The One With The Big Fall Decision

It seems way too cliche to begin this post by acknowledging that life is full of big decisions. However, I think it’s unavoidable and inevitable that I mention it. That said, recently we found ourselves quickly approaching a deadline where we needed to make a really big decision.

Where should Light & Salty spend the Fall?

This might seem like a pretty simple question. And admittedly, a question that should have had an answer well in advance of Starbucks releasing their Pumpkin Spice Latte for the season. But, alas, as the back to school photos started appearing on social media, we still didn’t have an answer.

Most people assumed we were being coy when the topic came up and we shrugged our shoulders. Outwardly, I played it cool. But inside, this Type A girl was dying to have a plan. To be clear, it wasn’t as if we’d never considered the fall. There just wasn’t a front-runner, best option.

We debated. We prayed. Other boaters weighed in. The kids voiced their opinions. I drew out a pro/con chart. Everytime I leaned one way, Brent felt exactly the opposite. Then I would concede to Brent’s plan, only to have him say he wasn’t sure.

Decisions are hard.

To understand our predicament, I need to share several details. First, we made arrangements to stay in Hilton Head for the summer. June, July and August. (All the details in my last post. Go check it out HERE if you missed it.) Guess when I made those arrangements? February. Yes, February. Popular marinas fill up quickly. Heck, these days even less desirable marinas are full.

Secondly, hurricane season is no joke. Per our boat insurance, we can’t have Light & Salty in Florida. However, moving it around anywhere else is fair game. That said, it’s our home and we want to protect it.

Finally, as with everything else in life, Covid is creating a fluid work situation for Brent. One minute he’s in Charlotte throwing a welcome back party at his office. And the next minute, he’s not allowed to be there. His company does their best to communicate safety plans, but those plans are written in very light pencil.

Early in the summer we came up with several options for our fall. The choices were all over the map, literally. From Brunswick, GA to Baltimore, MD we weighed our options.

For those interested in the very complex decision, here’s a little glimpse into our thought process. These were our top contending locations:

Baltimore, MD: A Looper friend put this spot on our radar early in the summer. The biggest advantage of this location was its protection from hurricanes. Not only that, the marina has a lot to offer including a close proximity to downtown, excellent security, and a pool. And, to make it extra enticing, a large group of Loop friends also spending the fall there.

Baltimore’s obvious disadvantage is the distance we’d need to travel to get there (and back south!) The location would also be the furthest drive, by car, for Brent to go to Charlotte.

Hilton Head Island, SC: Convenience made HHI a popular vote for all of us. Not only that, but we’ve found a church we love here. No logistics needed to be involved with moving our car or acclimating to a new area.

The downside meant we wouldn’t get to explore a new city, and HHI isn’t the most protected spot for our boat to be during hurricane season. Oh, and every marina on the island was full.

Charleston, SC: This was the front runner destination for quite a while. It checked almost every box of priorities. Brent and I were both really excited to explore Charleston more. There really were no negatives where Charleston was concerned.

Brunswick, GA: The biggest advantages to Brunswick is that it is the furthest point south we can have our boat before November 1. It’s also a very protected marina, considered a “hurricane hole” in the boating community. And it’s very affordable.

Admittedly, I couldn’t get past the “been there, done that” mentality. We spent much of the Spring of 2020 in Brunswick as we prepared to do our Loop.

A Safe Spot, NC or SC Coast: We spent quite a bit of time looking for the safest spot to leave our boat on the NC or SC coast. This was not intended to be a desirable place for us to live, but more of a storage option. We considered leaving our boat for 2 months and traveling to visit family and friends.

As you can probably tell, we had lots of great options! On any given day, we were definitely going to pick one of the above places for Light & Salty to spend the fall.

By mid-August, we secured 2 tentative reservations. One in Charleston, and another in a safe spot on the ICW behind Myrtle Beach. But a few things happened to make us reconsider.

First, Miller shared that he was ready to move off of our boat. When we pressed him on why, he let us know that he “missed baseball more than anything in the world.” In his mind, moving off the boat meant he could be part of a team again.

Secondly, Mary Grace asked if we could still attend church and youth group in HHI if we moved the boat to Charleston. She said she didn’t mind the drive (keep in mind, she’s 14 so NOT driving herself anywhere yet!) She also reasoned that this commute to church would give us the opportunity to still check out books at the HHI library.

At this point, the decision seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But we had one major problem, we didn’t have a spot at a marina!

The very last week of August I did two things: register Miller for baseball and text everyone I knew with connections to Hilton Head. Yes, I actually signed Miller up for baseball before confirming that we’d have a place to stay. But I was completely confident that it would somehow work out.

With just a couple of days left in the month, Brent finally threw up a Hail Mary. He called the marina with a massive waiting list and begged them to find us a spot. Turns out, someone had called right before Brent and cancelled a reservation. The spot isn’t completely ideal for our boat, but we said we’d make anything work!

And with that, our fall plan for Light & Salty finally took root.

Ironically, there were still a few logistics to work out. We needed to be out of our marina spot in Harbour Town on the last day of August, but our new spot wasn’t available until September 1st. This meant anchoring one night in between. We also needed to move our car across the island.

I ended up driving it, while Brent and the kids moved the boat. They anchored Light & Salty and then came and picked me up on the dinghy.

Looking back, I’m actually glad we didn’t know how our fall would work out. I can honestly say we appreciated every single second of our dream summer on Hilton Head. Knowing we were staying for a bit longer might have caused us to take it for granted. Now we’re into a new season where we are TRULY doing life here on HHI.

As always, thanks for following along on our crazy adventures! And, in case you’re worried, yes we do have winter plans for Light & Salty.

You might also enjoy reading:

I Don’t Homeschool For My Kids’ Safety

52 Weeks of Learning To Cook Fish

The One Where We Cross Our Wake

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  1. Monica Simpson on October 8, 2021 at 2:57 am

    Your life on this boat sounds like such an incredible adventure. I have never been to Hilton Head Island but have heard great things about it.

    • momwithamap on October 8, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Adventure of a lifetime, for sure. And you have to try to come to HHI sometime- it’s our family’s favorite vacation spot!

  2. Ashley t on October 8, 2021 at 3:24 am

    Hilton Head is one of my moms favorite vacation spots. What an amazing place.

    • momwithamap on October 8, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      It really is a beautiful island!

  3. Gervin Khan on October 8, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    I have never been to Hilton Head, but that sounds like a great place, and I like your boat adventure with your family.

  4. Fatima T on October 8, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    I can imagine the stress of not knowing where to anchor. Living in South Florida, so many of our friends have boats. It’s interesting how you make things work for you and your family on your boat.

  5. Marysa on October 9, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    It is definitely a big decision. Sounds like you have really done your research. It is good to weigh everything and come up with the best spot for winter.

  6. Kyana Miner on October 10, 2021 at 6:57 am

    Wow! What an adventure. I love how you detail the story here! I love Hilton ahead. I use to live in Georgia and we would go there a lot.

  7. vidya on October 11, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    Loved this post.. gave me so much insight into life on (and with) a boat… I have read about HHI before and definitely want to visit the area sometime

  8. Danielle on October 12, 2021 at 6:13 pm

    This would be a great adventure!

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