We have literally been leaving for months.

STAGE ONE – Marina Four to QCYC

We had an end-of-season dock party on April 15, and our kind marina-mates brought a cake to wish farewell to us and to Mark and Liz (SV Saving Grace) who are leaving for Newfoundland and points south this year. The relatively easy winter was just delayed – it waited until March and April to deliver its worst in the form of a polar vortex – cold, miserable, rainy weather and even snow. We left uncovering of the boat till the last minute. Steve finished some woodwork while we still had our protected winter cover on. We finally removed the shrink-wrap boat after work one evening in the last week of April.

On Saturday April 30th, while we had a little sun and some extra hands around to help, we threaded the needle, moving the boat through the narrow swing bridge from our protected dock at Marina 4, downtown Toronto, at the foot of the CN Tower, to an outer dock in the same marina. The next day was blustery with freezing rain and high winds. We stayed put in the morning but decided to leave that afternoon anyway to cross the harbour and tie up at QCYC in a temporary dock in front of the clubhouse.

 

STAGE TWO – Re-equipping the boat and quitting work

The clubhouse dock was very convenient as we spent a week fetching and carrying boat parts, seasonal clothing changes and gear back and forth between our QCYC club locker/storage to the boat. However exhausted after work each evening we spent time putting on sails, reattaching our MOB, dinghy davits, swim ladder etc and sorting out charts, books, clothing to ensure what we needed came aboard and anything we didn’t need over the next few months got stored away.

Clubhouse Dock

Clubhouse Dock

The grandchildren, Mia and Sam came for a last sleepover on the boat before we leave – they have no real sense of that yet but it is acute for me. Mia has been sleeping over for years and loves it as much as we do, but this is 3-year-old Sam’s first time. He is happy and angelic throughout! We do crafts, colouring, reading, playing in the club “playroom”, and two dinghy rides up the lagoon. We spot a turtle and visit Far Enough Farm and Centreville – three rides each! We are all happy and exhausted when we meet up with Matt and Sara, Daddy and Mommy, city-side, for a quick mother’s day tea at Starbucks!

MIa and Sam at Centreville

Mia and Sam at Centreville

We moved the boat to a different dock the following week as we are “gypsying” – using free docks as assigned while members are temporarily away. We gave up our own dock this year and became “out of town” members.

My last day at work was May 11th, and Steve’s was May 20th. I am an old hand at retiring. As one of my colleagues commented, I coined the word “re-retire”. No-one at my company believes I am really gone, so we parted as if before a long holiday. Steve’s last weeks were particularly hectic for him – with lots of fond farewells as he frenetically attempted to organize his files and mail for hand-over, finish projects and deliverables, empty his office, and save his personal mail, contacts and passwords for his own use. I know what that is like. He only ever had a work phone. Mad!

Steve with colleagues at his retirement party

Steve with colleagues at his retirement party

He got home after 8 pm on his last day, exhausted. No rest for the weary though as the next day was Sailpast, so he had to be up to clean the boat and swab the decks for inspection by the Commodore! Meanwhile I had survived a sleepless sleep clinic and did Tim’s overnights while his wife Natalie was away at a family wedding. It was a great way to hang out and spend a little time with him before we left. I arrived home just before noon on Saturday, May 21st in time to spit and polish the boat for Sailpast.

STAGE THREE – Casting Off

Sailpast is a yacht club tradition based on Royal Navy pomp and ceremony, washed down with a suitable amount of alcoholic beverages and social engagements. The weather was pleasant and our friends Charlotte and Roger and their little dog Oatie came aboard T’ai Chi for the afternoon sail in the harbour, and the inspection in the lagoon. They brought a veritable feast of appetizers for the occasion. Sufficiently lubricated for fond farewells, the evening dinner and dance was a great way to say good bye to friends.

Sailpast feast - Steve and Charlotte

Sailpast feast – Steve and Charlotte

The next day we were up early, to remove our last items (including Sailpast formal-wear) to storage, along with Steve’s beloved bike. In checking our systems we found a leak in the engine coolant, and did a hasty band-aid job to hold enough in for limited engine use for our lake crossing.

We tried to sneak out quietly when we finally cast off. But the pleasant weather meant people were out and about so friends waved and horns blasted as we made our way down the lagoon. Another moment of mixed emotions…. excitement for the journey ahead and regret on leaving this little paradise.

STAGE FOUR – The Great Blue Beyond

The day was perfect, sunny and warm, no waves at all. I entered the waypoints and set our course for Wilson, New York, our first destination. The wind was a little light but we put up all our canvas and managed to do 4 to 5 knots almost all the way on a direct route. The Toronto skyline faded behind us. We relaxed. No traffic, except one tug + barge and one large Cyprus registered freighter, which crossed ahead of us in the shipping lanes after we passed into the US. Steve napped. I napped. We read our books and studied the ports guide for Wilson. We enjoyed the trip and commenced “cruising mode”.

We arrived in Wilson at 5:45 pm on a beautiful calm evening, and Steve managed expertly to maneuver our large boat in very close quarters in the tight marina, between mooring posts, to tie up as directed on a face dock. There is a yacht club nearby with lots of little sailboats but we are the only sailing vessel at Wilson Boat Yard …feeling a little like foreigners among sports fishing vessels and cabin cruisers.

Hoisting the US courtesy flag

Hoisting the US courtesy flag

We cleared into the US by phone in less than 5 minutes thanks to our Nexus cards. We will be here for over a week while we do a complete electronics refit, reseat ports, replace hatches and batteries.

This is a delightful place, pretty and peaceful. Very suitable for recovering from the hectic stages of leaving. Sun shines, birds sing. The evenings are peaceful. At this moment I think I know why we are doing what we are doing!

 

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