Over the last week, both Trident Yacht Club (where Wild Horses spends her summer) and Loyalist Cove Marina (where she spends her winter) have officially closed for the season. Another one in the books. Of course, this particular past boating season was extraordinary. 2020. That kind of says it all.
Wild Horses is now winterized. Every tank, pump, drain, hose and seacock has been cleared of water and has had antifreeze run through its belly or veins. Oh, and all our seacocks are open 😊. I am making a special note about this in light of our “oops” last year. Remember that? It was the “oops” where one of our seacocks mistakenly stayed closed over the winter, then cracked and almost sank the boat. Mike and I love adventure but that is one heart-pounding event that we do not want to repeat.
It has been hard leaving Wild Horses and closing down the season but now that we are starting to see snow on the ground and negative temperatures over night, we are getting acclimatized to the idea. It really doesn’t feel “boaty” these days.
How will we get our boating fix over the winter? Boat projects and Caribbean planning, of course!
Our winter boat projects:
Our 2021 planning for the Caribbean:
On top of boating related stuff, we are helping my parents downsize for their move to their new retirement home in the Spring (lots of work but very rewarding) and we are enjoying time in our small COVID-19 bubble that includes my parents and Mike’s parents. This means spending time in both Trenton and Kingston over the winter months, with the occasional stop in Bath to check on Wild Horses. She is definitely in our bubble!
We are also hiking lots with Ocean, which helps satisfy our thirst for wandering and exploring. We are (safely) tackling paths all over Trenton, Belleville, Kingston, Napanee and Prince Edward County. Last week the highlight was Foley Mountain near Westport. Ah, there is nothing like trekking in the forest to soothe your soul. Well, I mean, if you can’t be on a sailboat 😉.
Happy Hallowe’en weekend!!! Stay Safe!!!
I wasn’t sure if the title of my post would be offensive to some people (I know wax-lovers are out there 😉) but we are into truth-telling here at Sailing Wild Horses so you are getting the goods as they are delivered.
But before we can get to waxing and our other fringe season boat tasks, the boat had to get hauled out of the water. This happened the afternoon of Tuesday October 13th, right after Thanksgiving weekend. The weather was perfect – sunny, light winds – but we really were passengers for the event. At Loyalist Cove Marina, there are lots of experienced dockhands. They know what to do, when to do it and why they are doing. Oh, and they do it with a smile, lots of jokes and by singing an occasional boy band song from the nineties. For us, a normally tense experience was actually (dare I say it) fun.
We got to the boat a few hours earlier than our scheduled haul out time in order to ready the boat. The big thing is to remove any standing or running rigging that would prevent Wild Horses from fitting into the travel lift. Just to note for non-sailors: “standing rigging” are all those stainless steel wires or “stays” that support the mast. Wild Horses has one forestay, four side stays and two back stays.
In contrast “running rigging” are all the ropes attached to the mast and sails that allow you to sail. But, please, don’t call them ropes to a sailor! They actually have the worst sail language names – not terribly intuitive or easy to remember. They are halyards (the ropes that hoist a sail), sheets (the ropes that control a sail) and a whole bunch of other special function stuff like “vangs”, “lifts” and “outhauls”. In a bucket though, yes, they are all ropes!
For the travel lift, we had to remove our two back stays and our “topping lift” (holds up the boom when you are not sailing). We also had to strip Wild Horses bare of anything that could get moved or wrecked while in transit. That meant that the cockpit enclosure, and the bimini and dodger canvases had to be removed and stored.
Then came haul out! The dockhands easily moved Wild Horses into the lifting well using her dock lines.
Wild Horses was lifted by the travel lift and onto her cradle, which sat in a transport truck.
The truck moved Wild Horses and her cradle into her winter spot. Beautiful!
Now that Wild Horses is settled into her home for the winter, we have begun the work of prepping for winter. So far, we have finished lots of cleaning of cushions, canvas, and all drawers, compartments and bilges. Oh, yeah, and that nasty waxing work. Finally, it is done. Mike cleaned and waxed the hull, stern and cockpit – those big areas that can be done with a power waxer. I did all the fussy bits on the decks i.e. around the standing rigging, the hatches, the topside of the anchor locker etc. It is a slow and painful process to cover 47 feet of boat. But it is a necessary chore so that Wild Horses’ gelcoat is protected from water and UV damage. Plus, she looks pretty darn good when she is all cleaned up and glossy! Perhaps I just need to start singing a boy band song while I wax. It works for the dockhands at Loyalist Cove Marina!
Our original plans, pre-COVID, had us arriving in Annapolis, Maryland this weekend on our way to the Caribbean. It is this weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving) that the United States Sailboat Show is held in Annapolis every year. This event is a highlight for many Canadian and American sailors looking for gear, ideas, and seminars, and to explore the latest and greatest new boats and chartering options. It has also become the mecca for sailors headed south to the Bahamas. These sailors gather here to wait out the end of the hurricane season and to take part in the show festivities.
Wild Horses would have been one of those boats. One worldwide pandemic later, everything has changed. Wild Horses will now be in Canada this winter, sitting stored in her steel cradle at Loyalist Cove Marine in Bath, Ontario. The Canada-US border remains closed. The 2020 United States Sailboat Show was officially cancelled about a month ago.
It is disappointing but, truly, our family has fared really well so far through the pandemic. Finances are stretched for some and lack of social connections getting to others but we have all remained healthy in terms of COVID. And, thankfully, those of us with other health issues have been able to receive the care we need (shout out to my dad who is working through a few health struggles right now).
For the crew of Wild Horses, we are grateful for what we have and how we are spending our days. We are focusing on today but keeping our Caribbean dreams alive. Yesterday (Sunday), was a case in point. We had an amazing day taking Wild Horses for her last 2020 boat ride. Trident Yacht Club to Loyalist Cove Marina.
The weather was sunny and clear as we departed Trident Yacht Club, helped off the dock by Mike’s dad (Mike’s mom and dad puppy-sat Ocean for the day and delivered our car from Trident to Loyalist Cove).
We had a perfect Northeast wind making for a calm trip through the Bateau Channel and along Lake Ontario in front of Kingston.
Our arrival at Loyalist Cove was easy – we were greeted by two very capable dock hands who easily secured Wild Horses to her temporary slip at the service dock. Thankfully the wind was light and didn’t cause additional challenges – our long and beamy Wild Horses, just fit into the slip.
At dock, we did a few of our decommissioning tasks (oil change, winterize engine, waste tank pump out and diesel top up) before closing up the boat for the day and heading back to Trenton.
Wild Horses is ready to be hauled out on Tuesday.
It was a short summer season this year but we are thankful for having a season at all. There was a time in early spring that we were not sure that the boat would see the water at all and with the second wave of COVID-19 in full swing, we are reminded about how lucky we are to have had such an amazing summer in the Thousand Islands. For that, and for so much more, we are very, very grateful. We are not where we thought we would be in Fall 2020 but we are thankful for where we have landed - happily at home in Canada, surrounded by our friends, family and the Canadian healthcare system as we do our part to re-flatten the curve. 😊 Happy Thanksgiving from the crew of Wild Horses!
It has been a great summer. Truly one of the best we have had in the Thousand Islands. Day-after-day we were blessed with hot, sunny days and starry nights that made sitting at anchor a blissful, soul-feeding experience. In the middle of the summer, we even found that we stopped paying attention to ambient temperature in our daily weather watching check – it was always 30 degrees Celsius and sunny! A few late afternoon storms would arrive from time-to-time but they always seemed very fleeting, barely interrupting one of our afternoon swims off the stern of Wild Horses.
But now we are knee deep in getting Wild Horses ready to be hauled out of the water. The days are colder so we are often in jeans, hoodies and boat shoes. No more sandals and bare feet as we move about the boat! Some call it “decommissioning” while others say “getting ready for Haul Out”. Whatever you call it, this time of the year is a flurry of activities to put the boat to bed for the winter.
Our first step was getting the dinghy and her motor off the boat and stored securely. We were happy to get started but sad that this signaled the end of our days at anchor. With a dog as part of our crew, no dinghy for shore trips means we have to stay tied to the dock. To make ourselves feel a bit better about things, we took a final tour around the Bateau Channel (the waterway attached to Trident Yacht Club) before hoisting the dinghy out of the water.
The dinghy was stored in the clubhouse at our boat club while her motor was taken home, along with a few others things. The first of many trips to Trenton with a car packed full of boat stuff, ready for winter storage. Sigh.
In addition to our decommissioning work, we also took some time to re-mark our anchor chain. This is one of those tasks that you always remember you need to do when you are lowering the anchor but always forget to do when the anchor is nicely stored at the bow of the boat with its chain sitting hidden in the anchor locker! But, with a little extra time last week and some fairly great warm weather, we decided to finally get this job done.
The job? Re-fresh the spray paint that we had added to our anchor chain a few years ago. We have coloured paint at 5 metre intervals on our anchor chain so we have a quick way to see how much scope we have put out (the rule of thumb is a "3 : 1 ratio" for a day visit, "5 : 1 ratio" for overnight and "7 : 1 ratio" or more for stormy conditions). Putting out too little scope may mean your anchor doesn’t hold when the wind picks up – yikes! And putting out too much may have your boat swinging into another boat in your anchorage when the wind is becalmed – yikes again! The coloured markers on our anchor chain take us from “guessing” how much anchor chain is out so that we always sleep soundly when at anchor.
Next week, the sails will be removed from Wild Horses. A sure sign that the season is over. And then – one last boat ride along the lake in front of Kingston and onto the lovely town of Bath. We will be moving the boat to Loyalist Cove on Thanksgiving weekend so that it is ready and waiting to be hoisted out of the water and onto her steel cradle for the winter on October 13th. Is that the end? Nope! That is when most of the decommissioning work begins with waxing the hull, winterizing Wild Horses’ water lines, pumps, drains and doing the cleaning of cupboards, bilges and appliances to keep any critters away.
This is the thing about sailboats. The “fringe seasons” (spring and fall) are long and mean lots of boat work while “boating season” is short but incredibly fun and inspiring. You can definitely get through the fringe seasons by focusing on the joy of boating season. For us, we are lucky. We love it all!
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.