Madcap Sailing

26 May 2018 | Gold River Marina, Gold River, NS
18 May 2018 | Gold River Marina, Gold River, NS
24 March 2018 | boat in Gold River, NS and crew in Halifax
22 May 2017 | Whittaker Creek, Oriental, NC
15 May 2017 | Boat in Oriental, crew in New Orleans and Nova Scotia
26 April 2017 | Oriental, NC
26 April 2017 | Oriental, NC
20 April 2017 | Ocean Isle Marina, Ocean Beach, NC at Mile 335.6
17 April 2017 | Dewees Creek, near Charleston, NC
14 April 2017 | St Simons Island
12 April 2017 | Fernandina Beach, FL
11 April 2017 | St Augustine, FL
07 April 2017 | Vero Beach, Florida
03 April 2017 | Ft Pierce, FL
30 March 2017 | Ft Pierce, Florida
28 October 2016 | Madcap in Ft Pierce, Florida and crew in Halifax, Nova Scotia
06 April 2016 | Riverside Marina, Ft. Pierce, Florida

Sorrow Comes With the Joy

26 May 2018 | Gold River Marina, Gold River, NS
Beth / chilly nights and sunny days
I wanted to make this post all about the joy we feel around meeting folks in boatyards and anchorages and marinas. It has been that way from the time we started sailing, especially as we ventured into new waters and discovered new places to say hello - to fellow boaters and to the "locals".

I have a book full of boatcards we have received over the last 10 years and dozens more names written in my journals. I have written about many folks in these blog posts - cruisers on their first long passages, the old salts, the circumnavigators - who have really truly sailed around the world, those who don't venture far but know their home waters intimately, first time owners, dreamers, and lots like us - couples who are enjoying both their boats and the exploration.

We are encountering all those folks right here in Gold River. Mike from Texas on s/v Shearwater, with whom we have shared Bahamas stories, Jay who used to own a marina in Roatan and we know exactly where that marina is; Jeff, Tracy, Ben and Sam who just bought their first boat and named it Lyons Pride and the boys are all set to put their sailing classes to good use; Charles, who used to sail on s/v Wind Swept and now plies the waters on m/v Wind Free; and Graham who has been working in the barn on his schooner Mary David. He came by one sunny day to say hello and we reminisced over the time in 2008 when we both holed up in Deep Cove to ride out Hurricane Hannah. Jim and I sat aboard Mary David then with Graham and Paulette, drinking tea and telling stories.

And that's where the sorrow cast a shadow on all the joy. On a Tuesday, Graham and I assured each other that we would share an anchorage again this summer, 10 years after the last time. On the Friday of the same week, Jim was working on Madcap when the emergency vehicles came roaring into the yard and people went running toward the barn. Graham was on the ground at the bottom of his ladder and all efforts to revive him failed. We don't yet know exactly what happened, but in an instant, all the future plans were gone and those who knew and cared for him are left with memories. Our hearts have been heavy these last few days as we continue the work of readying Madcap for launch.

Carl painted the boot stripe and cove stripe a glossy dark green. Jim and I have continued sanding and varnishing the brightwork - rubrails, eyebrows, hand rails, butterfly hatch. He will start work this week cleaning and waxing the hull and I will tackle the cockpit teak. Jim installed the new Seagull water filter and replaced a rusted out connection to the water heater. Our navigation lights work and he repaired or replaced the galley and aft cabin ones that didn't. The VHF works but the SSB antenna still needs to be hooked up. The Chartplotter won't hold a fix so Keith, the local electronics man spent an hour with Jim trying to track down that problem and he will be back this week to fix it - we hope!

The work goes on, and there is still joy in the boatyard, tempered with the knowledge that we never know what the next day will bring. And so we take time to talk to people, to remember them; we celebrate tasks completed, and we still make plans for the next day and the ones after that, looking forward to being on the water again.

Back in the Boatyard

18 May 2018 | Gold River Marina, Gold River, NS
Beth / chilly nights and sunny days
It is spring in Nova Scotia and we are both rediscovering the sheer joy that fills our souls as we put in our hours in the boatyard. It's interesting that, despite the labour of cleaning and waxing the hull, varnishing the metres and metres of teak rub-rails and eyebrows and handrails, of checking the engine and the water, septic, electrical, and navigation systems, of cleaning lockers and cushions and putting the interior back together, it hasn't yet gotten old.

As I perched on a ladder last week with sandpaper in hand, watching the beautiful colour of the teak rub-rail emerge, listening to the lapping of water on the rocks and bits of conversation from the fellows polishing the boat next door, feeling the sun on my back, I noticed that bubbly feeling that means, "I am HAPPY right here and right now!"

A couple of days later, it was Jim's turn. He was in Gold River - doing more of the prep work, and sleeping in our camper-van at nights. When he called me to say good morning, his voice was so joyful as he exclaimed, "I just love being here!"

Mind you, we have lots of work left to do and potential for all sorts of things to go wrong so this happy bubble might go Poof! but it's here now and we are paying attention to it.

And that camper-van I just mentioned? We have been thinking about one for a while now - ever since we had such a good time traipsing around New Zealand for 2 months in "Chewy Chester - a Ford Transit van. We thought, "Some day when we sell the boat" but then we remembered how useful it could be in shoulder seasons when we weren't sailing, and we remembered people we saw in yards all up and down the coast, camping out while they worked on their boats, and we thought about how we could explore inland more, instead of just coastal locations ... and we switched from thinking to looking. We narrowed down the choices - smallish, affordable, fully self-contained with toilet and shower, good galley space and decent bed, and decided we wanted an older-model Pleasureway van conversion. They are hard to come by in Canada so after missing out on vans advertised online in Ottawa and Quebec, Jim grabbed the phone quickly when he saw just the right 2012 Ford Pleasureway in Calgary. Several phone calls and two weeks later, we flew to Calgary to put our money down and drive it home. 5,000 kilometres in March in Canada! Thank goodness it has a good little furnace because we parked with the transport trucks beside service stations and slept cosily aboard 5 nights out of 7. We named her "Rosie" because she comes from Wild Rose Country (aka Alberta) and now she and our Madcap live happily together in Bluenose territory (aka Nova Scotia).

I'm sure there will be shadows, but this day we are soaking up the light, doing satisfying work in a place that feels good.

Almost a Year Later... back in Canada

24 March 2018 | boat in Gold River, NS and crew in Halifax
Beth / still in fleecy jacket and gloves
It has been so long since I updated this blog that I almost forget how! And there are certainly many events that just haven't made their way into my usual day to day and week to week journal. Here is an update though, just so you know we are still sailors!

We moved Madcap over to Sailcraft Boat yard in Oriental NC as planned last May, and with help from the crew there, we spent several depressing days tearing her all apart: sails off, mast out and rigging inspected and wrapped for travel, radar and wind generator disconnected and poles down, dodger and bimini canvas off and frames taken apart. We distributed galley provisions among friends, and packed everything as best we could for truck travel. In hindsight, I laugh at myself for being so careful to secure locker doors and bookshelves; Madcap had far rougher journeys on the water than any road trip could possibly be.

In true Madcap style, we managed to balance all of that with fine meet-ups with other boaters in the yard - a delicious potluck with the regulars, a couple of evenings at the Silos for pizza and music, a day's outing to New Bern with Mike and Kathy.

And then we headed for home, leaving Madcap at the yard, waiting to be picked by VMG Marine ( A couple of weeks later, we drove from Halifax to Gold River Marina on the South Shore of Nova Scotia (, to see the big red truck backed down by the waters edge and a crane ready to lift the boat off the truck and onto jackstands. Despite my fearful nighttime images of Madcap swinging wildly from the crane, there was none of that as she was gently lifted from the truck and settled onto jackstands. Then the work of putting her back together started, and that really did seem like work. It took us longer than we had planned, and I began to wonder if we had saved ourselves any time at all. Perhaps not. Perhaps we simply traded boat travel for boatyard work, but at least we could combine it with family time, garden time, spring activities in Halifax, rather than being focussed on wind and weather every day in an effort to get north as quickly as possible. At any rate, we were very glad when launch day came and we could be boaters again!

Launching at Gold River was a new experience for us - they use a marine railway rather than a travel lift so Madcap travelled via truck across the yard to the slip and into the sling. With the framework well secured to a heavy chain, the motor started and she crept inch by inch down the slope into the water.

We rented a mooring ball in the town of Mahone Bay for the summer (the name, Mahone Bay, applies to both a big gorgeous bay with picturesque islands and channels, and a small town with cafes and shops) and enjoyed some lovely nights aboard and daysails around the Bay, We didn't get as much summer sailing in as we thought we would - mostly due to other commitments - trips to Newfoundland, cottage time on the Northumberland Strait - but it feels good to have Madcap back in Nova Scotia waters. We know we made the right decision regarding bringing her north.

In September, we hosted family and friends from all across Canada, New Zealand and the UK for a local celebration of Liam and Alice's marriage. (the first ceremony took place in New Zealand in Dec '16).

Our winter was certainly a little different this year - we enjoyed lots of family time including welcoming our wee Duncan (almost 2 now) along with Mary Beth and Graham for Christmas in Halifax, and a fairly mild (if long and drawn out) winter. A 3 week trip to Spain in February/March gave us a lovely break and now if the recent series of nor'easters ever ends, and the days get longer and the temperature warms, we are looking forward to some new spring adventures. We have some varnishing and painting to do on Madcap once we get the winter cover off, and we plan to move aboard for 2 weeks this summer to make sure we get in some quality cruising time.

It was a wonderful grand 10 years of cruising southern waters, and now we plan to spend more years cruising around our beautiful Maritime waters. Stay tuned for more stories!
Vessel Name: Madcap
Vessel Make/Model: Bayfield 36
Hailing Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Crew: James D Bissell (Jim) and Elizabeth Lusby (Beth)
About: Beth and Jim have spent the last several winters sailing southern waters on s/v Madcap. They love Halifax in the summer, but plan to spend the winters exploring warmer places - currently the Guatemala, Belize, Honduras area.
The Madcap crew left Ottawa in 2007 to go sailing in the Bahamas. After a highly successful year, they returned to Canada, settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in the fall of 2009 they left to do it again! Journey #3 (2010/11) took them back to the Bahamas and then on to Cuba for several weeks [...]
Madcap's Photos - Mad Cap Sailing (Main)
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51 Photos
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our Oct/Nov 2013 trip to New Zealand
36 Photos
Created 22 November 2013
9 Photos
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Guatemala pics starting Nov 22, 2012
43 Photos
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54 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
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trip to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park (via Las Vegas)
23 Photos
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43 Photos
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62 Photos
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