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Chapter 13 – Back On A Boat

I posted this story online at splitcrow.ca and received an email from a stranger who had read the whole story.

 “I haven’t read a whole lot of your site but even adding a short section on any revelation describing your return to sailing and decision to buy your new boat would be an interesting way to close your Alabama trip.You may have already done that but I remember thinking your husband can just kiss cruising goodbye.  The reader is left with no hope!  Just an idea.”

I wondered about this and thought that he was right, so I have added a bit to give the reader some hope.

After we settled back into our regular routine, we did buy a couple of other boats – we purchased a 22 foot motor boat and happily drove around Georgian Bay for a couple of summers. Then we sold that boat and bought a piece of property – 23 acres – just outside of Parry Sound and built a house. We still live there and thoroughly enjoy it. We have all sorts of wildlife on the property – deer, moose, bears and a coyote has even been wandering around lately.

Dennis always wanted another boat though and I said that I would agree to this if it had the following conditions:

  1. Running hot water
  2. Shower
  3. Air Conditioning
  4. Refrigeration
  5. Bathtub

In Hetarae, we had no running water at all only a 25 gallon tank onboard. We had to rely on solar showers which really aren’t that great after four months (or even after four days!). We always had to use the public showers and after a while, that wears pretty thin. It is fun while you’re in Georgian Bay with beautiful clean water but once you get south of Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, access to clean water is fairly limited unless you’re out in the middle of the lake! In our boat now (the Split Crow), we have 150 gallons of water and a hot water tank, so it is quite luxurious having a shower in your own bathroom. Makes it feel like you’re at home and not camping. Now, we’ve had our share of problems with keeping the system running on the Split Crow. Dennis has replaced several pumps as well as getting the hot water tank repaired (it is under the settee and the entire interior of the boat has to be taken apart to get at the hot water tank.)

The other thing that is totally necessary is air-conditioning. That may seem like quite decadent but when it is 35 – 40 degrees out and you are sitting in a marina, you may as well be in an oven. It gets so hot and if you can’t go swimming, it really is unbearable. As I said, once you get south of Beaver Island, you really don’t have good access to fresh water to cool off, so having air conditioning is essential. On the Split Crow, Dennis didn’t want to use the air-conditioning because he was worried that it might break and it would be another thing for him to fix. However, when it was 36 degrees in Blind River a couple of summers ago, he relented, and what a difference! So, now we use it whenever it gets hot out. It is great!

I wanted a bathtub but did not get one. The Split Crow is just not big enough – we would have to get the Hunter 50 and we just don’t have the money for that boat. Also, the 420 is hard enough to handle, especially coming into port and going through the locks.

So, I didn’t get everything I wanted but I did get enough to make things comfortable. We have refrigeration and a freezer so we can store a lot of food – I always keep some frozen fruit and veggies just in case we can’t get any fresh for a few days. That has made a difference.

We have a few other little things that have made a world of difference. We carry a turbo hub with us (internet) so we don’t have to rely on marinas for access. (This won’t work in the states, so we will have to come up with a new plan for that). I have Kobo reader and can download library books or can stock up well in advance for my reading (Dennis is sticking to his real books). We have a good inverter, so we can have power whenever we want (limited but still handy) and we have a ton of storage space. I have solved the exercise problem with a few different devices. My latest is a FitBit which counts your steps for the day so it keeps you moving and staying active. I have some apps on my iPad for cardio exercise and I have a fairly good folding bike for driving around and for getting groceries. Each of these have been essential to keeping in good mental and physical health.

Navigation has also improved so much! We have access to great electronic charts, so we know where we are at all times. We have radar, a wind metre and will be getting AIS (so that we can see other boats and they can see us) and we have a Spot which lets everyone at home know where we are. We seem to have attracted a little following – people check it every day and are disappointed if we don’t move somewhere! I write on our blog which has been great – I actually have something to write about!

In conclusion, we often look back to that trip and realize that we learned a lot. We have had four great summers on our new boat (Split Crow) and almost every day has been fun! So, there is hope for even someone like me – I am happy to see boating season arrive and know what I’m up against in order to make a big trip. It helps to write all of this down too. What would I write about if I just stayed at home? Nothing. So, stay tuned for more adventures!

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