Home Sweet Charleston Home

Staying in South Carolina

“Do you think we will be ready to go by January?”


If you have been following our blog long, you know our boat buying process was less than ideal and that we didn’t officially move onboard until July–almost three months after our original plan.  We were driving to church a week ago Sunday morning, talking about our boat and plans to sail away, both feeling slightly overwhelmed when TJ looked at me and asked, “Do you think we will be ready to leave by January?”  I shook my head and told him no, we are far from ready to shove off the dock at Saint John’s Yacht Harbor for good.

Our marina is pictured above; although most slips are full now.

It took us several weeks of talking about all we have left to do on the boat and all the things we have coming up in 2017 for us to really make the decision that we will not be ready to leave by January.  Deciding not to sail away at the end of 2016/beginning of 2017 was very difficult for us.  We want to explore; to sail away and have family adventures, but we will not go if we cannot do it as safely and prepared as possible.  Safety and preparedness are the most important factors for releasing the lines and sailing away; right now we are not fully prepared, which could greatly impact our safety.


While Te Whakapono didn’t need much in order to be able to sail (fixing the forestay was the biggest issue we had to handle in Florida), there are many things we would like to do before we really do some blue water cruising.  Here is just a snippet of our list, as I know I’m forgetting somethings:

  1. Install solar panels
  2. Purchase generator
  3. Fix dinghy motor
  4. Update head 
  5. Install lifeline netting
  6. Install and make AIS work
  7. Replace lines
  8. Fix the small split in our starboard keel
  9. Repaint bottom
  10. Train dogs to use grass potty patch (this has been an incredible pain)

Most of the items on this list take money, all of them take time and patience.  When we ended up purchasing a catamaran that was already capable of sailing…unlike that Beneteau in Charleston…it was more expensive up front.  It was a trade off.  Pay more up front and slow down on updates or pay less up front and put more time and money into updates and repairs.  We, clearly, settled on more money upfront since TJ’s work schedule isn’t the greatest for allowing us time to do repairs and updates.  We really hoped by purchasing a boat that was already in really good condition for her age, we would be able to make the updates and repairs quickly and still be able to sail away at the end of this year.  However, I think we both knew that when we didn’t get Te Whakapono into Charleston until the end of July, sailing away at the end of the year wasn’t going to happen.


While some of the items on our “to update” list directly impact safety (AIS, lifeline netting) other safety factors are at play.  At this point I cannot dock our boat; TJ always does it and does a great job.  The current rips through our marina on an angle, so I often get too scared to even try; especially because we have to back into our slip since our boat is longer than the finger pier and the only way on is the sugar scoop at the stern.  (the sugar scoop is the step Vivienne is standing in front of in her school photo.)


Another serious safety issue at play, is that I am still not comfortable sailing Te Whakapono single handed.  While I am growing in my sailing and navigation confidence each time we take her out, if something were to happen to TJ while out on the big water, I don’t feel comfortable enough to sail alone at this point; especially with a toddler.  While we always planned to have someone crew with us when we do big passages, you can never be too prepared and right now I am very ill prepared to sail alone for long passages.  I need more time at the helm and help with my docking skills before I feel confident enough to tackle longer passages.


TJ and I have FOUR weddings to attend in 2017 so far, all for people who we care deeply about.  My “adopted” brother (he lived down the street and I grew up running between his house and mine because his brother is my age) and my sister are on that list.  Larissa is my baby sister and I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun festivities leading up to her wedding in October 2017.  She was only 18 when I got married and 21 when I had Vivienne (we are almost seven years apart) so I am excited to be there for all the “grown up” things she gets to do while preparing for her wedding.  My sisters and I are very close, so missing out on anything regarding her wedding would’ve been really hard for me.

img_7384My sister and her fiancé getting engaged on the Ohio State University football field

Aside from all the aforementioned reasons as to why we aren’t going to be ready to shove off the dock at the end of December, this way Vivienne gets to be in her dance recital in the spring and have that “typical” US childhood experience.  Once we get to sailing we may get the opportunity to enroll her in dance classes at a different place, but at least this way this former-dancer-now-dance-mom can watch Vivienne have at least one dance recital.  Vivienne is also enrolled in a Spanish immersion preschool two days each week so she can become fluent in Spanish from an early age.  I’m glad she will get one full school year of Spanish and another fall semester of it before we head off.  Hopefully we will be able to keep up with it through online programs for her once we leave.  Next fall we will also supplement Spanish immersion with a thrice weekly English preschool program.   I’m not too keen on homeschooling so we will be enrolling her in school wherever the Lord leads when the time comes.  We also have a church we really enjoy on John’s Island–St. John’s Parish Anglican Church–and I am not ready to pry myself away from its teachings and family feel.

So, our adventures for the next year will only be short jaunts along the Eastern seaboard and Florida but it is all for safety and learning purposes.

Te Whakapono,
The McKelveys 

~~All things are possible for those who believe. Mark 9:23~~

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