• Boat Life,  Nature

    Visiting Snowy Owl

    “Now there’s something you don’t see every day!”

    As I stepped off the boat to goto work (late, as usual) this big boy was sitting on an ice flow just behind the boat. While I went back in to grab my camera, he took up a perch on an electrical box on the dock across from us. I’m not sure how common Snowy Owl’s are here, but this is the first one I’ve seen in 17 years here in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area.)

    Any ornithologists out there? How common is this bird in Toronto?

    Snowy Owl 1

    Snowy Owl 2

  • Weather,  Winter

    Goodbye Blue Sky

    After a couple of months of slowly sliding into a quasi winter-like condition, good old man winter stepped into his office this week with the resounding orchestral boom of thunder and strobing, pulsating flashes of lightening. The rest of the office staff: icy roads, windshield wipers that leave salt stained streaks and snow spilling over the top of boots everywhere, came brown-nosing along for the ride. A blurring whirlwind of activity culminating in frozen ear tips, cracked lips and cheeks stinging from the bite of ice pellets. Winter is here. Ta-daaa.

    I grew up in great plains of central Canada. An area where the only thing stopping the wind was the occasional scraggly line of trees called, funny enough, a wind break and where we were taught that hills and mountains were bad because they block the view. Those flatlands experienced regular and spectacular winter snow storms; storms of fury that would dump 3 or 4 feet at a time accompanied by -30 or -40 degree temperature’s. The winds, back then, often took on pentecostal personalities of their own, groaning and howling with rousing power, shaking the house through the night. As a kid I put up with the manic whispers in the storm, knowing that the more tongues I heard spoken, the more likely there would be no school the next morning. Those were normal winter storms – the kind that everyone would talk about until the next one came along. I don’t, however, remember hearing the sound of thunder or seeing flashes of daylight in the middle of those whirling, churning blizzards. That’s the part that gets me. Winters here in southern Ontario are easy compared to back home. However, throw a good boomer into the mix and the freak factor begins to play with my mind, rivaling the haunting voices found in the middle of a good old prairie blizzard.

    I still bury my head under the covers. I still squeeze my eyes tight till stars appear; twisted up in a cocoon of covers pretending I can’t hear the howls of the wind clamoring at the door. But now, like then, I still can’t quite escape the slight unease of repressed fear that grips my gut…

    Is spring almost here?

    Goodbye blue sky

  • Boat Life,  Winter

    Living on a Boat has its Drawbacks Too.

    Filling the Water Tank For those of you coming here to read about How To Live on a Boat – you might start with the Living on a Boat Series.

    Yesterday, I contemplated how good life was living on the boat. Today, I’m warming up after going through one of the cons of living on a boat in the winter – filling the water tanks.

    It is -17 deg C out and the wind is blowing hard and cold and the tank goes empty. The tank never empties on the warmer days – not when the wind is calm and the sun is shining – but when it is the most miserable out. So tonight I hauled 55 gallons in jugs from the laundry room and filled it again. This should last us about 10 days to two weeks depending on how water frugal we are. As an aside – I have no idea how much water the average 4 person family uses but I can guarantee that they will use more than 55 gallons. Those who live aboard boats live with a true conservation spirit – out of necessity.

  • Baby On Board,  Boat Life,  Simple Life

    Life is Good

    Eireann 011908Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life we can lose the sense of how good life really is. I guess I’m getting in touch with my feminine side here, but I am currently … content.

    I sit here now on a Saturday morning writing on my laptop, my baby girl laying beside me talking away and sucking her fingers. My stomach is pleasantly full of fresh croissants and coffee. The sun is shining brightly in the windows – the boat gently rocking. The boy and my wife are out and about. I’ve got several good books, just waiting for me to crack open. A day off work.

    Ahhhh – life is good.

  • Boat Life,  Dock Life,  Shrink Wrap,  Winter

    Living in a Bubble

    Night BoatIf you would have asked me a couple of years ago what I would have thought of living in a giant bubble – I would have told you how I though It would be horrible, claustrophobic and confining. But today as I look out through my semi-transparent windows into a wavy kind of smoky world, I can tell you I love it. You have the illusion of privacy while still looking out over the whole marina able to see (sort of) and what you can’t see your mind kind of fills in the blanks.

    The boy and I have had grand times playing soccer on the back deck all within the safety and warmth of the bubble. During the day the inside of the boat heats up when the sun is shinning sometimes to where it is too hot. It acts like a greenhouse and traps the warm sun rays inside. Although I have recounted the several times that Ive worried about losing the bubble during wind storms, watching the rain and freezing rain bounce off the outside of the bubble makes one thankful to not only be inside but still have dry decks.

    Many of the boats around the marina strung Christmas lights up inside their bubbles making everything very festive. Of course, many of us will leave our lights up till spring although it likely won’t bother the neighbours like on a street somewhere in the ´burbs.

    The picture here is my neighbour down the dock who is also in a River Queen with his Christmas lights merrily lighting up the sky at night. That is a peaceful scene!

  • Baby On Board,  Boat Life,  Weather

    New Blogging Platform and Theme

    Well now … as you can see I’ve finally migrated my blog over from Blogger to WordPress. What a job it was! They don’t make it easy for a non-techie – that is for sure! If people are interested in how I did it – just leave a comment and I’ll do up a post on it. I also purchased a new theme for this blog – Shifter. Shifter is amazing. It allows me to set the format and look of my blog just by turning features on or off. No programming – no ‘geek squad’ stuff, just on or off. That – I can do! Anyway, I urge anyone who is looking for a quality WordPress Theme to check out Shifter – it is the most versitile theme I’ve found to date.

    SmokingLakeBoat News

    Yes – we survived the storm! I left off my last post early in the morning after a night of watching the storm and hoping that everything would hold together. In the morning light, I went out back to where the most of my frame is to discover that I had a few rips and that the whole plastic canopy had shifted position and no longer sat tight against the frame. So, I hopped into the car (big mistake) and headed off into the blizzard and drifts to get some shrink tape from my supplier. He lives about 10 mins away, but the trip took half an hour. I was plowing drifts the whole way and going down his street I was literally floating on top the snow most of the time. I made it back without mishap and plastered tape over all the rips and stretched areas. I also reinforced most of the corners and anywhere where the plastic was touching boat to prevent chafing. The short version is – we survived.

    Now we are dealing with a cold snap. Last night it went down to -16 C which is cold for this time of year. The ice is growing thicker, but the bubbler is keeping it at bay. This morning the lake was smoking – at least that is what it looked like, as the heat left the open water. It won’t be long if this cold lasts and we will be walking on water again.

    Having the baby on board has been wonderful. We’ve really settled into a nice rhythm with her. A and I are learning again how versatile babies are – basically, they are happy if you are happy. The boy lived in a house until he was 8 months old although he does not remember it at all. This child will not know anything but the boat – at least for the next couple of years anyway. What a life she will have! Not many kids can say they live on the water – I think it’s pretty cool – I hope they do too.

    Finally, I’ve resurrected my business website (with that new Shifter Theme – I just couldn’t help myself.) So that has also been sucking up my time. Check it out at neighboursappliance.com – let me know what you think.

  • Weather,  Winter

    Massive Winter Storm

    Well, the first big one of the season is here! Here is what is listed in the Environment Canada Weather Warning:

    A crippling Major winter storm with heavy snow and blowing snow as well as some ice pellets is moving in right on schedule this morning.

    The main snow event has moved into southwestern Ontario now and will rapidly expand and envelop all regions east to Ottawa this morning. Copious amounts of snow as well as strong winds causing blowing snow are expected. The snow will be mixed at times with ice pellets and freezing rain along and south of a line from grand through the greater Toronto area to Kingston and then along the St Lawrence river Valley to Cornwall.

    Widespread snowfall accumulations of 20 to 30 cm are expected in most areas by this evening. Some local amounts of 40 to 50 cm or more are quite likely in a few areas..Especially from the west end of Lake Ontario and eastwards into far eastern Ontario. Snowfall rates of 2 to 4 cm an hour are expected with low to nil visibility in sustained bursts of heavy snow likely.

    Significant blowing snow is expected to accompany the heavy snow due to strong northeast winds gusting to 70 km/h whipping up the freshly fallen snow and causing whiteout conditions.

    This is a dangerous winter storm.

    This time, so far, they are bang on. I’ve been up half the night watching this thing come. The lowest point of the low pressure is still not here, in fact it is a good 300 kms away yet. I don’t really care about the snow these days, especially since someone else has to shovel the driveway, but it is the winds that have been here all night that are the concern. I’ve seen gusts up to 70 kms per hour several times and I’m not sure how many of those the plastic wrap can take. Already it has shifted some and the 2×3’s are flexing with every heavy wind gust. I suppose I should go up on deck and tie everything down just in case the wrap blows apart.

    Normally, because this is basically a flat bottomed boat, it is very stable. However, walking from one end to the other is a real adventure right now – we are rockn’ and rolln’ almost like on the Alberg. I’m surprised we are not feeling sick yet. Plus, this boat does not have the hand holds that the Alberg had, so you just hang onto whatever you can grab.

    If you are curious to see the current wind and weather conditions, here is a link to an on-line weather station about 2 kms away.

    PCYC Weather

  • Boat Life

    Odd Smells

    I live on a boat with a 3 week old baby, a 3 year old who still ‘stains’ his underwear, a 55 gallon holding tank, an old electric toilet and 2 adults, one of whom occasionally ‘rips one’, and … my boat smells! The smell I am smelling, however, is none of the above (I don’t think so anyway.) I can’t figure out where the smell is coming from. We can go days without smelling a thing, then all of a sudden, in the middle of the night the main cabin of the boat smells like something curled up and died. We’ve searched high and low – looking for something that might be going bad. We’ve pulled all the drawers out – pulled out the fridge and checked all the nooks and crannies – nothing. Even though I don’t smell it down below decks, today I’m going to shop vac out the bilge and dry everything up again – hoping that the smell might be from down there somehow.

    I usually get the blame for the off odours around here, and most of the time I deserve it, but this time – IT AIN’T ME!

    So, I’m off the bilge with my vac and hoses … queue the Ghostbuster music!