Day One: Quebec City

Our next adventure has begun. We are on a road trip to Labrador and Newfoundland for the next month.

Day One found us in Quebec City. We’ve been here before, and have a few favourite haunts. We revisited part of the Old City, wandering along the cobblestone streets, and browsing the shops.

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Old Quebec is always a treat for the senses: colour, fragrance, tastes, sounds… Here are a few more photos to illustrate what I mean.

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Then we drove to the breathtaking Montmorency waterfalls.

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Spectacular, even if you don’t climb the many stairs to the various viewing platforms opposite the falls. The cliff face into which the stairs are anchored is sheer slate.

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It does make me wonder how stable it is! But hundreds of tourists climb up and down the stairs every day. If you’re really adventurous, you can even take a zipline across the falls!

 

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The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling

Have you ever been to a Tattoo? It’s a performance of marching military pipe and drum bands and features talented musicians as well as skillful marching choreography.

Lasy night we went to the Limestone Tattoo at Fort Henry.

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Just walking into the Fort, past the thick walls and down the steep slope across the wooden bridge was an experience of stepping back in time.

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A town crier dressed in ornate red and gold robes welcomed the audience. A cannon was fired to mark the start of the evening. And then the first two bands marched solemnly in through the narrow arch.

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Oh the music! The haunting notes of a single bagpipe in the night air can send shivers down my spine. When there are dozens being skillfully played along with the resounding boom of the drums, I am transported to the Scottish highlands of long ago.

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The finale brought all the bands – pipes, drums, flutes, bugles, brass – out onto the parade grounds together. As the sound of Amazing Grace echoed across the stone walls, I looked up to see the first stars in the sky above.

What a magical evening!

 

Post Navigandum

After any big event, there’s the letdown. So much energy has gone into planning and anticipating, the experience flies by in moments, and then…?

I don’t think we realized how many major life transitions we were going through in the months prior to the sailing trip. We sold our apartment and almost all the furniture, gave away books, paintings, clothing, and dishes, we both retired, and in the midst of it all, we were planning our grand sailing expedition.

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The weekend before the sale of the apartment closed, we made one more trip to the new place (about 400 km or 250 miles one way), the car jammed with boxes. Then there was one more trip to drop the car at the new marina so it would be waiting for us at the end of the trip, and a train/bus ride back to the marina where we would start our travels.

So lots to organize. Lots on our minds.

Now, the sail is history, part of our personal lore. We’ve had a few days to settle in to our home. And the question that keeps coming up is “Now what?”

The reality of being retired is starting to hit. There are no deadlines, schedules or routines¬† (even on the boat we had routines). We can do what we want, when we want, and while that’s a novel experience, it is going to take some getting used to.

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Friends who have already retired warned me that it’s an adjustment. I now recognize that, in spite of all the other changes we’ve gone through in the past month, retirement may be the biggest transition yet.

So far, we’ve been doing a lot of puttering, watching waves and clouds from different vantage points, and snapping photos of birds and butterflies.

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Hey, maybe it won’t be so hard after all!

 

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

This photo gives you the feeling that it’s a calm and relaxing day on the water, doesn’t it? This is a view of Picton Bay with our sailboat in the foreground. It was taken after we motored in this morning from our anchorage the previous night.

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What it doesn’t show is the whitecaps, strong gusts rippling across the waves, and the power of the wind sending our boat on edge even with no sails up as we made our way across the Adolphous Reach and into Picton Bay.

We decided at that point that we didn’t want to face those waves head on in the Reach to make our next planned anchorage. Instead, we have a slip here for two nights while we wait out the winds (and forecast rain and thunderstorms).

To give you a better idea of the extent of our sailing journey, here’s a chart of Lake Ontario.

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The pencil on the left shows where we started. The pen in the middle points to where we are now, and the pen on the right is our final destination…for now.

We’ve come a long way. And every sailor we meet is giving us new ideas for places to go, adventures to have, dreams to build upon!

Brrrrr!!!!

The temperature dropped overnight to about 14C so for the first time in this sailing trip, we had to add extra layers. It’s always cooler on the water plus the wind was still strong (although it had veered to the opposite direction during the night).

Today was a motoring day because we needed to navigate buoys from Presqu’ile Bay, through the Murray Canal, into the Bay of Quinte.

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You need to be able to read the charts (maps) to understand which side of the buoys to avoid shallow water, rocks and weeds. You also need to know how to get safely in and out of harbours, and as you get closer to the St. Lawrence River, you need to know the direction and speed of currents and the schedule of tides.

Sailing is not just about putting up sails and heading off on the wind. There’s lots to know, always more to learn, and each day brings new challenges.

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One advantage to motoring is you get to enjoy the scenery. The Murray Canal is a long narrow channel with two swing bridges.

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We’d been told by friends that a man comes down as you pass by and collects the $5 fee by extending a basket out to the boat on a long pole. We didn’t get to see it though because the bridge is being replaced and was wide open.

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We followed the buoys into the Bay of Quinte, past Trenton and the airforce base, and saw the search and rescue aircraft practicing manoeuvres over the water.

Tonight we’re in Belleville and it’s another chilly one. A pleasant treat after so many sweltering days in the sun.

 

What Time Is It?

Being retired, and sailing, leaves us wondering what day it is and what time it is. Time seems to have a different meaning.

And then, at the Cobourg Marina, I saw this quote. It puts it all into perspective.

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Time is broken down into moments these days. Yesterday ended with this exquisite sunset.

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And today began with an early morning walk along the vast expanse of Cobourg’s beach.

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When we left the marina, there was a strong wind warning in effect…and no wind. After an hour of motoring, the wind changed direction, picked up and so did the waves. It was a rock and roll day with our boat hitting 7.7 knots (in the past, the fastest we’d ever gone was 6.3.) There were some edgy moments too, but we made it, as a team, and are now anchored in the shelter of a small cove for tonight.

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It’s never boring. Always an adventure. Even meals take on a whole new level of exploration…watermelon bruschetta!

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Life In A Tiny Home…On Water

Living on a boat, especially a small boat, is a lot like living in a tiny home. You learn to make do with less and everything has multiple purposes.

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The kitchen (called a galley) on our boat is a small L-shape. Barely enough room for one person so we take turns on cooking and dishes duty. Behind the tiny sink is the ice box (which we must continually replenish with ice and drain out the melted water). Beside that is the drying area for dishes. When not used for that purpose, the shelf comes off revealing a two-burner stove. Sailing is also a lot like camping.

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The dining room is a table that folds up or down as needed.

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The living room is our cockpit.

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And the bedroom is the v-berth at the bow (front) of the boat. We pull out those pillows, and the sleeping bags behind them, and there is plenty of room for two people to stretch out comfortably.

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The toilet is called the head, and it’s really a tiny closet with a tiny toilet and tiny sink. You don’t want to be claustrophobic…

It’s a simple life, eating light easy meals, picking up just enough groceries for a few days, doing laundry when you get to a sizeable marina.

Life is easy. Life is good.

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Plans Change

What’s that saying about the best laid plans? We had every intention of having a rest day in Whitby today. We checked the weather last night and and today looked good. This morning it was a different story.

So we decided to cut our play day short and head on east while the weather window was favourable. The wind seemed to be strong as we left the channel so we hosted the sails…and the wind died.

We started the motor and carried on. I checked the weather again at noon and suddenly there was a thunderstorm in the forecast. How quickly things can change!

We arrived at Newcastle after three hours of motoring and we plan to stay here for a couple of days to wait out the predicted storms tomorrow. However, the rain that was supposed to hit around 4:30 today never happened and now it’s clearing so who knows what tomorrow will bring?

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That’s part of the challenge of sailing, just like in life – you can make plans but you need to be flexible enough to change them at a moment’s notice.

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And of course, at the end of the day, there’s always Bailey’s…if needed.

Connections

One thing I enjoy about travelling is all the interesting people you meet along the way. Whenever we tie up at a new marina, we chat with the “neighbours”. People are usually friendly and welcoming and curious to know where you’ve come from.

However, it’s not just about the people. As you can see in the two photos, we made friends with a few other creatures.

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The duck sat for a long time on the wall beside our boat yesterday and waddled back through the grass today to keep us company.

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And today, this butterfly landed repeatedly on our legs aad feet while we were sitting in the cockpit having lunch.

You never know who…or what…you will meet when you’re on an adventure!

 

Shade, Breeze and…A View!

When we left the dock this morning, the lake was flat and there was no wind. Not even a hint of a breeze. And so we motored, and motored.

About an hour later the wind arrived, first as a whisper and soon it was steady and strong out of the north, perfect for our sail to Toronto.

If you’re on Instagram you can see a short video of our passage @j_is4joy

Tonight we’re tied to the “wall” at Hanlan’s Point on Toronto Island. It’s another of our favourite spots.

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There’s a great breeze, the view of the city is amazing, we can walk or bike across to Centre Island.

At night, the CN Tower is lit up and all the lights of the skyscrapers twinkle and sparkle.

Off for a bike ride now. Cheers!