For those that know that we intend to move onto the boat this summer, one of the most common questions we are asked has got to be what our plan is. Truth is, the plan is a bit vague and ideas change continually. There are certainly some common themes that keep coming up and as we have just over 2 months until the house sells, the spring plans are beginning to solidify. This of course assumes that the snow surrounding the boat in the following picture does actually begin to melt. Although I took the picture in February, the scene was very much the same yesterday when we arrived to see the marina crew plowing the latest 6″ of white stuff that arrived through the night on Friday.
In a general sense, the plan is to move aboard the boat this spring after the house closes. This will give us an entire summer to spend on Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron to explore and log a number of miles on the boat. There are a number of places that we would enjoy spending more time in to allow us to appreciate the beautiful landscapes and secluded anchorages among the 30,000 islands. The current plan also involves crossing the bay a few times even though a circuit might be a more efficient way of exploring. The additional miles sailing in open water and at night will be valuable for getting to know the boat better in a variety of conditions.
As the fall approaches, we will head back towards our slip in Penetanguishene to take care of any maintenance and to sell the car. From there our current goal is to sail Altera around the Great Lakes to the Erie Canal that crosses New York state from Lake Erie to the Hudson River. A transit through the Welland Canal hasn’t been ruled out to allow for a brief stop in the Toronto area before sailing across Lake Ontario and picking up the Erie canal in Oswego. Following the canal, we will head down the Hudson River to New York City. Of course, there is a small chance that we may decide not to leave Georgian bay in the fall, however, we think the odds of this are slim. Especially with how fead up we are with this long, cold and seemingly never ending winter.
From New York the plan is to progress south, far enough that the weather is warm enough to be enjoyable to live on a boat. The most likely scenario will be a combination of coastal jumps intermixed with some days on the intracoastal waterway. The balance between the two will mostly depend on weather, and how much we want to sail at night down the coast vs spending time motoring and motor sailing the intracoastal waterway. We have discussed jumping off the coast and heading toward the Virgin islands for the early winter months and then heading north in the later winter months through the Turks and Caicos enroute to the Bahamas. The more likely alternative we have discussed is staying along the coast to Florida and then hopping over to the Bahamas for the entire winter. After all they do have over 700 islands to explore and this is the most common destination for those going south. Progressing from the Bahamas to the Virgin Islands is another possibility although this would involve a lot more windward sailing. Certainly the windward path has been done before and Altera is great at making windward progress so with the added benefit of a new working jib this is a viable option if we visit the Bahamas first and want to push on further.
The truth is, we don’t really know what the plan will be. Some places along the way will be more interesting in our eyes than others, so we intend to figure it out as we go. We will focus more on enjoying the journey rather than defining a specific destination. What we do know is that once the snow starts to recede, there is a growing list of tasks that need to be completed before the boat can even go in the water. A new barrier coat and bottom paint for salt water is a must, a new chartplotter and radar system, solar power and bigger battery capacity are all in the works. The task list is further complicated by the reality that I have an upcoming 5 week stint in Edmonton for work, that will tie up all of April and the first week of May. At that point it will be a scramble to work on the boat along with packing to move out of the house.
Maybe with a little luck we will be sailing by July 1st. Although the ice on the harbour needs to melt first…