At 5:30 am Tobermory strikes an impressive pose. Flat water reflecting boats and trees, streets void of humanity, sounds only of toads and birds, and a refreshingly cool nip in the air. The weather looks to be unsettled today until about 3pm so we decide on an early start to Heywood Island, which will be our entry point into the North Channel. After today’s run, our daily routine will switch from trying to gain as many miles a possible, to doing as few and spending a lot of time exploring hidden anchorages, islands and bays, fishing, and generally goofing around and enjoying ourselves to the max.
One evening last week I was awakened at 1am by this little blue light beside me. I turned to see Ana’s face aglow and her fingers swiping across the screen of her phone. I said, “What the hell are you doing? Go to sleep!”
“I’m looking at boats,” she replied.
The next morning at dinnertime she announced to the family, “I have a new plan to propose. I think we should sell Bella Blue and buy a Gemini catamaran.”
“OK,” I said, after briefly exchanging glances with the kids.
We have now owned Bella Blue for over ten years, and what a time it’s been! She has taken us throughout three of the five Great Lakes and we’ve had so many amazing experiences on her that it’s almost hard to believe. In fact, I never thought that buying a sailboat could have had such an impact on our lives. Because of sailing we’ve made so many lifelong friends and our gang at Port Dover are like family to us. Stella was just 2 years old when we bought this boat so both the kids have been raised as dock rats, and that’s tough to get out of your system! Every penny we have spent on this boat has been worth it (although dropping $300 every time I walk into a marine store never gets less painful) and though there’s admittedly been some challenging times like boat breakdowns and storms, even those have given us a chance to become more self-reliant, more resilient, and better prepared for next time. I’ve learned more about boat systems and diesel engines than I thought I ever could, which is something you simply have to do if you want to own a boat.
Simply put, I think we have outgrown Bella Blue. With Magnus now as big as me, and Stella catching up fast, our once luxurious space is becoming cramped, and while the kids used to sleep together in one of the closed cabins, now Magnus sleeps on the dinette table and in the early morning while I’m making coffee I’m treated to the sight of a long, white, gangly mess of knees, elbows, and hair in strange places. Stella is a different story - she just leaves a trail of personal items wherever she goes - long black hairs, hair ties, books, cords, clothes. Ana and I pick up after both of them constantly, but the fact is they don’t have any decent space to store any of their things, and certainly no privacy.
The idea is to try and find a Gemini catamaran. We’ve had our eye on these boats for a long time and they check off many of the things we are looking for in a boat - three closed cabins, two engines instead of one, flat sailing, more space, suitability for installing dinghy davits and solar panels, and best of all these catamarans only have a 14 foot beam, which means they can fit into the standard marina boat slips, which is not the case for larger catamarans. This is the sort of boat we could use to cruise to the Caribbean and live aboard for long stretches of time. Our ultimate goal is to have a large catamaran, but for the current stage of life the Gemini Legacy seems like the right transition boat for us that will serve our purposes on the Great Lakes for the next five years, and allow us to expand our reach more comfortably than we could with Bella Blue.
So that’s our big plan. Ana just posted Bella Blue for sale on a few websites yesterday so we will see what sort of interest we get. If we don’t sell it, that’s perfectly okay and we’d be happy to use her for another season next year in Sarnia. If we do sell her quickly, and it takes us a while to find a replacement, that’s fine too - we will know the right boat when we see it. So for now we are enjoying this beautiful boat while we can, and look forward to being able to sell it to somebody who will have as much fun on her as we did.
After an eight hour sail we made it 59 miles to a beautiful, secluded anchorage on Heywood Island and got ourselves anchored then went for a swim. The water was surprisingly warm at 25 degrees and the plunge felt glorious. HQ2 showed up a few hours later just in time for happy hour, then we joined forces and cooked an amazing meal of beef medallion steaks, port tenderloin, spinach salad, roasted carrots and potatoes, and grilled broccoli. The full bellies and full day put us to bed early and we fully enjoyed our first night in the North Channel.