“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
Here we are in our little 2×4 cabin on a rainy, then foggy, then oh, it looks like the sun might break through, then no, there’s the fog and here’s the rain again day. Francois can only stand up straight in the companionway and frequently bangs his handsome head on something or other and we constantly do our boat dance, shimmingly past each other trying not to disturb what the other is trying accomplish, pick up or put away without getting pissy. And we look at each other and think we are in heaven. Is this normal, I think?
And the thought of being (land) homeless doesn’t even seen to come into play. Afterall, we’ve just been to the local farmers’ market bringing back some yummy things to keep us sustained for the next couple of days including a very good looking Polish sausage that’s hanging from a hook infusing it’s scents throughout the cabin. Is this what Poland smells like? If so, yum! Mix with that the aromas of freshly ground coffee all ready for tomorrow’s first, then second cup and oh, that crusty bread. My Frenchman does love his bread. That fresh slab of salmon that provided meals for 2 days. Feeling really good knowing we have supported four different local businesses and we haven’t even hit the butcher down the road or the lobster pound a few miles away.
And did I mentioned we’re homeless? Of course I did because I keep repeating it to myself each day. Homeless. I had to write all of this down because I can’t for the life of me figure why this isn’t more upsetting. Is there another shoe that’s going to drop? Are we going to wake up tomorrow and wonder what the hell were we thinking?
We’ve put an offer in on a property nearby after a second visit. That one that had all the points on our wish list checked off. Offer received. So what’s happening on the other end? Have they gone to bed to sleep on it while I stay awake wondering what the outcome will be? Are they just as uncertain as we are. If they turn our offer down will we walk away? The dance of uncertainty continues. But the love affair with this property is ongoing..
Room with a View
As I’m writing this we have received a firm acceptance of our offer. Papers signed. Both sides satisfied. Now comes all the other stuff. Lawyers, notaries, inspectors, insurance, interprovincial challenges,so many tests to be done within a short period of time. But the bottom line of all this is we will no longer be homeless once the snow flies. Our little Red by the Sea with all its charm, all its imperfections, the blank canvas waiting for us to imprint our own mark will soon be ours.
Our Garden Awaits
In the meantime we can now get on with enjoying the rest of our summer. Exploring our new sailing ground. Discovering corners of our new universe. We will become Aspotogans or Aspotoganites. Not really sure what residents of Nova Scotia’s Aspotogan Peninsula are called but we’ll be there absorbing everything the region has to offer.
It’s a big messed up fog of confusion this moving business. We know we need to find a land home but where to search. We know we need to find a home for R.E.D. that’s relatively near where we live. We don’t want another situation of when we were in Montreal and had to drive for almost an hour in good traffic to reach our boat club and for those who know Montreal, ‘good traffic’ exists only in dreams. Most yacht clubs require a full membership before a dock space can be reserved, if indeed they have space for the season. We could take a lesser convenient mooring but our dinghy, Ballon de Rouge, is still under man power (a small engine is in his future but for now it’s not a priority) and with no shore power how long would our batteries stay charged in frequent east coast fog? I felt like a cat that had just been let out of her travel case. Anxious. Confused. Stressed.
After a couple of days of driving along the picturesque southern coast of Nova Scotia and visiting several marinas and yacht clubs we settled on a home for R.E.D. at least for this season but so far what we see, we really like. Shining Water Marine is located on the eastern shore of St. Margaret’s Bay on the Light House Route of Highway 333 otherwise known as Peggy’s Cove Road, within 15 minutes from Halifax and within easy driving distance to some of the country’s best beaches. Perfect!
And there seems to be a resident lobster fisherman at the quay just west of us. He may see me standing at his slip when next lobster season rolls around. If I’m to understand that could be as early as August around these parts.
Shining Waters offers the full service of a Yacht Club in a beautiful but relaxed setting without the comittment of a membership. Washrooms, showers, laundry, new docks with electricity and water. No problem storing our trailer, a functional ramp should we need to haul out for the occasional land trips and a fairly active social agenda should we wish to participate. And the best part, located near the Head of St. Margaret’s Bay and the gateway to some of Canada’s best sailing ground.
Shining Waters Marine
Finger #53 will be ours for the season and should we choose to continue our relationship here into 2018 and beyond, a deposit to secure our spot is all that’s needed.
It was with mixed emotions that we headed out this morning but we didn’t want to overstay the welcome of our generous hosts. But first we had to do a bit of pruning. That pine tree was just far too close.
Inches to spare.
Next on our agenda aside from washing away all the traces of land travel, is to relax a bit, explore our new sailing ground and on off days, find a land home for the crew. We’re confident that we’ll discover our “Red by the Sea” in good time. We aren’t in a hurry, we are comfortable aboard R.E.D. until October and the close of the sailing season and when we find it we’ll know it’s right.
Sunset on the Bay
Today the Galley Kat is much more calm and settled. Our little chalet is now splashed and safely at her dock and tomorrow is a new day with a clean slate on which to write more of our story.