Last night we went to see a movie in a movie theatre. For many people this is a regular or at least occasional thing to do – a very ordinary, enjoyable occurrence. For us, the extraordinary has become ordinary – making new cruising friends in remote wilderness anchorages, bald eagles circling overhead, stunning sunsets and inky star-filled nights, new scenery each day, different ports, living with the vagaries of wind, weather and water. But going to a movie is an extraordinary experience. The last time we went to a movie theatre was in Canberra in Oz, with my grand-niece Sophie. Seems like a year ago…oh wait, it was! I enjoy this period of normal existence between cruising seasons. I love the fact that these ordinary things feel so special again. But I hate the process of moving from cruising to land-lubbing. It is exhausting, frustrating and unsettling.
But first, a brief recap from where we last left off….waiting for transit through the Welland Canal. We were finally summoned by canal traffic control to follow the next freighter through the bascule bridge to lock 8, along with the other sailboat who had been waiting longer than us for transit (30 hours). The weather was kind (clear, calm and warm), and down-locking is a relatively easy, gentle process compared to up-locking… handily managed by just the two of us. But the canal authorities rarely use their own communication processes to let us know what’s going on, and our passage was longer than normal as we two pleasure boats had to wait at each lock for the laker to go to the bottom and the lock to return for us, a seemingly interminable amount of hovering mid-channel. I understand that commercial traffic is the priority – but the locks are not free to pleasure boats. Each transit costs $200. So I feel we are their clients too and at least the Canal authorities could treat us with a little more courtesy. Day turned to twilight and night. By the time we exited Lock 1 in Port Welland at 11:30 pm, we were tired, hungry and grumpy. We tied up on the pleasure-boat dock near lock 1 and ate the dinner I had managed to cook while waiting for the last lock.
As the mist lifted the next day we left for Wilson, New York, and tied up on a visitor dock at one of our favourite places on Lake Ontario – the friendly Tuscarora Yacht Club. Over the next few days of our mini-US-holiday, Steve made good use of the continuing late summer weather to clean the boat – he scrubbed decks, and then removed, washed and treated all our canvas – the bimini, dodger and cockpit enclosure. We wore shorts and t-shirts for the first time this summer! I cleaned indoors, caught up on correspondence and went shopping at Wegmans – (thanks to local yacht club member Chris for taking me). Shopping in the US is fun anyway, but Wegmans is something else – like Longo’s on steroids.
We crossed the lake again, the third glassy, calm Great Lake in as many weeks. We cleared into Canada, an emotional wave hitting us as the CN Tower and the sense of homecoming (after two years of cruising) grew with every nautical mile. We anchored off Wards beach (Toronto Island) along with more boats than we had seen altogether during the course of this summer’s cruising! After a wet, cold, miserable summer, the late-September heat wave brought out the masses – Wards beach looks more like the Costa Del Sol. Even islanders said they had never seen so many people or boats there before. The noise and wake of party boats made for two rather uncomfortable nights, but the days were enjoyable, meeting up with friends and having a fun beach afternoon and boat picnic with Sara and our grandchildren. We enjoyed watching all kinds of water craft activity around us.
We were happy to move onto a dock at our home club, Queen City Yacht Club on Monday. The next two weeks passed in a blur of activities – our granddaughter’s birthday party (for which I made a Moana cake), a family Thanksgiving dinner, meeting up with friends, and doing some challenging boat projects including taking down and fixing the stay sail furler, for which I put Steve up the mast several times. I even brought him back down again each time in a timely manner, despite my growing impatience with tricky boat projects. And in our own private episode of Storage Wars, we emptied our QCYC storage locker.
The day after Thanksgiving weekend, Tai Chi made her final trip of the season to Port Whitby Marina. We spent the next few days renting a car and a new storage locker, packing, moving, hauling and cleaning. Definitely not the most enjoyable part of cruising. And all because of my least favourite aspect of Canada – WINTER. As if to prove a point, the late summer weather suddenly gave way to cold, wet, nasty and yes, more seasonal weather.
The boat came out of the water on Monday, and is now on the hard at Swans Yacht Sales in Whitby. We have been busy winterizing and building a frame on Tai Chi for her winter shrink-wrap which we planned to do today.
However, the wind had other ideas. We are ready to go and so tomorrow. The forecast calls for calm conditions, so hopefully it’s a wrap!
I look forward to a more ordinary – for us extraordinary – life in our little condo in Toronto for a couple of months. In January we become snow birds, flying south – South Africa and the Seychelles – for the winter. I can’t wait. For adventurous souls like us, two months of ordinary a year is enough for now!