugal person but the reward surpassed what I expected. It’s easy to only focus on how this move has effected me but it has proved challenging for both of us.

Austin and I never fight. We don’t bicker. I don’t have to nag him.. that much. We rarely snap at each other. Austin has one of the best dispositions of any person I’ve ever met, and if you knew him you’d understand that it’s easy not to fight with him. The first few months as we were adjusting it was fun and exciting. Besides some heated moments while I was learning to drive the dingy or we were dropping anchor, no disagreements really came up. As weeks rolled by and turned into months we spent a lot of time on the boat. 1. We have been locked down for a long time due to the pandemic, so there really aren’t many places to go 2. We were on anchor and didn’t want to leave her unattended for too long and we didn’t want to dingy back at night. Sometime during those months we started bickering.

Who knows about what. It was rarely important enough to remember the subject matter. I’d imagine being quarantined for months with your partner would cause any couple to bicker. Especially being confined to a 43’ sailboat, I cut myself some slack. Although not monumentally impactful on our day to day life, it was an unexpected adjustment. The shift from everything feeling perfect all of the time to the real world is a tough one. Overall I have learned so much about being a better partner and being a better roommate through this experience. It’s made us so much stronger and more understanding of each other. It’s just… if I have to clean up one more wet wad of paper towels from the sink I might go to prison for homicide, ya know?

After writing this whole thing out it’s clear to me that I have it pretty good. If what I’ve described above are some of the bigger challenges I’m facing, I’m doing well. That’s the thing about SVZV, the amazing life she provides me makes it all worth it.

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