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  • Katharine Hesmer

Anddd . . . THEY'RE OFF!

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

I'd like to preface this post with my disclaimer: Ron is the writer in the family. I prefer photography... Proceed with caution (aka skip to the pics😜), and keep your fingers crossed that one day soon you'll see him as the post author. He's a damn good writer.

Seems like we've waited a lifetime to begin this journey. Eight years is hardly a lifetime, but long enough to make you REALLY appreciate launch day when it finally arrives.

Ron and I have said for a long time that when our kids are grown, we'd like to see what it would be like to live on a boat. Over the years we've watched countless YouTube videos of individuals, couples, and families doing just that, and felt like it might be a good fit for us too.

Here are a few of our favorite YouTubers:

After a lot of searching, long-distance trips to visit boats that didn't pan out, and contracts that fell through, we finally stumbled on the floating condo of our dreams . . . KORKZcrew, named after Ron's company KORKZ and for our tendency to consume wine as if it were water. Not me of course. I'm just an innocent bystander.

KORKZcrew is a 37' Great Harbour Trawler. Built in 2008, it's in amazingly good shape, but still needed a lot of work over the summer. We've had a lot of help and encouragement during this process, from my cousin Paul Chipley who was always happy to help, to my brother-in-law Taylor who is an absolute whiz with all things electronic, to countless other amazing friends and family who've made heroic efforts to see us to this day. We've just been truly blown away by all of the encouragement and support. I will also add what will be obvious to many, and that is — no Ron, no boat trip. I must be living right to have landed with someone with decades of boating experience and lots of natural talent for fixing literally ANYTHING himself. I can count on about two fingers how many professionals we've had to hire to tackle some pretty complicated and demanding boat projects because Ron is not only willing, but also incredibly competent at tackling jobs of all sizes and descriptions. I guess now the only thing I have to worry about is making sure he doesn't fall off the back of the boat. I'd be up Schitt's Creek for SURE.

DAY ONE | December 14, 2021

Our goal has always been to set our departure date for the day Skeet finished his final freshman year exams at Cape Fear Community College. He was done and home by 12:30 today, and we were on our way by 1:15.

The only slight challenge involved in leaving the dock was reconnecting the dinghy to the trawler. The dinghy has to be pulled behind the boat for this journey, and since we park at our dock with the stern up against the floating dock, we had to first untie all of the lines, pull out of the slip, and get the dinghy to the boat using a paddle. (The dinghy motor was already mounted on the trawler's rear railing which makes towing the dinghy much easier, and protects the motor from the elements.) Greta was the lucky (!) one put in charge of that task.

We live just north of the Figure 8 Island bridge. The first item of business was to radio the bridge tender and check their clearance (we need at least 18’). We had plenty of room to fit underneath it so didn't have to wait for an opening. It was also low tide which helped our cause immensely. We made a beeline for the Wrightsville Beach bridge, which only opens at the top of the hour, and made it there around 1:50, with 10 minutes - and several feet to spare. Again thanks to low tide, we slipped right underneath it without having to wait.

Our boat is a cheerful little bathtub with a lot of personality, but severely lacking in the speed department. My favorite story about our boat's notoriously snail-like pace comes from our daughter Whitney. When we took her for her first ride in September, her only questions were "Is this as fast as it goes?" and "Did you know that when you bought it?" Haha! She's a smart cookie, and the answer to both was YES. She responded "oh, I can tell we're moving when I look behind us. Just not so much when I look straight ahead." Thank goodness it's all about the journey. We kind of don't have a choice and yet I wouldn't have it any other way.

After Wrightsville Beach, we turned right at Carolina Beach to follow the ICW through Snow's Cut and into the Cape Fear River. We finally made it to Southport around 5:30 — a 4-hour journey, which is a one-hour trip by car. But gosh it was beautiful. We saw the Old Baldy lighthouse way in the distance, and passed the BHI Ferry on its way back to Deep Point Marina. Anchored at sunset just beyond Southport, and made my way to the galley to make our first dinner on board.

One truly unusual thing about a boat under 40' is that the Great Harbour N37 comes with a full-size refrigerator. That's a big deal, and hard to believe a boat this size can accommodate a side-by-side fridge and freezer. I guess the roomy galley is the tradeoff for only one full-size bedroom and one tiny bathroom, but that's what you learn when you embark on a boat hunt. You have your "checklist" of desired features, just like house hunting, and some things fall within your budget and some things just don't. We had ideally wanted a 2-bedroom, 2-bath boat under 40' that didn't draw much water so that we could take it in more shallow areas, including our favorite Wilmington haunt of Rich's Inlet. The major appeal of the Great Harbour aside from the normal-size fridge is its ample storage and easily accessible engine room. It is so well-designed it's hard to explain — but be glad I can't because you'd be nodding off right about now.

For the past two months or so we've been working on making meals we can freeze and use as needed. The game-changer purchase I made that's been instrumental in packing the fridge was a FoodSaver vacuum sealer, and now I can't stop vacuum sealing. OR talking about it. Christine, this is all. your. fault 😜!! The freezer was already full before I bought the sealer, and then when I went back and vacuum sealed everything that I could, it opened up enough space to store more meat and most importantly, my stash of tater tots 😂. ( I was not leaving Wilmington until I'd made room for tater tots, and if you don't think I'm serious, just ask my friends about my french fry obsession. It's not pretty.)

Honestly wish I'd known about vacuum sealers years ago. They just make so much SENSE. (See?! I'm still talking about it. Skip to the pics. Don't say I didn't warn you.) They save room of course, but they also make your food last so much longer. And the cool thing is you can use it for things like chips to vacuum out at least some of the air AND reseal the existing chip bag. It's a Christmas miracle!! I've told Ron my newfound vacuum sealer addiction is much like a man with a pressure washer. I'm vacuum sealing everything in sight. It's frankly kind of sad that this excites me so much. Maybe I should channel this energy into a Vacuum Sealer Ted Talk. I'm sure the attendance would be through the roof. Here's an example of a vacuum-sealer DON'T. DON'T leave the vacuum button on so long that it turns your 4" cake into a 2" pancake. 😜

Dinner tonight was sliders and . . . well, tater tots! What else?! It was pretty darn good too. Didn't score very high on the healthy scale but it felt like a night for celebrating so we did. With calories. AND wine.

Ended the day with some YouTube sailing videos in our cozy little pilot house. This is where Greta sleeps — on a bed that during the day becomes an L-shaped seating area with a table. Skeet sleeps in what I call the half bedroom. It's tiny but just right for him. Steve sleeps anywhere anyone is sleeping, and that's usually with us. He is part human for sure, and the best darn companion. Aren't they all.

Day one, in the books! Night night everyone! Night night, vacuum sealer!🥰

4 hours underway; 27 nautical miles traveled

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