Friday, 28 August 2009

Monday August 24, 2009 - The Return Trip: Part 2

Big Chute Marine Railroad to Jackson’s Point - Home at Last

Monday morning came with a forecast of clear skies, light winds, and no wind at all in the evening. Perfect conditions to end our marathon sprint back home. When the staff arrived at the marine Railroad we were ready for our lift, and alone we went across.

The staff, all on the port side of the boat said they couldn’t see any damage on our keel as the boat rose out of the water, but that water continued to leak out of it all the way across the railroad. Possibly, water was being held in the cracks. We will have to have the damage assessed by a professional. We touched down on the up side of the railroad, and the engine refused to start. In his book “The Boat that Wouldn’t Float” Farley Mowat referred to his engine as the Bullgine. I think ours is a stage worse. I think it’s a Bludgeon. Eventually I got the right wrist action on the starter cord, the right cusses, or the right position on the choke, and the engine came to life. We headed upriver toward home.

The currents in the narrow channels seemed a lot stronger as we went upstream, and often the knot log would read 6 knots while the GPS read 4. That would mean about 2 knots of current. Often the current would grab the keel or the nose of the boat and push us around. I could feel the rudder jumping in my hand and hoped that my jury rigged solution to the lost cotter pin from the grounding would hold. It did. Every time we entered one of these spots, usually labelled as rapids on the chart, we called a securité and hoped for the best. Our VHF had lost its charge, and the on-board radio had a stub for an antenna. We weren’t receiving much in the way of radio traffic so I can only assume that we weren’t sending well either.

We reached the Couchiching Locks, our last lock in our trip at about 2:00. The staff remembered us, and asked where the baby and Chuck were. We shared the story with them, and they were amazed that we had come all the way from Henry’s in 2 days. Folks in another boat that were picnicking ran to help us away, and offered help. I’m not sure what they had in mind. We respectfully declined their offer, and put-putted through the rest of the system to Atherly Narrows.

Cutie and I had discussed her catching a ride from one of the marinas at Atherly Narrows back to Barrie, but since we reached the Narrows at 4:30, and would be at our home port before sundown, we decided to stay the course. The engine pushed us through the current at the narrows, and we nosed our way back into Lake Simcoe.

As much elation as I had felt at our escape from Simcoe some 11 days earlier, I now felt relief as I was back on “my” lake. Iris ploughed through the water and we watched the North shore slip away as the south shore came into view. It takes 3 hours to cover the 16 miles across Lake Simcoe from Atherly Narrows near Orillia to Jackson’s Point, and I counted down each mile as the GPS locked onto our home port. Eventually we were passing more familiar landmarks. Big Bay Point, and Kempenfelt Bay, the Weather Buoy, Thorah and Georgina Islands, Fox and Snake Island came into view. We kept our bow pointed at the Sutton Water tower, and the GPS track pointed at “SGA Race Mark 1”, and tried to make out the marina, or the resort, or the B&B next door as we crossed the lake.

At first the lake was lumpy, and the ride uncomfortable, but as the weather had predicted, things settled down the closer we got to the marina. As we reached it the wind was calm, and folks ran to our slip to receive our lines. We had squared everything away, and after tying up ran to the van within 10 minutes. We were at the house in half an hour, and got a call away to the kids.

The kids were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Grandma and Grandpa had spoiled them, and Buddy was just on his way to bed. The best medicine, it was decided was that we should go to bed too, and come get them in the morning. Which we did.

As I write this, Chuck is “lumping” around on her crutches, she’s figured out how to go up and down stairs, get herself into and out of bed and the bathroom, and is completely mobile. Buddy is his old self, and things are almost normal. We need to go and unpack the boat, wash down the Barbie Dream Boat and return it to its owners, raise the mast and take Iris for a hard sail to better judge the extents of damage from the grounding, and unpack and clean up.

As a bonus, I have another 10 vacation days to do chores around the house. The blessings never end.

Sunday August 23, 2009 - The return Trip: Part 1

Sans Souci to Big Chute Marine Railroad

We got out of bed at 7:00 on Sunday morning. After cleaning up, and a breakfast of butter tarts and coffee, we cast off lines and headed away from Henry’s. We had no fixed travel plans, and our only goal was to get as far as we could, as fast as we could to get home to the kids.

Iris has a max speed determined by the laws of physics of 6 knots (6 nautical miles per hour), however; the closer you get to that speed the less efficiency there is since you push a greater bow wave. For that reason I try to maintain a speed of around 5.5 knots, otherwise, whatever gain you see in speed is lost to the need to refuel. The exception to this is of course that when under sail, or when motor sailing, you can increase efficiency since the wind supplements the fuel use. On this trip though, we felt it best to hold to the inside channels, so sailing wasn’t ever much of an option.

I knew it was 38 nautical miles from Henry’s to Doral, where the gear to store our mast for the Trent canal transit was stored, so based on a speed of 5.5 knots, we should be reaching Doral in about 7 hours. Allowing an extra hour for the unexpected, I was thinking we’d arrive around 3:30. Give a few hours to lower the mast, disassemble the Barbie Dream Boat and stow it, square things back up, and get back underway, and it would be the end of the day. We’d get an early start the next morning, and be back to Lake Simcoe in 3 days, home in 4.

Then as we motored and I studied the charts, I started picking out efficiencies. We had been using the inside channels on our northbound trip. It was very relaxing and scenic, but now there were a number of corners we could cut by using the outer channels. A few minutes here and there could add up. Plus we had a tailwind, even without sails flying; this would increase our range since the wind was moving faster than the 5.5 knots we were travelling at.

We noted the anchorages we had stayed at as we moved down the bay. “That’s where we turned off for 12 Mile Bay – There’s the entrance to Indian Harbour – That’s the channel that leads to Beausoleil Island.” Every hour we recorded our position, speed, heading, and other information in our log book. We made sure to check the bilge for water and record that it was dry, just in case water was working its way up from our damaged keel. Early in the afternoon we found ourselves passing the entrance to the Minicog channel from the large-craft channel headed to midland – with Penetanguishene bay clear to be seen on our starboard side. It looked easy to spot now that we had been watching channel markers and navigating through tight spots for a week. We were nearly back to Doral – and ahead of schedule. In a day we had covered the ground that had we had used a week to poke around in northbound.

I handed Cutie the tiller and started disassembling the boat. As we went, I took the boom off the mast and stowed it below. I took our plow anchor off the bow and stowed it in the aft lazarette, replacing it with a light Danforth that fit better in the anchor locker. Cutie called out wake from passing boats and ticked off our position as we passed channel markers.

At about 2:15 we pulled up to the gas dock at Doral. We were far enough ahead of schedule that I was optimistic we could get the mast down and continue on our way if we worked efficiently. I handed our empty gas cans up to the dock staff and told them we’d be back for them as soon as we got the mast down. Upon hearing about Chuck (after they asked where our kids were) the staff gave us carte blanche to use the facilities and get back under way.

We returned to the slip we had used on our earlier visit, and found the mast support waiting for us under the neighbour’s picnic table where we had left it. Using our normal technique (no A-Frame) we lowered the mast and lashed it to the deck, and then an hour and a half later returned to the gas dock for our gas cans (now filled). After a quick exchange, we headed back out into Midland Bay. As we moved through the bay we tried to hail Fidelity on the VHF, but she never answered. They must not have had their radio on. No matter we couldn’t have stopped anyway.

After a little confusion, we found the bifurcation buoy that leads to the Potato Island Channel. This is a very tight channel that we had been led through by the folks aboard Dream Time when we first entered Georgian Bay. Now we were on our own. To be safe we issued a series of securités as we neared the narrow channel “Securité, Securité, Securité, 25 foot sailboat with spars lashed to deck entering the potato Island Channel from west headed toward Severn lock in approximately X minutes.”

We had heard other boats making these calls on our trip, but had never considered it until the folks on L’eau Rider explained to us how much of a difference it made to them knowing whether a boat was in a channel or not, especially a tight channel like this one.

As we made our final call, another boat headed in the opposite channel asked us to repeat our hail, and just as we entered he came into view. As soon as he saw us entering, he turned away from the channel to wait to enter until we were through. Unfortunately, another boat just ahead of him didn’t pay attention to his radio. We met him at the narrowest part of the channel, and were distressed to see that he was towing 2 jet skis on a 15 foot line. The jet skis were drifting straight into our path.

I called out to the skipper that I needed 4 feet of water and couldn’t move. I was quite prepared to hit the jet skis since there was no stopping and no turning in the channel. The skipper pulled in the lines on the toys, and we cleared them by a foot. I had to bite my tongue.

We thanked the other boater for waiting and giving us space to clear the channel after hearing our hail.

After Potato Island Channel, we made our way to the first set of locks on the Trent Severn, and after a short delay were lifted through, and entered the Gloucester Pool. We noticed that many more boats were reducing wake for us as we continued calling securités at each narrow channel. Just after the big Chute Marine Railroad closed, we pulled up to the blue line, and tied up for the night.

We were 20 minutes late for a ride on the railroad, if we had been a little quicker getting up in the morning, or a little faster with the mast, or if we had found the Potato Island Channel more efficiently we might have made it one lock further. As it was we had to be content with our progress – and we were.

We went to dinner at the restaurant at Big Chute Marina, where the service was fantastic, the food simple but good, and the conversation was about getting home. Home has such allure and comfort when things aren’t going well, and we wanted to get the kids back, and be sure all was well and be a family. We thought we could be home the next day if we worked hard. We might have to cross Simcoe in the dark, we might have to split up, and let Cutie off the boat at Atherly Narrows where she could get a ride to Barrie and get her van to go fetch the kids, but one way or another, home and tomorrow were together in every sentence.

Beep Beep!!

Crazy Driver, coming through!!

Saturday August 22, 2009 - Regrouping for a Retreat

Parry Sound to Sans Souci via Water Taxi

On Saturday morning, FIL and MIL arrived just as we wrapped up breakfast. I strolled down to the Wal-Mart to find Chuck some pants that would fit over her cast, and we started clearing out the hotel room. Chuck was loaded most gingerly into the in-law’s van, and they suggested that they take Buddy also. Cutie and I decided that with him away also, we could move faster. We loaded all of Buddy’s things into the van, and then they drove us back to the water taxi. When we arrived, the folks at the marina asked Chuck how she was doing, and we enjoyed an air of celebrity. The water taxi arrived at 11:30, and half an hour later we were back at Sans Souci. We had planned a week to cover the country that this 300hp boat had just covered in 30 minutes. It was lovely from the water taxi, but as we passed through bays and inlets I wondered what we could have found poking about in our sailboat and exploring more closely. It didn’t matter now. We had to get home. Fast.

The folks on the taxi learned of our situation, and all wished us well on our trip home. The dock staff at Henry’s greeted us as we walked back to Iris, and told us that the owners wanted to talk with us before we left. We told them that would be great, we were going to eat lunch and regroup before leaving so there would be plenty of time.

The folks at Henry’s were kind enough to give us free dockage while we were in Parry Sound, and asked how Chuck’s leg was, but by the time lunch was done, and the adrenaline simmered back down to a normal level, Cutie and I were both exhausted. We declared ourselves unfit for travel, and went to bed early. I got up late in the afternoon to pay for dockage for the night, and we decided we would leave early the next morning to head home. That night we slept the sleep of the dead. Chuck and Buddy were both in the in-law’s care, our boat was secure, although damaged, and we needed the rest we got.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009 - Bliss Leads to Calamity, Disaster, and Abandonment

12 Mile Bay to Hole-in-the-Wall to Sans Souci to Parry Sound
It is amazing how bliss led to calamity which led to disaster which led to abandonment without any connectivity between the events except the date they occurred on.

We felt pretty good as we threaded our way back out of our anchorage to 12 Mile Bay. We had successfully navigated some pretty tight channels, and now we had found our way into and out of an unmarked anchorage. Heck, the unmarked spot was free of all the hassles we’d had in the marked anchorage, and was way better. We decided to keep an eye open for more chances to leave the tramped out paths of conformity. Damn the red line, let’s have some fun! Our first opportunity to do that was hole in the wall channel.

Hole in the wall is a narrow channel with a tight entrance. To get into it, you leave the main channel and navigate a rock-strewn bay, then make a tight S-turn into Hole in the Wall the channel (unmarked) which runs 20 feet deep, but has steep sides to it. The channel is only about 12 feet wide, but has plenty of water. It is supposed to be nearly mystical to pass through.

We left the main channel and motored through the boulder field to the entrance of the unmarked channel. Chuck was up on the bow and watching for rocks. Cutie was perched beside me tending to the baby. I was looking for the channel and curves up ahead.

Chuck pointed to a rock beside us, and as I told her we needed to know about the rocks ahead, not beside us, calamity struck. We hit. Hard. The boat lurched to a stop, throwing everyone forward. Chuck held on and stayed aboard. The baby rocketed forward on his tether, but landed on his lifejacket. Cutie hit her knee off the bulkhead.

As quickly as we identified that no one had any serious injuries, the boat spun 180 degrees, driving the rudder into the rock that had just stopped the boat. I felt the tiller twist and rise out my hand as the pintles came out of the gudgeons, and instinctively I fought the sidelong push on the rudder. Then the pintles came out of the gudgeons, and the rudder was no longer attached to the boat. I pulled it back aboard, passing it to Cutie, and my mind worked overtime in damage control mode.

No one was hurt. The boat was straddling the rock. The engine had stopped. We were adrift. First priority was to get the boat clear of the rocks. Then I would have to get steerage. Things were not yet so desperate that I would risk hailing a passing boat on the radio, since to bring them closer would risk exposing them to the same troubles. I took a look at the outboard. The throttle cable had come out of the engine, but was still attached. I could get it running, but would have to hand feed gas to it. If I could get it running, I could try to steer with the engine, and get us clear of the rocks.

After half a dozen pulls, the engine started. I put it in reverse and spun off the rock. Once we were well clear, and I couldn’t see any other rocks nearby, I threw out an anchor and rode, letting the chain and rode burn through my hands until I felt it hit bottom. Then I grabbed the rode well ahead of where the line was paying out, and cleated it off. With no idea of how much scope we had out, but fairly confident that we would swing away from the rocks, I ran back to the cockpit and reattached the rudder using the gnarled cotter pin that had just failed, saving the rudder from breaking in half on the rocks.

With the rudder reattached, I got Cutie to drive while I took up the anchor. She held us off other rocks in the boulder field until I had the anchor back up in its place, then I came back to the cockpit and drove while she spotted rocks on the bow. Eventually we made our way back to the channel, and followed the red line to safety. Safety was Sans Souci, specifically the Docks at Henry’s Fish Restaurant. The whole ordeal of running aground and getting back to the channel had taken less than 20 minutes.

We had originally planned on being at Henry’s a day earlier, but our lovely anchorages and slothly pace had set us back by a day. Our exuberance for leaving the well-tramped route would have led us to another marina to recharge the batteries. We had actually removed Henry’s from the agenda altogether, but now we knew it was nearby, and had good docks and lots of traffic, if we needed help, we figured there would be someone there to lend a hand.

We arrived at Henry’s just as the lunch rush was dying off. Cutie took Buddy and went to find swim goggles so I could dive and inspect the keel. I took off the rudder and started patching the corner of it where the rock had done its damage. In retrospect the damage to the rudder wasn’t life-threatening, but the rudders on Catalinas have a history of failing when water gets into the laminations so I wanted to get it out of the water, dried off, and sealed up before the water penetrated any deeper.

While I worked, another sailor stopped by with an Australian Shepherd to chat. Chuck played with the dog and offered to take it for a walk. Its owner thought that sounded fun and off went the dog and girl on a path in the woods. About 20 minutes later they returned walking down the path. I saw them coming and turned back to my work, then heard Chuck call out – “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”

She sounded excited, like she had found a frog or cool rock or something, then she became more intense. “DADDY! Ouch! I heard it POP!” I ran to her as I realized there was something wrong.

I did not see Chuck’s fall. I saw her walking back on the trail, and then saw the dog come into the clearing and heard her call out. From what I understand, she had lurched forward, missed her step, and twisted her leg as she stepped into nothing where a ditch ran across the trail. There was no mark, no blood, and no hint that anything was wrong, but as I talked to her and cradled her leg a lump formed and grew about halfway down her shin.

Cutie knelt beside me, and a lady from another boat ran over. The dog’s owner held buddy, and the restaurant owner offered ice water and blankets. The lady turned out to be a nurse, and using supplies from a third boat, she splinted the leg, and identified the break as a green-stick fracture. The owner of the restaurant called in an emergency water taxi. With the leg splinted we made Chuck as comfortable as we could, and said soothing words. She tried to be brave, but shock set in, and worry was all over her face. Likely it was all over mine as well. Suddenly the damage to the boat wasn’t so important.

As we were loaded onto the water taxi, we were told by a number of people that the emergency room at the Parry Sound Hospital was very slow. We should tell the nurses that Chuck was in “Extreme Pain” and then we’d get treated more quickly. This was told to us by the staff at Henry’s, the Water Taxi driver, the cabbie who took us from the water taxi to the hospital, and other people in the waiting room. With that many folks all using the same trick, I figured the staff in the ER must have heard the same, and opted for what I think was a better plan. We told the truth.

Within 20 minutes of walking into the emergency room, Chuck was in a bed. I told the triage nurse that the splint was administered by nurse who was at Henry’s. Since the splint was put on by a professional, they didn’t want to remove it, figuring it had been done right, and that Chuck was properly attended to. I think they made the right choice. Chuck disagreed.

She was in obvious discomfort, and kept telling me that the splint was tight on her leg, giving her pins and needles that hurt more than the break. Every nurse who came through saw tears and thrashing fists and short breaths. A few took me aside, and I just told them that I thought it made sense to be in pain with her leg being broken. I also hoped that the doctor would be able to look at it soon since her discomfort was awful. I avoided the words extreme pain.

Over the hospital intercom, I started hearing pages for 2 doctor’s names to the ER. One of them showed up, looked in our spot and said he’d have a treatment room cleared out right away. The other was the orthopaedic specialist. She unwrapped the splint and sent us for x-rays in the space of about 5 minutes. As soon as the splint was unwrapped, Chuck settled down. As she settled, our case lost its urgency.

The x-rays revealed a green-stick fracture just as the nurse at Henry’s had predicted. Chuck got a cast, and we had to figure out what to do next. Rule 1 with the cast was to keep it dry. Nothing on a boat stays dry for long. We found a hotel room, and thought up action plans on the way across town in another taxi.

Chuck needed to go someplace without stairs, with a quiet environment, with someone who could come and get her today or tomorrow. If we couldn’t find a spot, Cutie, Chuck, and Buddy could get a cab to Barrie, and then take Cutie’s van home. If we could find a spot, Cutie and I could take the boat home, and then go get Chuck. We budgeted 4 days to get home, so whoever got Chuck would have to have a week free.

Since Cutie’s parents are retired, and their house has a main floor bathroom, with space for a bed in their front room, and because they are closest to Parry Sound of anyone we thought of, they were our first choice. When we called and explained everything, their only question was, “Should we get her tonight, or in the morning?”

We spent the night at the hotel in Parry Sound, and had McDonalds and Swiss Chalet for dinner. The girl at the front desk had much compassion, and plied us with 4 of all the free stuff (shampoo, combs, razors, etc.), spare bedding for Chuck, and offers to get or do anything we needed. She was a very kind person.

In the night, Chuck moaned and cried a few times, and thought she was falling out of bed. Cutie and I slept as much as we could, but mostly we wished we had just spent another night on 12 mile bay, and not ever left the perfect anchorage.

Wednesday August 18, 2009 - Discovering Bliss

Indian Harbour to 12 Mile Bay

I woke up to PP driving his dinghy out to retrieve his second anchor. To his credit, we never hit in the night. Actually, if we did, I slept through it. PP was out in his dinghy, coiling anchor rode when the boats finally did come together. I scrambled up on the bow, and fended off his boat. He yelled at his wife. I asked the kids to go find Mommy. Designer wife couldn’t figure out how to work the winch from the fly bridge. I held the boats off each other until PP came and pulled his bow anchor in. Then they left.


We had breakfast, and got our day underway at a leisurely pace. Only travelling a few hours a day means we can sleep in, have big meals, and not worry about meeting schedules. With PP and the cuss pot both gone, things were actually peaceful in the anchorage. We left at 10:00 before that could change.

Just north of Indian Harbour, we went to King Bay Marina to get milk, and much deserved ice cream cones. We had handled PP with decorum, and it was good to be away. King Bay Marina looks like it could use a little more business or maintenance. The docks were like a labyrinth, and the store was mostly clad in plywood. Some of it had been painted.

We looked at the milk, but it only came in 1 litre cartons, and cost as much as PP’s boat. Instead we bought gas (out of pity really, we didn’t need it), and ice cream, and mortgaged the house to pay for it. After sitting on the dock to eat our ice cream we were on our way at 1:30, and arrived at 12 mile bay around 3:30. 12 mile bay meets Georgian Bay at O’Donnel Point. Around here there are dozens of spots to drop the hook, but many are quite exposed. Most folks go to an anchorage just inside the point called Wani Bay, but I wanted to go up the bay to a spot that looked interesting, but inaccessible on the charts. I figured we’d just prowl around in the deep water, and if things looked hopeful, we’d go inside the potential anchorage for a closer look.

When we go to the target spot, another boat was already anchored there. Surely if they could get in, so could we. I nosed the boat gingerly between the bleach bottles that marked rocks at the entrance, and carefully picked my way through the minefield to the deeper water of the anchorage. Past the rocks, the bottom turned to fine sand, and deepened to around 10 feet, before coming up in a beach. We dropped anchor, and Cutie asked if I had seen the other boat.

Me: “Of course I saw the other boat” (In my head – it’s a tiny anchorage, how could I not see the other boat!)

Her: “But did you look at the other boat?” (In her head – How can he not be noticing this? OMG!)

Me: “Yeah, it’s some guy and his girlfriend.” (In my head – Gees, they have a right to be here too!)

Chuck: “Can I go swimming?” (In her head – Nice beach!)

Her: “Only on the side of the boat away from the other boat. Honey, do we REALLY want to stay here?” (In her head – SAVE THE CHILDREN!!)

At about this point I glanced over at the other boat and got the full meaning of Cutie’s message. A big red ass was all I saw. It was badly sunburnt. It wasn’t pretty. Flabby 60 year old men should not parade about in the nude. At least this one had on a thong. A very tiny one. The only thought that entered my mind was “How will he put pants on without that burn causing some discomfort?” I would make a terrible nudist.

Within half an hour the nudists left, which provided relief to us. I felt a little bad about breaking up their party, but if you wanna be naked, you should probably expect interruptions. And if you are a flabby 60 year old man with a big butt, you should probably bring extra sun block. When that starts to peel...

Our anchorage in 12 Mile bay was everything we had come looking for (plus nearly naked retirees!). Sand beaches, bare rock, twisted pines, fish and quiet. There was room for maybe 4 boats. Maybe. 2 should be rafted together.

After we had been there for a couple hours a second boat came into the anchorage. He had an 11 year old and 13 year old aboard. They played with Chuck, and we explored the backwaters of the anchorage, went swimming and had fun. This was definitely the high point of the trip. Good company at a beautiful spot, and peace and quiet. We could have stayed forever. We stayed for 2 days.

On our second day in the anchorage we got reports of tornados hitting towns close to home, so we sent off quick messages on our neighbour’s computer to let folks know we were OK. We had some rain, but no severe weather, and in fact we had been having a great time. The other boat (L’eau Rider) was out of the same marina as “All the Right Reasons” who we had met at Doral back at the start of our trip. His kids hit it off with Chuck, and we were likely playing cards while the tornadoes were ripping apart York Region.

On the evening of our second night, L’eau Rider shared with us, and we had a combined dinner, with everyone crammed around his salon table. After that we went on his back deck and swapped stories until way too late. It was after midnight when we piled into the Barbie Dream Boat and headed back to Iris.

It was another night with amazing stars. I felt lucky to be part of the world.

Tuesday August 18, 2009 - A Change of Scenery

Beausoleil Island to Indian Harbour

We left Fryingpan bay under threatening skies, and ready for rain. It never came, so we count ourselves lucky. As the day wore on, the sun grew in intensity, and we took up our usual positions. Chuck on the bow, Cutie in the cockpit with Buddy on her lap – port side, and I driving on the starboard side, further back in the cockpit.

It was a short hop from Fryingpan Bay to Indian Harbour, only about 2-1/2 hours. That is good since it means the kids aren’t stuck sitting all day. We know we are taking the most leisurely pace ever to do this trip, and we are content with that. We cruised into Indian Harbour just in time for lunch, and dropped the anchor. The only other boat in the harbour was a sailboat that was just in the process of heading out.

I took our dinghy (aka “the Barbie Dream Boat”) over to them to say hi, and ask about holding and whatnot. With this being our second night at anchor, I was still a little nervous. It turned out they were having trouble with their outboard on their dinghy.

The engine was an Evinrude 9.9. I have had to swear at mine once or twice, and their problems sounded very familiar. I suggested an easy fix. They looked at me sceptically, but tried it. The engine roared to life, and they said thanks, mystified that it could be fixed so easily. I assured them that I had no idea why turning the flywheel a couple degrees works either, but that I had done the same thing more than once to get mine started. They left and we were alone in the anchorage.

Taking the Barbie Dream Boat back to Iris, I was pondering my luck. Fryingpan was supposed be packed, and we had gotten a dock, and had a nice time. This harbour was supposed to be even busier, and here we were alone. A half an hour later, one powerboat was way over on the other side of the anchorage. I could handle sharing the space with one boat. I lay down to take a nap.

It’s hard to say how long I slept before Cutie shook me awake. She was worried about another boat that had come into the anchorage. I came up on deck, and we were up to 3 boats anchored, and this one setting his hook. Cutie told me that he had tried to anchor multiple times unsuccessfully, and now was over here trying again. At best he was 30 feet from us.

His boat was a 42 foot fly bridge, very shiny and new, with a designer wife out front and 2 kids in designer clothes on the back deck. On the back he had a RIB for a dinghy that was worth more than our boat. Hereafter he will be referred to as Pompous Prick – PP for short.

I pointed out to him that he was awful close to us, and that he may want to allow more swing room for his boat since sail boats move differently than power cruisers. PP said not to worry he’d set an anchor watch, and we wouldn’t have to worry. Then he went inside and turned on his AC and generator, leaving us to listen to the noises created so he could enjoy nature from the bowels of a boat as big as our house.

We settled in, keeping a wary eye on PP’s boat, and had dinner. Then he came over in his dinghy and invited us to go watch the sunset with him. Taking the olive branch, we scrambled into our life jackets, and rode out to see the sun go down. On the way we were delighted to hear about PP’s cars, house, boat, private schools for his kids, how his wife would never have to work, and how to choose only the best tenants for his various rental properties. PP had much to be pompous about. When we got back to the boat, he took us aboard his boat so we could see first-hand what a cruising boat looked like. It looked like a lot of leather and chrome. Cutie and I both agree that we would rather be in our little boat and in touch with our surroundings than in the floating house PP showed us. To his credit, PP passed on the laundry room, in favour of a third stateroom, since he wanted to be roughing it. He did have 2 fridges though since having to go below to get a beer was too inconvenient, and his stereo was “exquisite.”

When we left PP announced that he was going to set out a second anchor for peace of mind. I pointed out that this would totally change his swing pattern and that we would run the risk of hitting each other in the night. PP said he wasn’t worried about that. I decided I wasn’t either. His boat was worth a million and a half (by his figuring), mine is worth $10,000. He had more to lose than I did. I slept well.

The whole time we were in Indian Harbour, there was traffic through the harbour. Since the anchorage is just off a main channel, the parade of boats provides wake to shake everyone up on an unscheduled interval. This makes life aboard interesting. What was even more interesting was the boat that decided to anchor in the channel, and then yell at everyone passing by that they were making too much wake. Chuck learned some new uses of new words. The guys at anchor would yell at the cruisers, who would yell back that they were in the channel, then the guys at anchor would start swearing, and the cruisers would swear back.

Indian Harbour didn’t get a second night. Before we were in bed we decided we’d leave in the morning.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009 – On Vacation and Loving It!

Midland to Beausoleil Island

We chugged out of our slip and up to the gas dock in no particular hurry. After getting all our gas cans refilled, and paying for the slip, we handed over close to $100 to the folks at Doral. I still can’t decide whether this was a good deal or not. On the one hand, they treated us really well, gave us use of the facilities, tools, and had a really nice pool, but on the other hand, that’s a lot of cash to hand over for 2 tanks of gas and a dock to tie up at. All-in-all, I think I’d go back but only stay one night on a free pass.

From Doral we headed over to the Midland town dock since we needed to refill the cooler with groceries. The town dock has a “free parking” policy if you are coming for a short stop to spend your money. It’s about a 15 minute drive from Doral to the town dock, which is right at the base of Midland’s downtown. On the way over I was thinking that on our next trip, maybe we could head straight over to the town dock to raise our mast. As soon as we arrived I could see that this was a bad idea.

Midland is a town in transition. At one time it was a shipping port, but apart from an aggregate business, that has mostly dried up. The town docks were built years ago to serve great lakes freighters, but today they serve mostly tour boats and cruisers. What was once a single slip for a cargo ship has been retrofit as a series of finger docks for small boats with a nice little parkette up 8 feet above with picnic tables and gazebos. Since the docks were designed to allow big boats in and out, there is no break wall, or other features that would slow the boats coming in. The wake and wash at the Midland dock was the worst we would see at any dock we tied to.

We tied up nose in, and instantly a gaggle of tourists came from the parkette and looking down at the boat started taking photos. The tour boat was tied up behind us, and folks standing on her rail, waiting to leave on their cruise did the same. I felt like I was in a glass house. A glass house that was bucking and rocking on some pretty rough water.

Since the grocery store in Midland is quite close to the dock, we left Chuck in charge of the boat and Cutie and I headed to town, we got our provisions, picked up a couple books, and headed back in under an hour. There were signs all over town for “TugFest” – Midland’s tugboat festival. Hopefully those boats fared better at the town docks than we did.

Out on the water, we headed for the main channel. There was a lot of boat traffic out in the Midland area, and a lot of them were sailors. Many were very big boats. We motorsailed a little, but mostly we motored rather than sailed. Soon, we were looking for the Minicognashene Channel.

The Minicog is one of the escape routes to go from the main body of Georgian Bay (Midland bay actually) into the 30,000 Islands and the inside channel. Cutie and I had agreed that we would motor Northbound while she was aboard with the kids, and that I would sail home. Since a deal is a deal, we had the sails down, and were heading for the inside to motor our way to Pointe au Baril. The Minicog would take us out of the sailing waters and into the motoring areas. The trouble was finding the channel.

Minicog is a skinny little channel that twists right after it starts, and looking forward to where we thought the channel should be all we saw was a jumble of rocks. A few powerboats came out of the channel, and gave us a clue where it was, but I was more than a little nervous. One of the big tour boats out of Midland was up ahead of us on about the same heading though, so I figured that if they could sail these waters we’d be safe as long as we kept on about the same track... Then they came on the radio.

“Securité, Securité, Securité, All stations, All Stations, All Stations, 120 foot vessel entering the Minicognashene Channel from Midland northbound in approximately 5 minutes.” Since they were going where we were going, we could just follow them through the channel. Navigation has never been easier. It’s not hard to pick out a 120 foot boat from the rocks.

The Minicog channel was neat, but not really noteworthy. We went through, and came out on the other side, then turned toward Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Our goal was an anchorage on the north side of the island labelled Honeymoon Bay.

We never actually went into Honeymoon Bay. We drove by, and it looked like there was a bay there, but outside the bay, a pile of boats were anchored with folks cliff diving, playing music, and generally having a good time. It looked too crowded for us, and our good time wouldn’t have matched theirs anyway, so we continued on our way to the next bay.

The next bay was Fryingpan Bay. We had been warned that this bay was very busy, and the charts show only 2 feet of water, but we found the bay nearly empty, with 20 feet of water in the middle of the bay, and about 10 feet at the docks maintained by the park. We tied up next to a bevy of powerboats, and called the place home.

Fryingpan Bay had docks, fire pits, picnic tables & shelters, garbage disposal, a beach, and walking trails. The cost to us was $22.50 a night ($0.90/foot). Our neighbours were friendly, and we had a nice stay. It was good to be away from things, the bay was quiet, and the company was good. One of the other boats even had kids aboard so Chuck had some playmates. We stayed 2 nights, one at the dock, and the other at anchor.

I was worried about drifting in the wrong directions, so I spent our night at anchor sleeping in the cockpit. I would wake to check our position every couple of hours, and make sure our jury rigged anchor light was working. The stars were amazing, and I wanted to get the family up to look at them, but I didn’t think they would appreciate being dragged out of bed. I think the night sky on Fryingpan Bay will stay with me for a long time.

Vacation Update

Since we left Midland, we have met with a number of experiences both good and bad. I am writing this entry from the comfort of home as a retrospective. We were forced to cut our vacation short due to a serious injury and damage to the boat, but things have settled back to routine now, and all will be fine. Let’s pick up where we left off – heading out from Doral in Midland.

Little Gardener

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Helping my Mama

Mommy, these cups aren't in the right spot!!

Here, I'll put them away for you!!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

It isn't everyday...

That a flock of wild turkey's wanders through the yard while you're eating your breakfast!!

Monday, 17 August 2009

The Coffee Gods are conspiring against me

Friday, we were in the Trent Canal. Going through one of the locks, I was on the foredeck, and had my coffee in one hand, boat hook in one hand, and dock line in..... yup, that was the problem.

And sent my coffee all over the deck.

Saturday morning, sitting at the picnic table in Midland, with my coffee on the table in front of me, and Chuck knocked it over. It was scalding hot, and I was very lucky not to have been badly burnt.

The coffee gods do not want me drinking coffee on this trip!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Wear your lifejacket, dernit!

So in the past week, there have been 8 deaths due to drowning in Central Ontario.

All were people not wearing their life jackets.

One was just outside of the harbour where Iris is docked.

So why was my boat one of the few that had every crew member aboard wearing a lifejacket in the race the other day??

Wear it, don't stow it.  Everyone who drowned had a life jacket nearby, but none of them had it on.  If you get knocked unconscious when you hit the water or the boat flips, it doesn't matter how close by it is.

Your Public Service Announcement for the day.

So Long Midland!

Doral has been quite nice. We stayed an extra night since we had to get the mast up and try to fix the masthead instruments. They have treated us really well here. The service department loaned us tools, the folks at the gas dock gave us a slip next to the pool and playground for the kids, our package from West Marine was waiting for us when we arrived, and the showers have nice hot water. Its almost heaven. The only disappointment was that the lineup to get into the restaurant was an hour long when we went for dinner. We cooked at our slip instead.

One of the tenants of the marina has offered to store our mast holder for us until we come back, and that is a big help. We will need to stow the A-Frame and small support that we had put in the mast step, but I think that we can manage that. We have also managed to move our load around so that we can sort of get around the boat. I mentioned to SWMBO that the only way to make space on the boat will be to eat our way out of being overloaded. Meals should be pretty hearty over the next few days.

Last night we met some folks on their boat "For All The Right Reasons" and had a nice chat. They are power boaters out of Port Severn, and good folks. He is a crane operator and she works in sales with Flags Unlimited. They had some good stories to share, and we stayed late. Their boat was really nice inside - very spacious and not overstuffed like ours!!

We have spoken with Patti on the VHF a few times since we arrived, but we haven't managed to cross paths with her yet. Maybe we'll find her today. I wonder if we'll have a chance meeting with Stardust out here.

Our plan for the next few days is:
  • Sunday August 16th: Head to an anchorage on Beausoleil Island
  • Monday August 17th: Anchor at Bone Island
  • Tuesday August 18th: Anchor at Indian Harbour
  • Wednesday August 19th: Anchor at Twelve Mile Bay
  • Thursday August 20th: Spend the night at Henry's at Sans Souci (Dockage)
I am hoping there will be internet at Sans Souci, but I kind of doubt it. After Henry's our next night with dockage will be at Parry Sound, which is planned for the 24th or 25th.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


We're on holidays right now, and most of the posts over the next two weeks are pre-scheduled.

But, the week before we left, Chuck was home alone during the day. On Friday I picked up the new jumbo bag of Chipits. It was suspiciously empty.

Um, Child of Mine, what am I going to ask you right now (holding up the bag)?

Um.... You're going to ask me what happened to all the chocolate chips?

And what did happen to the chocolate chips?

Um.... I ate them.

What have you been having for breakfast all week?

A few handfuls of dried cereal.

What have you been having for lunch all week?


What have you been having for your snack all week?


What have you been having for your other snack all week?


Friday, 14 August 2009

Tucked away at Doral

I'm writing this from the Vee berth, in a great slip at Doral Marine Resort in Midland. Our trip down the canal was mostly without incident, although there were 2 tense moments. Ok, one of them was an incident. We almost didn't clear a swing bridge. What happened was that the boat cleared it, but the masthead instruments (even with the mast lying on deck) didn't. Looks like we're short an anemometer and wind direction doohickey for the masthead. If anyone has a spare...

In any case here's the log for Day 1 & 2.

August 13, 2009 - Day 1: Jackson’s Point to Swift Current

08:50 – With Iris sitting about 3” lower than usual we declared ourselves ready to depart. The day before had seen us provisioning the boat, lowering the mast for the Trent River transit, and shuttling vehicles. We got to bed in the wee hours of the morning and slept in until 8:00. Now it was adieu to our marina, and hello to vacation.

12:00 – Under power at 5knots all the way from Jackson’s Point with barely a breath of air on the water. We just reached Atherly Narrows at the north end of the lake. This is new ground for us. After going through the narrows we will be leaving Lake Simcoe for the first time. There is a lot of powerboat traffic in the area. I wish they would slow more for us since their wake is a problem, especially with the boat rigged the way it is.

14:45 – Arrive at lock 42. This was our first time going through a canal lock, and the process was surprisingly easy. The staff is top notch. We should have bought our permit before entering the lock chamber, but they locked us through, then took payment after. The grounds are very nice. We stayed for lunch and didn’t leave until 4:15.

17:20 – We have reached the north end of Sparrow Lake and it is starting to get late. We are looking for an anchorage for the night. On the rail bridge we suffered our first casualty of the trip. I thought there was room to fit our rig under the bridge, but our wind instruments caught on it. The masthead unit will need to be replaced. Too bad since we just refurbished all the gauges.

19:30 – Tried a promising looking anchorage at the bottom of a chute, but a rock shelf and inadequate swing room meant we had to continue on. Tried lantern marina, but it had already closed for the day. The shadows are getting long and we need a spot to tuck into. Since the next lock station is less than an hour away and there is still at least an hour of daylight, we are heading there.

??:?? – Arrived at swift Locks, and tied to the wall. Buddy has gone stir crazy, he is glad to be on his feet. Pork souvlaki, fried potatoes and broccoli for dinner. It is very quiet and peaceful here.

August 13, 2009 - Day 2: Swift Current to Doral Marine, Midland

10:40 - Depart swift current after a breakfast of bacon and eggs with a little onion fried up for flavour. First boat into the locks! Stopped at the bottom to talk to folks who were upbound, they were from Gilford! Swift current locks arevery high. and SWMBO felt a little claustrophobic in there. Chuck skipped this lock so she could take pictures. The ride down was very smooth.

Some of the channels we traversed today were very narrow, and some had strong currents. Few other boaters respect us - or each other through the channels, and we are often rocking and rolling from the wake of passing boats. We have noticed that the law of tonnage tends to apply with regards to wake, and sometimes in tight quarters I find myself hoping a speed demon will miss the channel and tear out his outdrive.

We have not touched bottom yet, although we have been forced out of the channel once or twice due to wake.

12:08 - Arrive Big Chute. I was nervous about bringing Iris across the marine railroad since I have heard both that the passage is difficult, and that the operators can be careless in handling your boat. Wrong on both accounts. All the way through the Trent System, the lock staff have been first class, both in their care of our vessel, and in the service they provide. We had to wait for a full cycle before there was room for Iris on the rail car, and then we were the first boat loaded on.

We were told to go straight up the centre of the car, and keep the throttle up to pressure the load strap. Then a second sling was placed under the belly of the boat, and Iris was set to go. A few adjustments. and more boats loaded behind us, and we were off. The girls sat up on the bow, while I watched the baby in the cockpit. The car rose up out of the water, stalled for a moment on the brink of the hill, then descended to Gloucester pool below.

At the bottom we found space on the dinghy dock since all the other docks were full, and with some expert handling, we crashed the dock, and put some beauty marks in the gelcoat, just where we wanted them. We nosed around the lock station to look at the displays of local history, and went to the marina/restaurant next door for ice cream before heading out. I promised everyone that at the next lock we'd just go right through without stopping to be tourists.

Depart Big chute at 14:30

15:55 - Arrive Port Severn Lockstation

Between Big Chute and Port Severn were many
beautiful channels and backwaters. It would be easy to leave the mast at home and spend a week just poking around the backwaters, slow but beautiful as the folks on a trawler we met at Swift Current said,

Never stopped for much more than a pee break at the locks. These locks were much tighter than the others we have been through. I was nervous about bringing the boat out, but it went well.

In the lock there is a beautiful Gunter-rigged sailboat named "Dream Time" the owners are very friendly. This is the first sailboat we've found with its mast up, and only the third other sailboat we've seen so far.

18:25 - Doral Marine Resort. We followed dream time from the Port Severn Locks all the way toTiffin Basin. When leaving the locks we finished our second fuel tank and had to hook up the third. This meant a few minutes of frantic activity in the cockpit.

I also found the Georgian Bay chart confusing since the markers are only numbered on the inset chart, and not the main chart. While trying to figure out the chart, I nearly left the marked channel, and the folks on Dream Time stepped in and guided us through. When Dream Time issued a securite that two sailboats were entering Potato Channel - a particularly tight spot between port severn and Midland, someone came on the VHF with a very loud "WOO-Hoo!! Watch them rock & Roll!!" We were a little nervous, but nothing came of it.

When we reached Midland, we took a moment to thank Dream Time for their help, and then motored on to Doral. We also hailed Patti (from the night race) on the VHF, and she told us that we may be able to cross paths tomorrow morning.

Being Enviro-friendly... Maybe

ok, so we heat our house with wood all winter long.  There are baseboard heaters throughout the house, but they're mighty expensive to run.

And we get tons of flyers.... tons & tons of them.

Does anyone know if it's better for the environment to burn them, seeing as we have a fire going anyway, or is it better to recycle???


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

I'm not sure what made me think of it.....

But a few days ago, I asked Chuck to go get the bathroom scale and bring it downstairs, thne stand on it.

Apparently, someone now needs a new lifejacket... an adult sized one.

She borrowed mine for the night race, but that was only because I wasn't aboard!!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A day Behind Before we've Left...

{EDIT: Another potential holdup... I just found out that we may need to go to see family in Sudbury before heading out. This would push us back by another day. I will update tomorrow AM after a family conference.}

The nice thing about DIY vacations is that the schedule can be flexible. We are taking advantage of that.

I thought it would be good for SWMBO to stop in and say hi to her grandparents before we head off, and while down in the city, she can swap our 2 monoculars for pair of binoculars. Hopefully they will stay intact.

While she is in the City, I will pack the boat and build a mast crutch. Our revised plan is to leave Jackson's point tomorrow afternoon. This would mean the following plan:

  1. Arrive JP tonight and (mostly) pack the boat.
  2. Go back in the morning and install the tether for Buddy, Build a mast crutch, and buy the rest of the groceries while SWMBO goes and gets new Binoculars and sees Grandma and Grandpa.
  3. Finish packing the boat.
  4. Cobble together a mount for the fishfinder.
  5. Drop off a vehicle in Barrie.
  6. Hug SWMBO and head off.

If things go well tonight; which is to say I leave work on time, and we get things figured out for packing, and we get a decent grocery list together, we should get out around noon tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Our plan as it stands right now is:

Wednesday the 12th

  • Noon-ish: Leave JP headed for Orillia
  • Drop Mast in Atherly area
  • Tomorrow evening: Arrive Orillia, possibly stay at Washago/Severn Bridge.

Thursday the 13th

  • Early: Leave Washago and head down the canal
  • Late: Arrive Gloucester Pool

Friday the 14th

  • Early: Leave Gloucester Pool
  • Mid-Morning: Arrive Doral Marine Resort & plug in.
  • Raise Mast
  • Call Patti
  • Check in with the family.

The butterflies are growing. I'm getting a little more excited...

This Wacky Weather.....

Is making me sick.

I don't normally complain on this blog, in fact I make it a point not to.

Yesterday morning I woke up, and poked the husband.

"I need you to get the baby ready today. I don't feel good."

and he did, while giving me updates...
"it's 8:00 cutie"
"It's 8:15 now.... are you calling in?"
"Ok, it's 8:30... I'm heading out......"

At 8:30 I called in late.  I start at 8:30, and it is a 45 min drive to work.  But the headache was mostly gone, and I could move without seeing stars by that time.  I figured an hour late was better than not at all.

I would have called in sick, but my boss is off, the guy next in line seniority wise was off, and then there's me.  There was also the guy two steps down from me off in the morning, and one step below him off.  So our normal staff of seven was down to three in the morning, four in the afternnon, if I was there.  And of the three of us at the top, one of us is always supposed to be there, and the other two were on vacation..

The whole reason for me being sick (here's where I get back tothe title), is that the weather was fluctuating wildly.  When this happens, I get nasty nasty sinus headaches.  There were two storms Sunday night, and another one on Monday.

Warm, cold, I don't care.  Just pick one!!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Night Race 2009

I am tardy (again) with importing our GPS log, but I need to do that, in the meantime, here is a brief synopsis of this year’s night race.

At first glance I would say it wasn’t as magical as last year. Last year there was moonlight glinting off the water, this year there was lightening making clouds glow. Last year there was a light, warm breeze, this year there was a threatening tone to the winds that never let up. Certainly it was a different race, but at the same time, it held its own magic. Let’s get on with the story.

We held a short crew meeting, everyone got their stuff on the boat and introductions were made all around. On board we had Patti, who owns a boat on Georgian Bay and sailed on Iris a bunch last season, Matt who had never sailed before, but was eager to learn, Luis who owns a Grampian in our club, but as a new boat owner wanted to try other boats out, Chuck, who has been mentioned here before, and myself. 5 adults on a 25 foot boat for a night-long race. I was worried about crowding.

The race started with the shortest skippers meeting in the history of skippers meetings. Everyone was handed a set of race instructions and told to read them. As with last year there would be no shortened course, no time limit, and no shore support.

I asked what the Race Committee would do in case the weather deteriorated to thunderstorms since the forecast looked pretty bad. The answer was simple – it’s up to you to decide when conditions are no longer amenable to sailing.

The start of the race was pretty uneventful. We started off really deep to stay clear of the spin fleet, then came up to the line staying well below most of the white sail fleet who were vying for the pin. It was a beam reach off the start, and we didn’t have the best line position, but we were there early and with speed, so I was happy. The trip up K-bay to Big Bay point went without trouble, and we reached the point about halfway back in the white sail fleet. Since we were only competing with 6 other boats (one was going to retire immediately after starting just so he could hold his position in the standings, and then we would have a fleet of 6 boats including ourselves) it was easy to keep track of the competition.

On the way up the bay everyone settled into position. Patti went up on foredeck and walked Matt through trim calling, I drove, Luis rested for the late shift, and Chuck kept up lots of lively banter. We turned the corner at the top of the bay, and headed toward Fox Island, watching out for Long shoal, and keeping an eye on the boats ahead, and behind us. Ahead was Newfie Screach.

Newfie is a great sailor, and one of the guys we always try to mark our progress against, also ahead was Lake Effect. Lake Effect sails out of LCYC, and is a very good sailor. Marking our time against those two boats would be a good indication of how well we were doing. With our 155% genoa flying, we bit into the building wind and pointed like a setter, going for the island.

We had taken an inland course, more so than some of the other boats, and it seemed to be working well. As they tacked over we watched them, and soon we saw Lake Effect was going to cross us. It was going to be a tight crossing, and I began to wonder if I should fall off to avoid a collision. Then I realized that we had made time on him, and lake Effect would be crossing behind us on port tack, if we held our course on starboard. Little firecrackers went off inside me and I smiled to myself as I watched him fall just behind us. Up ahead Newfie tacked over to make the island. I decided we would follow his course.

We dove down behind the island, deep, and then tacked to follow Newfie on his approach to rounding it. Just one problem though, He had tacked over early, and wasn’t going to make it. Newfie put in extra tacks, and we held course. On the lifts it looked like we would clear the island, but when the gusts ended, we looked like we wouldn’t. If we had held our course, we may have made it with inches to spare, but we’ll never know. I put in the same tacks Newfie did, and rounded the island with room to spare.

We followed Newfie up to the weather buoy that was the northeast mark in the course. On the way the wind continued to build and we enjoyed a strong showing from the boat. As the night deepened we watched the boats behind us getting closer. Eventually the waves were too much for Iris and as she ploughed into them her speed would drop from 6.7 knots (GPS) to 2.5 knots. We were having a great ride down the waves, but didn’t have the power to climb back up them. The motion was rough, and shortly after we were passed by “The United Nations Boat” we rounded the weather buoy to take the steep seas and heavy winds on the nose, over powered.

At the speeds we were doing, I was hoping the boat would hold on and get us to K-Bay without too much trouble. I was also thinking we had too much sail up, but I didn’t want to trade off our position. We were heeled to 30° regularly, and rainwater and spray were on all of us. It wasn’t a pleasant sail. Patti was up on the rail, and chuck sitting beside her. Matt and Luis were handling the sheets back in the cockpit, and I was fighting the helm through the weather. United Nations was up ahead, and Lake Effect was bearing down on us from behind. I was pushing hard, trying to hold our position in a tough condition.

Each wave threw the boat up in the air, where she would pause for a moment before being caught by the wind, thrown violently to leeward, and land in a trough to come back up and face the next wave. The cycle repeated itself again and again, and the crew was starting to look a little green.

I don’t know why, but on one of the cycles, Patti lost her handhold on the shroud. As the boat rose up she was shaken from her seat on the cabin top, slid back across it as the boat heeled, and slammed back first into the leeward shroud. She folded in half, slid onto the side deck, and sat there in a crumpled heap.

I turned the boat into Irons, as Matt or Luis (I don’t remember which) rushed forward to help her back to the cockpit. Patti came back, in shock and pain. I am thankful that she got stuck on the shrouds and didn’t go overboard in those conditions.

We turned back toward our destination, with Lake Effect breathing down our neck, and offered Patti all sorts of painkillers. She declined and rested instead.

In short order I decided it was foolish to continue putting this strain on the boat and crew, and handing over the tiller, I went forward to do a sail change. Tethered to the shrouds, I prepared to bring down the big Genoa. Patti released the Halyards, and Chuck went below in perfectly miserable conditions to receive the sail and stow it. I don’t know how she managed not to get seasick down there. I passed down the genoa and hanked on the storm jib. In the process I lost the jib halyard, and watched it swing out over the violent water.

It took about 6 tries before we the motion of the boat brought it close enough for me to catch it, and then we went up with the storm jib. In the process, we dropped to third last place.

Chuck, like a trooper stayed below until I handed her down the old sail and got the sheets on the new one. She is such a great kid!

With the storm jib on, the boat was much better behaved, but still suffering from the motion. All the up-close work on the foredeck had got my stomach churning, and in short order we had three of our crew of 5 on the lee rail chumming the fish. Luis and Chuck ran the boat while we tried to regain control of our stomachs. With the smaller sail up, we regained our position on the United Nations, and were looking pretty good, but when we reached K-bay that all changed.

In K-Bay there was no wind.

It felt like we were sitting on a millpond. Barely ahead of us we could make out 2 boats, and behind us we could see the lights on boat that we guessed were United Nations and Lake Effect. Far behind we could see the bow light of Icarus. With no wind, and our tiny storm jib, they were gaining on us. I needed to put up more sail. I also knew that our slow-motion sail changes meant we would lose a lot of ground.

For what felt like a long time I debated it in my mind, and then I decided to just get on with it. Chuck went below again as I went up front, the big genoa went back up the forestay, and the little jib went down below. Chuck came back out of the cave, and we all huddled for the rest of the ride to Barrie. In the time we lost to the second sail change, every boat in the field passed us. We were the last boat home, 2 hours behind the first spinnaker boat.

One of the boats that got in ahead of us had notified folks that we had had an accident onboard, and Patti reached the harbourmaster on her cell phone. A spot was waiting for us against the wall, and folks came over right away to help Patti off the boat. She was in a lot of pain, and had spent much of the race with her head against the cockpit coamings trying to sleep off the hurt.

It turns out that Patti came away with a badly bruised tailbone and some bruises on her arms and back. That's a lot better than the story I would be telling gif she hadn’t gotten caught up in the shrouds. Matt (who had never sailed before) is taking lessons this week, and Luis has offered to come out on Hawkestone weekend to crew. As for Chuck, well she sailed back with me on Sunday under perfect blue skies, close reaching all the way from Kempenfelt bay to SGA. Perfect conditions.

Tommorow SWMBO and buddy and I head to Georgian Bay, so things can’t be all that bad.

Oh, and on handicap, we took 3rd place which means we hold our first overall position!!

LSIS Race 5 Stats:
Distance Covered: XX.X Statute Miles (Slip to Slip) - Tracklog incomplete
Time on course: 7:34:00
Corrected time: 6:47:31
Time out of 1st Place (Corrected Time): 0:35:21
Iris was on course 8.67% longer than the first place boat.

How to Waterproof a sleeping bag:

This is more of a Girl Guide tutorial than a normal post.... but since Guides is a big part of my life, I thought that I would share it here (And really, this will work for anyone going camping)

Materials Needed:
1. Ground sheet or tarp

2. Foam mattress
            (air mattress not recommended for two reasons:
               a. they can deflate in the night
               b. A foam mattress will keep you warmer)

3. Sleeping bag

4. Extra blanket

5. Small pillow if desired

6. Small stuffed animal if desired.


1. Lay the groundsheet out.

2. lay the Foam mattress in the middle. The groundsheet should be slightly longer than the mattress, and should be at least twice as wide.

3. lay sleeping bag on top of mattress, then blanket

4. place your pillow and furry friend in the middle of the sleeping bag

5. fold the sides over, so that the whole bundle looks like a present.

6. Start at the head, and roll the bundle up as tightly as you can

7. Once it is rolled, use nylon cord to tie the bedroll up tightly.

a. Go around one side:

b. Then across:

C. Around the other side:

d. over one end:

e. under the rope

f. across again:

g. under the rope on the other side, then around the other end:

h. Back to where you started:

i. Now make a handle:

j. And you’re done!

And there you go. One dry sleeping bag.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Ants Having A Picnic

So you know those wooden puzzles for really little guys?

Well, Buddy has a stack of them handed down from his second cousins.  They're various themes, one has different insects, one has school things, etc.

Well, his favorite thing to to with them is turn them all upside down on the floor.  So I only usually give him one at a time.

Last night he was playing with the insect puzzle.  After he went to bed, I was picking up his things to put away, and was putting the pieces back in the puzzle.  I found all but one piece.

Me: "Honey, do you see the ants having a picnic?"
Hubby: "Ants! Where??  We have ants???  I don't see them!!"

No dear, the puzzle piece of the two ants with a sandwhich between them....

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Friday, 7 August 2009

Quick Dry Baby Pants

So I have this sewing machine, and it rarely gets used.

However, a while back I read this tutorial on Jessica's Balancing Everything blog, and I though "hey, I can do that!"

My first attempt was ok... not stellar, but ok. After ripping out the waist an re-sewing it, I could kind of put the baby in them, if we weren’t going anywhere.

Then I had this pair of pants that I had really, really loved, until I bent down one day to pick up the baby and heard a rip.

And was very thankful that I was at home when said pants ripped

That is an irreparable rip.

So I decided that I could make the baby a pair of pants out of these, and since we're heading away on our sailing vacation soon, a pair of quick dry pants would probably be beneficial anyway.

(note to Moms: The first time I wore these, the baby had a poop so explosive that it was all over them. After a couple of baby wipes, the mess was cleaned off, and within five minutes, they were already dry. That was one reason why I loved them. Quick dry is not only for canoeing / sailing).

So, a month ago I set out to make my baby a pair of pants and a pair of shorts from the legs of these pants.

I started by tracing a pair of pants and shorts onto craft paper, and then adding in a seam allowance:

Then got ready to cut:
And then promptly lost my nerve, and did nothing for a month.

So, last night I gave myself a good shake, said 'really, what do you have invested? A destroyed pair of pants, and a little time.' EVEN IF they got messed up, really, what did it cost? Nothing. A little thread, that's all.

So I got out my patterns, and traced and cut:

(you can see my print out of the tutorial in the foreground there)

Lined up the two halves:


And voila!

In Jessica's words:
"Shut up! You made pants! How awesome are you?

I do need to tighten up the elastic in the waist a smidge, but otherwise, they look ok.

After finishing the shorts, I also used the rest of the leg to make a full length pair of pants for the Buddy. If you look in the picture above of the pant legs before they're cut, you can kind of see that there's a drawstring around the ankle. There's also a button on the outside, with a tab inside to pull them into capris. I was able to leave all this styling on, so the pants can be tied at the bottom (keep mosquitoes out), or rolled into shorts. As my husband so eloquently described them "So you made cheap a** fashionable pants?" I sure did!

But wait, that does not end the frugality of the evening!! Not only did I sew a pair of shorts AND a pair of pants out of material that cost nothing and was headed to the landfill, the only part that I didn't use for Buddy was the butt part of the pants (which also had a drawstring waist). Well, the other day hubby asked me to make him a drawstring bag.... so, using the top part, I sewed up the bottom, put a quick seam where they had ripped, and... Voila! A bag for all the extra bungee cords and ropes for sailing.  (that took less than three minutes to sew)

I'm not sure if this counts as "inventive," "frugal," "environmentally firendly," or "ridiculously cheap." But whatever, I was proud of my accomplishment.  I saved all but a few scraps from the landfill, and didn't have to buy material (except thread).