A hot day today…spent most of it at the pool at Shore and Country Club. It hit 37C.
We took a quick tour of some nearby islands, a deserted lighthouse. We have never seen so many shells in one place! The kids went wild with their collection. We also saw many large horseshoe crabs all over the place, washed up on the beach. Unfortunately, it was at this point, that I dropped my camera. It looked fine until I tried to close it. The zoom on the shutter was no longer working – broken. Not sure how I will get another one quickly so I can take photos for our memories and blog….very disappointed with my lack of coordination. Serena was the first to dive into the salt water. Jeremy & Christian followed but quickly came out after a few baby jellyfish were spotted at the surface.
When we got back to the boat, we had a visitor….Sergio Boniche, a colleague from IBM, came with gifts from Joe Traders. He had dinner with us and stayed until 23:00. It was great to catch up with him!
A late morning, spent most of the morning fixing little things. Kids went to pool. After lunch some thunder-boomers made their presence, spoiling some of our plans. Ended up in the safety of Ted and Keri O’Neil’s home for the rain and thunder. Another wonderful evening of banter while the kids had fun together.
The last week has been what I would call “discombobulating”. We moved from a home of 3200 square feet to 180 sq ft. It has been difficult convincing the kids to give up many of their books, toys, bricolage, etc. Let’s face it….even for Mama and Papa Bear, we are finding it challenging to downsize on our toys/necessities.
Regardless of the 6 months of prep, the move flew by in a disorganized manner. We were very fortunate to have Mami and Papi’s help to help us with multiple house projects and packing. They helped keep us focused on the tasks at hand whenever we got side-tracked. Merci beaucoup Mami et Papi pour votre aide durant notre démanagement! On vous aime!
The boat is now full with what we THOUGHT were “our meagre belongings”.
Meagre or not, there doesn’t seem to be any where for us to walk these days!
The kids were very excited to start re-decorating their rooms though….
Now that we are on the boat, our days have been filled with mini-projects to get us ready to leave the dock: fixing new found leaks, building shelving, installing internal house power / solar panels / SSC for fridge, installation of new GPS, re-varnishing, provisioning, beginning sewing projects, unpacking and re-packing, ….you get the picture. All while trying to keep 2 young children entertained.
The stormy weather has had us moving our supplies from the dock to shelter multiple times a day. We are challenged to keep track of where we last placed our tools and project parts.
Already we have begun making many friends. Serena and Jeremy kickstarted it with they July 4 preparations, posting jokes and posters at the Marina for Elizabeth and Bruno. The children even did their duty for Scouts by cleaning up the marina property of pollution and debris!
Then they befriended Amy, Maehley, and Florence with whom they spent the day and celebrated the fireworks. We also made friends with Heidi and Rene who were on their way to Canada from Switzerland! Thank you for your Rosemary, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and other gifties you left us!
July 6 – 10
Luckily, we have Grammy & Grampy here now for 5 days to help us entertain the kids and assist with small projects on the boat. The pool at their hotel is a real winner with the kids in this 90F weather. Dinners out with Grammy and Grampy has also been a winner with me as there is no time to prepare meals. Thanks Grammy & Grampy for your wonderful, helpful visit! We love you!
In between projects, shopping for supplies, and visitors, we are slowly making progress. The goal is to push off the dock in the weather window of the 20th. Keeping our fingers crossed for no more broken toes or tools to slow us down anymore!
Thank you everyone for your messages to us via our blog! We read them today. Your comments have been very encouraging and inspiring to us. We will respond to you all once we get more accustomed to our new environment and spotty network connectivity! Photos will be posted on each blog later in July….
Earlier this week, on their own initiative, the kids took out their school books and started doing exercises to get ahead. They also started their music lessons!
School work that the kids have begun:
Working in his Trapeze Mathematiques – 17 pages done
Began taking photos of things he has never seen before
Started doing a research project on Dinosaurs. The dinosaur of his focus is: T-Rex
Working in her Mathematics book
Doing exercises in her Arobas – Français – 4 pages
Started doing drawings each day to represent either an important event or something to remember each day.
I have been busy organizing school supplies. Luckily, the supplies just went on sale at the stores, so helpful to find what we need. Packing these supplies on the boat is another challenge. With such lack of space, I have had to sew little mesh pockets for under the salon banquettes. I am proud to say that they look VERY professional – the unfortunate part is that they are about 1 cm too small to store duotangs! Another botched job…another re-work required….maybe on the trip through the canals I will get busy on fixing them…..
July 13 – Last Visit to Montreal
Our last visit to Montreal was Thursday July 13. Many things had to be done: re-packing/ organizing our storage boxes in the garage, storing the Porsche, getting last minute fabrics for key sewing projects, last bank visits, and buying all those favourite things we can only get at home – like vol-au-vent patisseries, lime chips ; – ) . Additionally, this was our last “overnight stay” in Quebec for RAMQ. I note it here to make it official for insurance purposes.
Thanks to our good friends Claude et Marie-Lyse, we bunked up the whole family in their extra apartment in downtown Verdun for the night. Our visit with them was a lovely opportunity to help us wind down and relax for the first time – with the heavy lifting and non-stop pace we have kept up for the last few weeks, our bodies were really in need of a “pause”. Thank you for your wonderful hospitality Claude and Marie-Lyse! The kids enjoyed the pool, Si-Belle, and Camuel’s friendship. The only thing we were missing was
a “massage” at the end of the evening!
July 15 – Continued preparations…
Back to the boat in Plattsburgh and our never-ending projects. We are still having concerns with the fridge (even with the added refrigerant, it doesn’t seem to work on a regular cycle- anybody know how to repair a boat fridge without the need to replace it completely??), a bit of bilge water, and a bad varnish job that doesn’t want to dry properly. We have been very lucky to have our good friends Pascal and Emma help us out with many challenging projects – including psychological counselling! Thanks to Pascal, we got our refrigeration and electrical issues resolved! Merci à vous deux! On vous apprecie beaucoup! Christian started building the struts to support the mast when we go through the locks. I started making our mosquito protection drapes for the cockpit. We seem to always be running to Lowes or Walmart for more supplies. The days are getting hotter, but continually have us on the run to protect our gear in between rain showers.
With the hot temperatures and lack of wind, we have been taking the boat to Plattsburgh Beach for dinner and overnight. Despite it being a refreshing break, to be able to swim and have cooler air circulating in the boat, it cuts a bit into the beat of the advancement of our projects….
The kids have been REALLY well behaved and I would like to recognize them publicly for this. Hours for meals, snacks, bedtime, etc, have been thrown right off schedule, but they continue to be flexible and keep busy reading, doing bricolage, taking photos, or playing with Hexbugs. Serena even helped me with our first load of laundry! The only TV and internet access they’ve had so far was when they went to Montreal 2 days ago.
Today, as a reward for their great efforts, we gave them a membership to Minecraft Pocket Edition…the hopes are that this does NOT distract them from their more important assignments.
After a long day of projects, we were pleasantly treated by our dear friends Pierre and Anne to a delicious dinner of thick tuna steaks and cheerful banter. Pascal and 2 of Pierre’s friends also joined us. It was a late night, but a great time to connect before our departure!
Surprise visit to Quebec to see Mami and Papi. Their plans have suddenly changed and we will not see them in Florida this November. Christian wanted to have a quick visit, returning on July 18. In the meantime, I continued working on my sewing projects for the boat.
July 18 – 19
After returning from Quebec and buying a batch of groceries, we left by boat to both Canada and US Customs to obtain our Coastal Cruising permit.
The permit allows us to go offshore and sail in “international waters” and come back to continental USA without the need to go through Customs each time. This was an added 2 days for us to go north and obtain these. Very stressful trip when we had to pass under the bridge at Rousse’s Point and bent the antenna at the top of our mast. We REALLY only had inches to pass! Luckily no fast motor boats to cross or we would have had more issues. After getting the permit, the last stop on our way south was at Barcomb’s Marina to meet up and have lunch with Claude and Marie-Lyse one last time before departure. Overnight at Plattsburgh Boat Basin with a last grocery stop, the plan was to finally take off early in the morning after storing our cars.
Despite delays with the purchase of our health insurance coverage and last minute reparations, we were still determined to leave in the morning after dropping off our cars at the storage. Unfortunately, 3 minutes after exiting the car wash, we were hit with a rain storm that was like a flash-flood. The least of our concerns was that we wasted $$ on extra car wax treatment…our bigger concern was “did we close the hatches in the boat?” Sure enough, upon our return from the car storage, we realized that we had left many hatches open….the worst room hit was Jeremy’s. His mattress, clothes, and toys were soaked. The rain had even trickled below the floor boards into the engine compartment. Our plans to leave early had to be changed.
By 3:30 pm, with mattress tied on the bow and clothes + toys drying on the life-lines, we were off the dock (4 hours later than planned). After a lovely downwind sail at 6 knots under genoa alone, we arrived in Shelburne Bay at 7:30pm -in time for a late supper and swim.
The day starts with splashing in the water, playing on the water toys and a big breakfast. Then, work on the projects begins…again….Why is it that there is no such thing as a 5 minute job on a boat? Even the simplest of projects seems to need to be re-done or is missing parts to complete.
We paid a quick visit to Shelburne Shipyard to thank our friends Aniek and Steve (Stitches Afloat) for our new bimini.
Their beautiful handiwork helped to create more cockpit space for us with a new added sun shade and reinforcement for our solar panels. If you ever need a new bimini or dodger or sail cover, call Stitches Afloat before they head down south this fall!
We passed a lovely evening with our friends, Jodie and Eric. Having a sumptuous BBQ supper and lots of entertainment by Baby Sylas was a nice way to help us continue to lower the stress levels of our change in lifestyle.
Thank you for your wonderful hospitality! Luckily, the big storm passed just before we got dropped off at our wet zodiac for the 10pm ride back to our boat.
We headed south down Lake Champlain early. The wind was in our favour….a beautiful 4-5 knots under genoa alone. Never have we done this trip so quickly…skipping all of our favourite bays and inlets (like Converse, Kingsland, Basin Harbour), but we ended up spending the night in our favourite bay at Cole Island. Peaceful listening to sunset taps at Camp Dudley’s.
Kickstarted the day with a treasure hunt on Cole Island. As usual, pirates have a tendency to leave good “loot” on this hidden island. Our kids were happy with their finds!
We passed one of our favourite historical landmarks, Crowne Point, around noon. Passing under this bridge was much less worrisome than the one on July 19.
Passing Fort Ticonderoga at 3pm, the children were sad that we were not stopping to visit another of their favourite museums. I found it hard to explain that preparing to take the mast down is more important than an educational / historic site. Arriving at Chipman Point marina around 4pm, the weather was favourable and we had time to finish building the mast struts, fold the sails, take off the boom and halyards, and have a yummy ice cream!
The day begins with lots of rain and wind. Not good conditions to take down a 53 foot mast. We will wait for the clearing that the radar is predicting at noon. We spent the day building the aft strut support for the mast and getting all the details ready for a safe take down.
Dinner was a nice warm chili to warm our bones after working in the pouring rain all day. The temperature never exceeded 17C.
Up at 7am….Chip from the marina was ready for us. We had the mast down and secured by 10:30am.
In between we did a load of laundry with a propane dryer….wow VERY quick dry! We pushed off the dock at 11:30 and started heading toward the locks. Despite the very narrow channel in most places, we kept a speed of approximately 6 knots. The landscape is very beautiful as we go through the Adirondacks. It is interesting to see it from the water perspective, as we are typically seeing it from the highway. We passed several huge eagle and hawk nests in the tops of the canal markers. It truly seems like the birds used “tree trunks” to build their nests – they were so huge!
Our first lock was Whitehall – it was number 12. It was 20 miles from Chipman Point marina and we arrived at 14:05. It took us 15 minutes to go through it.
It was our first experience going through the Hudson River locks. Slightly stressful experience as the water lifts the boat up, there is a significant current where you really need all hands on deck to keep the boat from hitting the lock wall. Whitehall looks to be a very pleasant town with historical buildings. The lock keeper was very friendly.
On our way to Lock 11 (Canal Mile 57.1), we passed some interesting wildlife that kept the children very entertained: bald eagles, hawks and their nests, beaver dams, herons on the hunt and in flight. The kids brought their crafts out into the cockpit to be able to quickly spot things. They found going under the low bridges a real scream.
Lock 11, we arrived at 15:35 (9 miles from Lock 12) – a bit less stressful as we knew what to look out for. The canals are all managed by the same corporation, so they follow the same protocol and the lock masters keep each other informed of when a vessel is coming through and when to expect it.
We arrived at Lock 9 (Canal Mile 47.9) at 16:35….no we did not skip a lock….there no longer exists Lock 10. The friendly lock master informed us that we would not make it to the next lock before closing (17:00), so we decided to spend the night on the wall at this lock. This lock was given an award in 2015 – not surprising as the area was pristine like a park. We were docked right next to a lovely waterfall. The peace and quiet with nature’s sounds with not puff of wind were a great way to help us to continue to wind down.
The kids tried fishing as they could see the fish at the water surface. Unfortunately, even with a new lure, given to us by a friendly fisherman, neither child had any luck in catching….lots of “bites” though.
I tried my new mosquito nets that took me more than 4 weeks to make. This was a very challenging project (working with Velcro and this fine mesh material) but in the end, I was very pleased with the results! We passed a very peaceful night in this place.
Up at 6am to get the boat ready for the next lock. The fog was SO thick, we were not sure if we could navigate safely, but Captain Chris did a great job at getting us to Lock 8 (Mile 42) just before 8am.
Lock 7 was Fort Edward (Mile 39.9) where we stopped for breakfast at a very old fashioned diner. We then checked out the interesting archaeological site of Rogers Island from the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763). Rogers Island was home to hundreds of British tents, barracks, hospitals, and storehouses – the 3rd Largest City in America in the 1750’s where so many were scalped and killed off from Small Pox. The children will write a small report on what they learned today.
By 10:30am, we continued going through Locks 6 (Mile 32), 5 (Mile 28.3), 4 (Mile 13.6), and 3(Mile 11.9)…some of the deepest locks – 25.5 feet! We really got a good system going through the locks with everyone in the family having their important job to keep the boat well placed as the water levels went either up or down. After realizing we would be 20 minutes too late to make Lock One before it closed at 5pm, we decided to stay in Mechanicville. An amazing choice with quiet public dock (electricity/water) and hot clean showers! Christian found an issue with one of the spreaders and asked the local police for a reference for a welder. Within 20 minutes, Scott the welder was at our dock inspecting the job which he said he could get done by 9am next morning. The people in Mechanicville are incredibly friendly! We even be-friended several people on the public dock while eating supper. They offered us plenty of good advice.
Early in the morning, Christian went to pick up the spreader. He met us for breakfast at the Ugly Rooster in the pouring rain and then we left in a downpour for Lock 2 (Canal Mile 9.3). Both this and Lock 1 (Mil3 5.8) went very smoothly despite the pouring rain. Right at Canal Mile 2.6, in Waterford, we stopped at a small dock to do a quick grocery run at Price Chopper. They own this dock which makes it very convenient for boaters to do their provisioning. This was also our first opportunity to try out our new present from Pascal and Emma: a collapsible wagon. This was SUCH an amazing aid for grocery shopping! The wheels spin just like luggage, making it really easy to move and it carries over $150 of groceries! Saves on bags and handles weight miraculously! Much better than a backpack…MERCI ENORMEMENT Pascal et Emma!!!!
When we got to the Federal Lock in Troy, we were quite disappointed that it was not equipped with hanging lines. These lines help us to hold the boat steady as the current swishes us around in the lock while the water level changes and the gates open/close. With 4 large cruisers in the lock with us, we did not have much room to manoeuver.
By 5pm, after passing through Albany (a very industrial / stinky area in the river), we arrived at Castleton on the Hudson and took a mooring for $25. Aside from the loud trains, this place is very tranquil with tropical bird sounds on the west bank.
Happy Birthday Brenda!
Delayed until 8am due to fog, we motored to Catskill on a powerful tidal current…hitting 8.6 knots. We arrived at Hop-O-Nose Marina around noon (a lovely, secluded little place) and met William and Shawn who helped us put the mast back up by 3pm. Every 15 minutes, music came from the nearby monastery which made you feel like you were in the mountains of the Sound of Music! The kids were very fortunate that this wonderful marina had a pool where they spent 2 hours on 20 inflatable toys! Dinner was eaten at their Creekside restaurant with an early night.
If it is possible to have an invigorating sail at the same time as an exasperating day, we had it today. I have to say we had AWESOME winds from when we left the dock at Hop-O-Nose Marina all the way through to our overnight anchorage at Croton on the Hudson! After 30 minutes under motor, we decided to roll out the genoa to help. Captain Christian ensured we were in perfect time with the tide and we rode this beautiful current right until the wind picked up to 20 knots+. Boy….we never saw speeds below 6 knots…at some points we hit 8.8 knots at West Point Military Academy as well as in Peekskill, where the Hudson River bends, becomes narrow, and becomes very unpredictable. We jibed approximately 47 times – the wind changed so much due to the mountainous terrain surrounding us on both sides.….my arms were getting quite fatigued.
Meanwhile homework still continued….
But the scenery certainly made up for the unpredictable winds….how beautiful the mountains, cliffs, and the castles…many elegant homes as well.
Quick motor sail from our wavy anchorage in Croton on the Hudson to West 79 Street Boat Basin in New York City. We went with the tidal current – a ferocious 6 knots – and arrived at low tide (10:30am). The marina could not accommodate our draft (of 5’10”) and they said that the moorings were all under maintenance so we had to take a chance at anchoring near the wall just north of the marina moorings, near a bike path. This was a very strange experience to anchor without needing the motor in reverse…the current carried us into place very quickly, the anchor held well in the clay-like bottom.
After lunch, we headed out for a hike around the highlights of NYC to show the kids. Starting at 79th and Broadway, we walked south on Broadway…they kids were so excited. Unfortunately, the strap to Serena’s sandal broke 15 min into the walk and we had to start shopping for shoes. We went into a Bloomingdales Outlet store and, after 1 hour, found a great pair of Nikes for the bargain basement price of $73.99! Needless to say, they were a good choice for comfort and Serena was happy. With new shoes on, we passed many of the theatres (Lion King, Miss Saigon) and skipped to Time Square and showed the kids the “bizarre” sites (the Naked Cowboy, Cookie Monster, Mickey, Disney Princesses, and even naked women with the US flag painted over their private parts). The children were relieved when we walked into a Disney store to get out of the street mania. We searched everywhere for ice-cream, but could only find those soft serves from vans which cost $5 for a small (that is $7 CAD which is expensive when one has no income!) Finally, we ended up at Rockefeller Centre where I knew there was a cool Lego Store. The kids spent an hour “building their figures” (each got 3 figures in a pack) where they could choose from 1000’s of faces/bodies/accessories. For one of their 3 figures, they made “themselves” wearing an “I Love NY” t-shirt. After finding a Ben & Jerry’s for some delectable ice cream treat, we walked to a subway to give the kids a ride back to the boat basin. A cold beer was GREAT after that 10km walk. And Serena, Jeremy, and I sat on the transom with our feet in the cool salt water (the current really provided an awesome foot massage). NYC is very loud at night…even a Sunday. The night was restless due to the huge swell, waves, rocking, sounds, etc….
Up at 6:30am, very calm day….again Captain Christian timed the day perfectly with the tidal current. We bid adieu to NYC waterfront by making the touristic stop in front of the Statue of Liberty.
Then curved up the East River to head toward Long Island Sound.
We were amazed with all the helicopters which all seemed to land at the same landing pad in Manhattan…we counted 8 helicopters in a span of 12 minutes. We figured some very powerful executives all arriving for their 9am meeting! We caught glimpses of the ruins of Roosevelt Hospital where Small Pox was contained many years ago.
VERY impressive views of the majestic bridges that generously arched over our mast…so nice to see they are used for dual purpose of train AND car traffic. We made it through Hell’s Gate very serenely, thanks to the calm weather and timing with tidal current. Coming out of the East River, it opened up as we passed Fort Shuyler at Throg’s Neck (built in 1812). At this point, we could see hundreds of patches near the boat that looked like gusts of wind. They were sparkling fish jumping out of the water all around us…one could see hundreds of little fins at the surface…all swimming in circles. Amazing! No sailing today….too calm. We will make it to Norwalk tonight to see our friends, Ted, Keri, Grace, George, and Grady.
Around 4pm, when we turned the bend into Norwalk river, we were warmly greeted by the O’Neil’s 32 foot cruiser. They led us into the Shore and Country Club guest quay, helped us dock, and we were offered some ice cold beer….what a wonderful welcome! We then made plans to go to their place for dinner after the kids had dinner at the Club. We spent a lovely evening at their 3 storey home near the beach.
I am often asked…where did the work start? When did the preparation for this trip begin? I guess it depends which aspect….if you are asking about when we decided we wanted to do this trip, I would have to say it was about 10 years before we met each other. Both living parallel lives, unbeknownst to each other, as active racing sailors (one in the catamaran fleet, the other in keelboats) both working for Bell Canada in different provinces, both owning homes as young investors…..we had a dream to “live/travel on a sailboat”. Luckily, we met each other at a favourite pastime – the Montreal Jazz Festival – on June 27, 2003. It was that evening that we realized we shared the same passion. So, I guess we have been planning this trip since then….
The real planning began with the request in 2016 to our children’s school and the Commission Scolaire to do “homeschooling”.
Then, we had to clean out the house, knowing we could only take 1/100th of our possessions on the boat. Many of our toys were given away…we even had a garage sale.
Then the packing and organizing….with the house being rented, we needed to put our belongings in 5 categories: “boat”, “leave in house”, “storage”, “sell”, and “waste”.
For an organization freak, it is not easy living in a house full of boxes for months.
While Mama Bear and the kids were working at organizing the house, Papa Bear spent his weekends fixing up the boat: sanding and repainting the bottom, installing new plumbing, new bimini, new sails, changing the batteries, building new storage, installing solar panels with controller, cutting and installing new mattress, changing light fixtures to LED, installing battery charger booster….and the list goes on….
Unfortunately even when we are on the boat, this unending list of “to do’s” will grow ; – )