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

Launch Day, Gold River Marina, NS

15 June 2018
The day finally came when we had to declare the “on the hard” work done – at least as much as it was going to get done.We stayed in “Rosie” the campervan the night before so we would be ready to catch the high tide bright and early on Wednesday morning. Darrin, Alex and Carl showed up as we drained our first cups of coffee, and the process began. Unplug the power cord, make sure there are bow and stern lines ready, remove the ladder, get out of the way!

I always like to watch launches and haul outs, but I missed most of this one. The truck hauled Madcap over to the railway slip and the boat was lifted into the sling, but the water wasn’t quite high enough so we paused for what I thought would be an hour or so. When I saw movement across the yard as we finished bowls of granola and another round of coffees, I raced over to find the lift moving slowly back up along the rails, the guys walking up the ramp – and Madcap securely tied to a dock. It was a most uneventful launch!

Jim checked the through hulls, started the engine, got a little scare when there was water seeping in around the through hull under our berth, (it stopped within minutes – apparently the seal just needed to swell a little after being dried out for the winter) and we spent the day working through the list of “starting the season jobs”.

While it was too windy during the day to bend on the sails, the wind died enough in the evening for us to enjoy a glass of bubbly and dinner of pasta with asparagus and red peppers sprinkled with freshly shredded Parmesan as we sat in the cockpit. It was SO good to feel the gentle rock of the boat and listen to lapping of tiny waves on the hull.

By Friday, the wind dropped to a reasonable level (although it was on the nose) so we motored out of the river and down the shore a few nautical miles to our mooring in Mahone Bay. In typical Nova Scotia fashion, the wind was nippy but the sun was bright, so we wore long pants and jackets as we travelled, and quickly shed them once we were tied up.

Before we left the marina, we enjoyed an evening aboard Shearwater with John and Debbie (Mahayana) and host, Mike. It was the first Happy Hour of the season and a good start to the social side of the cruising season. We also spent Father’s Day on the boat and toasted the last 11 years of our cruising life. It was on Father’s Day in 2007 that we pulled away from the dock at Trident Yacht Club near Gananoque, ON to head off on our journey down the St Lawrence River to the salt water of the Eastern Seaboard. That night we sat with Mary and Blair (Strathspey) and toasted the beginning of our adventure together. This year, we raised our glasses alone as we contemplated what shape this season of sailing in Nova Scotia waters would take, and remembered the wonderful encounters we enjoyed with folks from all over the world during our 11 years of cruising from Lake Ontario all the way down to Guatemala and back to Nova Scotia.

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.
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.
Extra:
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 [...]
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