We’re back!

After we were able to move onto the Monk, life quieted down out here. With little adventure, there wasn’t a lot to write about. Instead, we’ve just been enjoying boat life and taking in the beauty of our surroundings.

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We did make a trip back to Ontario in the fall for a wedding. While we were there, we were able to do the logical boat thing – go and check out a friend’s new boat and help him put it up for the winter.

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Once back home, we decided that we wanted to have a very low-key holiday season. We spent too much time marathon-watching TV, but made sure that we took Lenny on a few adventures.

As much as we both love the mild weather of the west coast, we agree that every dog should have the chance to play in the snow – so up the mountain we went in search of some winter for Lenny.

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On one such adventure, we found that the route we were hoping to take was blocked off, so Leonard had to make do with a run and play in the river:

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For our last excursion of the break, we decided to go to Point Roberts. For those of you who have never heard of it, it is a small (five square mile) peninsula which belongs to the US.

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It doesn’t look like much (and it really isn’t), but it had been on our list of places to explore. We took Lenny for a quick walk on the beach (it was rather windy and bitterly cold):

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Afterwards, we had a quick dinner and headed home.

As for our next adventure? Stay tuned and expect a big reveal in my next post!

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Moving week!

It’s been a long time coming, but last weekend we finally started to transition from Griffin into the Monk!

Saturday started with a trip to Canadian Tire, Home Depot and Ikea for some necessities, such as a couple of space heaters and a table. The purchase we were most excited for? Our new fridge! In case you had forgotten – Griffin only had an icebox… Buying (and carrying) ice blocks every day or two in the summer was not the highlight of our day!

Our little galley

Our little galley, complete with our brand new fridge

By the time we were done our errands, we had just enough time to set the basics up before grabbing a quick dinner and getting ready for bed:

Our new-to-us futon - multi-use items are essential on a boat

Our new-to-us futon – multi-use items are essential on a boat

One of the best (non-essential) details? Our boat themed cushions!

We spent our first night on the boat, and woke up to see that the interior of our (white) boat was glowing pink from the most amazing sunrise:

View of the sunrise out the window

View of the sunrise out the window

We had another busy day: we had several convenience items that we needed from the dollar store, which we were able to do while waiting on our wash at the laundromat. Then it was time to seriously start moving stuff from one boat to another and start to get things organized. Once that was all done, we were ready to put our feet up and relax in the saloon:

Alex and Lenny relaxing in the saloon

Alex and Lenny relaxing in the saloon

We even have enough space to have a drying rack for our clothes, which means I don’t have to have my work clothes strung out around the boat anymore!

The one downfall of moving is that we still have some things that haven’t made it over yet. This became incredibly evident when I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday with a migraine. After taking my go-to migraine meds and them not working, we realized that the rest of our first aid kit/medicine cabinet was still on Griffin. Lucky for me, Alex didn’t complain at all about getting up and going to find them for me!

After spending a large part of the day resting and recovering from the migraine, we were ready to cook our first proper meal in our new home. Alex made a lovely stew, and of course I had to make biscuits to go with it (how can you have stew without biscuits??).

Making biscuits on our new (almost finished) marble counter

Making biscuits on our new (almost finished) marble counter

There are still a lot of finishing touches that we need to do, but we couldn’t be happier with the way this project has turned out. We were faced with a lot of scepticism when we first started this venture, especially so soon after leaping into the boat world, but we have surpassed even our expectations.

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How many boats do you need to make a flotilla?

After being back in Ontario for the past week, I finally made it home to Alex and Lenny.

Who wouldn't miss that face??

Who wouldn’t miss that face??

Other than sharing that my dad is home and stable, there wasn’t a lot to write about last week, but I thought I should do a quick update about everything that had happened while I was gone.

Alex had been busy working on the Monk, and had made a lot of progress. The most significant accomplishment was actually the weekend right before I left:

That didn’t mean it was time to slack off though. He kept working away, and managed to finish up the woodwork on the helm, while Lenny relaxed outside:

The (mostly) finished helm

The (mostly) finished helm

Although Lenny looks well-behaved in that instance, he always manages to figure out a way to get himself in a mess. At one point, he was trying to follow Alex around the boat, and got completely tangled in the lines:

I wasn’t sad to miss out on the long hours spent on the Monk, but I did miss out on a pretty big adventure while I was back home: getting yet another sailboat to add to our collection.

Because we are on a fairly tight budget, we try to scope out Craigslist and see what we can find to up-cycle. I’d had some time to browse while I was at home, and stumbled across a listing for a free boat. The catch? It had been damaged in the recent storm, so someone needed to salvage it. Which required more than Alex and an 8 hp dinghy.

Alex talked to one of our neighbours, and they decided to go rescue the boat with both their dinghies and to split the work (and any profit that we will get when we flip it).

When they got to the boat, they could see that although there was some significant damage to the fibreglass, it was quite a nice little boat with a Yanmar diesel engine that runs well, so home it came!

Our neighbour celebrating on the new boat

Our neighbour celebrating on the new boat

Just a bit of damage to the exterior

Just a bit of damage to the exterior

The boat is already back at the marina, and ready for repair, which means it’s time to start reading up on fibreglass work!

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Salt water cures all: tears, sweat and the sea

Last Friday was such a great day. The weather for the weekend was shaping up for perfect sailing weather, and we had finally be able to make plans to take Paula out (after having to abort the trip last time due to the big storm).

Saturday morning we got woken up at 7:00 AM by the phone – call display told me that it was my mom’s cell phone. The timing could have been an accident (there is a three hour time difference), but the fact that she was calling on her cell (which she NEVER uses) told me something wasn’t right. I answered, not sure that I wanted to know what she was going to say. The thing is, at the beginning of the year my dad was having some pretty serious health issues. He had been doing a lot better even before we left, but he still had a ways to go.

My mom explained the situation briefly: my dad was having some serious heart issues, and there were waiting to be transferred from the local hospital to the closest ICU. As much as my instinct was to get on the next flight home, my mom told me not to. She said I should wait and see what the doctors and test results say, since he might be home in a day or so. As much he was seriously ill, we knew that we were lucky that they had had time to call the ambulance and get to the hospital where he could receive care. The alternative was just too scary to imagine.

After getting off the phone, I had a decision to make: stay home and worry, or make the most of the weekend and still head out. I’m not going to lie, my first thought was to stay curled in bed and worry, but I quickly reasoned with myself and decided that we should still go out. Before dragging ourselves out of bed though, I needed some Lenny-time to get my mood up:

Lenny-time

Lenny-time

After some puppy snuggles, we got up and started getting everything ready. We always try to do a once over of the cabin to make sure that everything is secure before setting out. It only took one time of things getting knocked around to learn that the hard way!

Once that was done, and Paula had arrived, we set out for the Indian Arm. As we were getting closer to the bridge (the point where we can raise the sails), we could see heaps of sailboats up ahead. It was such perfect weather that it seemed like everyone had the same idea – make the most of a beautiful September afternoon.

After sailing for a bit, we decided to anchor early enough to have time for a swim and to catch dinner. As usual, Lenny was in total guard-dog mode whenever anyone was in the water. Alex had swam him over to the idea for a bathroom break, but he was distracted the whole time because Paula was exploring and climbing up the cliff. When he got back to the boat and realized she wasn’t there, he kept looking until he could see her starting to climb back down – and then stood on watch until she hit the water (at which point he jumped in to ‘save’ her):

Guard dog Lenny!

Guard dog Lenny (note Paula on the far left just above the water)

Throughout the day, I had been in contact with my mom to keep getting updates. Unfortunately, none of them were good news: my dad was in congestive heart failure. They still didn’t know why or what that meant, but it definitely wasn’t good. He was scheduled for another test on the Monday, at which point we would find out if he was going to need surgery (which we agreed would be the determining factor if I would fly home or not). As much as it was upsetting to hear the updates, I still knew that I was in the right place, and had made the right choice for the day.

That evening we sat outside and watched the stars. It was completely clear, and there were more stars than we had seen all summer. It drove home that sense of being fortunate. We all felt so lucky to live here, and to be able to have days and evenings like this.

After an early night, we woke up the next morning to another beautiful day. The sky was blue and there was hardly any clouds:

The morning sun over the mountains

The morning sun over the mountains

We had a late breakfast, which Lenny thought he should have been included in:

Lenny hoping he'll get a bite

Lenny hoping he’ll get a bite

We knew that we wanted to be home by noon based on the tides, so after breakfast we set off. It was a beautiful day:

Leaving Indian Arm

Leaving Indian Arm

The wind was strong enough to do some decent sailing (without being scary), so we decided to get the sails up as soon as possible:

Paula learning to hoist the sails

Paula learning to hoist the sails

After an hour or so of sailing, we got closer to the bridge (and the point where we needed to bring the sails down). There are always some weird currents around the bridge, but that day they were stronger than usual. Most of the time, it clears once we pass the bridge, but not this time. As we got into the narrows, the currents grew stronger (a product of a strong wind going over the current in opposing directions) and the water got extremely rough. It was one of the more stressful conditions we had been in thus far. It ended up taking us much longer than the usual 30-40 minutes to get home from the bridge, but we made it back safely.

One theme that kept coming up all weekend was the idea of how lucky we are, and it’s something that I’ve tried to keep in mind all week. News from back home has been up and down: the tests results were good; my dad didn’t require surgery and was released from the ICU on Tuesday. Unfortunately, he relapsed that night and had to go back to the hospital, but was able to stay in our home town rather than being transferred again. He’s had some ups and downs, and ultimately I’ve decided that I should go home. Not because I’m worried that something drastic will happen, but because at times like these, family should be together. I’m fortunate enough that I work for a company that is supportive, and taking the time off at short notice wasn’t an issue. I’m also lucky enough to be with someone who has been there for me every day, even as my moods went up and down, and who completely supports my decision to go home for the week.

I’m lucky to have the support network that I have. I have family to stay with when I get to Toronto, as well as multiple offers to stay with friends if I need it. I also have some amazing people that I’ll get to see briefly while I’m passing through on the way to the bus station or the airport – friends who are there to let me lean on them when things are rough. Plus, one of the most thoughtful (and necessary) distractions of all – the friend who will wait four days to watch the Grey’s season premiere when I crash on her couch next Sunday. If that’s not a true friend, I don’t know what is!

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Home sweet home… again

It’s been a long couple of months since we first bought The Monk, but we were finally able to bring it home to our marina last weekend!

A couple of the guys from the boatyard where we were working on it had volunteered to help us, even knowing that based on tides and currents, we needed to leave Steveston around 7:00 am on Saturday.

We showed up with coffee and muffins, and were soon ready to take the leap of faith and cast off:

Lenny is ready and waiting!

Lenny is ready and waiting!

We had a beautiful morning to cruise up the coast, but first had to make it out and around the Iona jetty, which stretches out a good 4km into the Strait of Georgia

Our location, going around the jetty

Our location, going around the jetty

On our way, we did get to see a big sea lion hanging out on the rocks, which was the first one I’ve ever seen:

Sea lion

Sea lion

It wasn’t a very quick trip home: both because it’s a fair distance, and because we weren’t going that fast (maybe 7-8 knots/hour). This gave us plenty of time to enjoy the trip, and to check out the view. My favourite spot was up front on the bow:

Relaxing up on the bow

Relaxing up on the bow

From there, I had an excellent view of the horizon:

View from the bow

View from the bow

A little while later, Alex and I decided to check out the future fly deck:

Dreaming of the finished fly deck

Dreaming of the finished fly deck

After about four hours, we made it to the home stretch: the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

Almost home

Almost home

Not much longer after that, we were safely docked at home:

It's good to be home

It’s good to be home

Now comes the next major stage: designing and building the interior. It’s not an easy task, but is something that we are both excited to undertake.

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Sea to Sky

It’s one of the most beautiful highways:

Sea to Sky Highway (April 2015)

View from the Sea to Sky Highway (April 2015)

but also seems like a fitting description of this past weekend.

Our original plan for the weekend was to do some rainy day sailing. We had made plans with a friend to go out, and all of us were on board with the rain. When we woke up Saturday morning, however, we quickly realized that our plans needed to change. What we thought was just going to be a lot of rain ended up being one of the worst storms to hit BC in a decade (or so I found out afterwards from CBC).

Since sailing in winds up to 90 km/h was not on the table, we decided to spend the afternoon off-roading up by Squamish. We knew we wouldn’t have much for blue skies and sunshine, but there is still something stunning about clouds getting caught on the mountains:

Cloudy day

Cloudy day

We were headed up a trail that Alex was familiar with, and had our first stop planned at a waterfall. We were hoping to have a break in the rain to have a bit of a picnic, but since it was raining we decided to let Lenny have a quick run and then keep moving.

Leonard at the waterfall

Leonard at the waterfall

A short while later, we accepted that our picnic was going to get rained out, and decided to have a tail-gate picnic instead. To be more accurate, Paula and I sat in the front seats and stayed dry while Alex and Lenny put together the picnic in the back and got a bit rained on:

Picnic time

Picnic time!

By the time we had finished eating, the rain had picked up a bit more and we figured it was time to start making our way back down the mountain. Since we were up in the cloud layers, the rain came and went, making for lots of opportunity to stop and appreciate the show that nature was putting on.

Up in the clouds

Up in the clouds

By the time we had dropped Paula back at her car and made it home (thanks to the power outages, traffic was a nightmare in Vancouver), we were both tired and chilled. It seemed like the perfect excuse to do something we had been dying to try out – having a fire in our miniature wood-burning stove!

Finally!

Finally!

It’s small (about the size of an old-school mailbox), but makes the boat toasty warm. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday evening, and is definitely going to help ease the pain of the transition to cooler weather. Well, that and being curled up in bed with this guy!

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More company

After a quiet weekend of just Lenny and I (while Alex was away for a wedding), we had a slightly more hectic week as we once again had company visiting – this time, Alex’s father!

I still had to work, but Alex took the opportunity to take his dad out and show him The Monk. This was the first time that we were able to show it off to anyone outside of the boatyard crew, and I have to say – he was blown away. As most people did, he had expressed some reservation when he first heard about The Monk and saw the first picture:

A reminder of how unattractive it looked when we first got it

A reminder of how unattractive it looked when we first got it

After seeing it in person (and all cleaned up on), he was completely on board with it, and even let us know that we were setting ourselves up for a lot of visitors!

After accomplishing that, the next step was to show him just how amazing sailing could be, so we settled on a plan of setting off Friday afternoon after I got home from work, which perfectly aligned with the tides.

Friday ended up being a perfect day. The weather was shaping up perfectly, which made for a gorgeous walk along the seawall on my way to work:

My morning 'commute'

My morning ‘commute’

After a busy morning, followed by an indulgent team lunch, I headed home and we started getting ready to set out. We decided that since the tide was coming in, the Indian Arm was our best bet (in case you haven’t realized this yet, it really is one of our favourite destinations!). We also knew that this would be a nice relaxing sail, which was exactly what we wanted Alex’s dad to experience.

We had decided that we would anchor the first night off Belcarra Park, so it didn’t take us too long to arrive.

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The view from the boat

We had planned to have a surf ‘n’ turf dinner, but having received instructions not to spoil him, we had to make Dave work for it. The task at hand? Cleaning the crabs after they’d been cooked:

Not a fun task, but always worth it

Not a fun task, but always worth it

Once dinner was ready, we were able to sit down, pour some wine, and enjoy the meal!

Surf 'n' turf on the boat

Surf ‘n’ turf on the boat

The next morning, I stayed on the boat while the guys headed in to take Lenny for his morning run (how else could I document it?):

Not the most comfortable boat ride

Not the most comfortable boat ride

Once we were all back on Griffin, we headed over to a nearby beach to swim and wait for the wind to pick up. Finally, the wind cooperated and we were ready to set sail!

After giving him a quick low down, we passed the tiller over to Dave, and let him sail:

A natural sailor

A natural sailor

Once he was comfortable, we figured we should try to sail wing and wing again (remember, we’ve only done this once before). The wind was perfect for it, and soon we were flying!

Sailing wing and wing

Sailing wing and wing

Our original plan had been to play Saturday night by ear, and decide in the afternoon if we should head back or stay out for another night. Needless to say, there was no way we were going back to the marina that night. Instead, we anchored by the beach, and Alex was able to barbeque some chicken (he is still excited that we finally got the barbeque):

Mmm... Barbeque

Mmm… Barbeque

The tides on Sunday meant that we didn’t want to head through the narrows until after 2:30 PM, so we spent a few hours just sailing around and having fun. The wind was amazing, and we were able to get some significant speed going. This meant that the boat was heeled over quite a bit, which makes for quite the photo opportunity:

Note the angle of the boat to the horizon!

Note the angle of the boat to the horizon!

We even managed to do a bit more wing and wing sailing (Alex’s new favourite trick), although Lenny wasn’t entirely sure what he thought of it:

For some reason he always has a look of concern

For some reason he always has a look of concern

After a few hours of sailing (and once the tide had turned), we were ready to head home. By this point, we were all fairly tired and had had a lot of sun. We decided to head up to the Community Centre to use the steam room, and then relaxed for a bit on the boat before dinner.

While we were sitting outside, we had the chance to meet two more of our neighbours. They had just arrived back after being away for over a year. They had sailed to Tahiti and back (and other places along the way, I’m sure). It was quite inspiring to meet people who had done the sort of thing that at this point we are only dreaming about, and I can’t wait to sit down and hear all about their journey, and find out how they turned their dreams into a reality… and get tips on how we might do the same.

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