Monday, May 24, 2004

We Finally Did It! We Bought Our First Sail Boat!

The Day We Bought Our First Sailboat "Martiny" 28' Aloha 1985  

Well, it finally happened, we bought our first sailboat.  As a young boy of eight or so my father had dreams of sailing away. On weekends he would load my mom, brother and I in the car.  The trip in the car was never very far, but we would be gone all day, the destination was wherever someone was building or working on a boat, and willing to talk about it.  Then at nineteen, I joined the Royal Canadian Navy, during my five years in the navy, I had the pleasure to learn how to sail and although eventually, I had to have a career change my heart never left the sea. In the last few years I had been thinking and talking about buying a sailboat, then one day a very good friend of mine barely over 40 called to tell me he had been diagnosed with cancer, and within that year he had passed. At this point my wife and soul mate said, “Honey, you’ve always wanted a sailboat and now is the time, not at 60, 65, or when we are too old or, sick to enjoy it.” That’s all I needed. You have to understand, we always have been outdoor people canoeing, camping, biking, but Linda had never sailed before and was a little leery.

After many months of searching, looking and disappointment, out of sheer luck, I drove by a 28’ 1985 Aloha, sitting in a yard with a small for sale sign. I took a quick look and knew she was the one.  The next weekend I took Linda and Daniel our 11 year old son to take a look. I got approval from Linda, and sheer excitement from Daniel, so we made an offer that was accepted.

We reside in Sudbury, Ontario so we found dockage in Little Current on Manitoulin Island. Our new sailboat was sitting in Parry Sound, about 120 nautical miles. The question of the day was, do we have her transported at an approximate cost of $1400.00 or sail her? The obvious answer to me was sail her home. We decided to do this on the May long weekend.  As good luck has it, one of our friends, Stan, used to be an avid sailor, but had not been on
a sailboat for about ten years.  Now picture this, Stan is mid 30’s, 6’ 4” and approximately 220 pounds. When we asked if he would be interested in joining us and help sail her home, he looked like a five year old child that finally received the gift he had been asking Santa for all year. 

After numerous days of looking at charts, making lists, and gathering equipment we figured we had everything we needed.  On Friday, May 18th Daniel and I met the previous owner, had the boat dropped in the water and set the rigging.  Thank goodness the previous owner  was there because I was a little rusty, ok,maybe a lot rustier than I hoped. We went for a sea trial in the Parry Sound Bay.  Daniel had been told we would make the 120 nautical mile trip without him this time, but he begged and whined so much that we finally gave in. 

On Saturday morning we woke to a beautiful day, the temperature was warm for the season with a light breeze.  After a quick breakfast we were sailing by 08:00.  Stan and I felt we could use more wind, but Linda our first timer was quite content and was saying, “Make sure the boat doesn’t lean too much”  I quickly learned the first lesson of sailing, don’t scare the wife.  The most entertaining part of the day was Daniel begging to swim.  We tried to explain the water temperature of Georgian Bay was only 8 degrees Celsius, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  Finally, we agreed and Stan looked at us as if to say, are you crazy?  While Daniel was putting on his bathing suit and life jacket, I made ready with a line.  Without any delay Daniel jumped in, the look in his face was priceless.  
I don’t know if it was pain or terror, but I have never seen someone grabbed on to a line and climb out of the water so fast.  Needless to say, we had no more requests for swimming that weekend.  We sailed that day until about 19:00 and dropped anchor for the night about half a mile from shore.  Our day was a little disappointing as we traveled only 40 miles, due to the lack of wind.

Little did we know, call me brain dead or lack of experience for not checking the weather, the forecast called for high winds starting later that night!  We were awakened later by our sailboat rocking and bucking at the end of the anchor line.  The winds had picked up to about 25 knots and 6 to 8 foot confused waves.  The one good thing I did that night was giving 150 feet of rode in 12 feet of water. My poor wife never slept that night and neither did I, we kept listening and feeling the sailboat for anything wrong.

Needless to say the next morning we were up at the crack of dawn and after reefing the
main we were on our way. Again the winds were not in our favour.  At this point after seeing Daniel sick overboard a few times, I made the decision to change our heading toward Byng Inlet.  I must have been the most, and the least popular person on board at that point.  The most, because Linda, Daniel and Stan needed some solid ground, a hot shower, food and a good sleep. The least, with Linda who was wondering what the hell did she get herself in too, and wondering how will, she get out of ever having to sail again.

The next day was a little cool with good wind and good sailing, we all enjoyed our day.  After some calculations, we realised we had lost so much time the two previous days and still had over 60 miles to cover.  We did very well, but by mid afternoon the wind had slowed and we had to motor to be in Little Current before 21:00 to make the last bridge opening. By the time we made it to home port, poor Linda was wondering if it would be like this every time we sailed. 

Happily for me she soon found the good side of sailing that summer.  The North Channel of Manitoulin Island provides amazing sailing.  There’s a reason why they call this area the Caribbean of the North.  You can be sailing for minutes or hours at your leisure, then at the drop of a hat, sail into one of the countless coves or islands with sandy beaches for a swim, lunch or overnight.  
Now Linda can’t get to the sailboat fast enough on the weekends, she even enjoys a good wind and doesn’t mind heeling anymore.  

Our First Ever Pass Through The Little Current Swing Bridge 

Almost At Our New Home Port Little Current, Manitoulin Island Ontario