To my mother who not only gave me life but gave up hers for mine
To the person that lifted me up for 26 years
To the one that caught me when I fell
I’m bringing you with me one way or another because this is not my, but our story to tell
Some of you might be wondering what SVZV stands for. I only use her initials purposely, because to introduce her name without telling the story behind it wouldn’t feel right. SVZV stands for Sailing Vessel Zayna Vnnette. Zayna Vnnette is my mother’s name.
For those who have lost a loved one, you know that there is nothing I can say to adequately describe the pain. The all consuming darkness that eats you from the inside out and rears its ugly head every time there’s silence. The physical discomfort of every heart beat. The dreams where you can still feel their embrace. The pit in your throat blocking your breath every time you see something beautiful, hear something funny, or have a story to tell and the one person you want to share it with is gone. Forever.
Dying of cancer is a painful and ugly ordeal. My mother fought every day to stay on this Earth until she knew her family would be ok. She not only waited until I had officially moved in with my family, she waited until my two aunts and grandmother were on island to support us. More than that, I think my mom had a vision for my life that I wasn’t able to see. She knew by bringing me to Maui I would be supported and loved in a way I never imagined. She knew that the opportunities and adventures that waited for me here would give me the strength to not only survive, but thrive. She believed in the community she loved to love us when she no longer could.
I remember sitting in my moms hospital room after they shut off life support. Only my grandma and aunt stayed. She had been gone for about 10 minutes when my aunt asked me if I wanted to leave. Shakily, I was able to whisper, “ Not yet. This is the last time I’m going to see her.” I was right in the respect that I would never and will never see her physical form again. But I could not have been more wrong in the grand scheme of life. I see my mother more now than I ever did when she was alive. I see her in every sunset, every dolphin, every picture of me, my sister, or my step father I see. She is more a part of me now than I ever recognized when she was with me. I feel her warmth and love radiating from inside of me. Every smile, she is smiling with me. Every tear, she cries too. Because what am I but the DNA of the one who created me? I carry her with me. Always.
Had I not been at Longs Drugstore the day after I moved to Maui, picking up medicine for my mom.. I wouldn’t have met Austin. Had I not met Austin and fallen in love, we wouldn’t have this boat. Furthermore, had my mom not created me, I wouldn’t have this life.
I never made enough money to take my mom on her dream trip to Paris before she died, so it’s my honor to take her around the world with me now.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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