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Month: September 2016

Our First Week On the Boat…Challenging, Beautiful and Windy

Our First Week On the Boat…Challenging, Beautiful and Windy

We have had one busy week!

Every day has been packed, quite the opposite of what most folks think of as the “cruising lifestyle”.  But we are preparing for a trip, buying food, setting things up (and figuring them out) for the first time, everything takes four or five times as long as they should.

Building the Portabote.
Building the Portabote.

Case in point, the Portabote.  On the recommendation of the previous owner, we bought one, and it’s a pretty neat folding boat.  When we’re not using it, it’ll fold up nice and neat on deck, and when we are using it, it’s pretty light and a small engine pushes it well.  I picked it up used from a fellow who bought it in 2006, used it once and kept it folded in his garage for the next 10 years.  Folded for 10 years equals very hard to open, and there’s a bruise on my leg to prove where it snapped shut on me!  The cheap pins that hold the seat on just wouldn’t cut it, so I replaced them with bolts and wingnuts (also recommended from the previous owner).  The transom bolts were missing.  The brand new engine seemed too difficult to start (turned out this was just my weak arms).  After the first night of rain, we installed a drain plug (which leaks, we’re still working on that).

All that to say something I thought would take a few hours to accomplish wound up taking a whole day.

And then there’s the other issues:  so far we’ve found three leaks, the biggest one is from the mast boot which soaked through three towels last night (this is probably what filled the bilge while we were gone).  The engine stop kill switch cable rusted in place, meaning we can’t stop the motor when we want to.  We rebuilt it last night in 30 knot gusts!

The last sunrise before the rain and winds


(Brittany here) Which brings us to the weather! We have experienced a little bit of everything, in only a few days! When we first arrived, it was a very calm, cool and sunny day. The temperature was in the 70’s and it was glorious. The first night of sleep on the boat felt like we were on land, there was no movement whatsoever. In the morning the sun’s rays peeked out from the clouds then quickly disappeared. The rest of the day was overcast and gray but serene. A line of geese skimmed the water as they flew, birds snapped up little fish and I was in heaven. It was so peaceful being on the water and it seemed all was amazingly calm.

The next day, after the clouds moved on, the sun shone bright and we were actually hot in the middle of the day. The girls found the little beach where people put their dinghies in the water and had a blast splashing in the water, playing in the sand and making friends with a sweet dog in the boat yard named Hyatt. Hyatt was their new “best friend” and they eagerly looked for him when we were out in the boat yard.



We had many errands to run, shopping trips and laundry and as I was finally taking our clothes to the nearby laundromat, the rain began. It began and didn’t stop except for a few breaks throughout the day. By the evening, the wind picked up and we could start to feel the boat rocking a bit. Last night as we finished projects and went off to bed, the wind gusts were 25 knots (which is quite a gust!) Our boat is faring very well compared to lighter, smaller boats which are bobbing up and down a lot more than we are. We are really appreciating this very heavy, solid boat!

The rain helped us find the leaks on the boat (as my husband was saying) but they are minor and nearly unavoidable as all boats will have a leak somewhere. But we all felt secure and snug as we heard the wind howl and whistle through the night air, the waves bumping and slapping the hull, and the wind rock the boat.

Haven hanging out in her life jacket!

For now, we are staying put. The wind and rain will hopefully start to move on by tomorrow and we are continuing to prepare to sail south as soon as the weather permits!





We Made It To The Boat!

We Made It To The Boat!

After almost 3 days of driving, and some unexpected (but OK) delays along the way, we finally made it to our new boat on Sunday.  We were all pretty excited / delirious when we finally arrived.


Currently named Gromit, we haven’t come up with a new name yet.  There were a few in the running, but everyone thinks Gromit is pretty cute, should we change it???

Before we even got to the boat, someone on the dock told us an alarm was going off inside, uh, ok, great, what happened?  Why didn’t the marina call and tell us this?  We all hop on the boat, which is harder than we thought with 3 little kids and I begin searching for the problem while Brittany and the kids explore the boat.  The culprit – bilge was full, but why?  I didn’t really have time to look into it right then, the secondary bilge pump seemed to be keeping it in check, but eventually found the float switch was not working.  Actually it was, but it got stuck.  I could go into the details (which I would love to), but it would probably bore you!  (Here is what I did to fix it)

The culprit - bilge pump was stuck in the off position.
The culprit – bilge pump was stuck in the off position.

Next problem, the aft head output leaks, we found this one out after the girls used it and it leaked the “output” all over the floor in the bathroom.  Problem #2.  (No picture!!!)

BUT… all of that being said, we are still super excited to be here!  Those two issues are relatively minor, we’ve had so many great moments in between all of that.  From sitting on the back watching the still water, to watching the girls play in the forward cabin.  It’s been a lot of work, but totally worth it.

Aft deck view of the South River, Chesapeake bay.
Aft deck view of the South River, Chesapeake bay.
Is this the "don't take a picture of me" look?
Is this the “don’t take a picture of me” look?
Haven seems to like the boat!
Haven seems to like the boat!
Quiet morning in Selby Bay
Quiet morning in Selby Bay
Through the aft cabin hatch
Through the aft cabin hatch
Getting settled in.
Getting settled in.

The list:

  • Assembly dinghy, motor, and find a way to mount on the davits.
  • More provisioning
  • Attach lifeline netting
  • Pick up dad from the airport
  • Fix aft head (we have two heads, so this is somewhat optional)
  • …. (I’m sure there’s more which I’ve forgotten)

But we made it!  We set sail for the first time as a family tomorrow or Thursday, depending on the weather.

When God Gives You a $34.00 Plane Ticket, You Take It

When God Gives You a $34.00 Plane Ticket, You Take It

When God gives you a $34.00 plane ticket, you take it.

Four years ago I was preparing to get on a plane for fifteen hours. I was a nervous wreck. Literally, I was a trembling mess. Earlier I had clearly heard God tell me to let go of my fear of traveling, but as the day to leave approached, it seemed as if the fear only grew. I put on a good face for a while. Anyone can fake it for a time, and I was pretty good at it, convincing myself that everything would be fine even though I was facing every fear I could think of. Planes, people, travel, being away from home, flying over water, the unknown…So when day came I was to set off, I told God, I can’t do this. I just can’t do this.

Four years later I’m preparing to live on a boat for three weeks with my husband and three little girls. A sailboat that we bought in faith because we felt, well, God wanted us to. And as I find myself packing boxes of canned foods and counting packages of snacks and diapers, I find that former fear utterly gone. The trembling of heart, the worry, the pleading with God, I think you picked the wrong person, just no where to found. Now, I’m not saying it won’t appear at some point on this journey (in fact I’m sure it will) but the love of the adventure has replaced the worry of the unknown.


When you step out into the unknown and say to God, I trust you. To the best of my ability, I really trust you, God does wild things. Because wild faith is pleasing to God and it is the realm in which he works.

My husband and I have been wrestling with whether to take a crew member with us for this first part of our journey. My husband’s dad seemed to be the perfect fit because of his sailing experience, but we still weren’t sure what God would have us do. A small issue, I know, but one of many we have had to decide to get ready to walk in faith with what God has prompted in our hearts. To bring my father in law to the boat required he fly to meet us there. All the plane tickets had skyrocketed in price, from less than one hundred dollars to $500 and the cheaper ones to $300. That’s not the kind of plane ticket we really want to pay for! Earlier in the day I cried out to God and just asked that he would help me know what the right decision for us would be. When my husband got home from work he checked the price of the ticket one more time. He called over to me, “Hey can you come see this?” I looked at the screen. “Is this right?” he asked. The price of the plane ticket for the day and exact time we wanted had dropped to $34.00. All the other times for that day were still nearly $300 dollars. We were dumbfounded! God had clearly given us a sign of his direction for us and we were so thankful!

I know you could say it was just luck or a coincidence, but when God is running the show, nothing is just luck. It is always the nature of the walk of faith- you will see what others cannot and do not. You will see God in amazing ways. Fear is removed because of love for the One you are walking with, and because of the love of the adventure and those incredible God-moments.

Today is the day we are leaving to be on our boat, it is finally here! This story is His, and I can’t wait for the next chapter!

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6



Selling the ‘American Dream’ to Travel with Three Small Children

Selling the ‘American Dream’ to Travel with Three Small Children

Just nine months ago my husband and I were relaxing on the couch together watching a movie. The kids were in bed and I was in my third trimester of pregnancy. As the movie ended, we began having a conversation that would change everything.

“What if?”

Those two little words started questions in our minds like, What if we lived life to the fullest? What if we weren’t afraid? What if we did something different? What if we jumped out of our comfort zones? What if we could alter the course of our life? What would that look like? Something sparked in both our hearts that evening and the flames only grew from that day on. We started talking every night, emailing each other our thoughts every day like best friends passing notes during math class. What if…? In the evenings we would talk like lovers planning a romantic, secret elope. Our questions circled around travel, adventure, different countries and what the Lord could have in it for us.

What if we sold everything and left, where would we go?

What if we traveled as a family, how would we make that work?

How would we pay for our expenses?

Do we want to travel the United States or abroad?

These were questions heavy with excitement and adventure. We were planning something so unorthodox, so wild, we often told ourselves that we should just forget the whole thing and be happy with the “American Dream,” something, it seems, we had attained at only thirty years old.

We had a paid for house in a country neighborhood on two acres, plus another house we rented out in the city, three beautiful children, good income and a rich church life with friends and family all thirty minutes away or less. We had seen the Lord work and move in our lives the past few years and seen wonderful growth in Him. Plus we had three small daughters, a five year old, two year old and another beautiful baby girl born in March 2016. So why were we thinking of selling everything, moving away from everyone we knew to go to foreign places with challenges and unknowns? And we weren’t even sure what we were going to find once we got there or why the Lord might be leading us there. So many times we asked ourselves why we felt pulled to leave everything behind, only to come to the conclusion that God must be putting this on our hearts. It must simply be Him.

And now, nine months later, I have to say again that it must be Him, because in less than nine months we have sold our rental property, we are in the process of selling the house we are currently in, and we are now in the owners of a 1974 47′ Olympic Adventurer sailboat half way across the country. In all that time the desire to be on the water has only grown, something we have never pursued before.

This is the beginning of our journey. In two weeks we will take a nearly month long vacation to be on our boat and sail down the east coast of the United States. We don’t know how far we will get or where we will end up. We might not get very far at all. We don’t know who we will meet or what we will do there. But we are going. We are leaving behind many tangible treasures for treasures unknown. And we can’t wait to see what we will find!


Chasing the whales,

Sailing the blue,

Find me a captain

And sign me a crew.

Captain and crew,

Captain and crew,

Take me, oh take me

To anywhere new!

“Needles and Pins” by Shel Silverstein