Wednesday, July 30, 2014

We're Back!

After we enjoyed our last sunset and evening at anchor, we woke up and got moving at the crack of dawn (I'm talking 5am people!), because we still had 28 miles to go with a very strong current against us. While under way, we hit a milestone of 6000 nautical miles travelled aboard Topanga, which is 6905 miles and 11112 kilometers, not too shabby if I do say so myself!

We finally made it to Montreal! After 11 hours of motoring at a grueling average speed of 2.5 nm/hr, we made it to the Club Nautique Longueuil, where we put our mast back up. We were lucky to have our friends Paul, Patrick, JF, Josh and Johns parents come out and help. Made my job much easier-thanks guys!

After the mast was up and the sails back on, we motored her over to our marina just next door, and celebrated with pizza and champagne! It was so great to see our friends and be back on home turf, though I can already feel myself struggling with some major adjustment-must stay strong!!!
Holy crappers, we did 6000 miles!!!






Not quite as breathtaking as a Caribbean sunset, but I'll take it!
Our happy helpers!


They even had a fireworks show to welcome us back!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The End of an Era (or at least a year!)

As we left the Richelieu River and entered our home turf of the St Laurence, I realised just how close we were to this all coming to an end. So we decided to take one last day to ourselves, a last day at anchor, not travelling, to relax and recuperate from the long days of motoring, and enjoy and appreciate this for what is probably the last time for a while.

We anchored in a beautiful, peaceful and calm marsh, with ducks swimming and quacking around us and enjoyed our last sunset together at anchor.

Recently I have been posed the question of, how do I feel about coming home? Am I excited? If I'm being honest, I think I have been slightly less on cloud 9 since we crossed back to the US, not only because the water was no longer a clear blue, and our days were no longer spent going to the beach and drinking rum punch and more focused on travelling north, but because I started to feel it coming to an end. Don't get me wrong, the past two months have also been a blast, but I've had that feeling of impending doom in my near future (I may be being a tad dramatic...).

This trip has not, by any means, been 100% rainbows and butterflies all the time. There have been times of serious stress, sometimes even fear, and of course it can put strain on any relationship. It has definitely been a roller-coaster of an adventure and amazing, unforgettable experiences, and a lifestyle that I've grown accustomed to. So life on land is no doubt going to be a drastic change.

That being said, I am very excited to begin the MA program in Art Therapy at Concordia in a months time ($*&@! I'm so not prepared!), and of course to see and catch up with all my friends and loved ones who I haven't seen in a year. But there is also so much uncertainty: where to live, jobs, money, how will our relationships change on land (how will we survive not being together at every waking moment?!) etc, and of course, has Dexter become so boat-broken, has he forgotten how to be house-broken?

And so, it is bittersweet to be coming home, and for this trip of a lifetime to be coming to an end. And although I may feel a bit nervous, I am also very much looking forward to the next chapter. And who knows, maybe this is just part 1 of our sailing adventures, after all, there are so many places we still want to see, and I think we both agree, the best way to travel is, without a doubt, by boat. 
Back on the St Laurence
Our favourite marsh



Not our favourite visitor, thanks for bringing all your friends buddy


Dexter contemplating his mixed feelings about returning to dry land
Had to add this-is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen?!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lock, Stock and Barrel

With our mast down along the top of the boat (making our 35 ft boat into a 53 ft jousting boat), we went through our first lock in Troy, NY. A lock, for those of you, who like I was, had never had the "lock experience", a lock, used in rivers and canals, is used to lower or raise water levels. We motor into a lock, grab a line or sometimes use our own to hold the boat against the wall of the lock, they close the doors and we either go up or down, depending on the water level on the other side of the lock. It's pretty easy, the hardest part is making sure the 10 ft of mast sticking off the front of the boat doesn't hit the wall (which I can't say has never happened...). We began our way through the 12 Champlain Canal locks (actually there's only 11-they never made lock 10, but didn't feel like renumbering it!).

We made it through locks 1-7 before they closed for the day, and tied up to a free dock in the very, very small town of Fort Edward, and had a quiet dinner on board, until (after seeing some of the shady characters in town) thought we were under attack, but turns out it was just a random slew of very loud, very close fireworks. Do these people know how to have fun or what?!

Going into the locks
Going doowwnnn

One of the very "colorful" yards in Ft Edward
We had these on the BBQ! ha!
Really? You needed a personalized license plate? I think we know who you are
Just mowing the lawn!
Docked in Ft Edward
We finished the Champlain locks the next day and made our way to Essex, a countryside town in New York where Johns cousins Carole and Laura live. It's also where he would come every summer and learnt to sail. We anchored right in front of his families boathouse and beside his cousin Laura's sailboat Laughing Gull. Essex is so beautiful, surrounded by the mountainous Adirondack's, and their property, with it's garden and so much land and trees, reminds me of something out of a Jane Austen novel, only with a pool. 





Loving the lilies



We were fortunate to go out for 2 sails on the Champlain River on Laughing Gull, which is a 19ft marina that uses tiller steering. It was especially nice since Topanga is currently sail-less, before carrying on.

We said our goodbyes to New York as we crossed the border. The customs on the water were much easier than in the airport. They asked us maybe 2 questions before sending us on our way, not even asking for Dexter's papers or even stamping our passports!

We then made it through 9 locks in the Chambly Canal all in 1 day, almost leaving without Dexter as he leaped off the boat to sniff a cute dogs butt. Luckily the Lockmaster (yes, that's what they're called), brought him back. These locks are all hand wound, and done the same way since 1843, which is cool, but it does take a bit longer!

Our last lock was the St. Ours lock, which was the easiest, but also most expensive (did I mention we have to pay to go through them?). For this one lock, it was $30, meanwhile for the 12 Champlain locks, it's only $15! I'm already missing the lower prices of the US! Now, only a couple more days until we're back home!


Beautiful Adirondack's
Dexter loves his winch

Like me, Topanga also has a passion for fashion



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Down She Goes: De-masting in Catskills

After leaving the city that never sleeps, it was nice to find ourselves in a quiet secluded anchorage again, all alone. We anchored near castle ruins in Cold Springs and had a beautiful peaceful night.

The next day we were happy to have even the slightest bit of wind and got our sails up for what will be the last time for a while as we made our way to Catskills, NY to take down our mast. 
Goodbye NYC!
Back in the quiet, with a beautiful full moon
Our last chance to do wing on wing for a while
Beautiful barges
As we arrived at Hop-O-Nose marina, where we put our mast back up on the way down, our dock neighbours were Katie and Jessie on S/V Louise, whose blog we had seen before. They are two 25 yr olds sailing the great loop (which is the circumnavigation of Eastern North America). We went to the marina pool with them, where we were surrounded by a strange, drunken BBQ that we seemed to have invited ourselves to. It was great to chat with some young people (especially girls! It's so rare I get to hang out with girls!) who love sailing. 

Then came the hard part: we had to take off and fold our giant sails and take off the boom and undo the rigging. We were also very sad to find that our mast supports that John had laboured over before leaving Montreal, that we had left in their storage, were no longer there. Luckily the guys helped make some new ones, and embarrassingly did what took John 2 weeks, in less than 2 hours. But they were not as specifically tailored to Topanga as Johns were. Then down she went with the big crane, it was kinda sad, especially since it means motoring from here on out. Boooorrrrriiiinnngg!
Holy Hannah Montana thats a big sail!
All packed up
That's one big crane!
Louise

We were very happy to receive a visit from Johns parents who drove down to see us. They also kindly took our sails back home with them since we have no room for them on the boat. It was so nice to see them, I can't believe the last time I saw them was in Catskills in September. I guess time flies when you're sailing!


"Hey! I told you yesterday-no trespassing!