s/v Full Monty

The purpose of this sail blog is to keep family and friends informed and up to date as our family sails the world and its many remote places.

06 February 2012
21 November 2011 | Beaufort, NC
10 November 2011 | Durham, NC
10 November 2011 | Beaufort, NC
18 October 2011 | Beaufort, NC
16 October 2011 | Beaufort, NC
16 October 2011 | Beaufort, NC
18 May 2011 | Beaufort, NC
03 May 2011 | Beaufort, NC
22 January 2011 | Beaufort, NC
09 November 2010 | Durham, NC
29 October 2010 | Beaufort
27 October 2010 | Beaufort
19 September 2010 | Durham, NC
04 September 2010 | Topsail Beach, NC
22 August 2010 | Topsail Beach, NC
15 November 2009 | Topsail Beach, NC
15 November 2009 | Jarrett Bay, Beaufort, NC
15 November 2009 | Jarrett Bay, Beaufort, NC
14 November 2009 | Jarrett Bay, Beaufort, NC

Good-bye Old, Hello New

19 September 2010 | Durham, NC
Jenny / 70 & sunny
[photo: the beach house 2004-2010]

When one chooses to depart from the norm of our American society and go cruising, tremendous change occurs, and adaptation to the new way of life is necessary.

The return to American society is just as overwhelming, if not even more so.

I am reminded of this as we just successfully completed the sale of our beach house last Friday and moved to Durham to be with Wil full time.

Maybe I am more sensitive to change than most people, but surely I'm not alone. Sure I thrive on excitement & adventure, but each new step is not without stress.

For the past 2 years, I have been living small town, island life, and thoroughly enjoying it. No weekly (or daily) trips to Target or Wal-Mart. No cable TV. No more than one afterschool activity each week. Except for guitar lessons and visits with my sister in Wilmington on Thursdays, we stayed local. Yes, there are the weekend trips to Beaufort to work on the boat, but that's small town coastal, as well.

Now, we have piled in with Wil and boxes are stacked around us. This past week has been filled with unpacking, learning a new town, and attempting to establish a regular homeschool routine. AND amidst it all, throw in a pretty good head cold for all of us at the same time!

When one is settled in a regular place & routine, life can be busy, but at least all of the little things are in place . . . you usually know how to drive from point A to point B , which cabinet holds the cheese shredder, or which drawer your socks are in. When one shifts to a new & unfamiliar place, there is extra mental energy drawn every time one wants to do the simplest of tasks. It takes time to work out these little details, but eventually you get there.

Therefore, this move, and moving back to a more populated area, has reminded me of the last time we went cruising. Departing society & returning to society each have their own challenges.

Before departing from society back in 1998, we worked 40+ hours each week, lived the big city life, and had plenty of everyday luxuries. Moving to a sailboat meant spending 24 hours a day in a small space with your spouse where even using the toilet could be troublesome. Utility company employees didn't seem to understand why we were cancelling our service and didn't need service elsewhere. Then, there were all the prior arrangements that needed to be made for receiving mail, paying bills, and storing anything that wasn't going with us. Society is filled with a ton of hustle & bustle, so when we finally got on the sailboat & started cruising, initially life was hard and it was difficult to slow our pace. Eventually, we learned that it was ok to spend a few hours or more reading each day. It was ok to go to bed at sundown. It was ok for a simple chore to take all day. Most importantly, we were finally getting to spend quality time together.

We'd adapted to cruising life. There wasn't a care in the world other than keeping the boat shipshape, finding our food, planning our next route, exploring our next port-of-call, keeping in touch with family back home, or possibly having social hour with the current buddy boat. Fresh fruits & vegetables were acquired from the nearest market within walking distance. We fished for dinner, or traded with the locals. We baked our own bread, and made most things from scratch using only what we had on hand.

As we neared the end of our cruise, the ports we visited became a little more populated as we got closer to the US & tourist areas. While we were in Isla Mujeres, we thought it would be fun to take the ferry over to Cancun to do some shopping. I will never forget how overwhelmed I felt when we walked into our first Wal-Mart in almost a year. That was a HUGE mistake! I couldn't focus on the products, for all of the people walking around us. Then, I just stood in front of the meat counter, looking at all the choices of meat. How could I possibly decide which meat to buy? We got out of there as quickly as possible, without buying a single item.

Then we returned to the states. People didn't understand how we didn't know what Y2K was. It was an experience to do more than 35 mph in a car for the first time in a year. When we bought our first house, which was about 1575 sq ft, we felt so far away from each other at opposite ends of the hallway. And the idea of saying good-bye to each other as we went back to work . . . unthinkable!!

We, of course, adapted back into American society. It didn't take long before we fell back into the rat race of city living. However, this time it was as a family of four. Daily play dates, afterschool sports & activities, birthday parties, trips to Target, driving a minivan, etc. My calendar was full and I would still pack it in.

So for me, living small town life on an island was the next best thing to living on a sailboat. I had escaped most of the hustle & bustle. Now, until we can beef up the savings account a bit, we are living on the outskirts of Durham. We are in a country setting, but the city is just 10 minutes away. All of my old friends are nearby and I am eager to see them. However, at the same time, I am overwhelmed because I fear I will be drawn back into constant activity again.

I am searching for a balance between what I want and what used to be, and at the same time, keeping my eye on our goal to go cruising sooner rather than later.

Spared by Earl

04 September 2010 | Topsail Beach, NC
Jenny / 75 degrees & mostly sunny
We are so relieved that the major part of Hurricane Earl chose to stay off the NC coast!

However, on the slight chance that the storm would make a jog to the west, we prepared Full Monty for its first hurricane of the season. Since Wil was busy with work, and we were pretty sure we wouldn't get a direct hit from the category 4 storm, all of the boat preparations were left up to me. (Wil would have come, if I had needed him)

Before arriving to the boat, I thought I maybe had a couple of hours worth of work, and then I would head to the beach house (which is currently under contract & scheduled to close on Sept 10th!!).

Little did I forget to remember . . . . time is automatically doubled or tripled when a boat is concerned. After 8 1/2 long, gruelling hours in 95+ degree weather, I finally had the boat prepared for the possiblity of strong winds. Thank goodness the kids were eager to help, so a few of the jobs were actually made easier than if I was totally singlehanded. My mother-in-law offered to help too, but at that point I had no plan and was only working as I saw things to do. She did help with supplying Gatorade, securing the dinghy, and organizing the dinner order.

The majority of prep included:
-removing anything off the deck that wasn't attached
-tying down anything that couldn't be removed by one person in the time allotted, but that might get damaged, or cause damage
-taking down our brand new bimini
-wrapping the main sail & boom with line
-securing the dinghy
-securing a broken hatch and checking all other hatches
-securing any doors/compartments that might leak or fly open
-outlining the stand plates on the hull with marker, so we can know if the boat shifts at all
-photo & video documenting the situation

The list may not seem very long, but some of these items became much more involved than expected.

There was a major concern about our situation that we had not expected. We did not expect to be packed into the boatyard like a can of sardines!

When I first arrived to the boatyard, the plan was to find 8 additional stands, and place them on either side of each hull at the bows & sterns, and then chain them together. Ideally, we would have then anchored the boat into the ground with tie downs.

Well . . . that idea seemed like a joke in the grand scheme of boatyard operations. After a long line of 120 haulouts, (ranging from 32-112 feet) the yard was packed tightly with boats, mostly large power boats. Therefore, there were no additional stands available, and at that point, it didn't seem to matter what we did. If the wind would ever be strong enough to blow any of the boats over, the domino effect would have us doomed. At the same time, Full Monty had a building to her stern and all those boats to her port & bow. She seemed pretty well tucked in for what portion of Earl we thought we might get. Then it was just a "wait & see".

Fortunately, the winds in Beaufort only reached 56 knots, and after inspection by the yard employees, there doesn't seem to be any damage. Once we get through fixing inspection items on our house and moving out in time for closing this Friday, we will head to Beaufort to do a more thorough check.

After the physical & emotional stress of a major approaching hurricane, I felt like I could sleep for 2 days! I returned to the beach house and the kids & I recouperated with walks on the beach & eating plenty of good food.

Topsail was only under a tropical storm warning, so it was exciting to see the waves & look for all the goodies that wash up on the beach. After the storm passed, we took trash bags to the beach expecting to pick up a bunch of trash & debris, but were pleasantly surprised that there wasn't a whole lot.

The weather for the day after a hurricane is always so incredibly beautiful. Therefore, after some schooling, we spent the rest of that day playing on the beach & swimming. Our unusual finds were a huge horseshoe crab, 3 live starfish, and lots of whole, open clam shells.

Definitely an after-storm scenario we can live with.

The "What if" Question

16 February 2009 | Topsail Beach, NC
Jenny / 39 & sunny
This last week I had one of those "what if" questions come to my mind.

What if we're hundreds of miles offshore and my son goes into respiratory distress again? How does one handle that or any other medical situation?

Last week, we experienced Colin's second episode of respiratory distress. The first episode occurred on Christmas Day 2007. He had had a cold for a couple days prior to Christmas. On Christmas morning, he opened all of his presents from Santa Claus, but then he proceeded to lay down on the couch and not play with any of his new toys. That's when I noticed his breathing was rapid and labored. Fortunately, my dad, a retired ER doc, happened to be there. He examined him and determined that we needed to get Colin to the hospital. So we spent the remainder of Christmas Day in the ER with Colin receiving oxygen and albuterol treatments until his blood oxygen levels returned to normal. We also had to make sure he remained hydrated due to the number of times he'd vomited. It was a stressful day.

Colin is not asthmatic, and it was determined that he had a virally induced respiratory reaction. However, following that incident, which was also in the wake of a pneumonia episode the year before, I decided it would be beneficial to purchase my own pulse oximeter in order to monitor his oxygen levels myself. I have an extensive scientific background with some medical experience, but my medical training is minimal. I was a surgical technician for a year, so I'm able to do some basic medical assessment and take care of minor emergencies. However, sometimes I feel I know just enough to be dangerous. We don't run to the doctor every time we have a sickness, and I try to handle things myself. In my mind, if we're going sailing, I need to be as self-sufficient as possible. Also, prior to sailing, we would be living on Topsail Island which is an hour's drive to the nearest hospital.

So last week when Colin's cold seemed to make a sudden change for the worse, I was prepared with my pulse oximeter and the albuterol inhaler which we had on hand from our previous hospital visit. Immediately, I saw the beginning stages of his respiratory distress, and we were able to get to an urgent care center. (That was after being turned away from the pediatrician's office and other urgent care centers who all said we needed to get to the ER) In the end, we had caught the symptoms early enough, and only needed to pick up a 3-day steroid prescription and a new albuterol inhaler.

So what if something like this happens on the high seas? After these respiratory episodes, I now realize some of the extras I'll need to have in our ship's medical supply kit. This will include a couple of albuterol inhalers and even a few canisters of oxygen, as well as my trusty pulse oximeter. If Colin, or anyone else for that matter, goes into respiratory distress, I should be able to treat the symptoms. Or at least stabilize the situation until we can get proper medical attention.

The other day, I joked with my dad, saying that maybe I will have experienced everything medically I need to know by the time we go sailing. Of course, that's not possible, and we definitely don't want that to happen. However, we will be as prepared as we possibly can. I have my current background knowledge and experience, I plan to renew my first aid and CPR certification, and the ship's medical kit will be as well stocked as possible.

The "what if" questions can be scary and intimidating. However, life is full of risks. You can't stay hidden from the world, or so many of life's experiences will be missed. Some would say that we're crazy for taking our children out to sea. Yes, I worry, but I also worry when we're here on land. What parent doesn't worry about their children's well-being? Our chances for a serious car accident are greater than anything that can happen at sea.

The best thing we can do is to be prepared and trained to the best of our ability. I can't count how many times I witnessed the most thorough preparation performed by my parents as I was growing up. We had fire drills where we had to climb out of the window and down a fire escape ladder from the top floor of our house. We had many summers of hurricane preparations. We never departed on a camping or sailing trip without being prepared for all of the "what ifs". I've learned preparation tricks from my parents, from Wil, and from my surgical experience in the OR. I want to believe that we have enough sensibility and knowledge (as well as the ability to think on our feet) to get us through whatever life throws in our direction.

Preparation is the key.

Vessel Name: Full Monty
Vessel Make/Model: 1993 Privilege 482-S Catamaran
Hailing Port: Topsail Beach, NC
Crew: Wil, Jenny, Justine & Colin
About: Wil (Co-Captain & Mechanic) Jenny (Co-Captain & Navigator) Justine (First Mate) Colin (Second Mate)
Extra: Full Monty currently resides in Beaufort, NC.
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Full Monty's Photos -

The Crew of Full Monty

Who: Wil, Jenny, Justine & Colin
Port: Topsail Beach, NC