Finally! a post about R.E.D. Not about RED by the Sea. Not about beaches, pretty scenery or gardens or guests. Just R.E.D. This is after all a blog called sailingred.com isn’t it?
Yes our lives have changed considerably since moving to the east coast. Our past life basically revolved around boating during spring/summer and part of fall with the rest of the year holed up in our little condo planning our next adventure and dreaming about being back on the boat the following year. Even our social life was primarily boat-centred.
Here, living in the country, our lives have become much more diversified. Yes, there is yard work needed but we have inherited lovely three-season perennial gardens which are pretty much self-sustaining from the previous owner. We enjoy a thriving social life thanks to wonderful neighbours.
…but hey! I said this post is all about R.E.D. didn’t I?
We’ve created the perfect place for her during the winter months with space for Francois’ Crow’s Nest and extra parking for guests (you can read all about that heavy machinery and stuff by clicking here)
After a very quick ‘putting to bed’ last fall she really needed a good cleaning inside and out but that’s all done now with her usual two coats of wax and belly painted with a new layer of anti-fouling.
Hubbards Cove. Photo cred. Marinas.com
Her new home during boating season is a well protected cove just six minutes from RED by the Sea and quick access to St Margaret’s Bay and beyond (more about how we almost didn’t launch this year here).
The ramp access at the marina makes it super easy to launch with more than enough water depth even at low tide.
Most of the rigging was done at home first so that once we arrived we just needed to fix the lines and step the mast.
Back ‘Yard’ View
Our finger is located on the inside with port docking (yay! my favourite orientation) with an awesome view off the bow of another little ten-boat marina across the cove.
The Boat Yard
The yard is small but well maintained by a volunteer base and at the top of the road is the best little cafe serving fresh pastries and breakfast paninnis.
As I mentioned above, our boating lives have changed and it feels really good. No longer do we have to drive forever in nasty traffic to spend time with her. Six minutes and we’re there. It feels like our lives are in better balance. Time at home. Time with friends. Time to enjoy visitors. Time to explore. Time on the water whenever we choose. There are still at least two big adventures in the planning and this year we’ll be venturing out beyond St. Margaret’s Bay with new charts in hand and can’t wait to sail along the coast this fall (Nova Scotia’s very best season) to catch all the changing colours.
It feels so good to be back on the water. To feel the movement of the sea under R.E.D.’s belly. To move our bodies in ways that have been dormant for the past few months. To watch as all the boat bruises appear after a day of frisky sailing. To breath in the salt air and smell the sea. There’s nothing quite like it in the whole wide world.
Good to be Back
“What if all I want is a small, slow, simple life?…What if I am most happy in the space of in between?… Where calm lives… What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?” … Exerpt from “What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?” an essay by Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui
When I look back to how our lives have changed over the past five years and even how the tone of our blog posts have changed, I have to shake my head and wonder when we actually altered course. Our blog used to be all about what we did with the boat, where we went, the problems we had and how we solved them, the modifications we made. It was to have been a journal of sorts of our journey and in part for those who had similar boats or intentions.
We’ve had some pretty cool adventures on our little boat and made changes on her to transform her into our little water chalet . Our first year, Trois Rivieres to Quebec City . The Rideau Loop and Thousand Islands our second. New York and Long Island Sound our third. And last year our biggest adventure to date, the magestic St Lawrence River and Gaspe region.
These were all a part of a five year plus plan we created that centred around R.E.D. This year, summer 2017, was to be have been our three-month Lake Huron and Georgian Bay cruise. Weather with so much rain bringing high water levels seriously cut into our planned time away so we headed east instead where we fell in love all over again. Next year, 2018, was to have been our Great American Loop Adventure, taking a year off to cruise to the Great Lakes down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida (maybe taking a side trip across to the Bahamas) then back up the Intracoastal Waterway making our way home. The Canadian versus US dollar and the current political climate has discouraged us from continuing down that road…for now at least.
We threw around the idea as a lot of cruisers do, living aboard or spending six months somewhere in the south on the boat during the winter months. A very appealing dream it is. But as we see with cruising bloggers whose adventures we’ve followed, so many seem to have branched off after several years into land-based pursuits leaving water life behind. And as we age, concerns about health care and increased costs of insurance became a very real focus.
We even looked into the costing of buying a land-based live-aboard vehicle, specifically the Canadian made Safari Condo with about the same amount of living space as R.E.D. Sharing our ideas and dreams with each other of travelling through our great country, through the US and further became a fun pastime for us. Loading it on a boat to cross over to Europe was also considered. But then R.E.D. happened. She was an expansion of the RV idea of travellling and exploring allowing us to change not only land plan but water as well. The best of both worlds.
There is so much more we want to do with our lives too. If we invest totally in a water life will we be able to feed our other passions? Travel for instance. Francois lived for two years in the south of France and promised that someday he would take me there. I was lucky enough to have bare boat sailed in the British Virgins so have promised to take Francois someday to re-live with him those adventures.
RED by the SEA
All of this brought us to thinking about a life at the edge of the sea instead of a life on the sea which led us to where we are now…our RED by the SEA. We can still return to cruise Lake Huron someday. We can still revisit the Great American Loop plan. But this shift has freed us up to do other things while continuing to explore this beautiful part of Canada. The Saint John River for example has been called the Rhine of North America and is now added to our water plan. And sailing the exquisite Bras d’Or Lakes nestled in the centre of the Cape Breton highlands, is something I’ve dreamed of doing for many years now.
Bras d’Or Lakes photo CaperPics
As you read this post we are no longer Montrealers. We are nomads, literally homeless for the next few weeks until RED by the SEA is legally ours. Of course we’ll return for family and friend visits but it’s with so much emotion that we leave behind our nest that was to have been our ‘forever’ place with its magnificent four season views, replacing a city life for one in the country.
Our belongings are now packed into the POD. All our wordly possessions reduced to a little over 1000 cubic feet (and yes, to those who placed your bets, everything fit thanks to my master planner. Was there really ever any doubt?)
Our Life in a Box
Are we ‘settling’? Are we compromising? A lot of thought and soul searching went into this latest decision and it feels so right. It’s like slipping into a warm bath, or putting on a favourite pair of jeans or hanging with your best friend. We haven’t settled or compromised. Not at all! We’re right where we should be, that space of in between where calm lives.
Where Calm Lives
Post Script: french translation is automated and not always perfect. Sorry
Flash back to the other day when we were still in our ‘honeymoon’ home buying phase, all priorities checked off our wish list. Add to that an excellent home inspector’s report…then a not so excellent septic report….then the sound of the other shoe dropping. Water report: unacceptable. More than good reason to terminate our contract. We felt comfortable to walk away and start our search anew. Moderately disappointing but who wants to take on a hornet’s nest of other’s problems?
Fast forward to present time. The seller is willing to replace the septic system at their expense which means it will have to be done by today’s standards, engineer designed and Nova Scotia Environment certified which means also the correct distance from the well.
What shall we do?!?!
We went back to our original thoughts, our original list, our original impressions. We added extra criteria. Do we see ourselves here in ten years, twenty years or longer? Do I see myself here if anything should happen to Francois? Then a bigger question that gave Francois reason to stop and think. Would he be happy here if anything should happen to me? Good question, he said. After he thought for a while he said that yes, he could see himself living here without me but it would feel empty. Now I said, remove me from the equation. Pretend I’m not here (I know it’s hard to do, haha). Would you accept the new offer? I would, he said.
This septic and water issue had put a cloud over the whole deal not too dissimilar to when we first bought R.E.D., brought her home, splashed her, spent the first night onboard to awaken to 3″ of water in the cabin. More than one person advised us to return her. You can get so much more boat for that price they said. There were tears, sleepless nights and so much doubt. We lost faith in her integrity. But once the problems were remedied she regained our trust. With each issue encountered – and there were many – we fixed it, seeing it as a way to get to know our boat more intimately. We look back now and think we wouldn’t have changed a thing. We stuck with R.E.D. and she has given us five years of unforgettable adventures…and there will be more.
There is no perfect…ever. The idea of utopia keeps us all looking forward, seeking the sometimes unattainable. There will always be something better. Always a sweeter deal around the next corner. We are trying hard not to get caught up in chasing the ‘more’, the ‘better’, the ‘bigger’, the endless ‘what if’s’. But we don’t want to settle either. This little RED by the SEA is certainly not perfect. She comes with her own flaws, however charming. She’s old. She has stairs we will need to climb and should we become disabled this could present an issue. The view of the sea will diminish with time as the trees grow taller.
We sat here this morning with our first coffee revisitng the discussion of what to do. We tried really hard to come up with more than just two concerns. Then we sat in silence for a while, thinking. A question my daughter asked yesterday brought the discussion to a close. ‘Is this your dream home?’ Francois’ immediate answer, we’ll make it our dream home!
The clarity of hindsight will eventually show us the wisdom of our decision, a decision we are looking forward to living with, whatever may come.