Monday, August 27, 2012

Living Aboard

It's been a couple of months since we arrived and settled in Kingston. Our blog has been quiet since then, mainly because we have been working and getting accustomed to our new surroundings.

When we moved here, we made the decision to live on the boat for the summer and nor worry about finding an apartment until fall. So, for the past two months, our address has been the Collins Bay Marina.

Living on the boat hasn't really been a big stretch for us since we have spent most of our time on the boat for the past couple of summer's anyway. However, it's always been interspersed with stretches in our house. Although we've worked on board in the past, we would generally try to focus our work time on those stretches when we were home. But not this year. It's full time on the boat.

So what's it like living on the boat?  Pretty much the same as living on land. The only difference is that  we have to walk up to a building to take a shower first thing in the morning. Other than that, it's the same thing.

Michelle has an office down town, so I normally drive her in every morning. 15 mins each way. Then I come back to the boat and try get to work.  I'll often tackle a little job on the boat if there's something to fix at some point during the day, but mostly it's just work.  Later in the evening I have to pick her up again.

Living and working in a tiny space has not been too difficult. Every once and a while I feel a bit cramped, so I move off to a coffee shop to work for a few hours. But other than that, I don't mind the small space.

There are certainly some advantages, particularly when it's time for cleaning. It only takes about 10 minutes to clean the inside of the boat instead of the couple of hours that the house took. And it's easy to pack up and head out for a weekend - all we have to do is slip the lines from the dock and we're off.

One of the compromises we have to make is in the galley. Instead of a large kitchen with lots of counter space, we have a very small galley and extremely limited prep space. This means that meals have to be a bit simpler than what I might try at home, although I still manage to make homemade pizza regularly. Also, the small refrigerator means we don't normally buy groceries very far in advance, so we make a trip to the grocery store at least every second day when we're in the marina. If we go out for a few days, we find room for what we need, but our storage is pretty full at that point.

Living onboard also means that we don't have our own washer and dryer, so there is a weekly trip to the laundromat. I had thought that this would be a real pain, but it actually isn't too bad. There is a laundromat just a few minutes drive away, and we can do everything simultaneously, so we're in and out with our laundry totally done in 90 minutes. And there's even a Tim Hortons next door to grab a coffee to pass the time.

What do I miss from home?  Friends and family mostly. But I find I don't miss all the stuff that we collected over twenty years.  Kind of makes one wonder why we spent all that money on it in the first place.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Water Leaks (or the Battle of the Bilge)

Water has, in some ways, been our nemesis this summer.  Not the water outside the boat, but the water inside the boat.  

The first episode was very early in getting the boat ready for the summer.  The fresh water system in the boat includes a small water heater.  This heater has a dual source to heat the water.  If the engine is running, it steals some of the heat from the engine to heat the water.  If we are plugged in, then it is heated by electricity.  It has a reservoir of only a couple of gallons of hot water, but for two of us, it’s usually plenty for our needs.

To prepare the boat for the winter, one of the tasks is to drain the hot water heater.  To do this, first the water intake to the heater has to be removed to prevent more water from coming into the heater.  Then the drain opened on the bottom of the heater to let out the water that is in the tank.  In spring, the process is reversed to fill it with water again.

Except when I hooked up the heater, I forgot to close the drain.  When I turned on the water, I thought that it was taking quite a while to fill the heater.  Of course it was – whatever I put in the top was just coming out of the bottom again.  So, this oversight dumped quite a load of water into the bilge.  There is a bilge pump, but this is designed to remove water threatening to cause serious problems.  The bilge is composed of a number of compartments that all drain into the lowermost compartment, where the bilge pump is located.  However, they do not drain completely in a case like this – they all retain some water.  And, of course, the hot water heater is almost as far from the bottom bilge as you can get in this boat.  So, we had to open up the floorboards on almost the entire boat and clean the water out every compartment, a tedious process that takes a couple of hours and some unusual contortions to reach all the corners.

Once I finished slapping my head for this foolish oversight, we pressurized the system again and everything worked fine.  At least for a couple of days, until a hose junction popped off at the hot water heater.  The water pump that pressurizes the system is fairly quiet, so it was running for some time before we even heard it.  But with the hose disconnected, again a good quantity of water was dumped into the bilge.  In my defence, this wasn’t one of the connections that I had been using – it was one that worked itself loose over time.  So, this led to a second round of opening up all the floorboards and cleaning the bilges.

Shortly thereafter, we left PEI and were bound for Ontario.  One of the great benefits of this boat is that it has a shower with plenty of room.  We were doing our second overnight passage, and Michelle decided to take a shower.  On a boat, there is a switch panel that runs the various electrical components.  This totally shuts off the power to the various pumps, lights, and outlets, and you only turn on the ones that you want to use.  The drain for the shower is attached to a pump (since it’s below the water line, it can’t just drain naturally).  So, when Michelle took her shower, she turned on the switch for the shower pump.  However, this switch also provides power to the bow washdown – a system which was added to provide water through a nozzle to clean the anchor as it is being pulled up.  One of the connections for the washdown came off and again pumped water into the bilge.  Although this wasn’t quite as far from the centre of the boat as the hot water heater, this was not pumping from the fresh water tanks, but straight from seawater.  So in this case, we not only had to get the water out of the bilge, but because it was seawater, we had to clean out these compartments with fresh water.  Also, one of the compartments it showered is where we store the canvas for the boat, so we had to wash off the canvas with fresh water and put it out to dry.

Now, to dispel the myth that things come in threes, our fourth incident was a couple of days later.  We turned on the water pump, and a few minutes later, Michelle noticed that it was still running even though we weren’t using the water.  Again, a fresh water line had come off.  Again, we had to clean bilge compartments, and again the canvas got wet and had to be dried.  At least this time it was fresh water.

Finally, just a couple of days ago, we noticed that the pump would cycle for a few seconds every couple of minutes even though we weren’t using the water.  This is what happens if there is a small leak somewhere in the system – the drops of water coming out will eventually depressurize the system, and the pump will run for a second or two to re-pressurize the water lines.  So I investigated every connection, and there was no leak.
Finally, I thought that maybe the pump itself was the problem.  The water pump has a one-way valve that keeps water from running backwards through the system.  If this was leaking, the same thing would happen.  So, to test this, I shut off the water supply at the source, drained the input line, and watched.  Sure enough, water was coming backwards through the pump where it shouldn’t have.  So, here was a new project.   After a bit of on-line research on these pumps, I disconnected it and took it apart to look at the seals.  Everything looked all right, but the seals were a bit dirty, so I cleaned them and reassembled the pump.  I then turned it on, re-pressurized the system, and it ran continuously.  It seems that in reassembling the pump, I had adjusted the internal pressure switch to the point that the pump would not stop.  And of course, this was a difficult adjustment to reach where the pump is mounted.

So, it took out the pump again.  On the bottom of the pump are five screws – four of which hold the switch in place and a fifth that adjusts the sensitivity.  All I had to do was loosen the screw a bit to loosen the switch, and when I put it back in, it worked!  

So, after flooding the bilges four times and dismantling a water pump, our water woes are taken care of (knock on wood).

But on the plus side, you’d be hard pressed to find a boat that has cleaner bilges.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Made it to Kingston

Made it to Kingston. 15 days, 7 locks, 4 lift bridges, 975 NM (multiply by 1.9 for km), belugas, whales, seals, thousands of Islands and 3 overnights, 3 days stationary in marinas, 4 provinces, 448 L of diesel (aarrghh wind why didn't you cooperate more), 5 marina slips, 2 countries (you pass through US waters) and 4 bars of Laura Secord chocolate!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Almost There

We anchored last night near Prescott, ontarioo between two islands just as the sun went down last night. Had a peaceful but short sleep as we were underway by 6:15am this morning. Now we are but 10NM from Collins Bay Marina, our berth for the summer. Old Fort Henry is visible as are the buildings of downtown Kingston in the distance.
I must admit to mixed feelings. I am happy we are close to the end of jouney and to be getting settled in a new city. But I am sad our trip is coming to an end. I do so love travelling on the boat.
Today has been warm and sunny with a breeze all day. For the last two hours it has beee 30 to 35 knots on our nose so not quite as pleasant. Yet, a good day to end our trip all in all. The Thousand Islands are beautiful and I look forward to exploring more of them. One adventure ends and another begins....
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

On the Seaway

Today has been an easier day on the water so far. It is almost 5pm and we have managed to put almost another 50 nautical mikes under our keel. We pulled up the anchor and left Salsberry de valleyfield around 6:20am.
I took the wheel for the first hour while Jay made blueberry muffins and coffee. Then I took my muffin and coffee to the bow office. I had a two hour conference call for work at 8am. Neat way to work I must say, watching the world go by through the porthole.
I have managed to get a lot of work done this trip, but wish we had been able to take more time to sightsee. We have been on the water for 15 days including today with only 3 days spent not moving. Two of those days were in Montreal. Unfortunately I was only able to explore the city in the evenings but what a fabulous place, le Vieux Port. We did visit Notre Dame Basilica and also took in Amaluna by Cirque de Soleil. My first Cirque show. It was amazing.
We also met another sailboat heading downriver and exchanged information and charts. It is always helpful to make those connections.
Yesterday we did a lot of waiting at locks. Today we have hardly waited at the two locks we have passed through. The current has varied, but mostly has only been one knot against us. We have passed through the two US locks and are heading towards the final lock we need to transit before entering the Thousand Islands.
We are now back in Canada after a few hours in US waters and in Ontario. We passed Chrysler's Farm and Upper Canada Village not long ago. The sun is shining brightly, unlike yesterday when it rained constantly. It is bouncing off the surface of the water and glittering like a thousand diamonds. It is hard to believe our trip is nearing an end. Tonight we intend to anchor again and then make the final run to Kingston tomorrow.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Through the St Lawrence Seaway

After three days in Montreal, we left yesterday morning from the marina in Old Montreal. The marina is a little more than a mile past the entrance to the seaway so we had to backtrack a little bit. Unlike our arrival, the currents were behind us and we made up to 10 knots over the short distance.

After we turned into the canal that starts the seaway, we could see the first lock only a couple of miles off. The seaway is controled by the St Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, and they put out a booklet entitled "The St Lawrence Seaway Pleasure Craft Guide". We had downloaded a copy from their web site before leaving home. The book details all the procedures to follow in the seaway.

As we entered the canal a large container ship was just leaving the first lock so we had to move well over to the side while he passed. Just before each lock there is a small floating dock. Pleasure craft are to tie up to this dock and wait for clearance. Priority is always given to commercial shipping through the seaway, so small craft usually have to wait.

At these docks, there is a ticket dispenser where you can buy a lock ticket and a phone with a direct line to the lockmaster. At $25 per lock, they are not cheap. So we bought our ticket and called, and were told the wait would be about 15 mins.

Also at the lock were a couple headng back to Ottawa after a year on their boat in the Carribean. We had a bit of a chat with them since they were quite used to passing through the seaway locks.

Once we got the green light to enter, we followed the other boat into the locks. Once you get to the head of the lock, the staff drop long lines down to you that are tied off at the top of the lock. As the water level rises, you keep tightening the line on your end to hold yourself as stationary as possible. The lock is huge and it rises very quickly - probably 5 mins for millions of gallons of water to move in. The water gets turbulent and buffets the boat a bit. Although we had 5 fenders out, we still had to push away from the wall sometimes because we would twist in the water.

Once we rose to the top, we just handed them our ticket and the line, and away we went.

Then repeated the process three more times. At the second lock, when we arrived the green light ws already on. According to the book we had to stop and buy a ticket, so we did so. But the other boat just went straight in. While we were buying our ticket, they started the raising process so we missed our chance and had to wait over an hour. When we finally got through we asked the staff and they told us they also accept cash directly at the lock. So we would have saved orselves over an hour if we had gone into the lock.

We also had to deal with a three lift bridges yesterday. Unlike the bridges in the Maritimes, we didn't have call to request an opening - they open them automatically for you when they see you coming. The one delay we had was at St Louis, were we arrived at 5:15 pm. I guess they don't open the bridge during rush hour, so we had to wait until 6, when they finally opened for us.

Just after the third bridge, we came to Salaberry de Valleyfield, about a half hour off the main channel. We pulled in there and anchored in the harbour for the night. As we were going around the harbour to find a good spot to anchor, the depth was varying wildly, going from 15 feet down to 5 feet in seconds. The next morning I realized why - there are lot of weeds all over the bottom giving false readings. Our anchor was so caked with mud and weeds, it took almost a half hour to clean it off.

Today we will go through at least two more locks, and hopefully the remaining three locks in the seaway if all goes well.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Monday, June 25, 2012

Planning the Trip From Quebec City to Montreal

We've now arrived in Montreal after a 2-day trip from Quebec City.

In an earlier post, I summarized how we planned our trip from Rimouski to Quebec.  With very few adjustments, it all went as planned, and if anything, the currents actually were a bit more friendly than I was expecting. 

When we were planning this trip, I did some internet searches around sailing up the St Lawrence.  I didn't have much luck.  I knew that currents were a big issue, and that they had to be taken into account in planning the trip, but I was hoping for more detailed information.  I was able to find some information for going down river, but not much for making the trip in the reverse direction, against the prevailing current.  Thanks to the couple that we ran into in Rimouski (as I mentioned in the earlier post), I was able to get much better information on planning the trip.  I hope that my previous post, as well as the information below, are of use to anyone else planning this trip.

First off, there is a publication put out by Fisheries and Oceans Canada called Atlas of Tidal Currents (St. Lawrence Estuary from Cap de Bon-Désir to Trois-Rivières).  This publication shows the expected direction and strength of currents in 20-minute intervals through most of the river.  It is all based on the times of high and low tide in the area, so using this book along with the tide tables book can show exactly what tides to expect at different times of the day.

We decided to try do the trip from Quebec City to Montreal in two days, with a stop in Trois-Rivières.  We had anchored in Quebec City, just a couple of miles downstream from the city on the south side of Isle d'Orleans.  Quebec City has a very strong tidal influence, with tides of about 18 feet, so it is critical to time the currents properly.

On July 23, the tidal tables said that high tide in Quebec City was at 0927.  According to the tidal tables, the current switches three hours before that, so we pulled up anchor at 0630.  Coming through Quebec City was a blast, and we hit up to 11 knots under the bridge (our normal top speed is about 7 knots).  We had two plans for the day.  The first was to make it as far as Portneuf, about 30 miles away, which we thought we would reach by 1130.  At that time, the currents are starting to change.  We actually made it there shortly after 1030, so we continued on to Trois-Rivières.  We were going against the current at the end of the day, but it wasn't too bad, and we reached here at around 1800.  For the last hour of the day, we were going against about a 1 knot current.

At Trois-Rivières, we're almost out of the tidal area of the river.  According to the current book, it is impossible to avoid adverse currents, but if you leave within the hour after low water, you can minimize the currents for the first little while. We timed our departure at 0600 the next morning, and caught some favourable currents for the first couple of hours.  However, where Quebec City has an 18 foot tide, Trois-Rivières only has a foot or two, and the tidal currents are very weak.  So, for almost all of the day until we hit Montreal, we were going against the currents, although they were almost always no more than about 1 knot, sometimes 2 knots.  That let us cruise along at between 5.5 and 6 knots for the day.

Along the river after we passed Quebec City, we travelled in the shipping channel, dodging the occasional cargo ship.  Just a few miles upstream of Sorel-Tracy, there is a secondary, pleasure craft channel.  This runs for 18 miles before it merges again with the main channel, has lots of depth and clearance, has less downstream current, and is a much more pleasant trip.  We then merged again with the main channel about 12 miles from our berth in Montreal, and remained in that channel the rest of the way.  There is another length of pleasure craft channel for about three miles that we decided to pass on - there are lots of rocks if you stray out of the channel according to the chart.

Friday, June 22, 2012

St. Lawrence River

It is Friday morning as I write this. We left PEI a week ago yesterday and have travelled 583 nautical miles so far. We are in a Marina in Port de l'Aigle on the northern shore of the St. Lawrence. I have been doing some work this morning while Jay has wandered off to find a grocery store. We are waiting for a favourable current and so will likely cast off around 11:30 this morning bound for Quebec City. There is a marina on Ile d'Orleans we may decide to stop at, depending on what time we arrive in the area. As much as we would love to stop and spend some time exploring Quebec City, we do want to reach Montreal within the next few days if possible as friends from PEI will be there and we would love to meet up with them. Yesterday we left our anchorage in Port de Gros Cacoune to travel just 30 NM to this marina, riding a very favourble current. Again we saw several seals and lots of belugas. At one point I could see 5 surfacing all at once. Of course, they don't pose well for the camera and for some reason, the shot is in black and white, but I am posting a photo anyway. The river was so calm yesterday, you could see the whales for miles. It was awesome. The scenery is gorgeous as well. Beautiful rolling hills on either side of the river covered in carpets of greenery. For miles the hills have also been dotted with windmills. We have not been very good at taking many photos, so I will try and be better as the trip continues. The first part of the trip, without currents to contend with and with a third crew member, we pushed hard to cover lots of distance. In fact, we stopped only twice after leaving Souris, PEI until we reached Rimuski. We stopped in Richibucto overnight due to high winds and we made a one hour stop for diesel fuel in Riviere Madeleine. The stretch from Richibucto to Rimouski took 54 hours, with only that one hour stop, a total of 353 NM. We did turn off the engine and drift several times to refuel from a jerry can too. Since Rimouski, the current has been more of an issue and will continue to be from here on. At least I am finding lots of time to work while we wait for favourable currents.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our Plan For Rimouski to Quebec

We've made it as far as Rimouski, and today we said farewell to Owen, our shipmate for the past five days.  He came on board to help us sail for a few days, and his limited availability meant that he had to fly back home today.  But while he was here, we took full advantage of the extra hand on board to complete three overnight passages, and put many more miles behind us than would be possible with just the two of us.  Thanks for coming, Owen, and your help is much appreciated.

BTW, note the matching custom shirts in the photo, of which Michelle is very proud.

The next stage of our trip will take us to Quebec City.  Although currents are a concern through all of the St Lawrence, from here on in they are no longer only a curiosity - they actually start to dictate our times of travel.  The St Lawrence flows from west to east, and since we are traveling in the opposite direction, we are going against the principal flow of the river.  However, the currents in this part of the river are also strongly influenced by tides, so for part of the day, the current actually flows up the river as the tide changes.  This is the time of the day we want to be moving.  There is a very helpful publication put out by Fisheries and Oceans called the Atlas of Tidal Currents, which gives typical currents in the vicinity of high and low tide times.  By using this book and the Tide Tables, we are able to plan out our trip.

The weather today is not cooperating for us, so we are staying in Rimouski again tonight, and getting some work done today.  Last night when we arrived, we had the good fortune to tie up next to a couple from Quebec City who are sailing a Beneteau 361, a very close match to My Obsession.  They have traveled this portion of the river numerous times, so I was able to sit down with him last night and pick his brain about the best way to travel upriver.  The rest of this post is a description of how we have to calculate and pick our times for the next few days.

When we do leave here, our first destination is going to be Port de Gros Cacouna.  This is an area in which we can anchor for the night behind a breakwater, and it is about 70 nm from Rimouski.  This will be a trip of 9 hours if we have a favourable wind, and 11 hours if not.  About two hours before arriving in Port de Gros Cacouna, we will pass by the east end of Ile Verte.  According to his information, this is the critical point, and we want to have favourable currents in this area.  This happens about 2 hours before high tide in the area.  So, if we are able to leave tomorrow, the forecast is still calling for winds against us in the morning, then diminishing to light, so we'll cut it in half and budget 10 hours for the trip.  It will take 8 hours to hit the critical area, and we want to be there 2 hours before high tide.  The high tide tomorrow is at 1552, or near 4pm.  So we need to leave 10 hours before that, or at 6am (yuck!).

The next day will be a shorter leg from Port de Gros Cacouna to Cap a l'Aigle, about 35 miles across the river.  For this leg, we want to leave as soon as there is a favourable current, which happens about 3 hours after low water.  If we plan on this for Thursday, the low water is at 1032, so we would depart at 1332, or early afternoon.  This will give us about a five or six hour crossing, and we would arrive early evening.

The next day would bring us to Quebec City, another 70 miles.  The key for this leg of the trip is the timing around Cap aux Oies, where we want to pick up a favourable current.  At Cap aux Oies, the current is favourable 3 hours before high water.  The high water on Friday is at 1706, so we want to be in this area at 1406.  From Cap a l'Aigle, we will be going against a slight current as far as Cap aux Oies for about 8 miles, and it will take probably about 90 minutes.  So, we want to leave somewhere around 1230, just after noon.  From then, we will have a very friendly current to take us most of the way into Quebec City, where we would hope to arrive about 9 hours after leaving, or about 9pm.

So, if all goes well, late Friday we will be hitting Quebec City, and searching out someone who can give us great intelligence about the next leg, from Quebec City to Montreal.

Monday, June 18, 2012

An Amazing Nighttime Shift

Tonight is our third overnight in the past four night, where we take shifts on watch and continue all night to try make good progress. Thanks to our friend Owen coming along on this leg of the trip, we are able to push ourselves farther than with just the two of us.

On these overnight shifts, we take turns, two hours at a time, and they are usually pretty boring. But tonight turned out to be special.

My first watch was from 10 until midnight. At the start of my shift, my alarm went off, and I pulled on multiple layers of clothes and groggily climbed up to the cockpit. There was a warm breeze, making it fairly comfortable, and Michelle went down below and I settled down and watched the last remnants of the sunset in the northern sky.

A few seconds later, my brain registered that the sun doesn't set in the north.

I moved forward to peek around the bimini to get a better look, and quickly realized that I was seeing one of the best displays of Northern Lights that I've ever seen in my life.

The entire sky to the north was encircled with a band of light. Above that there was another band, pulsing with light. Shooting up into the sky were streamers, going all the way up to the zenith and beyond.

For the next 90 minutes, I was mesmerized by the sky constantly glowing and shifting. Needles of ligh would punch upwards across half the sky. Then glowing clouds would start in the northern band and start pulsing upwards, taking less than a second to fly up and dissipate only to be followed by more, ever brighter pulses.

Then the band around the north would glow brighter and brighter, and start twisting and turning around itself, with light and dark streaks appearing and disappearing, finally releasing its energy with clouds of light flying upwards.

Never has an overnight shift passed so quicky. I was almost sorry when Owen came up to take over. My next shift is from 4 to 6, and it gets bright very early here, so they may be invisible by then. But the past two hours were incredible and unforgettable.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Night Watch

So it is 11:20 EST on Sunday. We passed into Quebec waters not long ago as we approach Gaspe. My cell phone has switched time zones and that is why that although my night watch does not start for another 40 minutes, I am typing out a blog post on my BlackBerry in my darkened cabin as I cuddle under the covers rather than catching a few more winks of sleep.
The wind calmed considerably this morning as did the seas so we set out from the friendly little marina of Richibucto around 9am. I was on first watch. The wind was light and on our nose so we motored. It was an uneventful day. We saw a few fishing vessels in the distance and the odd bird, but that was it. We were too far off land to even see that.
Jay and Owen tried their hand at fishing to occupy themselved. Of course the most caught was a few pieces of seaweed. The day was sunny and generally pleasant though we still needed layers of clothing. The Carribean it is not!
Earlier this evening I was to watch from 6 to 9pm AST. At 9, Owen had not yet appeared to relieve me so I called down to him. A few minutes later he arrived on deck and I went below to crawl into our bunk where Jay was already sleeping. I barely moved when Jay left the bunk for his turn at watch at 11:00pm AST. But a few minutes ago I was awoken from sleep, convinced Owen had been knocking on my door that I was overdue above.
I sat up with a start and grabbed my cell to see why my alarm had failed to go off. A message said a new time zone was detected. I clicked ok and tried to wipe the sleep from my fuzzy brain, leaping to the conclusion this is why my alarm failed. I droipped my phone and struggled to find my clothes and change out of my PJs. The overhead light refused to turn on so I scrambled in the dark, knowing that the light from the cabin is a signal to the person on watch that their relief is coming. Feeling badly I couldn't signal I was awake and knowing shouting was futile over the engine, I groped in the dark for my multiple layers. I contemplated sticking my head out to assure everyone I was awake, but I really don't know Owen well enough to appear before him in my pink long johns so I scrambled on.
After I was semi decent I opened the cabin door to find it dark. Owen was curled under his sleeping bag. I quickly identified the cause of the cabin light not working, the breaker had been flipped off. I opened the hatch to assure Jay I was coming. At which time he pointed out he had only been on watch an hour! Not two as I had assumed. I had only dreamed Owen waking me, he had been asleep for an hour!The time change had really tripped up my sleepy brain. Of course now I am awake. Soon it will be my turn on the helm under the starry night sky. A beautiful evening, yes, but I will still need my tuque. I wonder if Owen accounted for the time change when he set his alarm to replace me in a few hours?
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Friday, June 15, 2012

A new sailing season, a new adventure

We have been a bit silent on this blog recently, but we have a very good reason. We have uprooted our lives in Prince Edward Island and are moving to Kingston, Ontario. In April, I was offered a new job in Kingston starting in May and couldn't say no. Of course, there are two things I could not move without, Jay and My Obsession. Ironically, we had always planned to make the trip up the St. Lawrence this summer and then over the next few years follow the Eerie Canal and move the boat south. Now, we are sailing the boat to Kingston where we will live aboard for the summer. The past two months have been a flurry of activity getting the boat ready, cleaning out the house so it can be rented to vactioners over the summer, finishing up consulting contracts, starting a new job from afar and making plans for The Turret Bell and Jay's business. Getting the boat ready always has its little challenges every year. This is our first year with My Obsession as Lia and Bob took care of everything rigging the boat for the season last year. I am happy to report we didn't face anything too major. Jay did have a challenge with getting the water heater reconnected. He missed closing the valve he had opened to drain the heater in the fall and had to pump out several of gallons of water from the bilge. A few weeks later, a clamp let go and we had to again pump hot water out of the bilge. The upside is, I am happy to say we have a very clean bilge now. It only took 5 days and visits to 12 different stores to find a replacement bulb for the reading light over the chart table and thanks to my Dad we identified someone nearby who could weld a replacement bracket for the small solar panel that powers 4 small cabin lights. Jay also took his first trip to the top of the mast. Unfortunately he left the camera on deck so he has no cool photos of the boat from on high. I do have one of his bottom side as he is aloft though. It isn't the most flattering photo of him, so I won't post it. Now most people don't move to a new job by sailing their boat over 900 nautical miles, but that is what we are doing. A friend is driving our car up and we are sailing the boat up. After weeks of packing, planning, provisioning and prepping (and a few tears of goodbye with family and friends), we finally cast off the docklines yesterday morning at 10am bound for Kingston. Our friend, Owen, is along for the first few days of the trip as additional crew. The morning was warm and sunny with only a light breeze. We had planned to round the eastern tip of PEI and beeline across the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the Gaspe. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't favourable, so we decided to follow the Strait instead. It added distance, but as we hadn't really had enough time for a shakedown cruise, we knew this route was prudent as the south of PEI offers many more possible anchorages. We ended up motoring most of the day as the wind was either too light or on our nose. We travelled through the night, the three of us taking turns on watch. The seas were fairly calm and the night was cloudy, but peaceful. We spent a lot of the night motorsailing, averaging about 6.5 knots. I pulled the night watch crossing under the Confederation Bridge. It looked amazing all lit up at night. I also pulled the early morning shift and got to watch the sun come up over PEI as we passed the iconic West Point Lighthouse. Jay was on watch at 7am, just after me. Within a half hour, the wind and waves increased substantially. I bounced around in the bunk as I tried to sleep as the boat was pitching and rolling. The seas built to about 2 metres. Bashing into 25 knots of wind, it soon became apparent we were making no progress at all. Jay decided to alter course and head for Richibucto to wait out the weather. At 11am this morning, we pulled into Richibucto, having covered 146 nautical miles, with less than two hours under sail alone - a disapointment for sure as we all love being under sail. So, we spent the better part of the day in port. It gave me a great opportunity to work. Tomorrow, if the weather is better we will resume our journey.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring has arrived

Well it was an unseasonably warm 16 degrees Celcius today - the first day of Spring. With the snow melting and the warmer weather, we decided to go check on My Obsession to make sure the warmer weather hadn't softened the ground and compromised the stability of the boat on her jackstands. Happily, all is well. Unfortunately, a nearby boat in the storage yard fell over at the beginning of the winter causing itself some serious damage. It has made me a bit paranoid I confess.

The harbour was clear of ice and with the balmy weather, I couldn't help but feel the itch to get going on the little boat projects necessary to get the boat ready to be launched. Alas, it is still too early, but my mind is already churning with plans for the upcoming sailing season. A season which can't start soon enough for me! The countdown is officially on I think.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sailing in Hawaii

It has been way too long since we posted to this blog. Once My Obsession was put up on the hard for the winter, we have been very focussed on work and not so much on on all things sailing. We did have an opportunity to go sailing on a 53 foot catamaran while in Hawaii this winter. Somehow, it seemed strange to be sailing along at 10 knots, but not heeled over! The weather was beautiful. The whales and dolphins were plentiful. The sun was warm. Wonder if we will ever sail in the pacific on our own boat?