Our final sailing trip is done, the miles are logged, and the boat is sold. The four of us spent 27 days on the boat, logging over 1200 kilometres (660 nautical miles), which translates into approximately 131 hours on the water, or about 5 hours sailing per day. I looked back at our previous sailing trip to the North Channel five years ago and we did about the same number of miles but in half the time, so the pace of this trip was far better. We managed to cover most of what we wanted to see, missing a few spots such as Beardrop Harbour, Winfield Basin, Penetanguishene, Meaford, and Collingwood, but we visited so many other amazing places we didn’t expect to which more than made up for it. The fact is, this area is huge and packed with so much to explore that you could never, ever be done with it, and the ever changing water levels means that new anchorages open up, new beaches appear, the shorelines change and adapt, and it really is a new experience every time. The next time we sail here I could see us taking an entire season and adding in Lake Michigan and maybe even a small part of Lake Superior before returning to the North Channel and Georgian Bay to fill in some of the holes.
It was such a pleasure boating with our buddies Tony and Angela. They are just amazing people and the best travel companions one could hope for. This is now the fourth trip we’ve done with them and I hope there will be many more. The time we spent with the German-Hinds at their beautiful Manitoulin cottage was priceless, and such a nice break from the sailing routine. We have so much in common with them and always enjoy every minute we spend together. I’d love to do a big trip with them sometime too - preferably for 3 months backpacking around Asia. Then, of course, was the incredible day we spent with the Bradshaw family in Parry Sound, where we made some new friends and spent time with old friends on their home turf enjoying the pleasures of great food and excellent company. To top it off, we got to see our friends Ken and Sheila on the final day we were with the Henriques, so although we were out exploring so many new places, it was made so much better by spending time with all these fantastic people along the way. What a trip!
So here I now sit, back at home, in our gigantic mansion of a house compared to the cramped living quarters we’ve occupied for the past month in the belly of Bella Blue, coming to terms with being boatless. Owning a boat is a huge commitment in both money and time. With Bella Blue, every weekend of the year from April to October was spoken for, from spring launch to the full weekends spend on her all summer with our dock family, our extended sailing trips, then the sad month of October where she was dry docked, winterized, covered in a tarp (or several), and put to sleep for the season. But then our schedule would change dramatically. After months of ignoring our Paris and Brantford friends, we’d reconnect and be back into Friday night happy hour at local breweries, Saturday night dinner parties, Sunday day trips around the area attending festivals and exploring shops, and all the festive Christmas activities in December, followed by three months of miserable cold winter, usually broken up with a week in Cuba, then it was back into boat season.
But this year will be different. While the COVID-19 appears to be relatively under control in Ontario, this could turn on a dime, so we are still being cautious, which means no abundance of dinner parties and keeping our social circle very limited. And there will almost definitely be no international travel this year, meaning no mid-winter trip somewhere warm to break up the monotony of the cold months. Our new boatless situation means that we are going to have even more time available for weekend activities so the challenge is going to be figuring out what to do with this time. That is going to be tricky. Perhaps I will take up knitting? Or the crochet? Or maybe I’ll finally get serious about learning Portuguese and focus on that? In any case, it’s not often one is given the gift of time, so we will make the most of it. As far as the next boat, we are already looking, but the logistics of finding, inspecting, and relocating a boat with the COVID restrictions in place will make it very difficult. But who knows what the future may hold?
So here’s to the final adventure on Bella Blue! It was a lovely ride my darling, we wish you well and thank you for all the joy you brought to our lives. Bon voyage!