Home Sweet Home

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After six months of a relentless Chicago winter that I’m not convinced is gone for good, s/v Clarity is finally back home, bobbing away in Chicago’s 31st Street Harbor. And with her audible sigh of peace (I swear I heard it!) came the rewarding task of making her truly our second home for the next six months.

Aaron spent multiple weekends in the yard the last two months digging away at the endless punch list of boat projects (a list that never disappears, just changes) – having hatches (windows) that don’t leak when it rains is a nice perk, for example – and was able to sail Clarity from Skyway Yacht Works to our harbor a couple of weeks ago. Once she was tied off, I took over, cleaning out the winter grime from top to bottom, in every nook and cranny, so that I felt at ease when Claire inevitably ate Cheerios off the floor or hid her animals in one of the storage bins underneath the setee.

Then, it was a matter of transferring in clothes for the three of us that could accommodate a temperature fluctuation of 50 degrees (we’ve worn fleeces and sweats one night with space heaters running, only to be sweating in tank tops the next). And setting up Claire’s room, of course. We currently have her in the roomier V-berth at the front (or bow) of the boat while Aaron and I contend with limited overhead space in the aft cabin. But the setup allows us to use the galley and the head (bathroom) without disturbing her while she’s sleeping.

I wasn’t sure if Claire would still fit in the Phil & Ted’s travel crib we used last year, which allowed us to secure her safely from all sides both at dock and at sea – but it looks like we’ll be able to get at least a few months more out of it before crafting another solution. Of course, no toddler cabin is complete without toys, stuffed animals and Sandra Boynton’s The Going to Bed Book, all about a gaggle of animals’ nighttime routine before falling asleep at sea.

And then there was the initial provisioning for meals and endless snack demands (from both Claire and Aaron). This is not only about making sure you have the right food but also making sure you store it appropriately. For example, getting rid of as much cardboard packaging as possible is key, as the boat is by nature a moist environment. The fridge is deep and top-loading, so repacking items in stackable Tupperware makes it easier to get to what you need quickly while underway. This year, we’ve added an item to our repertoire – a Keurig. Oh, the difficult life we lead…

Still, the true test of whether or not we’re ready will be the first couple of weeks at the boat. After all, Claire was just a little more than a year old at the start of the season last year – walking, but not running, climbing, but not so dangerously, and with a small vocabulary consisting mostly of animal noises. She is a completely different crew member now – bursting with energy, determined to do anything and everything, and a chatterbox that won’t hesitate to tell you what she wants.

I can’t wait to see what this season will bring. And to chronicle it here.

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