Thursday, November 27, 2008

1000 Islands 2008

Once again we returned to the 1000 Islands, but this time with our Gemini catamaran. We spent a total of 24 days on the boat, although the trip was divided into what seemed like two different trips.
For the first 5 days we were joined by Uncle Alan and Spencer. Instead of heading straight to the 1000 Islands , we went in the opposite direction towards Lake Ontario. We were headed for Sandbanks Provincial Park, Alan and I secretly hoping to get some kiteboarding sessions in as well.
Our first night out of Bath we stayed anchored off of Waupos Island. It was a little dark and grey, but we all had fun towing the kids behind the dinghy on Alan's Jimmy Lewis surfboard.

The next day we were off to Sandbanks. We anchored off the main beach and all went swimming.

Later that day we went through the (shallow) channel at Wellington, making our way to West Lake to an anchorage at the base of the sandbanks. The water is quite shallow throughout this area, not many sailboats get in. We love our Gemini!!!

Our days were spent swimming, wakeboarding and playing on the sand dunes. Nights were filled with board games and Jiffy Pop!!!! After five days it was time for Alan and Spencer to go home. We returned to Bath, then just the four of us made our way east to the 1000 Islands.

Our first stop was Beaurivage Island, the same place we stayed in 2005. After a few days of swimming and exploring with the dinghy, we made our way to Thwartway Island where we were to spend the next 13 days.

Once again our days were pretty laidback. We did alot of snorkeling and swimming, as well as teaching both kids to wakeboard behind the dinghy.

If you would like to watch a 4-minute video of this trip that contains clips and pics, please go to:

Still haven't had enough??? Here's a link to more still pics:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bringing "Charlotte-Ann" Home

So the deal was finalized in October of 2006. We were the proud owners of a 1996 Gemini 105M (hull #519).

We decided to name our new boat "Charlotte-Ann" as a thank-you to our mothers (Charlotte Biggar and Ann MacLean).

The following spring it was time to bring "Charlotte-Ann" home. She was lying in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, which meant we had about a 500 mile delivery trip ahead of us.

The first leg of the trip involved a days' travel past Sandy Hook up into New York Harbour. From there it was about 160 miles up the Hudson River to Castleton-on-the-Hudson. This is a small boat club on the Hudson that has a do-it -yourself mast crane (you need to take the mast down in order to transit the Erie Canal. For this trip I secured the help of Jorge and Julio (brother Alan and brother-in-law Jim). The guys somehow arrived in New Jersey under the impression that this was going to be a pleasure cruise?!?! Within 30 minutes of arriving they had brushes in hand and were hard at it applying a coat of bottom paint.

For the next 4 days we had a great trip, with alot of laughs, working our way up the river.

We had a couple of amazing nights anchored along the Hudson (only possible due to our shallow draft), a fun night at a latin nightclub in New Jersey, and a near collison with a downbound freighter (Uhhh Mark, is that coming our way???).

Here is proof of just how hard the guys had it during the trip!!!

Once we got to Castleton-on the-Hudson, poor Jim thought he had died and went to heaven when the barkeeper told him large cups of Coors Lite were only $1.50!!!! I had visions of him calling Karen.

"Honey, I just found the perfect spot for a summer vacation!! Waterfront, close to shopping, nice weather and cheap beer!!!!"

One last bit of work out of the guys, get the mast back up, then wait for Lisa and the kids to arrive.

With Jim and Alan now on their way home with our car, it was time for Lisa and the kids to join the boat as we started our transit across New York State to Lake Erie and eventually home to Port Colborne.
See the link for the Erie Canal.

We spent about 8 days travelling through the canal which includes 34 locks and quite a few bridges. Some days were longer than others, but we also took time out for stops, including 2 days at Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake.

Keeping the kids busy can sometimes be a chore , thankfully there are usually enough things on the go to keep them occupied. One of the things we regularly do are knot tying lessons (along with other boat responsibilities for the kids). This link will take you to a lesson given by Delaney on tying a bowline knot.

After completing our run on the canal, we arrived in Lackawana, New York. Here we had to put the mast back up, and the following is some video of Mitchell having fun (and worrying Lisa to death!!).

For more pics of the delivery trip please go to the following link:

Friday, November 21, 2008


So we always knew that Delmitch was our "transition" boat, a stopover on the way to purchasing our next cruising boat.

Even before we bought Delmitch in 2003, I was busy trying to decide on what our next boat would be.

When I had access to the internet, the majority of my time was spent surfing the internet version of a boating porn site, otherwise known as . If you are looking for a boat, sail or power, $2000 - $20,000,000 , this is the site you want to look at.

When I first started "looking" at boats, the Canadian dollar was around $0.65 to the US dollar. There are a limited number of crusing boats available in Canada/Ontario, and they usually go for a premium, so I was looking mostly at boats in the States, typically Florida and Maryland, the two largest markets for used boats. In reality, with the exchange rate what it was, our chances of being able to afford a boat were pretty slim, but that wasn't enough to deter me!!!

"Look at this one Lisa!".
"Now this is a beauty ,dontcha think Lisa ??".
"I think we'll end up with a Morgan Classic ".
"I think we'll end up with a CSY44".
"I think we'll end up with a Beneteau 38".

Everytime I came home from work poor Lisa was dragged down to the basement so I could show her the "boat I have decided we will go with".

Sorry Lisa!!

Anyway, after about 2 years of this I read about a 34' catamaran called a Gemini105. Hmm, never really considered a catamaran before??
The more I read and researched, the more I liked.

-34' long (not bad when you consider docking is paid by the lineal foot)

-14' beam (not excessive, so shouldn't be an issue with regards to docking or hauling)

- 18" draft with boards up (shoal draft, something we came to appreciate with the Macgregor)

- 2 double aft cabins plus a queen master cabin (kids get their own cabins, I WANT THIS BOAT!!!!).

Unfortunately, at the time and based on the exchange rate (very rare to find a Gemini in Canada), the cheapest Geminis I could find ran between $110,000USD-$130,000USD.

Wayyyy too much for our budget!!
So I kept researching Geminis, going on the Forums, Googling and trying to learn as much as I could about them. After much more research, a strange calm came over me (and oddly enough over Lisa as well). I (we) had found the boat I (we) wanted!! I had finally narrowed my search, found a boat that fit our needs exactly and could stop dragging Lisa down to the basement.

The only think left was to actually get aboard one, and we were fortunate to get a tour of a 1998 Gemini while we were anchored in the North Channel.

Of course we still couldn't afford one, but hopefully that would change soon.
Then the USD started to tank against the Canadian dollar!!!

The search was on, but of course now not only had I decided I wanted a Gemini, I wanted one with outboard engines.
A brief summary on the Gemini105M.
- Performance Crusing Inc ( build only 2 models of boats.
- In 1996 they started production of the gemini 105M, an updated version of the Gemini 3400 (which was based on the 3100 and before that the 3000)
- From 1996 to 1998 twin outboards or a single outboard were options, in addition to a diesel with out drive leg.

The biggest complaint I have heard about the Geminis is the Sillette out drive leg (the Westerbeke engine is fine). I decided I wanted the simplicity (and redundency) of twin outboard engines, so that's what I was looking for.

One night while searching on Yachtworld, I came across a 1996 105M for sale in New Jersey (closer than Florida, easy to get back to Ontario), and she was equipped with twin Evinrude outboards!!!!

Under the guise of getting away from the kids for a weekend, I convinced Lisa to take a drive to New Jersey with me. We made arrangements with the broker and went to have a look.
"Indulgent Wife" (yes, we changed the name!!!) had been little used, but also somewhat neglected for a couple of years. She was pretty basic as far as gear was concerned, and the asking price reflected this fact (sort of, they were still asking too much).
After a bit of back and forth we settled on a price. We knew we would want to replace the engines before heading south, but felt that we basically had a solid boat that admittedly needed a few upgrades and came away satisfied with the deal.

Friday, September 19, 2008

1000 Islands 2005 & The North Channel 2006

The first extended trip the kids did on Delmitch was 14 days in the 1000 Islands. For those of you not familiar with the area, the 1000 Islands area is located just east of Kingston, Ontario. The islands are actually on the St. Lawrence River.

The trip started with us trailering Delmitch to a marina in Bath , just west of Kingston.
Dave and Michelle Hinton, friends of our's from our liveaboard days in Stoney Creek own Loyalist Cove Marina .

We launched the boat from LCM and motored our way to the start of our vacation.

Apart from sailing, we spent our days swimming , exploring different islands and basically just enjoying the warm, clean water and great scenery.

If you go to the attached link you will find a slideshow of pics from that trip :

During this trip we managed to hook-up with some more sailing friends, Terry, Joy and Olivia Webster on board their CS36 Merlin "Ambassador". This was Terry's introduction to staying "on the hook", and by all accounts he loved it (Terry is a very experienced racer, we're getting him used to the slower, cruising side of sailboats!).

The following summer, 2006, we once again headed off for a family sailing adventure on Delmitch. This time we were off to the North Channel on Lake Huron. This involved a drive up the Bruce Penninsula (with a stop at a fishing camp in Wiarton now owned by our old cruising friends Terry, Kim and Bryn) to Tobermory. We then boarded the ferry "Chi-Chemaun" for the trip to Manitoulin Island. Once on the island we drove to a small town called Kagawan where we launched "Delmitch" and began a 15 -day trip.

Below you will find links to a photo slideshow .

Video of Mitchell after picking some blueberries on South Benjamin Island.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Babies and Boats!

So now it was time to start a new chapter, PARENTING!!!! With Connemara sitting in North Carolina , Lisa and I living in the upstairs apartment of the rental house we bought, it was time to get busy. As with so many things in our relationship, this went exactly according to plan. Lisa went off the pill for 6 months while we "played" cautiously. Then one trip I came home from Brasil, we didn't take any precautions, and 3 weeks later, bingo!!

In the mean time we had the boat brought back to Port Colborne. We toyed with the idea of selling her in NC, but Mark got spooked after reading about the possibility of seizure by US Customs so we brought her back.

It was around this time that I started looking ahead to the "next" boat. We sold Connemara II but knew we were financially a few years away from affording what we wanted (at the time USD was around $1.40CAD). I became addicted to, a great resource for prices and specs on used boats.

As much as we both wanted to get back on the water, we realized we may have to wait a few years.

Then one night I was sitting in the control van on a rig off Newfoundland (I spent 2 years in Brasil when Delaney was born, but was now working off the Canadian east Coast) when a co-workers story pushed our boat buying palns into overdrive.

Craig was about my age, with 2 young kids, a new house and a promising career at Oceaneering. During his most recent offshore medical a flag was raised and he went for further testing. Long story short, he had an agrressive cancerous tumour that had to be removed. Thankfully it all turned out fine, the operation was a success and he was able to continue living a normal live. I must admit, it spooked me.

So I went home, and nonchalantly suggested to Lisa that we go have a look at a new Macgregor 26M. How's that for a change from Connemara!! After telling Lisa Craigs story, I just decided that we needed an "interim" boat, something we could trailer.

Next thing we knew we were the proud owners of a brand-new 2003 Mac26M.

For the next 2 summers we moved that boat around alot!!

The Mac's have a mixed reputation, alot of "traditional" sailboat owners have a very strong bias against them (I must admit, I didn't care much for them either).
They are a pretty good sailboat and a "not bad" powerboat, but when you look at the design philosophy you have to admit it's a pretty good product.

Billed as a "Powersailor", Delmitch (as in DELaney and MITCHell) was 26' long, drew 12' with the daggerboard and rudders up, and was powered by a 50hp Honda outboard.

Delmitch had most of the options available including a really nice full cockpit enclosure. For a 26-footer she already had alot of room, the kids shared a small v-berth while Lisa and I had a queen sized berth aft.

We got to a point where in about 45 minutes we could have her rigged and ready to hit the water.We did a few trips to Toronto Islands, as well as to our local beaches near Port Colborne.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lake Ontario - Florida Keys

So now it was time to take off on our first extended trip off the Great Lakes. We set a date of September 1998 and were determined to stick to it. In retrospect, it wasn't all that hard to do. Once we realized the boat would never be 100%, the rest was pretty simple.

Lisa gave her notice at the bank while I continued to work offshore in the Gulf of Mexico for Oceaneering (and would do so throughout the trip).

Departure Day, Stoney Creek, Sep 1998
Our boat was our home, so we didn't have to worry about a house-sitter. And of course, NO KIDS! We had put alot of time and money into the boat, not everything was ready to go (still no depth sounder), but we felt confident to leave.

After a farewell party with friends in family in Port Dalhousie, we set off for Toronto to deal with a few last minute details. After an exciting evening trying to get into Toronto Harbour, we followed the Lake Ontario shoreline down to Cobourg. It was here that we were to meet another family heading south, Terry, Kim and Bryn Ferencze. Our paths were to cross numerous times over the next 12 months, and to this day we have remained friends (as a matter of fact they are cruising the Bahamas right now).

So we left Cobourg early in the morning and set off for Oswego, NY. Once in Oswego, and of course after clearing through Customs and Immigration (what a mess that was!!), we un-stepped our mast and started our transit of the Erie Canal. After 350 miles and 34 locks we arrived in Castleton-on-The-Hudson near the top of the Hudson River. With the help of Terry, Kim and Bryn, our mast was re-stepped and we were ready to head towards NYC!

On the Hudson River

The trip down the Hudson River was a surprise to both of us. It is a really nice trip, especially with the fall colours of the surrounding forests. The shoreline is very rural, with both low, rolling hills and some dramatic "mountains" in the area near West Point Military Academy.

The day we arrived in New York City was cold and gray, with a strong headwind slowing our progress. Other than Toronto Harbour, this was the only other busy harbour we had sailed into. We quickly learned that water taxi drivers are no different than yellow cab drivers! They own the waterway, so you better get out of their way! Our original was to anchor behind the Statue of Liberty (you were free to do this pre-9/11), but decided to get a slip for the night instead.

So a couple of days in Jersey City, New Jersey (directly across from Manhattan), then we were off again.

A day out of New York Harbour brought us to Atlantic Highlands , NJ. Little did we know that 8 years later we would be back in AH buying out current boat!!

We spent a day trying to get some parts for our little 2hp Honda outboard, then it was time to set-off on our first night sail on the Atlantic Ocean. We followed the Jersey Coast, past Atlantic City, to Cape May, NJ.

After a couple of days in Cape May waiting for decent weather, we headed off mid morning for another overnight run down the coast to Norfolk. Once in Norfolk, we picked up the Intercoastal Waterway and started the long trip down the US eastern seaboard to the Keys.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is a series of interconnected natural (rivers, bays) and man-made (canals, cuts, channels) bodies of water running from Mile 1 in Norfolk, Virginia all the way 1200 miles to Miami, Florida. Often referred to as "The Ditch", it's a really interesting way to see the USA. Most people would be quite surprised how much wild, pristine and undeveloped area there is still remaining on the east coast. The ICW travels through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

As with any boat trip, our's had it's share of surprises. The first major surprise was that our 30-year old gas engine didn't seem to like saltwater!

Here is a picture of Connemara II on the hard in oriental, North Carolina awaiting installation of our new (used) Volvo diesel engine! Needless to say this was an expense we did not expect. As with most things, something good came out of this incident, that being Lisa's "adoption" by a retired cruising couple, Bobbie and Gord Blowers. They were on their trawler next to Lisa (they lived in town), and once they heard our plan for Lisa to live on the boat in the yard while Mark was away at work, they insisted she move into their house with them. We still keep in touch with Bobbie and Gord, and they are still out there cruising!! Thanks again guys!! See you soon.

Dodging shrimping boats off the Georgia Coast!

Fresh shrimp in South Carolina

Having left home in late September and stopping travel while I was at work, we finally got to Miami and the nice weather. This marked the end of the ICW and the start of the Florida Keys. We followed Hawk Channel, which is basically a route inside the reef on the Atlantic side of the Keys. Our plan was to get to key Largo, where our friends Jaimie and leah were to meet us. Prior to their arrival we spent about a week anchored just off Key Largo. Our days were pretty routine. 1. Up for breakfast. 2. Pull anchor around 1000hrs and motor 20 minutes to the reef. 3. Tie off to a mooring ball 4. Swim, snorkel and sunbathe all day 5. Back to the anchorage around 17oo hrs. 6. Shower, have a drink (or a few!), get the bbq going and sit and watch the sunset.

It was alot tougher than it sounds!!!!

Stiltsville, just south of Miami

After Jaimie and Leah left, we moved further down the keys to marathon, where we were joined by our friend's Cheryl and Brent. Unfortunately this vist was cut short as I had to leave for a job in New Zealand, but the few days we had together were alot of fun.

So after I got back from New Zealand, Lisa and I had a few remainingdays in the Keys before pointing the boat back North (ahead of Hurricane season). We were experiencing problems with our new (old) engine. The best speed we could make was 3 kts!!! So from the lower Keys back to Oriental we managed to commit the ICW to memory. Long days, not much progress.

So after 10 months, Connemara II was in a yard in Oriental and we were now living in a small duplex we bought in Port Colborne. Time to get serious now!! Lisa off the pill, try to make a baby!

This story will have to wait until the next posting though.