Fall Cruising Plans

Mile 250*. I’m back aboard Escapade.

Snipe racing on Guelph Lake

Had a lovely shore leave in Guelph. Samantha and Sarah delivered me both ways. Nothing like in-person family contact, hot baths, good cooking, and meandering dog walks to reset things a bit. It’s essential for even diehard liveaboard nomads.

Sarah and I sailed our Snipe in the Palm D’Or regatta. Seven short races day one, day two called for lack of wind. It’s my kind of racing. We came fourth. Won one race, which felt good. Got noticeably smoother and more comfortable in the boat as the day wore on. Next weekend we’ll be back at it for the Canadian championships. Same venue. Can’t wait. Here are more pictures of the regatta.

The racing showed up my lack of physical conditioning. It wasn’t a hiking day, but I’m pretty stiff and sore today. I’m going to get back into my Laser when I get to Toronto. Hopefully there will be good racing well into the fall at Water Rats. I may stay at anchor for a few weeks in the Outer Harbour when I get there and just sail.

I’m going back into relaxed solo cruise mode. The weather is snotty tonight and I’m happy to be well secured in Wiarton. Tomorrow I’m underway until Friday, when I’ll get Sarah’s Country Limousine back to Guelph. I’m assuming I’ll leave the boat somewhere on the Trent Severn close to this end. Don’t have any plan other than that.

I’ll write a post dedicated to this, but friends and followers are always welcome to visit. If you’re in my neighborhood reach out. I’ve got lots of fair weather outdoor space, and am always happy to noodle around on local tours. I’m sure we can apply appropriate social distancing.

Some recent pics from the ER

* I assigned this arbitrarily, having forgotten to set my mileage when I got underway. Close enough. Also set starting engine hours @1640.

Wiarton

Escapade is tied up for a few days at Wiarton. I’m off to the sailboat races.

That’s a Great Harbor 47 on the other side of us. Interesting seeing the two side by side. I’ll take pics from the other side before I leave.

I’m thrilled with the boat. It’s everything I thought it would be and more. I’m completely comfortable moving forward with my list of improvements/enhancements to make it perfect, including stabilization. Did I mention the pilot house?

This morning we took some time to change fuel filters and run at full power for a while. Nothing alarming. There’s crud in the fuel system, but manageable. We woke up with the house battery bank dead, but it didn’t take long to resolve. Just some connections to fix. Big inverter/charger seems to be working, which is good. I’m confident carrying on next week.

Mike and Colin got picked up to get back to Grand Bend/Sarnia. It was great having them, and they really enjoyed the trip. Samantha and Sarah are on the way to get me.

Great maiden voyage!

I realized that I didn’t start the boat odometer when leaving. I’m going to start adding that to each post.

Here are a few of Mike’s pics from this morning.

Georgian Bay

We’re anchored here just north of Wiarton. Did a straight run here from Sarnia, about 24 hours. The only picture I took was this one of the early sunrise. Mike and Colin were asleep and I was alone in the pilot house.

We left Sarnia mid afternoon. Mike’s brother Colin visited in the morning, and decided to join us. So he drove home to Bright’s Grove just up the lake, and swam out to meet us just off the seawall as we came by.

We had seas from the beam for the first 10 hours or so. The boat rolls. I got seasick. Several times. And people and stuff got tossed around a bit. There are big spaces and areas where better hand holds are needed. It gradually lightened as we went north, before filling in from the south as we approached Tobermory.

The forecast was for strong southwest then west winds today, and we got them as we came south into Georgian Bay. So we hugged the Bruce Peninsula and stopped here rather than doing the long open water trip down to Severn Sound with the wind on our beam.

We didn’t have any major issues. The boat is able. Very solid feeling bashing into short steep chop today. The pilot house is marvelous. I spent some time in the berth up top, and it’s great. Secure with good sight lines. The three of us were hanging out there for much of the trip. I remain delighted with the boat.

I’m going to leave Escapade close by tomorrow for a few days. Off to Guelph to race the Snipe.

Here are some pics Mike and Colin took.

Departure

It’s thundering and raining hard outside, and I’m sitting at the back of the boat finalizing departure plans.

There’s almost 8 feet of headroom here. It’s going to be sheer luxury this winter compared to last. My bed is 30 feet away.

I got the generator swap done by using a small forklift from the travel lift well. Drove Mazurka over, lifted the generator out, then drove Escapade in and plopped it in the cockpit. I’ll install later. Managed to handle Escapade with some grace. Exiting the slip I had a bit of a cross breeze and an ugly obstacle close to leeward, so I was fully focused we playing with the thrusters and trying to back out, only to realize I still had an outer bow line attached. Duh. A reminder to follow the basic check lists, especially on your first outing!

I had lots of visitors today. Mallory drove up and helped me pick up groceries and a spare fuel filter. Scott came back with celebratory pizza. And old friends Mike and Jane stopped by to see Escapade. Mike is on vacation this week, and was immediately receptive to going for a long boat ride. Perfect timing! So we’re heading out tomorrow late morning for a straight shot to Port Severn. I’m really happy to have him aboard.

The weather is a bit unsettled right now, but it looks like we can catch a window. We’ll see. We agreed that we might put in anywhere en route if we have system or weather challenges. Have shore side support available. I’d say the odds of making it are good and the odds of dying are very low. Off we go.

Stuff is somewhat strewn about, and I still need to install electronics. Will do tonight. I’m far less concerned about being well rested now that Mike’s aboard. He’s a capable companion, and I’ll feel confident sleeping en route.

I haven’t done an accurate plot, but it took me about 23 hours from Christian Island to Grand Bend coming here, and I’m thinking we’ll make slightly better time in Escapade. Whatever. It’s ok if we stop before that, and we’ll arrive in daylight even at 32 hours.

There. Float plan filed. Wish us luck!

Escapade is Mine

We’re done. Final payment made, happy buyer and happy seller. Mazurka will get some TLC. And I think I’ve got a boat that will suit me very well.

Tomorrow I need to install my old electronics (radar, VHF, plotter, depth) and stock up on supplies. I also need to transfer the generator, which is currently in Mazurka’s cockpit. I’m not fussed with getting it operational, but don’t expect any major challenges.

It feels good. The last few days have been busy, but we got through everything.

I’m increasingly favouring the northern route back to Toronto. It may be weather dependent.

The Final Stretch

I came into Sarnia three weeks ago.  I’m now counting down the days to departure.

I was tired and sore today.  Lugging batteries up stairs and climbing around a lot has taken its toll, along with irregular eating and sleeping.  But I’m fine. The end is in sight.

Today we confirmed what we had guessed yesterday – that the house battery bank is shot and was causing the thruster problem. That’s a good thing. Will have new batteries in tomorrow.

I need to find a way to move my generator tomorrow, but think that’s doable.  Then some final checks and a celebratory pizza. 

Scott brought a 20′ utility trailer down, and we’ve packed the old dinghy, winter frame, and a few other things in it.  We may even throw in the chair and love seat.  He’ll bring it to Guelph and return with Mazurka’s cover.   Good solution.  He drives to Toronto regularly.

I’ve got all my stuff in the cockpit of Mazurks and Escapade is empty.  Am going to move in tonight.

I’m increasingly thinking I’ll head north. Looks like a good weather window through to Thursday or Friday then stormy.  I might get out of here Tuesday and dash for Port Severn.  But that’s a more challenging first segment than heading south.  I think I can be reasonably prepared. Lots to think about.

It’s going to feel good leaving in Escapade.  I’m very pleased with the results of the last few weeks.  But I feel like I’ll be at full alert until I’ve got some miles in on the boat.

One pledge I’ve made to myself is to take better care of my equipment.  Escapade is in really nice shape, and I’d like to keep things that way.  It’ll be fun adding the systems required to make the perfect boat. 

Back to work.

Late night thoughts

I’m getting a sense of scale sitting on Mazurka and looking at Escapade next door. With the two bows even I’m looking into the pilothouse door from the aft end of my flybridge. These pictures were taken from my flybridge helm. The top of the forward cabin house is maybe 18″ lower than my flybridge floor.

It’s a lot of boat. Not perfect, but impressive in all the right ways, and I think it’s an ideal platform for my next boating chapter.

Things have gone well over the last few days. I’m enjoying my time with Scott the seller, and I think we’re both comfortable with the process so far. George the broker has played a supportive peripheral role, which I think is appropriate. He did a good job of managing the introduction and initial negotiations. Between the three of us we made a deal happen that I think fits for all.

My anticipated Monday departure date is looking unrealistic, but that’s fine. We’re on Scott and George’s home turf and I’m confident that we have everything we need to complete the swap successfully in the next few days. I’m quite comfortable taking things day by day, as usual.

I’ve been thinking a bit more about the return trip to Toronto. I have a winter slip there that opens up in mid October. Need to install heat but with some timely design and planning can have everything ready there when I arrive.

My plan has been to go downriver and then east on Lake Erie and down the Welland Canal. But that’s just a delivery trip. I’ve covered pretty much all of it before, and there really aren’t any spots where I’m keen to stop for any length of time. I have yet to go down the Welland, but have given up on the tick-the-box method of routing. I’m starting to consider the alternative route back through Lake Huron and the Trent Severn. Would be a more pleasant trip and lots of flexibility on leaving the boat for a while once I get off the lake.

I could go on, but need to get some sleep. More to do tomorrow.

Getting Closer

Scott and I had a good day prepping Escapade. Got the old generator out, the batteries aboard, and all the electronics out. Launch is scheduled for late tomorrow morning.

In other good news, I’ll have a winter slip at Marina Quay West again this year. There was some concern about space for a bigger boat, but Petr confirmed today that they can fit me in. As I think I mentioned earlier my plan is to heat the boat with diesel, and with lots of water tankage and a real shower I expect to be comfortable and self contained.

The more I poke around the more I like the boat. I think it’s actually going to be fun to work on a few things over the winter to make it perfect.

Sorry no new pics. Tomorrow!

Ready for Launch

I got the bottom painted today, and it was dry before the rain hit around 3:00. Phew. Spent some more time aboard looking at fuel system and other stuff. It all looks good.

Tomorrow we’ll get batteries aboard, and hopefully get launched. Then a day or two of checking systems, swapping gear and setting up electronics. I’m making (very) tentative plans to leave Monday and head down river. Mallory will join me then for a couple of days, which will be lovely. We booked this time together a while ago, when I didn’t know where I’d be or what boat I’d have. Glad that’s going to work out.

The bottom is done with Aquagard antifouling, which I’m pleased about. Water based makes for easy work and cleanup. It’s a big bottom!

Will try to remember to take some pics tomorrow.