Windflyer Sabbatical

Brian & Renate's excellent adventure sailing from Bronte Harbour to the Bahamas and back.

26 February 2023 | Bronte Harbour
09 February 2023 | Bronte Harbour
02 February 2023 | Bronte Harbour

Are WE ready?

26 February 2023 | Bronte Harbour
Brian Miller | Still cold but, thankfully, sunny.
It is still early days and Windflyer is under wraps in the frozen and snowy boat yard. So not a lot of blogging yet. We went for a nice walk in the sunshine this morning and stopped in to see her and give her a little love.

I have been obsessively planning and buying stuff the last month or so, but it has started to get a bit overwhelming. I have two detail lists - one is "Things to Buy" which is thankfully getting pretty small. The other list is "Things to Do" - this is still quite long.

It is busy season for me in my practice, so the detail boat and trip planning work is now on hold for the next two months.

So - are we ready to go? The short answer is - absolutely YES. Do I need the rest of the items on the buy list - no - they are nice to have, but not necessary. Do the rest of the items on the to do list need to be done? Sure a few, but they won't take long and many could be done on the trip itself. My business is organized for my absence - ie working remotely. Renate is getting there - her business will be organized by the time we leave.

But the real question is - are we ready psychologically and emotionally?

I mark an X and note the days remaining on a large sailing calendar on the one wall of my kitchen. I had my three children and their partners as well as my grandchildren over for Family Day a few days ago. It was fun and even though we won't be able to do it next year (I will miss all of them dearly) a daily look at the accumulating X's on my calendar keeps me locked in on July 15 (or thereabouts according to Renate!).

I live on the boat most of each summer, generally going home only once a week to do laundry and also hanging out at Renate's home most weekends. We go on a 3 - 4 week trip each summer down to the Thousand Islands at the beginning of the St. Lawrence River - we are on the boat a lot and are well used to it. Also, it is a very comfortable boat which certainly helps!

So I am ready. I can't speak for Renate, but i suspect she still has a way to go before she would feel ready.

This is an exciting new chapter in our lives and we can hardly wait to start.

Windflyer Refit

09 February 2023 | Bronte Harbour
Brian Miller | Raining like crazy and actually not that cold.
Windflyer is a "low mileage" 2005 Beneteau 423 I purchased in November 2017. Buying the boat of your dreams in the (almost) dead of winter is a difficult thing because you just want to get out on the water right away and play! Instead, we made many road trips to Bayfield throughout the winter and grew to love that pretty little town. The only other advantage is that you can use the long winter months to plan the refit.

Windflyer was lightly used by her previous owner and very well cared for. She was relatively basic (at least as far as our needs were). She did, however, have a 3 blade Variprop feathering propellor, low engine hours and a propane fireplace in the salon. Fortunately she also had freshly re-upholstered cushions throughout the boat and new custom made cockpit cushions.

Spring finally arrived, the boat was launched at the end of May and, with the help of our good friends, Barb and Dave we set off mid June to sail the boat to our home in Bronte. The trip took us to the bottom end of Lake Huron, through the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, Lake Erie, the Welland Canal and finally into Lake Ontario. The Welland Canal was a horrible experience as the workers were "working to rule" (ie. on strike). I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say when we finally finished the transit and entered Lake Ontario at about 7:00am, the better part of a really good bottle of Scotch was demolished by the crew!

Once back in Bronte, Windflyer was hauled and a bow thruster and air conditioning was installed. The electrical system was updated with new AGM batteries, a 2,000 watt charger/inverter, a new AC panel and an externally regulated 100amp alternator on the engine. We managed to re-launch in August and enjoyed some late summer and early fall sailing.

Over the next few years we installed an arch with built in davits and 540 watts of solar panels along with a MPPT solar charge controller. We electrified the port side halyard winch and the cockpit primaries - it is now nothing but gentleman (push button) sailing on Windflyer. All electronics have been replaced and AIS has been installed. The dodger, bimini and cockpit enclosure have been replaced and the cockpit cushions re-covered. As we get ready to leave this summer, the mast has come down - all standing rigging has been inspected and all running rigging replaced. An EPIRB has been installed and a shaft shark has been added to the propellor shaft. Lots of little bits and pieces have either been upgraded or replaced.

There are a few other items, such as a watermaker, whisker pole and possibly a portable generator that we will source once we are south of the border (ie. Anapolis).

The boat is ready to go!

The real question is: are we? Stay tuned.

Let's start

02 February 2023 | Bronte Harbour
Brian Miller | Friggin' Cold! -14C dropping to -20 C by end of day
We are planning on departing Bronte in July 2023 on a one year sabbatical to the Bahamas and back. This is a long-held dream of mine - 25 years in fact. As with many things, Life has conspired to keep me firmly rooted right here in Bronte. Luckily, I have a beautiful partner Renate, also a long time sailor, who has decided to share this adventure with me.

I am not getting any younger (In fact I am getting a damn sight older!) so now is the time to go! My business is such that I can leave it in the capable hands of my wonderful staff while I go galavanting off on the boat for the year. I will still be working and overseeing the business but on a much reduced scale. Fortunately Renate will be able to do the same thing with her business. Enough of this boring stuff!

I had a 2009 Hunter 36 purchased new (remember when the US and Canadian dollars were at par?!) when i was single. I was hell bent on making this journey and I figured I could do so solo and handle this boat, no problem. And then I met Renate and we decided we needed a larger boat, especially if we were going to make this trip. So I did - I purchased Windflyer at the end of 2017 and now owned TWO boats -yikes. I was able to sell the Hunter (also named Windflyer) in January 2018 and my heart and my blood pressure thanked me.

Vessel Name: Windflyer
Vessel Make/Model: 2005 Beneteau 423
Hailing Port: Bronte Harbour, Oakville, Canada
Crew: Brian & Renate
Windflyer's Photos - Main
Pre-trip pictures
No Photos
Created 12 February 2023

Who: Brian & Renate
Port: Bronte Harbour, Oakville, Canada