Now that Wild Horses is safely nestled in her cradle, Mike and I have started talking about some of the project work we want to get done over the winter and in the early spring. At my parent’s home, we thankfully have access to a whole workshop filled with every possible woodworking device known to man. Literally. My dad has built just about anything you can think of – decks, barns, model planes, model train set ups, dog bowl holders, luggage racks. I truly could go on and on. Suffice to say – name a tool, any tool, and I can guarantee it is in my dad’s workshop, with a few extras as backup.
We have several projects already underway, including:
Some of these projects are just about done, with the final installation just waiting for Spring while others are at the “design” stage or very nearing the “build” stage. But some, although technically started, are still at the “research” stage and have been there for years. Why? It isn’t because the solution is complicated or the building material is hard to come by. No, the answer is usually one of boat dollars.
The notion of “boat dollars” became part of our world early on in our boat-owning days. Just like a house, the cost of ownership isn’t just the purchase price. Besides paying for dockage and storage costs, you have to maintain your boat. Batteries, sails, pumps, wax, rigging, cleaners, hoses, filters…oh my. Basically, it is all of your house and car maintenance rolled into one. And if you already own a house and a car…well, you have now doubled your costs. Lots of boat dollars. And just like the word “wedding”, as soon as you attach the word “marine” to a product, the price seems to go up substantially. But I digress…
The exchange rate we use? 1 boat dollar = $1,000. Yikes! But that is the way it is. We try to control our costs so that most boat projects cost one or two boat dollars, or even better, half a boat dollar or less. We manage the costs by budgeting our money, by planning our projects, and by looking for the best deals on both products and labour costs. It makes a difference – especially when you do the labour yourself.
Before we press “go” on a project, we always discuss boat dollars. Our current woodworking projects are a good example. We have a talented guy in Manotick that does amazing woodwork with boats (he brought our wooden mast cover back to beautiful after being water damaged) but Mike decided to attempt these current projects on his own, both for the experience and to control our costs.
I have to say that the results have been amazing. Both the shelves and the cockpit table look exquisite!
By contrast, our alternator upgrade is one project that we won’t be tackling ourselves. Our engine and its alternator are the heart of our boat so it will be worth the extra boat dollars to ensure the new, high powered alternator is installed by an experienced boat mechanic. This is not a project to learn on. Mistakes with this project would cost lots of boat dollars to correct!
And, just like for your home or your car, maintenance is a key part of our budget…it is always the priority over any projects we are planning. Spending our boat dollars on fixing things when they are just a small problem means that we don’t have to spend huge boat dollars when they develop into “oh-my-gosh- the-boat-is-filling-with-water” problems. So, maybe our exchange rate actually goes more like this: Any boat dollar for maintenance = priceless!
Like many people in eastern and southern Ontario, we have been revelling in unseasonably warm weather for the past week. For the crew of Wild Horses, it has pulled us back outside for full days of hiking, exploring the countryside and, yes, hanging out at the boat.
Although the boat was technically “ready” for winter a few weeks ago – all checks and doublechecks for our decommissioning list were done! – we have come to realize boat work is like laundry. There is always more to do. Hence, we have visited the boat a few times during the warm weather of this past week to do some extra clean up: shining up the boat decks a little more, deep cleaning the interior with wood conditioner and taking a bucket of soap and water to hard to access hoses and bilges. Warm weather makes us miss Wild Horses so we will use whatever excuse we can come up with to hang out with her on a warm, sunny day!
Along with the warm weather, news events over the past week are also making us think of Wild Horses and our delayed journey to the Caribbean. Our original target date to leave was Labour Day 2020 but due to the pandemic and the closed Canada-US border, we had to put our departure plans on hold. Our optimistic natures always had our hopes in taking off in the very next available window (Labour Day 2021) but the past few months have made us worry that our glasses may have been a little too rose-coloured. With a worsening second wave in Canada and an extraordinary explosion of cases in the United States, we had started to add some not-so-hopeful-sounding caveats to our date plans of leaving in fall 2021. Things like “fingers crossed”, “if we can”, “hopefully”, “we’ll try to work something out”. Ugh.
But with recent news events, we have reason to be somewhat optimistic for the latter half of 2021. For sure the upward trajectory of Covid-19 cases in Canada, and throughout the world, is alarming and cause for concern (please be safe and do your part to stop the spread!!) but thankfully some good news items have also popped up to give us renewed hope.
First and foremost, the world is on the brink of having a Covid-19 vaccine. Health experts and virologists are calling this a game-changer and the hope is that approval will happen shortly and distribution would start in the first half of 2021. Wow. I mean, wow. This is huge for all of us and certainly means that the crew of Wild Horses will be better protected as we navigate through the States and on to the Bahamas.
Ah, the States. I am glad you brought that up 😊. Mike, Ocean and I are not political in any sense but we do know the importance of real leadership and the positive impact it can have in tough times. Suffice to say, our confidence that the pandemic will get more under control for our neighbours down south has increased significantly with the United States election results. Compassion, financial support and guidance on how to handle the virus. We have had these comforts in Canada and now it seems that the States will have a bit of this too.
Mike and I are now more confidently planning to throw off the dock lines, for the last time in Canada, in September 2021. We will head for the Caribbean – a multi-year adventure aboard Wild Horses.
In the meantime, we have one last winter ahead of us. We have just about finished our new boat shelves (Mike is at the sanding and staining stage!) and we are knee-deep in planning the conversion of our starboard aft cabin into a “garage” i.e. a storage area for our kayaks, snorkelling gear and, yes, our compost and recycling. We are also continuing to hike the many conservation areas throughout Ontario and to explore some of the great small towns this province has to offer.
And when the snow makes a more permanent arrival this year, we will smile. It will likely be our last Canadian winter for awhile 😊.
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.