I began this blog back in August of 2020, so I figured it may be time to reintroduce ourselves- We are the crew of the Sailing Vessel Zayna Vnnette!
Captain: This is our incredible, funny, wise, and handsome captain – Austin. Austin was born in WA and comes from a long line of sailors. He made it a goal to sail around the world by the time he hit 30 and leads the crew with his passion and drive. We are all lucky to be part of the team making this incredible dream a reality.
Funfact: To work towards his goals and hone his skills, Austin got his captain’s license early and began captaining charter boats around Maui. At 24 he became the youngest Captain at the second windiest harbor in the world! (Maalaea Harbor)
FirstMate: This is me! Also known as Chelsea/The Maiden Sailor. As you might have figured out by now, I started this journey knowing absolutely nothing about boats or sailing. The first boat I ever stepped foot on is the boat we currently live on (feel free to check out the whole story here). I’ve always dreamed of traveling the world and after meeting Austin I figured out how I was going to do it. If you had told me 5 years ago I would be where I am today – I would’ve said you were nuts. I started this blog to inspire people to go out and do the crazy things they never dreamed possible for themselves. If I can do it – anyone can.
Crew: Tuna! Tuna is the youngest member of the crew, turning 2 this September. She was brought onboard at 2 months old and has been sailing with SVZV ever since. As an official boat cat, she has taken on many important responsibilities. She has tested every potential napping spot on board, monitors all crew projects, and has pointed out (but never actually killed) every creepy crawler on the boat. Her favorite activities include fishing, watching boats go by, and lounging in the sunshine.
Moving onto a 43’ sailboat has made one thing painfully clear: I have a procrastination problem. Looking back, I’ve had this problem my whole life. Even when I was a little kid, I can remember waiting to clean my room until my mom got mad at me and I absolutely HAD to. In middle school I would spend my recess frantically trying to finish my homework before class started. I even convinced myself that I work best under pressure, so waiting until the last minute to start a project would benefit me.
It hadn’t been a big issue before moving onto SVZV because I’ve always managed to get everything done. And that’s all that matters, right? Wrong. Two people and a cat living in a small space requires almost constant upkeep, plus the regular maintenance that a boat requires. I found that after a while, Austin and I were stuck. We weren’t accomplishing anything, the boat was always a mess inside and out, and it was an ongoing struggle even though we were doing the bare minimum. It finally got to a point where I had to take a step back and really figure out what was going wrong. This is what I found:
When I’m not on top of my day-to-day responsibilities, they pile up. A mountain of tasks is overwhelming. When I am overwhelmed nothing gets done. When nothing gets done, I get stressed out. Being stressed out drains my energy so I do something fun to replenish it. Repeat.
That’s when it hit me- I’m not stressed out because there is all that much to get done, I’m stressed out because I’m not doing it. Procrastinating worked when I lived on land, but it just wasn’t conducive to living on a boat. No one said life on a boat would be easy. In fact, they said the opposite.
The most important thing I began working on was changing my mindset.
Instead of being upset that it requires so much upkeep and maintenance to live on a sailboat, I think of how lucky I am to call SVZV my home and keep her clean and running well. Instead of getting frustrated I have to do the dishes, I think of how grateful I am that we have food and fresh water to wash our plates. In one small task I can show this boat and the people in it I’m grateful for them.
Now that I had the will to stop procrastinating, I had to put my newfound motivation to good use.
My new motto is: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”
In general, I take care of the interior, make sure the cockpit is tidy, make the grocery lists/do the cooking, handle paperwork, and help with various boat tasks when needed (ex: cleaning the bottom). Now, any time I say to myself, or out loud, “I’ll do it later” I get up and do it. Even if it requires taking a quick break from work. Even if I’m tired, even if I don’t feel like it, I do it (ok like, 75% of the time). Holy smokes. It has worked wonders.
I’m obviously late to this party, but, who knew how much easier it is to keep a home clean when you’re working at it constantly?! No mounting piles of tasks to overwhelm me. Just small, quick ones. We are getting more accomplished around the boat and we are able to focus on longterm goals.
It hasn’t just helped with life on SVZV, I am overall transforming into a more productive person. When I receive a text or a call, I respond asap. If I realize I need to pay a bill, I go online and get it done. If I remember I needed something at the store, I stop and grab it on my way to the boat ramp. All of these small things add up and after a few weeks I am already feeling the benefits.
Now that I actually use our galley, Austin and I are eating healthier and not spending as much money eating out. Now that the boat is usually tidy, it’s always a joy to come back to. These small details help SVZV feel more like our home, not just a floating house.
Overcoming the urge to procrastinate has also given me the time to start (and actually finish!) way more projects than ever before. I bought a handheld sewing machine and began making covers for our wenches and the dingy motor. I started a new writing project. I have had more time to catch up with friends and family. I started doing yoga in the morning.
When Austin and I started talking about buying SVZV, the first thing I did was google sailboat interiors. I had been aboard SVZV once before but I didn’t have a clear memory of anything below deck and I wanted to get an idea of what my living situation would be like. Currently, after 8 months aboard SVZV, I still browse boat interiors regularly. I love seeing how each person organizes their space and makes it their own.
With that in mind, I figured I should give you guys a tour of our interior! Most of the excitement happens above deck, but below deck is what makes SVZV feel like home.
When I first started looking at boat interiors, I remember finding it difficult trying to orient myself during a walkthrough of someone’s boat. I would lose track of where the companion way was, if the galley was located on the port or starboard side, if the cabin I was looking at was located forward or aft of the boat. It’s easy to forget how foreign everything felt when I was first introduced to boating.
For any of you who are in similar shoes as I once found myself in, hopefully this makes it a bit easier to follow! I am going to start above deck in the cockpit (rear of boat), go into the lounge/galley(living area/ kitchen), walk towards the bow of the boat and show you the head(bathroom) on the starboard side of the boat (right side, when facing bow), then show you the main cabin.
Our cockpit is a very popular spot on SVZV. Besides having the steering wheel and swim platform, it has cushioned seats with an ample amount of shade and plenty of opportunity to create more. We usually have the hatches to the companionway open to let in fresh air, light, and give Tuna access to the deck.
This is the view of our galley and lounge as entering from the companion way. One of my favorite, and sometimes least favorite, things about our lounge is the amount of light it gets. It opens up the space and creates positive energy. It also bakes the lounge if you don’t alternate which curtains you have open throughout the day. In the picture above I have the hatch to the companionway open and 2/5 curtains open in the lounge.
Another awesome feature of this boat is it has tons of storage. In addition to the storage above the seating area, there are also two storage cubbies behind the cushions and two small drawers located on the side of the table. The boat also came with built in speakers above and below deck. This spot is my favorite for getting cozy and watching a movie.
The Nav Table houses the power switches to most of the lights/functions on SVZV. It also is home to the radio (both the VHF radio and the radio we use for music) and a meter that displays our battery charge. It’s called the “navigation table” because the table opens up to a small storage area, where you keep charts on a long journey and navigate your passage. Right now its mainly used for storage. The three small cubbies in the back have essentially become our “junk drawer”. It also just so happened to be the perfect corner to add a touch of personalization to.
Our galley has all the features of a “regular” kitchen. It has (in order from left to right) a pantry, an oven/stove, a sink (pumps both fresh water and salt water), and a refrigerator. We have tons of storage space and have many cabinets that are empty.
Our galley does an excellent job of providing the maximum amount of counter space possible. The sink covers double as cutting boards and the lid to the refrigerator turns into counter space when closed. The stove has two burners, which I find is perfect for making meals for two.
4. Forward Head
Marine heads are interesting. You manually pump a lever to flush and the contents either run off of the boat or into a holding tank. The #1 rule of using a marine head is, “do not throw toilet paper down the toilet”. We actually have a sign taped to the wall with directions for guests, and that rule is at the top, bolded, in a large font. Any thing flushed can clog the macerator or the hoses running to it and if it is set to flush overboard even more reason not to flush dirty tp out. The room is completely waterproof and designed so you can shower. We have a larger head in the main cabin which provides more space for showering.
5. Forward Cabin
The main cabin is incredible. It has a custom made memory foam mattress, and it’s honestly one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. We have two hatches directly above the bed, so the room cools down nicely at night whenever there is a breeze. I also get to fall asleep looking at the stars, every night. Like the lounge, the main cabin has a lot of extra storage. We haven’t established concrete uses for most of it yet. Currently, the ledges under the windows are primarily used as lounging spots for Tuna.
This corner of the room is where I get ready. I keep all of my makeup and after shower items in this cabinet and get ready in the mirror. It’s right under a hatch and next to a window, so it usually provides the perfect lighting.
That is the end of my grand tour! Although it doesn’t seem like a 43′ sailboat would provide a lot of space but I have found it is actually more than enough for two people, and a cat, to live comfortably. Let me know if there is anything I missed or you’re curious about.
Bonus: Tunas Cabin
Tunas cabin is the starboard aft cabin. We use a large tub liter box with a lid, and put it on the floor. We chose this setup in an effort to prevent spillage when the boat gets rocky. Weather we are underway or tied to the mooring, the boat gets rocky and things spill. There are also two windows in the cabin and the door is right next to the companionway, so the circulation of fresh air helps with the smell.
We keep her food and water on a nonslip mat to prevent it from sliding around throughout the day. So far this set up has worked very well. Keeping her food elevated also helps keep her eating environment clean, despite being in the room with her liter box.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
This trip was my and Austins second overnight excursion we took just for ourselves. No guests, nothing to worry about, infinite amounts of fun and adventure to be had. We started the morning by going into the harbor washing down the boat and filling up the water tanks. Then we went to grab supplies. By the time we arrived back to SVZV I was sweating and itching to set sail on our newly polished boat.
Since we got a later start to the day, we motored up to Honolua Bay. With the wind and current, motoring was definitely our fastest option. Motoring is fun for me, because it’s fairly straight forward. Point the boat in the direction of your destination and don’t hit anything. Austin took us out of the mooring field and into The Bay and I was responsible for the stretch between that. While I was at the helm Austin set up a fishing pole and tried to catch us some dinner. The fish were onto us that afternoon and we weren’t able to bring any in.
When we arrived at the bay I was overjoyed to discover that we were the only boat there. We had one of the most beautiful spots in the world all to ourselves. To say I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for this island and whatever forces brought Austin and SVZV into my life would be an understatement.
We anchored SVZV and stern tied her in a spot close to the rocks and reef that was shaded by the tall cliffs surrounding us. After dropping anchor, it was my job to swim out, locate the mooring, dive down ~15ft to grab the chain, and attach our stern line to the mooring. After a few attempts and a handful of curse words later, the boat was secured. As someone with no free diving experience, 15ft was a proud accomplishment for me.
Our first order of duty was kayaking around the crystal clear waters surrounding us. And if any of you know Austin, you will not be surprised that he immediately paddled us towards the waves and had us surf the kayak down a handful of them. We finally caught a decent (well, decent for my standards) sized wave and “rode it down the line”… whatever that means. It was so fun! After our kayaking adventure we had a fantastic steak dinner and enjoyed the rain and the cold of the bay.
The next morning I woke up to the sunrise. As I sat in the cockpit snuggled in warm clothes, Tuna sleeping on my chest, listening to the sprinkle of rain bouncing off the dodger, I was, yet again, overwhelmed. I swear there hasn’t yet been a moment that I am not in awe of my life and how lucky I am. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever “get use” to. And why would I? I never want to take a moment this for granted.
The sail back was a breeze.. pun intended 😉 The wind was blowing hard enough that we only needed to let out half of the head sail and we were cruising at ~7kts. Although I could definitely benefit from the experience, I love it when we don’t have to use the main sail. No need to fuss with any sail covers or try and pretend I’m not using all of my might to hoist the sail. Even with just the head sail out, I did get to practice tacking/jibing and I’m proud to say I need less direction every time we do it. After an amazing trip I can’t wait to go out again!