The first few days living on the boat have been exhilarating and stressful at the same time. It’s surreal that we are finally here and living on a boat!
We explored our new home and quickly began unpacking. It was like Christmas- seeing our special items we haven’t seen for 2 months. The kids wondered why we weren’t sailing immediately and were a bit antsy. The first day consisted of sorting our belongings (much of which still needs to find its final home). The first full day on the boat we still had our rental van and we went to the larger town to get a few remaining items we couldn’t fit into the van when we arrived from Halifax.
I am working right now, so I had to spend several hours that evening and the next morning grading. The second day we went sailing into the Bras d’Or Lake (a very large salt water lake) in Cape Breton. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was perfect. We all decided to go for a swim, which was super refreshing – 72 degree water on a hot and sunny day. We learned a lot about the boat that day as we were out with the previous owners so they could show us the nuances of our new home.
Meanwhile, we have been trying to figure out when/where we are going to buy items for the boat that we need to be US Coast Guard compliant. We are also still trying to find insurance for our boat. Currently, our biggest concern is how we are going to clear customs on the boat without the boat’s registration. This is a German registered vessel, in Canadian waters, now owned by United States citizens. We are waiting on the registration to get here from Germany, but it’s not clear if we have to wait to leave Canada until we have those papers. We will be doing more research on this tomorrow. The list could go on and on, but I won’t bore you with that.
We are also trying to decided when to head South towards Halifax – we will have good sailing weather for the next 2 days, but then not so great weather Thurs-Sat. I’d like to get closer to the US before weather starts getting colder (Sept.) as it will take us about a week and a half of sailing to get to Maine (and we can only sail on good weather days, which of course is an unknown variable). The flip side is Bra d’Or is a sailing destination for the rich and famous and we feel like we should take the time to explore it while we’re here.
It’s a bit daunting being on our own now. We have a steep learning curve ahead of us. There are so many systems on the boat that we need to learn (batteries, watermaker, solar, refrigeration, toilets, engine, etc.). We are trying to balance spending time with the kids and making sure they are entertained and doing everything we need to do to prepare for our first solo sail into remote areas without services.
The kids have been great – the boys are diligent about wearing their life jackets at all times – Hope is another story. She resists, but it is non-negotiable so we have had some power struggles. I’ve found it helps to tell her the police will take us to jail if she doesn’t have it on :). We are enjoying having time together without iPads, TV’s, etc. It has been nice eating together every night and we look forward to a time when we’re not so stressed (have I mentioned we still need to deal with getting new birth certificates/social security cards after they were stolen?) with urgent “to-do’s” and can enjoy exploring with the kids. It seems like for months now, we keep telling the kids that once we are packed, once we are on the road, once we are at the farm, once we are on the boat, once we are settled on the boat……. We’ll have more time and it won’t be so stressful. I’m hoping this is the last “once…” and we can truly start enjoying our new life and get into a bit of a routine.
Highlights of our time on the boat so far:
Meeting friendly sailors/Mariners
Jumping off the boat into the lake
Unpacking and beginning to feel like home
Our first dinghy ride
Receiving a text of our dog running and playing on the farm
Seeing the kids enjoying sailing
Waking up to the kids reading marine books instead of asking for their iPads