05/09/2011/8:53 pm, Halifax NS (crew), Florida (boat)
After moaning about the weather through June, we enjoyed a beautiful July and then headed into a cool and damp August. It's been one of the wettest here in 30 years and we indulged in a fair bit of "Grumble, grumble, moan and mumble." Come September the sun is shining again and providing lots of daytime warmth. Besides grumbling about weather, though, here is what's been happening in the lives of Madcap's crew.
No more sailors from the waterfront have come for food and showers but we had a wonderful visit from our fab friends, Sandra and Steve (formerly on Princess), as they headed for Newfoundland for a few weeks of sailing on Hillary. We sampled lots of Nova Scotia wine, visited our fabulous seaport farmers' market for veggies and cheese, and walked the waterfront - and enjoyed planning some similar excursions in new ports this year. Jeannie and Jim (Estelle) were in town a couple of weeks ago. We managed to eat a few mouthfuls of dinner (grilled shrimp skewers and quinoa salad - for the foodies who always like to know!) while peppering them with questions about Belize and Guatemala - the best route, what to see on the way and what to see and do once we get there. Our appetites are wheted for a trip to new places.
We spent time at the cottage, lovely mornings on the porch with coffee and books, and afternoons with paint brushes in hand as we painted it a beautiful soft blue. Long walks on the red sandbars and swims in the warm salt water were fun whenever the tide and weather were right. I have been picking slugs off my plants in the early mornings at home. Oh boy - have I been picking slugs - by the hundreds. Some of my plants have managed to grow in spite of them and we are enjoying sweet and salty little orange tomatoes, and purple pole beans. The dahlias were mostly chewed up but I can see multicoloured blossoms of cosmos and splashes of colour from impatiens in the shady areas as I sit on the deck. The lilies, rhodos, wigelia have come and gone, and I'm about to scatter a few pots of mums in among the left over greenery.
Jim and I had a most wonderful time talking about our sailing experiences and sharing pictures at our two "engagements" this summer. It was sheer joy to reconnect with old friends and meet some new ones at Trident Yacht Club near Gananoque, ON in July. We talked of how and why we got started on this whole cruising lifestyle and how rewarding it has been for us - each of us sharing our own perspective. One gentleman was heard to say, "I don't know how those two managed to live on a 36 foot boat for a year and a half!" We wonder that sometimes ourselves - but we did and we continue to greatly enjoy the 6 -7 months we now spend on Madcap each year. TYC (on the Bateau Channel between the mainland and Howe Island at the east end of Lake Ontario) is a gorgeous and friendly club that welcomes transients. Do stop in if you are in the area.
In August, at the invitation of Sharon and Gary Vernon, we joined members of the Chebucto branch of Canadian Power and Sail Squadron for a pot-luck-supper and slide show at Elbert White's cottage on the Tidnish River in Nova Scotia. We were pleased again to see some old friends and meet some new ones - listening to their boating stories and sharing our own as we showed pictures of our travels.
We also stopped by Bev and Jean's idyllic bakery and pizza shop to enjoy a special evening with these friends relaxing on their waterside deck as we sipped red wine and savoured delicious hand made pizzas freshly pulled from their traditional wood oven. They used to sail the southern waters on El Rio and now cruise the land in an RV - still connecting with sailing friends. It turns out they are great friends of Linda and Wayne (Isla) whom we met in Great Sale Cay with Valerie and Graham (Bonnie Lass). Once again - small, small world!
Summer also gave us the opportunity to be with family of course, and we loved spending time with Alex and Liam in Ottawa, and with Mary Beth here in Halifax. My dad is still gardening and making jams and pickles and we've been the happy recipients of his produce at many shared meals.
Jim and Alex are now off on a road trip to Florida. We decided to take our car down this year and do some land based exploring during October. They will fly back to Canada, and then shortly afterward, Jim and I will head off on our next great adventure. We're taking a big boat cruise! We fly to Copenhagen (where we hope to meet up with Christian and Ann Christin (the Norwegian boat Ella). We'll visit several ports including Amsterdam, Bruges, Lisbon onboard the Norwegian Sun and then head off across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in Port Canaveral in early October. We have never been on a cruise ship and always wonder what it is really like out there in the middle of the ocean so this allows to us to experience both - in the company of good friends Art and Christine (Miles Away - not a boat but their sweet summer home in Lake Annis, NS)
These early Sept days are prime time for enjoying Nova Scotia so I will just close this computer now and go off for a walk in the sunshine - enjoying the last days of summer!
09/07/2011/11:22 am, Halifax NS (crew), Florida (boat)
Halifax to Norway! The Norwegians have all made it safely across the North Atlantic Ocean! (pic is the old town clock in Halifax) Ella and Sjarmen made landfall in Fort William after 24 days at sea and are now back home in Norway. Fri Inspiration arrived back a week or two ago. Doesn't it just make you tingle all over to think of their adventure? I'm encouraged by the fact that they encountered no really, terribly, horribly, bad weather on their passage. Not that we are about to set off on such a journey ourselves, but it is still nice to know ...
Here in Halifax, we spent a fine evening with Raewyn and Peter (Saliander). These New Zealand sailors cruised the south coast of Cuba last winter, and then came up to Canada where they anchored in the Northwest Arm near Armdale Yacht Club. They came for dinner and laundry and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting them before they continued on to Newfoundland for the summer.
In other boating news, Jim and I took Kathy Parsons' on-line Spanish for Cruisers course through Seven Seas Cruising Association. (SSCA) It's a short one - just 6 sessions but it sure was intense and is a great jump start for us in our efforts to improve our Spanish before heading back south this winter. We are both really impressed by Kathy's dedication and ability to teach on-line. Check out www.sevenseasu.com for upcoming courses in all sorts of marine topics.
In our landlubbing summer life, we have both been busy. Jim has been doing some consulting, and developing his consulting business. He enjoys being able to draw on his years of experience to mentor others in leadership roles. I have been spending my time in the garden and am thrilled to see that my "less than green thumb" seems to be greening up! Our long cold spring is history now and the plants in our garden are finally daring to rise up. I have beans and squash and cucumbers climbing poles, tomatoes and strawberries in pots, and herbs and salad greens tucked in lots of places. The cosmos, dahlias and impatiens add spots of colour, and I must say - the back garden is almost as good as a cockpit for relaxation!
We both enjoy spending time at the family cottage on the Northumberland Strait, where we cleaned up the mess from the "big storm" of December '10, and are getting ready to paint it. I wrote an article for our Healing Touch Association of Canada e-connections newsletter and had a wonderful time playing with the overlapping themes of balance, wellness, and movement from both my sailing life and my land life. Jim bought a new tablet and is happily engaged in syncing it with his computer, and finding exciting and useful apps. It's been a while since he had a new toy!
We've been getting ready for the presentations on cruising that we'll give this summer. As we go through our pictures and old blog postings from the time since we left Gananoque, ON to go cruising, we've been reminiscing and planning and analyzing and laughing. Embarking on our first cruise back in 2007 was an unqualified excellent decision for us. We continue to fine tune it: A one time trip or the first of many? Full time or part time? With or without an on-land home? Return to familiar places or travel to new ones? Same boat or new one? What's our comfort level? Are we risk takers? What do we value? What are our responsibilities? How do we create our best lives?
Good questions! I know for sure that sailing is part of it - and that we're not following the Norwegians across the North Atlantic!! Madcap likes warm water right now.
20/06/2011/12:28 pm, Halifax NS (crew) boat in Florida
We have had such a cold wet spring here that Jim frequently remarks, "We came back too soon!!!" Not so really, because we've been having a fine time being back in our own house, seeing family and friends, playing host to visiting sailors.
About those sailors ...
We know that Henrik and Anders (Fri Inspirasjon) whom I mentioned in the last posting, are on their way from Newfoundland to Ireland and then on to Norway. Find their blog at http://fri.caty.com) After they left, another couple of Norwegian sail boats arrived. We met Ann Christin and Christian (Ella) in Puerto de Vita and again in Varadero and told them to look us up if they came up this far up the coast (they thought they might go to Bermuda and home from there.) Sure enough, we got a phone call! They had hooked up with Henning, Marius and Gustav (Sjarmen) and were at the Armdale Yacht Club for a few days. Jim drove them all over town as they gathered up cold weather clothing, provisions, and dozens of things on their lists. They visited the Binnacle - our local chandlery, the Army/Navy Surplus store and IMP Marine in Dartmouth - where they found the best boots! Ann Christin commented that they were able to get not only the essentials at great prices, but some of the items on their wish lists too! Nice feeling.
In the evening, they all came for dinner. We had a great time, and introduced them to fiddleheads and dulse and solomon gundy (along with bbq'd pork tenderloin and roasted veggies) and around about 10:30, we decided they could not leave town without visiting a local pub or two. So off we walked to the Lower Deck where we listened to some good music and downed a pitcher or two of beer. They showed no signs of fatigue so we left them there sometime after midnight and Jim and I walked back home. We found out later that they really took to Halifax nightlife and arrived back at their boats about 5:30 the next morning!
They ended up being in Halifax for over two weeks while they waited for weather for their crossing, spending most of their time tied up on the waterfront where they could walk most everywhere (including a few more visits to pubs and clubs where they enjoyed music and cold ones). We were delighted to have them around for longer, and they seemed to enjoy our home and our company - and our showers! It was a treat for us to pay forward some of the assistance others have given us over our years of cruising.
We learned that lobster in Norway costs about $75. per kilo and only Henning had ever eaten the northern variety so we decided that we must have the first of our summer lobster feeds while they were still in town. They started off the evening watching the Norway/Portugal soccer game on TV and finished it watching game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals with us. It was just like our old days of having a roomful of our children and their buddies watching the games. We were joined by our daughter and her boyfriend, and our neighbour who works for Coast Guard so it was a fabulous crowd. The lobster went down well and it was a wonderful grand Nova Scotia evening.
They finally got the weather forecast they needed, and after one last lunch and a round of showers, prepared for departure on June 6. We went down to the wharf to see them off - in the pouring rain - and so waved good bye to another group of hardy sailors. That's the pic above. (Kristen, thanks for sending us the pic of Henrik and Anders leaving! It was fun to share that goodbye with you.) The two boats, Ella and Sjarmen, headed off across the North Atlantic for Ireland, bypassing Newfoundland because of time constraints and weather. We've been following their blogs (using Google Translate which makes for some hysterical reading!) Just for the record - we are not elderly and we did not take them to a strip bar! This will make sense if you find Sjarmen's blog posting of their first evening with us!! (http://sjarmen.wordpress.com) and (http://ellapaatur.com). They both have some good pictures too. As of this morning, day 14, they are over halfway there and have finally been able to set a course straight for Ireland. They have just come through a rough stretch but he weather has been mostly favourable - and by times a whole lot warmer than here!
Jim and I have been so impressed by all these young sailors - their courage and pluck and enthusiasm for the sailing life. They are all returning to jobs or school with a years' worth of fabulous experiences tucked away in their memories. It keeps us enthused about pushing our edges too!
We had one more evening with sailing folks this week. Jeff and Tessa Evason (Inamorata) were in town to do a show and came for dinner. We met these two in the Abacos 2 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed their company then - beachcombing and playing dominoes - so we were really happy to have another chance to visit with them. They brought along Jeff's Uncle Ronnie and we all had a thoroughly good time. Although we know Tessa and Jeff as cruising friends, they are impressive entertainers and we'd sure love to see them get bookings that will bring them back to this area. (www.evason.com)
That's the update for now. We are speaking and showing pictures in a couple of places this summer - a beachside gathering of Cumberland County power and sail squadron members, and Trident Yacht Club near Gananoque, ON where we first started this adventure. We are excited about sharing our stories!