• Uncategorized

    To Answer A Couple of Questions…

    OK – to answer a couple of questions first…

    No, the boat did not sink…
    I wish we were out on the lake sailing…
    My not writing anything for a while does not mean that I do not like you…(get some self-esteem buddy!)

    I think those were the main ones.

    Life on board the S/V Strathgowan is good. We have finally shed our winter shell and have got most everything ready for summer. All that is left is for the mast to go up and some small odds and ends. To make excuse for why I’ve not written, I have to refer you to my wife’s blog ScrapScene. (I’ll explain more on that in a minute.) I’ve been writing, stumbling, SEO’ing, etc. – all the things that one must do to get a blog up and running. All this takes time and kind of sucks my writing well dry. But, I’m back! – for now…

    We have decided to stay at our winter marina for the summer this year. In the past we’ve moved between two marinas for the summer and winter. However, everything is just closer to the marina where we winter. The grocery store is just across the road, the mail box is a 5 min walk and there are lots of little restaurants within shouting distance. Never thought that I would want to move closer to the action, but here we are. We will move to a different dock which is further out away from the building which should give us some summer breezes and get us away from the bustle of the marina itself. However, the dock is not yet open due to repairs that are still taking place from the wind storm this past Feb. It really did a number on the docks here and the repairs have been going on for several weeks now.

    I still have to pick up my jib from the sail repair shop where it spent the winter getting a couple of seams repaired. I really should learn how to do these types of repairs myself – but then I would not be able to store my sails at the repair shop. It will be nice to finally get the boat out on the lake and sailing again – hopefully this coming week.

    OK – on to other news.

    My wife (A) is pregnant again. She’s due in the fall and that means that means we’ve got about 5 months to figure out what we are going to do regarding our living arrangements. Is an Alberg 30 big enough for 4 people? Ha – some would say that it is not big enough for 2! I don’t mind living in a small boat (which is kind of weird, ’cause I’m a big guy) but A is not too enthralled with the idea of adding another person to our already cramped space. So, what to do…?

    We are heading toward a major crossroads in our lives. This fall we will have the opportunity (or necessity) to go in any of several directions. Here are the options that we are considering:

    • Status Quo – stay where we are on the Alberg 30. Just make it work.
    • Buy a bigger boat to live on.
    • Move on land – i.e. buy another house, rent an apartment, etc. (actually, we are not really considering this, but it is an option.)
    • Move to another part of the country – buy a house, rent an apartment, find another job and generally rejoin the ‘normal’ life.
    • Move all our stuff off the boat, pack up our Boler camping trailer and head out on the road – visiting my family in Manitoba for a while then heading south for the rest of the winter. (My personal favorite.)

    There is a common thread throughout this list of options – that is: money. How does one finance: a new boat – a new house – a move – or a mobile lifestyle?

    Enter ScrapScene.

    If, (and it is a big if) we could generate an income from ScrapScene – an income that is large enough to support any of the above options, then our decision becomes one of choice. Because ScrapScene is a web-based blog we could conceivably operate it anywhere that we have access to the internet. That would enable us to live a Mobile Life – as long as we could tap into the Internet at regular intervals. When, at any time in the past, was this an option for a young family? Especially a family that is not supported by a trust-fund or old money. Never. The old terrestrial model of work and life is changing. There are options to those who want to reach out and take them.

    While A. and I have been developing our designed life for well over a year now, a book came out recently that really put down in black and white a prescription that shows what A. and I have been working on. The book is called The 4 – Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It is a wonderfully inspiring read and really shows how a mobile life and a life free of a ‘job’ is more possible than ever in this day of technological advancement. I will write more about Tim’s book in another post.

    But for now – that is where we are at. Working hard on hardly working. Ok friends and family … what are your thoughts, ideas or comments on this? Let us have it!!

  • Uncategorized

    Swimming, Mortality & Writing Well!?! (Huh?)

    The recent post on my late night swimming episode generated a surprisingly large amount of discussion and comment. We were even contacted by a journalist who wanted to do an article on our unique life style here on the boat (we turned it down for reasons that I will expand on in another post.) What is surprising about the emails and comments is that there are at least as many about how I wrote as about what I wrote. (Hmmm – Mr. Hildebrand, my high school English teacher would be happy to know that I finally seem to be getting it. I’m not sure where IT came from – I certainly wasn’t getting IT in his class and have the marks to prove it. A current grade 10 teacher gave me an A+ for the post. Thanks Mrs. Muth – I don’t never have got a A in Engleesh before.)

    See the quote in the post Crossing the Atlantic on an Alberg. The description of being out in the middle of the Atlantic surrounded by nothing along with the interaction of the waves, sky and light is awesome. That paragraph is so well crafted that it actually evokes feelings in your heart and pictures in your mind. Now, that’s what I’m talking about.

    The topic of writing well was blogged about a couple of weeks ago by our Blog Consultant, Alister Cameron. (We hired a Blogologist to help us with A.’s website Scrapscene.com that we are trying to develop into an income source.) Quoting from his post, he says,

    “Dear fellow blogger, I beg you not to underestimate the importance of good written expression. I personally do not think good blog writing is the same as good journalistic writing (although granted, it can vary from blog to blog). I rather see skilled blog writing as a kind of middle road between uncomplicated stream-of-consciousness, conversational-style writing on the one hand, and the more evolved, colourful and even poetic style of a magazine feature writer, on the other.”

    Please take the time to read the complete article and visit his site. He is a great guy and has been a real asset to A. and I as we develop our on-line presence.

    We all enjoy a good story, but a good story that is well written – that is a cake with icing. (Mmmmm, cake.) The web and blogging in particular have in many ways done a disservice to the art of writing well. The ease of being able to just fire out any sort of sniveling drivel and seeing it in black and white on the web has promoted a culture of lazy writers. Of course, kids today don’t learn how to write right, not like when we was in school. (Every generation seems to say this – logically speaking, eventually humanity will lose the ability to write completely.)

    So what does this all mean? I guess I am saying I want my cake with icing, thank you very much. If you take the time to write something, you might as well write it well.

    Ok – back to living on a boat…

  • Uncategorized

    Thoughts on swimming, mortality, etc.

    Nothing like a late night swim to bring ones self face to face with ones own mortality.

    Last night the ice slabs were pounding the bow of the boat. Every ice slab contact is a boat shuddering, sledge hammer force that causes you to pause for a second to listen for the sound of running water. I put on my boots and parka and went out to push away the piece of evil that was currently percussing on the hull. I’ve done this dozens of times; a 2×4, lean into it, sending the ice off into the night for my neighbours to deal with. So with typical male macho gusto, I leaned in to it – getting the momentum of the ice moving away from the boat, then pulling back to admire my work … ooops.

    There is a point of no return, I know, because I found it.

    Eager in its attempt provide tangible proof of evolutionary theory, Darwins hammer reached out and tapped me lightly on the backside. I stepped out … my mind screaming “noooooo” and began to dance. It was a slow motion number, composed primarily of a pirouette with arms wheeling but catching nothing. With the ever so coherent thought ‘I can’t believe I’m going in …’ I stepped sprightly away from the safety of the dock.

    So there I was, gazing up through the gloom, the pale yellow haze of the surface of the water some 3 or 4 feet above me, experiencing this ‘shock and awe’ of my own creation and wondering what to do next. The cold hit as I was kicking to the surface and reaching for the dock. The cold was heart stopping.

    Looking down at the water from the dock you don’t really get a sense of how far above the surface of the water the top of the dock really is. Looking at the dock from the water level will change your perception perceptibly. There was no way I was going to be able to heave my waterlogged, and shall we say fleshy frame, back up onto the dock. I hollered for help, wondering if anyone would hear me, my mind instantly snapping back to the problem of how to get back onto the dock. That’s when it hit me – the tangible realization that I was indeed mortal. The exact thought did not have any words, but was composed of the emotional realization that I was actually in a position here where I might not make it. It was all very new and rather stunning – this whole mortality thing.

    Something just touched my back! I spun around to find the slab of ice, that evil beast of monstrous proportions coming back to sniff at its thrashing victim. Then in an unbelievable act of silent benevolence it presented its own back as a scalable surface, a stepping stone to that cliff towering above me that was the dock. I clamored up onto the the ice and gingerly stood up. Experiencing the joy of rebirth and with new found ease and grace I stepped back onto the dock. Taaadaaaa. Ya, I meant to do that…

    Now I have the shakes.

    Shamefaced and embarrassed, I scuttled back to the safety and warmth of the boat. Ahhh – heat, the smell of lake water and the gentle sounds of ice slabs grinding the hull. Home, sweet home.

  • Uncategorized

    Crossing the Atlantic on an Alberg

    I have dreams of sailing around the world on our Alberg 30. Here is a blog of people who are living my dream on their Alberg. Following is a beautiful, almost poetic quote from their site about crossing the Atlantic.

    It is difficult to describe what it is like out there. The water stretches out around you, constantly moving, constantly changing. Waves run across waves, and wind makes the surface dance. Occasionally another ship or boat breaks the vista – but we saw very few this trip. The sky is arches unbroken overhead, and you see the clouds move under it and the weather as it comes across the water. Everything is vast; away from the many small distractions of land there is a sense of privacy, time to explore your own thoughts, a sense of how little we are in relation to the world we live in. Sunsets and sunrises surround you, the stars overhead fill the sky on a moonless night, the moon provides more light that you are aware of when surrounded by manmade lights. You spend time standing watches, navigating, changing sails, cleaning, maintaining, taking care of yourself and the boat. Time passes, and then as your journey comes to an end you have to make the adjustment to dealing with shore life again…

    Here is a photo from their crossing: “There is no easy way to capture on film the sense of vastness you get when you are on the ocean. Sunsets spread across the horizon. Here we try to share a small portion of what we see.”

  • Uncategorized

    Global Warming Strikes Again!!

    We woke up to -30 deg C this morning – possibly the coldest March 6 on record for Toronto. The ice flows stopped banging the hull somewhere around midnight as they froze together. Downtown Toronto appears to be floating on the surface of some mystical lake of steam. My truck barely growled to a start this morning while my beard grew a layer of frosting. My ear tips are frozen again…

    I, for one, can’t wait for global warming to get here.

  • Uncategorized

    Weather Forecasting – pt 2. We Survived

    What a night! We are exhausted – actually A. and I are – the boy slept through everything.

    The weather forcast was correct right up to the wind speed part – that’s where they really screwed up. The winds last night were over 50 knots (58 mph, 95 km/hr) for more than 5 hours. The wind gusts went over 100 kms/hr many times. We were up every 1/2 hour or so until well after 3:00am checking the boat and the docks. This morning there is damage everywhere. Two of the docks are snapped in half, 4 boats lost either parts or all of their plastic covers and at least one BBQ is gone.

    So … the snow, ice pellets, and rain – all predicted and all came to pass, all easily dealt with. However, the dangerous part – the wind – that, they missed.

    And that is the source of frustration that I have with meteorology.

    You can see a couple of more ‘aftermath‘ photo’s on my wife’s life aboard blog.

  • Uncategorized

    Weather Forecasting

    The weather forecast for today is: 100% chance of … SUCK!

    I took a weather forecasting course a couple of winters ago to add to my ‘black box.’ It was there that I came to the conclusion that the ‘science’ of weather casting is rather inexact. I mean, predicting the weather 24 hours out is not all that difficult, you can actually get some pretty good odds, but beyond that, it’s pretty much a crap shoot. Lately, our local meteorologists seem to have taken up the daisy method of predicting the weather. (Find a daisy, and one by one remove the petals while saying ‘He loves me, he loves me not.’)

    Well, today … they got it right!

    Earlier today, from the Environment Canada web site:

    Winter storm warning in effect.

    Tonight..Snow at times heavy and local blowing snow changing to freezing rain mixed with ice pellets this evening then to rain near midnight. Snow and ice pellet amount 10 to 15 cm. Wind east 50 km/h gusting to 70. Temperature rising to plus 1 by morning.

    Friday..Cloudy. 60 percent chance of wet flurries late in the morning and in the afternoon. Wind east 50 km/h gusting to 70 becoming southwest 30 gusting to 50 in the morning. Temperature steady near plus 2.

    About 2:30 this afternoon, I drove into a wall of snow which has been blowing steady every since. Now, about 10 mins ago, we noticed a change in the sound of the snow hitting the plastic – we’ve got ice pellets. So far today – they are 2 for 2. We will have to see what happens around midnight – looking for a 3 point play.

    How does this relate to living on a boat? Well, it’s really more about sailing. If weather forecasting here at the dock is a gamblers paradise, what is it like when sailing where the forecast is something you base life decisions on? How do you deal with the uncertainty?

  • Uncategorized

    New Duck

    What’s up Duck?

    This new duck showed up here a couple of days ago. I’ve never seen a wild duck like this before – looks more like a domestic farm duck to me. Anyone know what this is?