Not-so-smooth sailing

From the beginning, we knew that there will be times when things don’t go as smoothly as planned, and that those would be the times when we would learn the most. Well, this weekend was one such situation.

On Saturday, we decided that it was another perfect day to go out sailing. We headed out, and encountered what was probably the biggest water that we have been on thus far. We were comfortable with the size of the waves, but Lenny was not impressed. He spent the entire afternoon giving us reproachful looks from the floor of the cock pit, and couldn’t seem to figure out why on earth we were doing this to him.

Things were going fairly well, until Alex asked me to go down below and look something up online. Now, I don’t get carsick (a good thing, given our recent ten day road trip), but the moment I try to read in a car I get nauseous. I should have inferred the consequences of reading in rough water, but wasn’t thinking. In no time at all, I was feeling unwell. I went up on deck, but it was too late and ended up getting quite ill. This wouldn’t have been any big deal, even seasoned sailors get seasick from time to time. Of course, for us, it’s never just one thing to deal with. At the exact same moment that I was being sick, Alex misjudged a turn and the wind caught the sail in the wrong way. Suddenly, a piece of our rigging broke, and the boom was swinging freely (not a good situation, and not one that I could stop to take a picture of).

At that moment, things could have gone horribly wrong – a swinging boom is able to kill or seriously hurt a person. To our merit, we were able to pull it together quickly and work well as a team. My seasickness didn’t matter, it was now my responsibility to steer the boat while Alex brought the sail down. If I messed this up, the wind could catch the boom and knock him into the water, or worse. We quickly brought the sail down and tied the boom so that it couldn’t swing freely, then fired up the motor and headed home safely.

The piece of rigging that broke

The piece of rigging that broke

On a brighter note, we did learn how to successful fish for crabs over the weekend! Saturday night after our eventful sail, we managed to catch a single crab. We were beyond excited, and were looking forward to having him (you can only keep the males) for dinner the next day (well, maybe just an appetizer). The next morning when Alex woke up we had another, but it was a female so he released her. The following time we checked the trap, we had three more, and all day we were catching them until we maxed out our daily quota.

A successful haul!

A successful haul!

We ended up eating dungeness crab for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they were so amazing.


Breakfast! Our first ever crabs!

Tonight we are about to sit down to another meal of fresh crab, and can’t help but feel that we really are living the dream, and even when things go wrong, we are still able to make the most of them. Besides, let’s be honest… everything seems better when you are enjoying a meal that has gone from the ocean to your table in under 15 minutes!

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Back to the grind

After the lovely night we had in English Bay, we got straight back to work. Well, first we had to celebrate with oysters and bubbly on deck…


For the most part, we have been taking full advantage of the time between jobs, and trying to get as much done on the boat before we have to get back into a daily work routine.

Monday was tackling the quarter berth, a task which we quickly realized was far bigger than originally anticipated. Although Alex was trying his best to reach everything and organize it, it soon became clear that being smaller and more flexible, it was going to be my job to do the dirty work.

Alex trying to reach into the quarter berth

Alex trying to reach into the quarter berth

In almost no time at all, I was completely inside the boat pulling out endless coils of rope and countless bumpers.

Who knew there was so much space?!?

Who knew there was so much space?!?

After a thorough audit and reorganization, the quarter berth was neatly packed with lots of extra room – which is good, because we are going to need somewhere to store the new fishing equipment we are going to need!

The other major task was recovering the cushions and redoing the upholstery in the cabin. After a bit of research on costing, we knew this was something we were going to life hack. After picking up the supplies, Alex and Lenny went to give the Jeep a well-deserved oil change while I set about making over the cabin. Not to brag, but I was quite proud of my results, and we both agree that the place feels much homier.

IMG_4214 IMG_4215

Other than those, Alex has been trying to make some headway on the electrical situation and I’ve been busy with job applications and interviews. That process has really made us realize that we should be using this in between time to relax and enjoy the boat as well, so last night we grabbed food for a picnic and headed over to Port Moody for the night.

After a bit of fishing with no results, we decided to throw Lenny overboard to see how he’d react and to see how difficult it would be to pull him out. It ended up being relatively easy, thanks to the handle on his new life jacket, although we did get some fairly accusatory looks when we pulled him in. He did get back at us by curling up on the new pillows while still damp, but I didn’t have the heart to take a picture of him in his misery.

After that adventure, we opened a bottle of wine and set up a nice picnic.

Boat picnic!

Boat picnic!

It was such a peaceful spot we had, and we were able to just sit, relax, and watch the sunset take shape.





It was another perfect evening on the boat. We know it won’t always be this picturesque, but are definitely going to make the most of it while it is.

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Our first sail!

After a busy week, we decided to take the weekend to relax by taking Griffin out for our first sail!


For anyone who hasn’t been sailing, I don’t even know how to describe the sense of complete freedom when you first put the sails up and turn the motor off. At that moment, it’s just you, the boat and the wind (well, in my case, Alex and Lenny too).

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect afternoon, and decided that rather than go home, we would anchor in English Bay for the night.

Lenny (in his lifejacket), checking out False Creek

Lenny (in his lifejacket), checking out False Creek

We toured the bay and went up into False Creek before settling on anchoring in a slightly less busy area. We had the perfect spot with a lovely view, and curled up in the boat with a nice home cooked meal of pulled pork and nice wine.

A perfect way to see the the city

A perfect view on a Saturday evening

Sunday morning we woke up to a beautiful sunrise over Vancouver, and sailboats gently bobbing on the waves.


There wasn’t as much wind in the morning, so it was a very relaxing sail home. So relaxing in fact, that I got to spend part of it as Lenny’s pillow:


It was an absolutely perfect weekend. As much as we have already learned that there is a lot of hard work involved in this venture, the weekend served to show us that this was exactly what we both needed. There is no doubt in either of our minds that this was not just the right decision, but that this lifestyle is exactly what we both need at this point in our lives.

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Home sweet boat

After ten days and a couple of set backs, we finally made it to Vancouver and our boat.

Home sweet home!

Home sweet home!

We’ve been working non-stop the past few days to make the boat our home, and it hasn’t been easy! Although we still have more to do, last night was the first time that we sat down and felt like we were home. 

After some serious hard work, it looks like home

After some serious hard work, it looks like home

Along with endless organizing and maximizing of space, we’ve also ripped out a lot of the upholstery and re-finished the bedroom walls:


as well as removing the carpeting and re-doing the floors:


As for Lenny? Well, he turned out to be a natural boat dog! The first afternoon we were here he figured out how to go up and down the ladder by himself:

As we’ve been working, he has spent most of his time playing around the top of the boat, and just laying there taking it all it:


while coming back every so often to check how we were doing:


All in all, it’s been a whirlwind of a week, but it feels amazing to have things set up and be able to relax in our new home, now that it really feels that way.

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Almost home

We’ve been on the road for ten days now, and should be arriving home today! We’ve had some set backs, as I’ve already shared with you, but also a lot of good times. We spent part of the weekend visiting family near Edmonton, before embarking on the last leg of the trip – heading over the mountains and then south to Vancouver, where our boat is waiting.

The drive through the mountains was absolutely breathtaking:




There is something about mountains that feels so grounding and humbling. Everything about them reminds me of how ephemeral we are, and how insignificant all of our day to day problems are.

We passed though Louis Creek yesterday, an area that had been ravaged by a forest fire in 2003. Even though it has been over ten years, you can still see the utter devastation (the pictures can’t even come close to capturing the extent of the damage):


Seeing something like that made me reflect on the resiliency of nature. It will take many years for the landscape to recover from that sort of damage, but you can see that life keeps going.


If we can embody even a tiny portion of that in the way that we approach life, how much easier would all of the set backs be? I can look at the past week and see that as insignificant as each breakdown and obstacle was in the grand scheme of thing, at the time each one was a very real challenge. At the same time, we were able to stay positive and managed to see each one as a unique experience, and I think that was what made all the difference in each outcome. I hope that this perspective is something that we can retain as we arrive home to experience the next adventure.

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It’s been a rough few days. After making it through the swarms of blackflies and mosquitos in Ontario, we set up for one last buggy night just past Kakabeka Falls. Waking up the next morning to the sound of light rain on the tent, we thought we were through the tough part – getting through Ontario (I honestly didn’t realize just how BIG Ontario is). We packed up camp and set off, and within an hour were at the rest stop that marks the border of the Eastern and Central time zones.


After a quick stop, we had just pulled back onto the highway when Alex abruptly announced that we were stopping. We’d had a clicking noise coming from the back wheel for a while, which he’d checked (found nothing), and which a friend had even advised was likely nothing to worry about. Well, now it was: it turned out that the wheel was about to fall off (for those mechanically inclined, three of the studs that hold the wheel on were missing). After a whole lot of Google searching and phone calls, we upgraded CAA to cover the trailer and had to wait for a tow truck to take us back to a shop in Thunder Bay. Just what we wanted – to break down and to back track.

The broken Jeep... just what we needed

The broken Jeep… just what we needed

While waiting for the tow truck (in the rain), we decided we might as well get comfy and have a bit of a picnic. I would have had a picture for you, except that it was at that point that Lenny decided that we didn’t have enough to deal with, and to see what he could find.

(Those of you who know Lenny may already know that he has an affinity for eating poop, and that it already almost killed him twice – which combined with eating rat poison, has meant many emergency pet ER trips, and maxed out pet insurance.  Throughout these situations, we learned two things: pot in feces is concentrated enough to kill a dog, and that you can induce vomiting in a dog using hydrogen peroxide, so we carry with us in the Lenny first aid kit, along with activated charcoal.)

Back to the rest stop… As we were talking to someone who stopped to see if we were okay (clearly we were still in Ontario), Lenny decided to explore the mess behind the rest stop, and of course, found himself some poop to eat. At this point, we had a decision to make: wait and see if it was toxic (we are familiar with the signs from previous experience) or try to induce vomiting (something we’d never done before). Being in Canada, the likelihood of it being toxic seemed high, so we went with the second option. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty stressful giving him something like that and hoping it would work, but it did. He was not a happy dog, but quickly bounced back with no lasting effects, just in time for the tow truck to arrive.

Lenny watching his home get loaded on a truck

Lenny watching his home get loaded on a truck

After spending the day in Thunder Bay and getting the Jeep fixed, we were ready to get back on the road. Largely on principle, we drove about twenty minutes past our original campsite and found a new one (hey, progress is progress, right?!?). By this point, we were all in need of a bit of relaxation. Lenny found his by running around and wallowing in a dirt pile:


while Alex had the perfect spot for fishing in a river.


The next morning, we set off once again. We were hoping to make it just past Winnipeg before stopping, but as luck would have it, our trailer (which holds all of our worldly possessions) broke just as we were passing through the city. It was later in the evening, and at this point we had no choice but to call it a night. We couldn’t find a hotel that was pet-friendly in our vicinity (and driving any distance wasn’t an option), so we ended up camping (possibly illegally?) in a park. The next morning we set the alarm to get up early and get to the nearest Canadian Tire to get it fixed, only to be met with more obstacles – no one, and I mean NO ONE, was willing to help fix this trailer. We called three different shops, plus the Canadian Tire, and the best anyone could offer was to look at it in two weeks. This was the most unfriendly and unhelpful place we’d ever been in.

Luckily, Alex had all his tools in the trailer, and was able to set up shop in the parking lot.

No choice but to fix it ourselves

No choice but to fix it ourselves

In the two and a half hours we were there, only three people stopped to see how we were doing, and only one offered his help. I was stunned – Toronto has a bad rap for being unfriendly, and even the license plates say ‘Friendly Manitoba’, but that was definitely not our experience. At last our trailer was all fixed and we were able to get back on the road. Needless to say, we were happy to leave Winnipeg behind!

Tonight we are in a hotel in Russell, Manitoba. We would have loved to camp, but since it’s  already the prairies (and we are the types to make our own campsites, not go to an official spot), we were a bit low on options.

Ah, the prairies!

Ah, the prairies!

Tomorrow we will set off again, and I’m sure that this won’t be the last of the adventure. This whole experience has given me a lot of opportunity to reflect on the lifestyle that Alex and I have chosen, and how fulfilling it is for both of us, even when (especially when?) things go wrong. It’s something that I want to explore more, and I should have plenty of opportunity to do so over the next few weeks as we really settle into our groove.

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Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a bug jacket

It’s our third night camping in northern Ontario and I wanted to share a few things that we have learned along the way:

  1. Lenny is surprisingly okay with tents. The first night we camped he was excited to get into the tent at bed time, but by morning he was over it. The second evening we had to stick him in the tent while we set up since the blackflies were swarming him. Needless to say, he was NOT impressed. By the time we all went to bed though, he was completely content… So much so that he thought he should have a pillow.


    Lenny is far too comfortable on my pillow.

  2. Even after growing up in cottage country, I still can’t stand black flies. The first night wasn’t too tough since we were camped by a roadside rest stop, but the second night was brutal.
    Poor Lenny got attacked by blackflies!

    Poor Lenny got attacked by blackflies!

    I won’t lie, I almost lost it a few time, but managed to persevere. Today however, a bug jacket was top of the priority list at every town we went through. For where we are, they were surprisingly hard to find. By the time we reached Thunder Bay and found them, it seemed like the best thing anyone has ever bought me… Talk about love!

    So much happier in bug jackets!

    So much happier in bug jackets!

  3. I’m good at roasting marshmallows. Like, really good. In fact, I’d argue that giving away the first perfect marshmallow of the year is the equivalent of a bug jacket. IMG_3749
  4. We camp in style. Although we prefer a simple life, there are certain luxuries that we consider essential – and good food and good wine top the list. So when we camp, our menu still consists of things like roasted bone marrow, steak, and crab legs.

    Steak cooked on a rock...

    Steak cooked on a rock…

  5. Good wine is good wine, even in a metal cup.

    Enough said.

    Enough said.

  6. Yoga is always essential, but yoga by a waterfall is truly grounding.

    Aguasabon Falls

    Aguasabon Falls

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And so it begins

Yesterday we packed up and left Toronto. After giving away more than we kept, we managed to pack all of our worldly belongings into a tiny Jeep and a 4′ x 8′ trailer. image image

Our trip officially started today, after spending last night at my childhood home in cottage country. We had wanted a bit earlier of a start, but had a couple of set backs, including Lenny finding the swamp beside the house. One ‘bath’ (let’s be honest – it was a garden hose) later and with a wet dog in tow, we were on our way.

A wet and unhappy Lenny!

A wet and unhappy Lenny!

It turned out to be a beautiful day to drive and we decided to stop early to camp.


This whole day and evening reminded me just how satisfying simplicity is. Just the two of us (plus Lenny of course), with the open road and an adventure in front of us. It’s just day one of our adventure to our adventure, but I know it’s going to be amazing.

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A Boating Life

This past weekend involved a lot of time on the water, and I’m happy to report that Lenny is going to be a fabulous boat dog!

Part of the downsizing that we are doing right now involves getting rid of a vintage 1969 speedboat  (any takers, by the way???). The thing is, until last week it was still in the process of being restored, and is only now running. We had to head up north to pick it up from the mechanic, and of course this involved a couple of test runs to see how things were.

Now, a dog on a speedboat is much more precarious than a dog on a sailboat, but Lenny was in heaven! As you can see, he was right up front, helping to navigate!


Part of the test run was on a larger lake with a couple of friends in their own boat (no one wants to break down all alone on Lake Simcoe). Again, Lenny had a blast going back and forth between the two boats, and keeping an eye on everyone to make sure we were all close by. By the end of the day, he was so tuckered out he curled up in the back of the Jeep and slept the whole drive home.


As for Alex and I – well, this weekend just confirmed how amazing it feels to be on the water. We finished up the weekend by watching the Victoria Day fireworks at Ashbridges Bay, but rather than sit on the beach with the crowd, we took the boat out and watched from the water.


Being anchored off shore and being able to curl up with a blanket while the waves gently rocked the boat felt incredible. I honestly can’t believe that within a month, that is how we will fall asleep every single night

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As my birthday starts to draw closer and we are about to drastically change the way we live, I can’t help but get reflective about my age and my life.

Best cupcake theme!

Okay… It wasn’t officially a birthday cupcake, but it was still a lot of fun!

I remember the year I turned 29, when I had a lot of difficulty processing where I was. I felt that it was a year where I had to do something ‘big’, something dramatic before turning 30. More than once I had to stop and remind myself of all the things that I had already done which most people never experience. I’d moved to a completely foreign country, not once, but twice. I’d come home and at 27 started from scratch to create a life for myself, while most of my peers had been working at this for three or four years. I’d had to work hard to find the people I wanted to share my life with, and at 29 was finally starting to feel secure.

By the time I reached 30, I hardly gave it a second thought. Sure, I spent some time thinking about where I wanted to go down the road, but didn’t feel the pressure to do anything drastic. I had developed some amazing friendships, the kind that last a lifetime regardless of distance. I had just moved into a new and exciting role at work, and knew that life was finally starting to settle. I didn’t think I needed change, and definitely wasn’t actively searching for an adventure.

Now I’m less than a month away from 31, and am about to embark on a life-altering change. I look back at the lead up to this decision, and I see how much I’ve grown over the past year. I have realized that change doesn’t always happen when you think it should, and that’s what makes life exciting. I didn’t have a set ‘by the time I turn 31’ goal, and I wasn’t looking to uproot and sail away into the sunset. As soon as I stopped thinking about what I ‘should’ accomplish by a certain point, I was able to let experiencing life take centre stage.

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