Thursday, February 14, 2008

Boat #3: Pre-Delaney and Mitchell (sort-of)

After a few seasons with Patricia Bay, our O'Day 22, we realized we were ready for something bigger. Not only was Mark's head full of dreams of sailing off to the horizon, we were also ready to buy a home. Might as well combine the two and live on a boat!
We started looking for boats before I started working for Oceaneering. We had a tight budget, but had narrowed down the type of boats we were interested in. The more I read, the more I wanted an older, full keel boat. At the time, my (and kinda by default) Lisa's dream boat was an Alberg 37. A very pretty, seakindly full keel boat with long overhangs typical of the CCA rule boats of the late 60's/early 70's. We had been admiring a Douglas 31 in Port Dalhouise. This particular boat went on the market so we made arrangements to look at it. Suffice to say we were pretty disappointed when we went onboard (most Douglas's were bought as a hull and the interiors finished by the owners with mixed results). We then went to Whitby to look at another Douglas. She was pretty rough outside, not very well equipped, but was close to our target budget. As I went looking under the tarp that covered the deck, Lisa went down below.
As soon as I saw her face, I knew we had our boat!

Connemara II was a 1970 Douglas 31. The current owner had bought her about 15 years ago but was getting out of boating. Virtually nothing had been upgraded on her in 20 years. She had hanked on sails, old single speed winches, a toilet but no shower, an icebox and a space for a cooker. The sails were old but useable. The engine was the original, a Grey Marine 22hp gas inboard. I was to later learn this was a marinized Cub Cadet engine, so parts were readily available at most farm machinery shops.

Apart from all this, what really attracted us to her was the warm and inviting interior. Seemed to make sense, since this would be our home, it ought to feel like one! The interior was small, but functional with a decent v-berth and hanging locker. We later added some shelves along the bulkheads. The head consisted of a toilet and more shelves (no sink or shower). There were 2 x 6' settees in the main salon, as well as a compact galley/nav station. The engine was accessed by removing the companionway steps and opening two small doors (this was an area of the boat I was to become quite familiar with!!).

In typical Mark and Lisa fashion, we put an offer in (conditional upon a survey) on only the 3rd boat we looked at! Fate? Impatience? Who knows. I think this was the start of my "emotional attachment" to boats sometimes overriding money-sense.

A good friend of our, who always gets (I should say finds) amazing deals on sailboats told me I shouldn't get emotional or impulsive about boats. My arguement is, WHY NOT???? They certainly don't make any sense from an economic standpoint, so you might as well be emotional about them!

Anyway, as expected, the survey revealed alot of "wet deck". A brief explanation is this. To save weight while maintaining strength, boatbuilders typically make a "cored deck". What this is is 2 layers of fiberglass that sandwich a lightweight core material. On Connemara II, and typical of many sailboats, balsa wood core is used. FYI, the floors of current Corvettes use a balsa wood floor. Over time water leaks through bolts and screws used to secure deck fittings (winches, grabrails etc...), gets into the core and results in soft spots. As it turned out, about 1/3 of the cabintop and large areas of the decks were "wet". In the above picture you can see the wet balsa core on the starboard cabin top (the top layer of fiberglass has been cut out).

So we negotiated a price of $17,000., taking into account the work I would need to do (They were asking $24,000). Now the fun was to begin (actually, I really did enjoy it). I was in -between jobs , and quite honestly not looking very hard for a new one. We bought Connemara II in February of 1997 and we needed to have her ready to launch in May.

The biggest job was replacing all the wet core. Most was so bad I was able to Shop-Vac it out!!! Once the repairs were done we painted the deck. Thank-you Celia, Jim, Lindsay and Michelle for allowing me to stay at your house during the repairs!

The repairs were completed (for the most part), and Alan and I sailed her to her new home in Stoney Creek. The next year and a half was spent getting ready for our planned year long trip to the Bahamas. I started working for Oceaneering that summer while Lisa was at the bank. I have to give lots of credit to Lisa for spending the winter frozen into the marina at Newport!

For the next 1-1/2 years we sailed as much as we could. Connemara II wasn't the fastest boat around, but she had a very seakindly motion. Plus, in our opinion, she was beautiful! I used to love sitting up at the bow as we were sailing, looking aft and admiring the symetry of the hull. Sounds corny, but I've already explained about my emotions and boats. As much as I love our current boat, nothing, in my mind, is as graceful looking as a narrow-beamed sailboat with long overhangs!

Erik and Kaitlin Mashford watching a movie on the foredeck.

Summer 1997

Lisa, mom and Alan
Hanlon'sPoint Thanksgiving 1997

At Hanlon's Point, Toronto Islands.

Fall 1997

So after numerous upgrades including all new cockpit enclosure, dodger and bimini, new wring and electrical system, 12v refrigeration, anchor windlass and new anchors and chain etc... the boat was ready for our first extended trip.

Our plan was to leave in the Fall of 1998, take the Erie canal to the Hudson River, down the Hudson River to NYC, follow the Intercoastal Waterway to Florida, over to the bahamas for the winter, then back home the following summer.

We almost made it too!!!!!!

Boat #2: Pre-Delaney and Mitchell

After having alot of fun with the Laser II, we started to think more about a bigger boat that we could go away overnight on. We sold the Laser II for what we paid for it new and we started looking at other boats.

I was wandering through the yard at Port Dalhousie Pier marina when I noticed a small "cruising boat" that looked pretty neglected. I spoke to Nino, the owner of the marina about the little O'Day 22 sitting out back. Nino told me the owner owed him 2 years storage and that if we paid the bill ($1800.oo) the boat was ours! We would still need to buy an engine, but otherwise she just needed some TLC.

So we paid Nino and got a receipt from him (don't ask me how all this worked considering he didn't technically own the boat!). This came to light one night when Alan and I were cleaning her up. She was on a cradle just outside the yard at PDPM. We took the mast down to check things out up top. Next thing we knew a man stepped out of a car and asked us what we were doing?? We told him we were cleaning up the boat I had just bought. He thought that was pretty funny since he was the boat owners lawyer and was there to deliver a cheque to Nino for the outstanding storage!! Ooops! So we left the boat as it was and went home. When I spoke to Nino the next day he said not to worry, he wasn't acecepting the owners cheque and the boat was still our's. Nino had a bit of a "Soprano's" reputation so I wasn't worried.

So now Lisa and I had a boat that we could go away on. She had a small v-berth and 2 other berths/benches in the main salon. There was also an enclosed head w/ a Port-o-Pottie and a small galley with sink, place for a cooker and some cupboards. We also added a BBQ and a 5hp Mariner outboard.

We had some terrific times on "Patricia Bay", not including the time we lost the mast! It was such a cool feeling loading the boat up and taking off on trips. Although we mostly did day trips with her, our favourite times were when we went across Lake Ontario to Toronto Islands.

Hanlon's Point, 1996

We also got to introduce our friends and family to sailing.

Uncle Alan and Marion

Port Dalhousie, 1996

Cheryl and Brent Reid

Port Dalhousie, 1996

After many good times on the water, we shifted our focus to a boat that would enable us to do alot more than short overnight trips.

Boat #1: Pre-Delaney and Mitchell

Lisa and I met in 1989. Delaney wasn't born until 2000, and Mitchell didn't come along until 2002.
Lisa had never sailed before we met, whearas I had been introduced to sailing as a Sea Cadet when I was 13 years old.

In 1993 we bought a Laser II at the Toronto Boat Show.

The Laser II is a 14' planing dinghy (fast!) equipped with a spinnaker and trapeze. She was incredibly fun and a great boat for introducing Lisa to sailing.

I'll never forget the day out near Point Abino when we flipped while Lisa was out on the trapeze. We were flying along with me on the tiller, Lisa out on trapeze (she is hanging off a wire that goes to the top of the mast, feet on the edge of the boat, out off the side parallel to the water) with only the last 1/3 of the boat in the water. Suddenly we hit a lull in the wind, we rounded-up, and next thing we knew Lisa swung away from the boat like a pendulum! The boat then came back up and all I saw was Lisa flying back towards the boat stil attached to the trapeze wire. The boat went on it's side, we were both in the water, and all I could think was "That's it, Lisa is going to freak and the boat will be for sale tomorrow". I was completely wrong! She was killing herself laughing, having such a good time! So other than a bruised belly (from hitting the boom) and scrapes on her shins (from smacking into the side of the boat) all was good and Lisa was hooked!

We kept the boat for a summer, then started to look at something a bit bigger.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Well here we go! I am not sure how long I will wait before I show Lisa, Delaney and Mitchell this blog, but it may be awhile. My plan is that it will be a Blog actually maintained by the kids, and right now they are still a bit young for it. My guess is that by the end of the summer Delaney will be more than capable, and Mitch will also be able to assist.

Until that time, it's just going to be me, Mark, adding items.

As mentioned, we plan to go away on Charlotte-Ann for a year. I will continue to work offshore with Oceaneering as an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) Superintendent, commuting back and forth on a month on/month off rotation. Lisa is a stay at home mom, so she and the kids will live on the boat (and home school) for the entire year.

The goal is to spend the next 1-1/2 years getting the boat ready to leave (this will be documented as time passes), with a planned departure of July 2009.

The very tentative plan is to spend part of that summer in Ontario, then make our way to Cape Hatteras. A big part of the trip will involve kiteboarding, something that hopefully the kids will be able to do by the departure date. After some kiting in Hatteras, we hope to do some more in the flats of the Florida Keys, and then finally the Bahamas. As I said, the plan is very tentative, but this is the basic route .

Before we axctually leave I will be adding posts highlighting past trips we have made on our boats, including the trip Lisa and I did to the Florida Keys before the kids came along.