Sunday, August 21, 2005, 2007, Toronto
I have given my boss a month's notice that I'll be leaving. The end of this month, Jude and I hope to take a four day weekend and sail to Port Dalhousie. (Then, I shall spend my 14-hour days rebuilding our home). Port Dalhousie is just on the other side of the Welland Canal from St. Catharines where we were last year with Mysfit. In the heart of Niagara's grape growing region, Port Dalhousie is a quaint, historic harbourfront village, on the south shores of Lake Ontario. It's the terminus of the first three Welland canals, built in 1820, 1845 and 1889 between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. George K., a neighbor of ours from his power boating last year has bought himself a 50 foot Gulfstar sailboat. George plans to sail to the Caribbean this fall, and then on to Europe. He has lots of money to pour into his boat and is doing so. But he had no sailing experiences at all and the power boating experiences had him crashing into the dock across from us constantly. Yet, today, he was out practicing with just his jib (his main sail has jammed and needs to be repaired.) I marvel at his persistence. If he kills himself, he'll go proudly. And he's escaping the insanity of the civilized world just as Jude and I are trying to do. He still crashes into things trying to dock, but it's not as bad as it once was. He learns. We learn. He is considering sailing with us on that short crossing (about 30 miles) from Port Credit to Port Dalhousie. Once we all get there, it will cost him $75 to dock per day while it will only cost us $33 per day. Nicole is only 22 feet long while George's boat is well over twice that. Sometimes being short has its advantages, eh? But, what I would like to do is called anchoring out. There is a beach in Port Dalhousie that one can drop anchor and just stay for a couple days. True, there will be no electricity or running water for showers, etc. Maybe Jude's idea of docking might rule. We'll be just a few miles from Niagara Falls. If we choose to visit, I don't want to go near the tourist stuff. I don't think Jude wants it either.
Sunday, August 21, 2005, 2001, Toronto
Written May 16, 2005:
Yesterday, JB and I walked from the bus stop to PCHM, a distance of a couple of blocks. Usually, we stop by our favourite lookout point to drink in the vista of Lake Ontario and the promises of adventure displayed so thoroughly. Yesterday, I shook my head no to Jude; it was too painful, I told her.
Mysfit was to be launched this Thursday. However, I called PCHM and, first, cancelled the mast stepping (putting the aluminium mast on the boat) because a certain part was discovered to be seriously damaged by the original owner. Tomorrow I will call a custom spar company in Oakville to determine what should be done: welding a repair or complete replacement of the mast (very expensive). This is just part of owning a sailboat and I don't have much of a problem with that. The original owner was very inept which we knew. We bought the boat anyway.
The pain of not launching, on the other hand, comes from the failure of numerous professionals.
First, we ordered (and paid in full) Bristol Marine, in Port Credit, to weld a stern-tube cap on the propeller shaft of Mysfit. The part was fabricated and then tack-welded to the stern tube. The finishing weld was not done due to, as Bristol Marine explained, the welding equipment breaking down during the welding. We cannot hire another welder because of some sort of monopolistic agreement between PCHM and Bristol Marine. We can go nowhere else unless we leave PCHM. We were told that to finish the weld Mysfit must be moved physically to their shop. This was scheduled to be done (with no extra charge) during Thursday's launch the night before where we could apply, ourselves, finishing protective coatings. Without launching, we will have to pay more to move the boat to Bristol Marine, and then pay again, to move the boat back. Dollars, dollars, dollars.
In the middle of winter, I went to Tracker Marine in Vaughan Mills Mall and bought a brand new 15 hp Mercury outboard motor. Not a used one: a new one. One with a special propeller and cabled remote controls. The motor was personally delivered to PCHM without the remote controls because the unit that came with the motor was the incorrect one and would not fit. A new, different remote was ordered and, weeks later, it too, was delivered to PCHM. Once the weather cleared, I attached the remote to Mysfit and to the outboard. It didn't fit. a complaining call to Tracker Marine resulted in delays in anyone coming to see the problem and suggestions that perhaps I had installed the cables wrong. Nonetheless, this lack of a working (brand new) motor is the primary reason we had to cancel Thursday's launch. However, there's more.
Last year we contracted with a local carpenter to create and install a wooden hatch system that I would design and supervise the installation. The cost, normally around $500 to $700, was agreed to at $1500. We wanted top quality workmanship. After paying $50 for two simple pieces of white oak to be fitted as a drop board retainer, the time to create them was about a month. The finished product can be seen rotting on Mysfit presently due to (1) lack of sealant, and (2) cuts and finishing that a kindergartener would do. I promptly cancelled the contract for poor performance. I went to another carpenter, this time a custom boat carpentry shop. I paid for the same drop board retainer, to be done in the same type of wood: white oak. For weeks, I got delays. Finally, the explanation was that this common boat building wood could not be found by the shop. I demanded and got my money back, went to a local specialty wood supplier a mile or so away, and purchased the white oak myself. I asked, just last week, to have a simple wedge of any hardwood be cut. They could not do it. This was a custom boating woodwork carpentry shop that could not cut a simple wooden wedge out of whatever wood they happened to have.
I asked a custom metal fabricator to cut and shape a metal plug for Mysfit's bilge. I told him that we launched on Thursday so I would pay extra to have it right away. The money wasn't the object, but the fabricator needed to clear his scrap garbage this weekend and couldn't be bothered with our urgency.
In my desperation, I phoned several custom carpenters in Mississauga, near PCHM, to order wooden parts and carpentry done. No one would take on the work. I am the only one who will be doing the carpentry work. And I have a full time job that consumes the weekdays. Weekends are all that's left and it takes two hours to get there, two hours to return, and it usually rains on weekends during Spring. My work may take months.
Nothing is done on Mysfit except what general cleaning to the hull we can do. Oh, JB and I did install a new deck plate to the cockpit sole (floor area), painted it, and tested for leaks. We have a custom motor mount made of stainless steel that is bolted to Mysfit's transom.
I am disgusted with the local industries of Toronto. Because no one can do a good job, or those who can, won't, or those who might be able to, don't have the time, we cannot sail this summer unless we buy another boat.
Oh, Mysfit will be finished before the winter. Even if I must quit my job and work full time on just Mysfit, it will be done. The thousands of dollars that these professionals won't get probably will be used to buy that second boat. Just think: a ten-minute welding job - a $200 contract - and Bristol Marine can't do it - something that is exactly what their business is. All because their equipment broke. Sounds professional to me.
Sunday, August 21, 2005, 1951, Toronto
I am testing this blog. I'll write comprehensively later.