Monday, August 31, 2009

Isn't this a different turn of events?

Well, you just never know what life is going to throw at you.

Since we are travelling in a 28-year-old boat we expect that things are going to break down. It's a given. What we didn't count on was us breaking down.

The day before yesterday Harley broke a crown off a tooth. Now if we were on a 2-week vacation we would brush it off and say he'll get it fixed when we get home but, since we are out for the year, there is no escaping the fact that he is going to have to get it looked at. We toyed with the idea of getting a dentist in the states to repair it but, we figured that since we are only 3 hours away (can you believe it? And it only took us 2 weeks to get here. lol) we would rent a car and go back to our own dentist in Ontario.

We called our son, Brent, to let him know that we would be coming home for a day or two and he, being the thoughtful person that he is, offered to come pick us up. He said he was due for a road trip anyway. What a nice kid!

Anyway, he picked us up yesterday and while we were out for dinner doesn't another crown fall off another tooth. What's with that!? So here we are in Barrie and Harley is at the dentist at this moment.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blue Blazes is now a river boat.

We said good-bye to our friends Marg and Steve on Lion's Paw two days ago because they were planning on spending some quality time with their family before they take off, indefinitely, on their adventure. Marg and Steve, if you are reading this, we miss you already and thanks so much for taking us shopping in your rental car. We owe you big time. That was so nice of you.

Our trip over to Buffalo, the Niagra River, and eventually the Erie Canal was wonderful and we enjoyed every mile. Sailing into Buffalo Harbour and going under the Peace Bridge was exciting. I don't know what it is about bridges, but every time I go under a major bridge I get excited and again Harley and I started reflecting on what a cool thing we are doing.

After two swing bridges and one lock along the Niagra River we made it to the Erie Canal. The Niagra River wasn't nearly as intimidating as I had expected. I had visions of us being swept away by the current and going over the falls but of course that was not the case. Instead it turned out to be a lovely scenic trip.

As soon as we arrived in Tonawanda we did our Video Customs check in and that went well. Again, we heard stories but all they wanted were names, address, and passport numbers. We also needed to get a boating permit.

The next day, which is today, we had the boat demasted and what a chore that was. If anyone knows Harley, constructing a cradle to hold the mast was like making a piece of fine furniture and it took longer than I, or Denny, (the owner of the boat yard)expected. Every now and then Denny would come over and hurry us up. Anyway, six hours of our hard labour and $430.00 later we were done. I am still in shock over the price. I figure for that price we should have been able to sit back, have a beer, and let them do all the work. But it's done now. Hopefully now we can relax and have a nice 320-mile trip along the Erie Canal.

Our plan now is to spend another night in Tonawanda and chill out. Tomorrow the adventure continues.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lake Erie

We did the trip through Lake Erie in two legs. The first took us to Pelee Island where we anchored for the night. At precisely 0500 the next morning we started on the next leg, which took us 31 hours and all the way (170 miles) to Port Colborne at the other end of Lake Erie. This will probably be the longest passage we do all year and, after all my concerns, I can now say it wasn't bad at all. Yesterday was lovely and sunny and light winds and again we went up to the bow and poured water over our heads to cool off. This time, however, we had our bathing suits on. We didn't want to scare Steve and Marg on Lion's Paw who are on the other boat that has been travelling with us since Tobermory and were a mere 500 yards away.

I am keeping a journal as well as this blog and this is what I wrote this morning just before we pulled into Port Colborne:

"August 25, 2009

Since we left Midland 10 days ago we have, with the exception of the day we fought a strong headwind down St. Clair river, enjoyed light to moderate winds and fair skies but Blue Blazes is feeling more like a power boat than a sailboat. So far sailing is something we have done precious little of.

Last night was no exception. With little to no wind we motored all night. Interestingly we had some excitement to keep us occupied. At midnight Pan Pan was heard on the VHF reporting a vessel that was overdue at port. The vessel was a 25' Bayliner called "Barnacle Bill" travelling from Erie Pennsylvania to Port Dover. The captain was reported to be approximately 75 years old and travelling with a dog. His path would have intersected ours so, of course, we had to keep an eye out for him. The coast guard was actively looking for him as well. A lot of dialog was heard over the VHF between rescue boats, flares were being deployed, and a helicopter was flying overhead. Finally at 1000 this morning Barnacle Bill was found.

But at 1000 the flies came! Flies I have never seen the likes of. And they came in droves. I don't know what kind of flies they were but they were light and fluffy and they attached themselves everywhere. They would fly up our nose and behind our glasses and Harley was so disgusted that he went below and hid for a while. He wouldn't admit it but I know that was what he was doing."

Anyway, we are now in Port Colborne and all is well. We are tired and in much need of some down time so I think we will be staying put for a few days. After that we head over to Buffalo and the Erie Canal where the adventure will continue.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Don't Think We Are in Kansas Anymore

The trip from Sarnia to Lake Erie went well, however, we did it in two days due to a strong headwind the first day. With the current going downstream and the wind coming upstream it makes for a very slow and bumpy ride so we pulled into a small marina on Ecarte Channel off of St. Clair river where this picture was taken. The scenery was fantastic along the river with many, many multi-million dollar properties to gawk at.

The next day we took the trek through Lake St. Clair and the Detriot River, which was very interesting indeed. Going through Detriot and Windsor was so cool.

We are now in Amherstburg, and in about an hour we are taking off to travel the length of Lake Erie. We probably won't have internet for a few days so we will catch up when we get to Port Colborn. I will try to download some more pictures then.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lake Huron....done that.

After much discussion the night before we decided that we would leave Port Elgin at 0900. Our rational was, since we were going to sail through the night no matter what, we wanted to arrive in Sarnia in daylight. This morning, however, the forcast had changed and if we waited until 0900 we would be hitting some pretty strong winds at the end of our leg, so at 0740 we left Port Elgin.

We had a great day of sailing with fair winds (10-15 knots) and calm seas. We could have easily sailed all day without the engine but we ended up motor-sailing all day as we were trying to make it before the nasty weather arrived.

It was a race between us and the weather and I guess we could call it a tie. Just as we were coming into Sarnia the wind picked up, the rain came, and so did the lightning. It was nothing serious though.

We floated into the Sarnia Yacht Club at 12:15am.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Port Elgin

At 0830 we left Tobermory in the fog and rain hoping to make the 24 hour treck down to Sarnia. Before long the sun came out and we had a great sail, however the wind just didn't want us to make it to Sarnia By 1500 we had enough beating into the wind and decided to bare off and sail into Port Elgin. We will try again tomorrow. For now we will take advantage of this lovely Port.

This gentleman's music was beautiful and very soothing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

View The Trail of Blue Blazes in a larger map

You can use the "+" and "-" to zoom in and out and the arrows to navigate around. I hope it works for you.


Wingfield Basin to Tobermory

At 0830 we left Wingfield Basin headed for Tobermory under cloudy skies and a brisk 20 - 26 knot wind. A bit of a change in weather from yesterday and we now have the wind on the nose. Now that's more like we are used to!

We are now in Tobermory's Little Tub Harbour picking up a few things at the grocery store and to use the internet. We are heading into Big Tub Harbour tonight. If the weather co-operates we will head down Lake Huron to Sarnia tomorrow.

Day Two

We had a great sail up to Wingfield Basin. The wind was behind us all the way up the bay and it was warm and sunny. As our sailing friends can attest, that rarely happens when you want it too. The bay was fairly flat as well and we spent much of our time chill’n out on the foredeck with the tunes on. Since we were out of sight of land and other boats we even stripped down and poured buckets of water over ourselves….and why you ask?...because we could!

The wind baffed out for a bit and we ended up motoring part of the way. Lucky for you there are no naked pictures.

Day One

The sun was shining, the wind had just come up, it was 1330, and we were pulling away from the dock.

After lots of hugs, pictures, and yes, even a little tear, we said goodbye to our family who were standing on the dock waving, and to our home port in Midland. Now the adventure begins. I’m not quite sure what awaits us but what I do know…’s going to be great. No matter what happens, this is going to be a fabulous adventure.

We sailed out of Midland Bay under perfect conditions and four hours later we were in Big Sandy Bay on Christian Island surrounded by several boats from the Sailing Club who were there racing (H.I.R.C.) for the weekend. It was fun hanging out with the gang one last time.

Next stop Wingfield Basin, Cabot Head.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Three hours and counting

After a very busy week we can now say we are ready. At 12:00 today we plan to cast off the dock lines and sail into the wild blue yonder.

We spent a very enjoyable evening at Scully's Bar in Midland with my good friends from work. Thank you for your kindness and all your best wishes. I can't think of a better way to spend our last night as landlubbers.

I am not sure when we will have an internet connection again but as soon as we do we will be posting an update. Until then, stay safe everybody and we will be seeing you next year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Harley's last day

For us, today's weather wasn't the only thing to get excited about. Both of us are now officially off work. This is Harley as he was leaving for work for the last time.

Last evening the lights from a nearby baseball diamond cast an interesting light over the sailing club.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

View The Trail of Blue Blazes in a larger map

I am trying something new. Hopefully if you click on this link you will see our exact location and, with any luck, every now and then I will be able to update this map so you can see our progress.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Last Day

This was the day I have been waiting for and working towards for four years. I can’t believe it…..pinch me. Is it really true?

Today was my last day of work. I have been working on a program nick-named “4 over 5”, or in other words “Pre-Paid Leave of Absence”. My employer has been holding 20% of my salary for the last four years and now for the next year they will be paying me back while I am off sailing. I feel so fortunate.

A big thank you goes out to all my caring and thoughtful co-workers for sharing my excitement by throwing a fun Pizza Party in the lunch room including a cake with a picture of me and a small picture of Blue Blazes stuck in it. (Valerie, you are too much!) You truly are a great bunch and I will think of you all often while I am away. I know I will miss the stories and goings on. Please keep me updated.

But I won’t miss it too much. lol Next week will be busy taking care of the last minute stuff, such as doctor’s appointments, family gatherings, taking inventory, making lists and checking them twice…….yup we’ll be busy. Hopefully by next weekend we will be sailing off into the sunset.

Awwww, what a thought.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"It be all good mon."

O.K. so call me stupid. For you to be able to leave a comment, I had to first change my settings. It's fixed now. "It be all good mon".

Please leave your away. We love to hear from you too.

As for the picture, well, I just felt like adding it. We visited this place in the B.V.I's. We hope to find more such places in the Bahama's


Monday, August 3, 2009

Our new look

This winter we took on the task of re-upholstering our cushions and, just recently, we replaced the Bimini. This is our new look.