Friday, August 4, 2023

July 30 – Back Home to Newport

It’s 1:30 pm on Sunday. Ana and I are sitting on the bow of SeaLight as the sun shines down, the wind blows directly in our face, and the autopilot drives us home. It the first time we’ve done this during the trip and it gives us a chance to reflect on the amazing times we’ve had with our family and friends over the past 18 days and all the new places we’ve explored.

During this trip we covered 804 kilometres or 404 nautical miles which translates into approximately 72 hours of sailing. This averages out to just over four hours of sailing per day, but of course much of this came in larger passages which gave us time for down days where we didn’t sail at all.

This is now our fourth major sailing trip on Lake Ontario and I feel like we’ve achieved a pretty good feel for the lake. There’re a few spots left to explore on the US side of the lake, plus a number of marinas and yacht clubs in our neighbourhood in the western end that we’re yet to visit. Next time around we might decide on a slower pace and focus in on fewer stops with more time to fully explore each area. Saying that, I will admit we tend to get bored quickly. When we’ve had more time allocated on earlier sailing trips, like the longer 4 week trips we’ve done up to the North Channel, we’ve always just expanded the range of where we went instead of focusing in on smaller areas, but I guess that’s just what we like to do.

Along the way we defrost both the fridges (and pick more coffee grounds out of the top loader), clean and vacuum the boat, pull off the bedding, pack up our stuff, so by the time we arrive at Newport we are nearly ready to head home. Earlier in the day after breakfast, Magnus headed back downtown to hang out then took the train back to Aldershot, got the van, then meets us at the marina just as we are arriving. We take a few photos of us and Lydia, Daryl, and Chili then we were off, just as a big thunderstorm passes overhead and drenches everything. That’s been the story of the trip – sun to rain to wind back to sun back to rain. It’s all good.

And thus ends the 2023 sailing trip.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

July 29, 2023 – Rainy Day in the Big Smoke

We didn’t see much of the kids during last year’s boating season. With Magnus driving and Stella working every Saturday, it just didn’t work out very often and we thought they had both really lost interest. Which is why we were so happy they both decided to join us for parts of this boat trip. They are both at or near a junction in their lives where they are making big decisions so we always have plenty to discuss, as we do over breakfast this morning with Magnus. He is on the tail end of a gap year and looking to make his next move, which will likely be school, and he wants to get started on something in January. So we decided last night to walk over to George Brown college today and have a look around as they offer some programs he is interested in.

A big nasty system rolled in last night and it is pouring outside. I dress up in my full rain gear – pants and jacket, which Ana and Magnus just wear jackets. After walking for a short while through the torrential rain we slip into Shopper’s Drug Mart to pick up two umbrellas as Ana fears a major makeup malfunction. From there we have a long, drawn-out coffee stop at Aromas Espresso Bar then continue on our long walk to George Brown through half empty streets, unheard of for a Saturday in Toronto.

The first George Brown college building we reach looks closed but we find a back door entrance and give ourselves a tour. The entire building is deserted and there are construction works in progress, giving it the feel of a set on a zombie apocalypse movie. We go over to the culinary arts building which isn’t hard to find because we can see people through the streetside windows in there wearing kitchen whites and making bread and cookies.

We walk in and it smells heavenly. There is a single administrator working and she gives us a brief overview of George Brown and points us in the direction of the adjoined Business department which offers the program Magnus is interested in. We take a quick walk around then decide it would be best to continue our discussion over lunch so we find a nearby Thai restaurant and go crazy with the curries. Magnus positively loves this area of this city as it right in the middle of all the action – Front Street, St Lawrence Market, the Financial district, and within walking range of the entire downtown.

Ana finds a thrift shop and thrifting ensues. I duck out early with a big bag of our purchases and Ana’s umbrella which I am charged to protect and go outside to sit in the park. The rain is finally letting up and bits of sun are peeking through the clouds. When Ana and Magnus come to get me I, of course, leave her umbrella hanging on the back of a chair and don’t realize it until we’ve walked a couple of block, so I race back and of course it’s gonzo. I creep around the park hoping to yoink a similar umbrella from another hapless doofus who left one lying around, but no such luck so I return empty handed and feel great shame.

We make the long walk back to the boat then have a nice chill out session in the cockpit for a couple of hours, then Magnus heads back into the city for a solo coffee and Ana and I go over to a nice lakeside seating area in the marina that has a firepit, Bluetooth speakers, comfy loungers, and a resident mink that peeks out from under a planter every once in a while and scratches the back of his head on the wood while he looks up to the sky with glee. We have a drink and enjoy the beautiful sunshine that’s finally made its full appearance. Life is good.

Soon the Thai curry wears off so we walk back downtown, meet Magnus, then have spectacular rotis from my favourite place to eat in Toronto – the Indian Roti House, just across from Amsterdam Brew House. Ana goes for a slice of pizza instead as she claims Indian food turns her insides upside down and we don’t want to risk any permanent damage to the boat’s plumbing.

It’s getting close to dark when we get the call from our friends still moored in the islands. Our presence is required. So we jump in the dinghy and accidentally motor right through the restricted zone beside the airport runway. The giant white marker buoys which are so easy to see during the daytime are much less so at night and we get totally confused with where we are. Fortunately no police boats come chasing after us and there’s no botched plane landing.

We settle on Chris and Miriam’s boat for a drink and visit and confirm that yes, Daryl and Lydia were stalking us last night, but gave up and went out drinking and clubbing instead. Man, those guys have energy.

We play it safe on the dinghy ride home and take a wide berth around the buoys but still manage to accidentally cut through half of the forbidden zone, but now we just feel like marine commandos on a midnight mission.

As we pass by the phenomenal Toronto night skyline headed to the boat I think again how incredible this city and this moment is.

And tomorrow, we will head home.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

July 28, 2023 – Coffee Mishap, Exploring Toronto, and a Midnight Visitor

We drink instant coffee on the boat. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it tastes pretty good. We do, however, have the capability to make great coffee on the boat and that is done with the Aeropress, a type of French press, but with the capacity of only a single cup. Whenever we have boat guests I always crack out the Aeropress to make coffee. Angela’s coffee comes out perfectly and I serve it to her in the cockpit. Now, Sheila’s. I set the Aeropress down on the top loading refrigerator, dump at least two tablespoons of coffee into the chamber, pour in boiling water, then mix it up with a spoon. As I flip the Aeropress on top of the coffee cup to do the plunging, something goes wrong and it falls and comes apart, spilling boiling hot coffee ground water all over the counter and into the edges of the fridge, splattering all over the food and drinks within. It is a goddamn mess and over the next 3o minutes I go through half a paper towel roll and several rags to clean it up. It’s all Sheila’s fault.

After breakfast we toss the lines and motor into Toronto’s National Yacht Club, where we will spend the next two nights for the low, low price of free as they offer gratis slips to reciprocal members of other yacht clubs. We have a hugfest on the dock with Angela and Sheila then they are off to retrieve their car and drive back into Brantford. Which leaves Ana and I all alone with a full day ahead of us in this amazing city.

We begin by jumping in the dinghy and motoring across the harbour to the Dock Shoppe to return a boat part I didn’t end up needing. From there we go on the outside of the Toronto islands to the beach on Ward’s Island. Once again, there’s an incredible amount of activity on the water – little kids in sailing school, that giant three masted ship, and dozens of sail and powerboats. We dinghy right into the beach, lay out a towel, and sit in a sand for a while watching all the action. Once sufficiently heated up, we go for a swim to cool off then hop back in the dinghy and continue the circle tour around the islands. As we are motoring on flat water, at the perfect temperature, with an inviting breeze on our faces Ana says, “Remember this moment, this exact moment right now,” and she leans over and kisses me. “We’ll come back to this memory in January when we’re suffering through winter.”

I love my wife. She is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me and she makes me so happy, especially at moments like this.

We make the full loop around the islands and end up back at the boat where we quickly change clothes then head out to walk Toronto. It is hot as Hades so we stick to the shady sides of the streets where we can and we take it at a slow pace – there’s no rush.

As we are walking down Queen’s Quay a young girl holding a clipboard and flyers stops me.

“Have you ever heard of the Little St. Nick children’s charity?” she asks me, smiling widely and suspicously.

“Sorry, what’s that you say?” I reply as I squint through my sunglasses at the brochure she’s holding and am horrified to see an image of Santa Clause.

“Little St. Nick, it’s a children’s charity,” she explains.

“I hate Christmas,” I say bluntly and we walk away. Ana’s surprised as I’m usually pretty kind to strangers interrupting my free time with things I don’t care about, but today, on this beautiful hot day, in July, seeing an image of the Christmas elf reminds me of the 6 painful months of the year in which I despise the weather and complain endlessly as I question our life and residency choices.

We stop for cold drinks, walk around for a while, then find two free Adirondack chairs on the fabricated, but still lovely, HTO beach near the Harbourfront Centre. As soon as I lean back in that comfy chair, I am out. When I regain consciousness, I see Ana’s been eavesdropping on some other beachgoers. One dude and his buddy are flirting hard with a girl and we can hear everything they are saying. Before long, a well dressed dude walks up on the other side of us, sees a pretty girl sitting alone on a bench and says, “Mind if I sit here?” He starts chatting her up, then we hear, “I like your look,” and man is she digging it! She slides a bit closer to him and they get engaged in deep conversation. Over on the other side of Hook Up Beach one of the first dudes is now touching his target’s arm, then her leg, and she’s laughing and having fun.

“I didn’t think people knew how to do this anymore,” Ana says as she looks back and forth at the pick ups in progress.

“And they’re doing it without the use of an app. Amazing.”

We head back to the boat as we’re expecting Magnus – he is taking the train out to spend the weekend with us. I pick him up in the dingy at Trillium Park around 8 and we have a great visit with him as we make a dinner of Korean short ribs, sweet potato fries, and salad. We consider taking a walk into Toronto and finding somewhere to go for a drink but he’s pretty tired out from a busy week at work so we just hang in the boat and I go to bed at the ridiculous hour of 10 pm. Normally, this would not be possible when Lydia is around as she is this innocent looking thing who, on the first day we met her, claimed her bedtime was 10:30 and she never stayed up beyond that. Well, what a scam that was. We learned very quickly that she likes drinking wine, laughing, and telling stories until 2am and forces everybody in the vicinity to have fun right alongside her. Since she is isolated on the islands, I don’t miss the opportunity for a few extra horizonal hours.

Just after midnight I am woken up by Ana’s poking finger.

“What? Huh? What’s up?” I ask all groggy like.

“There’s something outside,” she whispers. “An evil presence.”

I listen carefully. There is a slight sloshing of water against the boat. Maybe a duck? Or a goose? Or some carps making love?

Then, the squeak of dinghy PVC against the hull and an unmistakable laugh.

“Shit!” I hiss into Ana’s ear. “It’s Lydia. Don’t move, don’t make a sound.”

“Oh no,” Ana says as she freezes and pulls the blanket over her head.

Her and Daryl have found us. She could probably sense from miles away that we were trying to go to bed early and is here to put a stop to it. We can hear them moving alongside the boat, undoubtedly peeking into the windows looking for signs of life.

Then, “Kriiiiiiiiissssss. Aaaaaaaanaaaaa. Come out and play.”

We are frozen with fear. She’s an unstoppable party machine and she’s here to destroy our good night’s sleep. We keep quiet and motionless. My mouth is dry and I start to picture how nice a beer would taste right now.

“Damnable voodoo! Devil woman! Now she’s invading my thoughts!” I whisper to Ana as I shake the image out of my head.

“Be strong,” she says.

We hear them circle the boat, then get off the dingy and up onto the floating dock. They won’t give up. But we wait them out, and soon we hear some yelling and screaming and laughing coming from a boat, probably on the other side of the marina. A pattering of feet. A splash of water as they jump into the dingy. The sound of an outboard engine firing up. They take off to investigate the party noises, and within minutes will be in somebody else’s cockpit making friends, laughing, and having fun.

The danger has passed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

July 27, 2023 – I Want To See Your Peacock, Cock, Cock, Your Peacock, Cock

I wake up at a gloriously late 6:30, happy that we don’t have to travel anywhere for a few days. It is a clear, warm morning and I get set up in the cockpit with a hot chicory drink and my laptop and do some writing.

Spending so much time on the boat really tunes your ears to the sounds the boat should and should not be making. The hum of the engine while underway should be just so – if it wavers, then something is going wrong, or about to go wrong. The sound of the wind on the sails (not that we’ve heard much of that this trip…) changes with different points of sail and you can hear when you are getting at too close of an angle to the wind. The air conditioner produces a symphony of sounds and it becomes easy to tell when it’s sucked up a wad of lily pads and is about to choke.

The one sound I notice this morning is the bilge pump. Or rather, no sound of it. It should be running periodically to drain the water created by the air conditioner. But this morning it is not so I open up the bilge to investigate. Sure enough, it is underwater and not working. I wiggle it. I flip the breaker on and off. I check the wiring and the voltage. I clean the impeller. Everything looks fine but it just does not work properly. I can get it to run if I turn it upside down, but when I flip it back over it sucks for a second then stops.

Time to go bilge pump shopping.

Daryl is up for the ride to the Dock Shoppe as he never passes up an opportunity to blow some coin at a marine store. But before leaving, our friends Chris and Miriam from Newport arrive in their 37’ Marinette aluminum cruiser powerboat and we help them to get docked. They’ve been cruising around for a week or so and decided to come and join us for the weekend. Their condo is right next to where our boat is docked at Newport and they can look down on us from their deck. I sometimes see Miriam peeking down at me through the bathroom window when I’m taking a shower and she’s usually giggling. I suspect I know what she’s giggling about, but I usually just wave then slowly draw the curtain.

Daryl and I jump in the dinghy and motor out of the islands and across the frantic, wavy Toronto Inner Harbour to the marine store which is located on a small barge at the end of an industrial jetty on the easternmost side. Unless you are a boater in need of parts, you would never, ever be able to find this place, nor just happen to pass by it. It is also past a prehistoric lift bride, which happens to be going up as we enter to let through a tug pushing a barge, who is coming up on us fast.

We pick up the parts we need then motor back to the boat but take the winding island route this time which is a bit slower, but scenic and calm. After installing the new bilge pump and discovering it is behaving exactly the same as the old one, I give up and take the dinghy back across the bay to pick up our friends Angela and Sheila from Brantford, who are coming out to join us for a day. I find them waving at me from beside the Empire Sandy schooner so they load into the dinghy and we cruise back to the boat for a burger lunch then an extended chill out session at the pool.

As we’re walking back to the boat we bump into our friends and learn they have been scavenging (and perhaps plucking?) feathers all afternoon from the pimped out male peacock. Miriam has a handful of four foot long feathers, that she’s strutting around like Mrs. Thurston Howell the Third. Lydia has one between her teeth and sashays like a matador down the dock. Daryl has one pinned in his dapper hat, complementing his million dollar smile. Chris has one slid into the belt buckle loop of his shorts, inviting pelvic glances just like Robert Plant did with that red rose in his low cut jeans when Led Zeppelin played Stairway to Heaven, but Chris’s version is way sexier. I haven’t seen the daddy peacock today but I expect he now looks like he’s got the mange, patchy and unkempt, with half of his feathers missing. After seeing this bonanza of colour, Angela decides she needs a feather as a fashion accessory for an upcoming event so Ana finds two dock rats and sends them off plucking.

After a dinghy ride through the islands, the four of us enjoy a slow and relaxed dinner and drinks at the yacht club restaurant like the fancy folks that we are, then we all meet up in the air conditioned inner digestive system of SeaLight, otherwise known as the main salon. We usually gather in the cockpit, but tonight we try something new. I pull up Spotify on my phone and start with the most appropriate song I could think of as we reflected on today’s events, a new one from Katy Perry, and I turn it to maximum volume:

I want to see your peacock, cock, cock, your peacock, cock. Your peacock, cock, cock, your peacock.

I want to see your peacock, cock, cock, your peacock, cock. Your peacock, cock, cock, your peacock.

Well that really gets the party going. People start jumping around, arms pumping, hips gyrating, going crazy to the beat. A couple of the ladies whip their shirts off, then one of them rips off Daryl’s shorts and, adding fuel to this techno fire, we are rewarded with a beautiful peacock feather peeking out of his boxers which really drives the chicks mental.

I notice the huge bottle of Kraken that Marty and I tried to kill back in Kingston still has a bit left so I split it into two cups, four ounces each, keeping one for myself and giving one to Chris as I don’t think he’s ever experienced a Kraken smackdown, but I think he’s going to really like it.

The party is really heating up as my playlist winds through other high octane fowl tunes and there are more clothes being tossed around, but then Daryl asks me about the electrical problem on the boat and the three men start discussing battery terminals, short circuits, breakers, then we start taking the boat apart and testing stuff, which just kills the mood. Someone mentions mapping out the electrical schematic and that instantly drives Sheila and Angela to bed and they don’t even bother gathering up their clothes so I guess I’ll have to sweep up all the bras, garter belts, and stockings later and return them to their respective owners.

The remaining partygoers move over to Chris and Miriam’s boat where the conversation focuses on the burgee (this is a flag for recreation boating clubs) we need to create for the LOL – Lake Ontario Loopers, which will be awarded to anybody from the club who does a similar circumnavigation of the full lake. We’re thinking it should have images of a gas can spilling fuel onto a goby fish and a swan, the earth on fire, definitely a peacock, and maybe an extra long wiener dog wrapping around the whole thing.

Man, that Kraken produces some good ideas!

Sunday, July 30, 2023

July 26, 2023 – Toronto’s Islands, Rubber Pirate Cannons, and a Tremendously Good Nap

At 4am the Cobourg marina casts a beautiful scene. There are six other sailboats anchored here, each with a single masthead light glowing as the boats sit motionless on the flat water. Two fishing boats are slowing motoring through the channel with their red, green, and white navigational lights on, headed for the lake in pursuit of the salmon that live in it. I hit the button on the windless and it sparks to life, piercing the morning silence with the sound of thick chain banging against the bow pulpit as the anchor is retrieved.

The lake too is calm and glassy but after an hour of motoring a thick fog sets in and a slight breeze rises. I flash the spotlight periodically to ensure any surrounding boats hidden in the fog can see us. As dawn approaches, the warm air on my arms and face rapidly cools and is replaced by what I call the dawn chill. It is a strange time on the water. As the air cools, the blanket of stars overhead slowly disappears, popping away one by one, and though the sun is not yet visible, a suspicious grey light every so slowly builds in the east. This stage of the day lasts for an hour and I’m always glad when it is replaced by full dawn when the morning sun appears on the horizon. Today, the heat of the sun quickly burns off the fog as the wind steadily gains momentum and the waves build. Soon, the water is rough and as usual, the wind is directly on our nose rendering our sails useless in our anticipated ten hour sail to Toronto.

The boat takes a beating as we motor into the meter high waves, some much larger, some smaller. The longer wave  periods typical of Lake Ontario are much shorter today and the bow of the boat rises then crashes down, jarring everything and anybody inside. As the route to Toronto is a straight line there is not much navigation or steering to be done so we simply watch for boats or hazards on the water.

For the last few hours of the trip we are trailed by the Amy Lynn – a large tug boat towing an enormous barge. We motor at the same speed, sailing in parallel, both pointed for the mouth of Toronto Harbour, which we finally reach around 2pm. As usual the harbour is full of activity – dozens of Sunfish sailing boats piloted by 8-year-olds from the sailing camps, freighters, a three masted tall ship, Tiki taxis, Pirate taxis, party boats, paddleboarders, kayakers, sailboats, all participating in a seemingly orchestrated ballet of motion, but in reality, it’s every ship for herself.

We reach the Island Yacht Club and a young dockhand is there to grab our lines. We have never been to this club before, but we have tied up in past years at Hanlon’s Point which is directly across the channel. After sucking a large quantity of weeds into the intake, the boat’s air conditioner bombs out and I have to take apart the hose connections and remove the foliage. It is a very hot day so once settled we make our way over to the pool, along the way seeing a family of resident peacocks which seem completely at home wandering the grounds.

The pool is cool and refreshing and we take up residence on two of the incredibly comfortable padded pool chairs which populate the expansive deck. I immediately fall asleep and have a glorious afternoon nap in the shade of a willow tree while Ana reads and relaxes.

Lydia and Daryl arrive a few hours after us and they’ve had a rough and tumble trip as the lake conditions have only worsened since we arrived and the inside of their boat looks as if it’s been shaken like a margarita so Lydia gets to work unscrambling the mess while Daryl joins Ana and I on a walk to explore the island. After finding a beaten up basketball court and throwing a few baskets we find a little used grassy trail and follow it. Despite being only a kilometer or two from the largest city in Canada, it feels wild here. It is quiet, the trees canopy is thick with branches and leaves and the smell of the forest, the grass is long, and spiderwebs are sewn everywhere. We walk the perimeter of the small island, ending up in the boat storage yard near our dock then vigorously check for ticks. If there are tick on this island, one of us would have picked one up, and so far we all come up clean, but a closer examination will be required in the solitude of a shower stall.

We gather on SeaLight for a dinner of vegetarian curry and shrimp pasta. They tell us more of their trip here from Cobourg.

“On the way into the channel,” Lydia says, “we saw this beaten up old pirate boat with these long flaccid penis-like rubber things hanging off the side spraying streams of water everywhere. Daryl said, ‘That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.’ As we got closer we saw that it was full of Down Syndrome kids and they were all smiling and waving at us. Daryl then said, “Well, I guess it’s kind of cool.’”

It wasn’t long before one of said pirate ships passes our marina and yes, the rubber things hanging over the side do look ridiculous and hardly capable of striking pirate fear into the hearts of onlookers.

We enjoy the rest of the evening, happy that we’d made so much progress up the lake the past couple of days and are now within striking distance of our home marina with four days to spend in and around the incredible city of Toronto.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

July 25, 2023 – Bare Bum, Lake Coagulate, and a Lovely Cheesecake

We have a lot of miles to cover to make it back to our side of the lake so our plan was to leave at 3am for Cobourg. I wake up on time then climb the stairs to the cockpit and find total overcast blackness in the skinny harbour as well as cockpit windows that are heavy with dew and impossible to clear. I’m not comfortable leaving in these conditions so I go back to bed then wake up every 30 minutes and repeat the procedure until 5:30 when there is enough light to make it out safely. There is no wind and the lake is glass. Ana naps in the cockpit while the autopilot takes care of most of the steering and I keep watch.

The ride through the channels of the Bay of Quinte is enjoyable but there are a few shallow areas to navigate through as well as two fixed bridges that we easily fit under, but every time we do that it looks from the cockpit like we are about to be dismasted so my heart always  pounds no matter how high he charts say the bridge clearance should be. Our trip is interrupted only by a balmy clothing optional lake swim and morning bath in one of the warm bays near Trenton with the water temperature topping out at over 28 degrees.

We reach the Murray Canal which is the final stretch before entering into Presqui’le Bay and Lake Ontario. The canal is quite narrow, but has plenty of depth and you need to pass by two swing bridges. On the second one there is a staffer who holds out this basket on a ridiculously long pole and you are supposed to deposit $5.25 in Canadian funds. We didn’t have any cash so instead Ana drops in a can of sardines in oil, a bag of microwave popcorn, two granola bars, a handful of Smarties, a peach, and some semi-fresh basil, which totals out to just over $5.25 so I think the girl collecting it is pretty happy.

Once we clear the canal we are into Presqui’le Bay and I immediately remember the last time we came through here and why I disliked it so much. The bay is shallow, weedy, windy, rough, and the channel to get out is very narrow. I like it even less this time with a keel that is two feet deeper than that on our last boat Bella Blue which we sailed through here years ago.

We get out on the open lake and straight-line it for Cobourg. Of course, the goddamn wind is at 30 degrees so difficult to sail without tacking, which means zigging back and forth and adding unneeded time to the already very long trip. So we power on through and make it to Colbourg by around 5pm. Along the way Daryl and Lydia pass us, but in typical power boater style they got nice and close to maximize the wake thrown at us so I pull down my pants and show them my arse and I know they had a good look because Lydia took a photo, which I hope they enlarge and frame for display on their living room wall. Daryl was enraged with the backside insult so he cut right in front of us and threw a lovely wake we had to chop through.

In Cobourg we get gassed up then while getting pumped out by the nice lady dock attendant, Lydia and Daryl come walking  by and Lydia says, “Kris, you look different with your pants on!”

Now look, I’ve been known to have some pretty snappy comebacks for the frequent insults I receive, but today I have nothing. Totally draw a blank. I could have said, “That’s what all the girls say” or “I enjoyed last night too” but instead I just smile weakly at the gas girl and say, “I don’t even know them. My name’s not even Kris.” But then Ana goes over and starts talking to them so my cover is blown.

Since we want to leave very early again tomorrow we choose to anchor out in their perfectly protected harbour. After getting the hook down we actually jump in for a swim to cool off from the heat as it is far away from the docks and the water looks pretty good. The swim is refreshing beyond belief.

After our swim Ana and I sit on the swim platform with a drink to watch the world go by. But what we actually do see going by in the water are these brown globs of what I imagine to be a toxic coagulation of goose poo, gasoline, fish slime, and rotting algae. I imagine Ana getting one of those stuck in her hair and do a silent prayer to Neptune for his graceful timing.

Lydia and Daryl come by in their dinghy and we have a lovely cockpit dinner of burgers, salad, and this unbelievable blueberry cheesecake they found in a bakery here earlier this afternoon. At dusk the lighting is just magical and I once again feel so very fortunate to be on this amazing trip on this incredible lake. 

July 24, 2023 – Twinkle Toes, Child Meltdowns, and an Amazing Dinner

By 6am we are back on the water and headed for Picton. There is barely a breath of wind which is fine as I’ve pretty much given up on my sails at this point of the trip with all the bad wind luck. The ride to Picton is easy and trouble-free. 

Picton is located in the Bay of Quinte region which is a long inland stretch of channels, bays, and waterways stretching from near Kingston and west to Presqu’ile Bay. After a 7 hour sail we dock at the Picton Bay Inn which is at the southern end of the long narrow harbour leading to the town. Lydia and Daryl arrive just minutes after us so once we are all tied up and plugged in, we head into to town to see what we can find.

Daryl and I settle on beers at the 555 Brewing Company while the ladies plunder the many shops, and there are a lot of shops here, which is why Ana loves this town. We take our time and enjoy a couple of crafties and await further instructions. Instructions do come in the form of a text message from Lydia to Daryl advising him to go directly to a shoe store to pick up a pair of Sperry boat shoes. Now Daryl already bought a pair of Sperry shoes back in Clayton but in a moment of moral righteousness he chose vegan shoes. I didn’t even know what that was, thinking the word vegan was reserved for overpriced and strangely textured foodstuffs. But no, I was told this footwear is made by ethically pure and enlightened forest hippies living in Bhutanian cave communes. There are two sources of materials for these shoes. The first is ethical leather. This is where local witch surgeons graft skin from the backsides of pygmy possums then stitch it together with strings of prickle grass marinated in human saliva. This is vegan because the scalped asses of the possums eventually scab over but remain furless and the creatures are said to enjoy the carefree abandon of bare bums. The other way they make the materials is with PVC (polyvinyl chloride, a synthetic plastic polymer) harvested by Dow Chemical Company from the decomposed organs of long dead dinosaurs, but they don’t count as real animals because nobody’s ever seen one in real life. The other important aspect of producing vegan footwear is to ensure there is no testing done on animals. Traditional shoe makers employ homeless orphans in third world countries in shoe testing. They have the kids put on the shoes then test the durability by kicking local street dogs. With this they can measure how long it takes to break in the shoes, but also after mauling attacks they can analyze the bite patterns in the leather and ensure sufficient material thickness. The hippies aren’t allowed to do this to animals so instead they just kick each other.

Anyway, Daryl’s vegan shoes didn’t work out. In fact, they were total garbage. They left his feet blistered and bruised and cut so he had to go back to wearing dock slippers for a while. We find the shoe store and within five minutes he is sporting a brand new leathery pair of Sperrys and man is he happy. He tap dances right out of that place, then jives down the street and bee bops right into the Naval Marine Archives where we browse the dusty books, ship replicas, maps, charts, and uniformed mannequins and he keeps right on dancing until we finish up then waltz over to the Giant Tiger and find the ladies. Lydia can see immediately how happy he is with those new shoes by the spins, hip dips, flosses, moonwalks, two-steps, body rolls, electric slides, macarenas, and robots. Ana looks at me standing here in my flip flops and asks if I’d like to get a pair of Sperrys.

“No thanks.”

We grab a few critical supplies from the shelves (black licorice for me, Jiffy Pop for Ana) and are really entertained by this kid having a DEFCON level 1 meltdown. The kid is screaming and coughing and yelling and crying, then at one point drops spread eagle and pounds his fists and feet on the floor. The parents pretend like nothing’s happening despite their child being under the possession of a very powerful demon.

I say to Lydia, “You know, if they piped that sound through fertility clinics I bet a lot of those people sitting there waiting would just get up and leave.”

“Adoption agencies too,” she says.

By now we’re all getting hungry so we return to the boats and craft an amazing meal of grilled pork tenderloins, honey pepper squash, zucchini, goat cheese salad, green beans and potatoes and dine like the rich and famous on the picnic tables beside the dock. Lydia makes Daryl take off the shoes so he’s not trying to dance through dinner but promises to give them back to him tomorrow.

And thus ends a fine day in Picton.

Friday, July 28, 2023

July 23, 2023 – Let’s Get Smokin’

I wake up feeling better than expected. I am usually struck with a paralyzing headache after evening adventures at Holmes Castle. Somehow before collapsing into my alcohol-fueled hot coma last night I remembered to drink a litre of water and molar grind two ibuprofens. And I flossed my teeth too.

I walk up to the house and find William already there deep in conversation with Andrew, which is quite an accomplishment as Andrew’s not known for his patience with children who are not named Magnus or Stella. Andrew and I move out to the deck with hot coffees and have a lengthy morning chat while the rest of the gang scattered amongst house and boat sleeping quarters slowly, every so slowly, start to get mobile. At some point Daryl and Lydia take off for the Confederation Marina in Kingston and Bob comes back to collect his helicopter. Everybody is noticeably less animated than last night...

By 11am or so we are all assembled in the kitchen and start formulating a plan for the day. But we take so long coming up with the most efficient plan that we run out of time to do any of it and instead Marty volunteers to take Magnus and Stella for a quick tour around Queens University, then drop them off at the train station before driving back to Chelsea with Mom and the boys.

As we are all out in front of the house saying our goodbyes, Andrew and Victoria’s dog Emma, who is a golden retriever and expert swiper, grabs my mom’s sweater from the top of a bag, runs around with it in her mouth for a while then drops it in the grass and starts rolling on it, with her eyes gleefully rolled back in her head and her legs pawing the sky as she twists back and forth like a caught fish. We’re all laughing so hard nobody thinks to rescue the sweater until Mom yanks it out from under the dog and shakes it out.

The rest of the day is gloriously relaxing. There are short visits from Adrian and Sara, the new neighbours Mike and Deborah, and we stop by Don and Jan’s to help them launch their boat. By dinnertime it’s back to the four of us and Vic has been smoking racks of the ribs all day so we add in a few steaks and have an amazing meal together before firing up a really bad horror movie which puts me to sleep.

We’re so happy that Andrew and Victoria have such a cool group of friends here in Kingston and we always have so much fun with them all during these visits. It’s a great tribe and they’re a unique and crazy bunch.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

July 22, 2023 – Get To The Choppah!

My favourite time of the day has always been the morning. And my favourite kind of morning is being at Andrew’s place. I am always the first person up on the boat, and no matter what time I get up, I will walk up to the house and Andrew will be there making coffee. We will sit down on the comfy chairs on his deck overlooking the water and talk and laugh. We never run out of things to talk about. And that is exactly what we do this morning.

After breakfast on the boat we head townward in two vehicles on two missions – Andrew and I to get boat stuff and everybody else to explore downtown Kingson. Between Marine Outfitters and two Canadian Tire stores we find everything we need, except for a Ninja CREAMi Ice Cream, Sorbet, and Milkshake maker which Victoria asked him to pick up. Well, I learn that Ninja makes about a hundred different models of blenders, most of which seem to me to be indistinguishable, but what do I know? I just use a fork to mix stuff up.

We make it back to the house sometime around 2 and get settled on the top level of the dock house with drinks and snacks. It is a perfect day – sunny, warm, and just a touch of wind. Daryl and Lydia were on their way to Kingston and Andrew offered for them to stop by and see the property. By 3 they are tied up at the dock and join us on the deck. Other people start arriving too. My brother Marty and my two nephews Leif and William, then a bunch of Andrew and Victoria’s friends - Adrian and Sara, Terri and Bob, and Don and Jan. Soon the top deck is full and everybody is goofing around royally.

I asked Adrian, who is a boat broker, to come down and have a look at our keel bolts. He checks it out and doesn’t think the damage is too bad at all but does think it’s worthwhile to put in a claim and get it fully inspected and repaired if necessary. This is a relief.

People spread out. William and I go for a little snorkeling adventure in the waters surrounding the dock. Some jump on Sea Light for drinks. Andrew gets out the Sea Doo rocket death machines and takes people for high speed rides. The kids bounce back and forth between the house, dock, and yard. At one point Leif loses his ring in the grass and when I hear about this I race to the deck and scream, “Daryl! Ana! We have a metal detector emergency!”

Ana’s eyes light up and Daryl races to his boat and gets the metal detector. This is the moment she’s been waiting for, fine tuning her skills back on the Rochester beach, all leading up to this. A test. A mission. Her destiny. Well, after 45 minutes of scanning, digging, combing, recalibrating, and witness interrogation they come up with a beer can tab, a washer, an electrical box knockout, but no ring. Leif is scared for his safety as his girlfriend gave him the ring, but after more intense questioning he’s not 100% that he dropped the ring, or that he had a ring in the first place, or if he does indeed have a girlfriend. Crazy kids.

Back on the deck we are debating the magical properties of the case of Yuengling Daryl bought back in Wilson.

“Is the case still full?” I ask.

“No man, there’s only a few tins left. What the hell? I thought you said it was a magic case?”

“I said mine was a magic case and hopefully yours would be. But to be honest, I started having doubts after that case broke open and fell apart in the mud puddle in Wilson. That didn’t seem like magic.”

“You know, I do seem to have a never ending supply of whiskey on the boat. You could say I have whiskey coming out the Yuengling.”

Uproarious laughter ensues. I keep the liquor puns going.

“Well Marty, let’s get Kraken!” I say and we head back to SeaLight for Kraken and cokes.

This party is really humming now. Back on the dock we formulate a plan that involves the use of Bob’s helicopter and a couple of Don’s classic Corvettes. These are Andrew’s neighbours and they are mostly crazy and hopefully drunk enough to sacrifice their vehicles.

This plan is this: we need six to eight of the party goers to get their cameras rolling from all different angles of the property. I am going to climb on top of the roof of the dock house, run across the span of it and jump off. Bob will be hovering in his helicopter just close enough so I can latch onto the landing gear. Running behind me will be Marty, who will also jump, but as the helicopter is starting to leave he only manages to reach my legs so there will be two of us hanging off the chopper. As Bob starts to spin it to try and shake us off I will pull Marty up with one hand and swing him into the cockpit where he will punch Bob in the face then fling him out into the water then take over the controls. As all of this is happening, Magnus and William will come speeding down the yard in a red Corvette, spinning grass and dirt everywhere, and in hot pursuit will be Leif and Stella in the yellow Corvette, which will be on fire. Magnus and William will hit the shoreline retaining wall at full speed and launch the car into the air, probably doing a high five or saying something clever as they are at maximum altitude, then they will land right onto the dock and come to a screeching halt just before it reaches the end. Stella and Leif in pursuit will also launch off the retaining wall but they will both jump out of the sunroof and latch onto the helicopter landing gear with me as the flaming car explodes in mid-air then crashes into the lake and sinks. Then we’ll all climb into the helicopter cockpit and fly off into the distance.

The whole plan falls apart when I’m unable to climb onto the dock house roof. I even have Marty boosting me but there’s nothing to grab and anyways I’m already tired. Bob, however, does get the chopper and lands it on Andrew’s lawn. Then he offers to take me for a ride so I jump in and get a glorious tour of Howe Island from the sky. And yes, as I was climbing into the cockpit somebody did say, “Get to the choppah!”

The shenanigans continue until late into the night. Bob and Daryl have struck up an intense bromance and as they are standing on the swim platform of SeaLight, having a smoke and a vape, the few of us remaining in the cockpit are watching as they slowly inch closer to each other then we see their pinkies touch and curl. It is a magic moment. Daryl then offers to give Bob a dinghy ride back to his place and they take off. We hear the dinghy engine stop. Then a long silence.

“Do you think they’re okay?” Lydia asks.

“Oh yeah, they’ll be fine. Daryl’s one eye was still partially open and Bob only had 27 beers, and Coors Light at that,” I reply.

“They seem to be getting along very well,” Lydia says as she tops up her wine. “Can you see them over there?”

I step off the boat onto the dock and look over to Bob’s place.

“Well, I can see two men making passionate love on Bob’s dock, but I’m pretty sure it’s not them.”

“Ok, that’s good. Another beer?”

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

July 21, 2023 – Wanna See My Big Dock?

In the frenzy to exterminate mozzies last night we forgot to stow away the pool floaties and lost four of them when a storm passed through in the middle of the night. The weather today looks unsettled, but the trip to our friend Andrew’s place is not far, maybe two and a half hours.

After a big breakfast we have a swim in the lake then I make some calls to the insurance company. Fortunately, since the boat is still perfectly safe to operate there’s no need to get it hauled out and looked at right away – in fact, I was told this can wait until the fall then we can decide if an insurance clam is required after we’ve had a better look at it. I’m feeling a bit better about the situation today as the damage really doesn’t look too bad and I’m happy it’s not going to otherwise impact the trip.

We pull anchor around noon and power our way through the Thousand Islands with the incessant wind directly in our face yet again so still no sailing possible. Andrew is a long-time friend of ours and him and his partner Victoria are there to meet us when we pull up to his place north of Howe Island in the Bateau Channel, then we tie up at the recently extended dock. You see, last year when we docked here we touched a rock on the way in, despite Andrew having had the bottom recently dredged (he knows we prefer our slips freshly dredged). Andrew cannot stand for that, so he ordered up another 36 feet of concrete dock for this season, hoping to avoid such future embarrassment when we come to visit. Well, this time we came in on the undredged side of the dock in the hopes that we’d strike something with the keel and he’d be obliged to tack on another 36 feet for next season, but alas, we floated clear and he was overjoyed. So now I fear that the burgeoning land bridge from Andrew’s to Howe Island might never become a reality.

After a round of hugs and a quick tour of the massive dock house extension project, we head up to the house for drinks and laundry. Andrew once again offered us the “Diamond Docking Package”, which is all inclusive and a fantastic bargain at the low, low cost of free. He and Victoria are always getting new and interesting consumer items so quite often we’ll grab a few things we like and shove them in our bags, which we assume to be included in the package (I see Ana eyeing up a cupboard filled with new Yeti cups). The highlight of our yearly visit here for me is to check out the new toilet tech. After being completely awestruck by the high end Japanese super toilet he installed in the master bathroom last year, I’m thrilled to see he’s purchased upgraded models for all the rest of their washrooms so his yearly guests can also enjoy a luxury crapper. Actually, they kept a standard toilet in the half-bathroom off the kitchen, which was a stroke of genius. Turns out, fancy super Japanese toilets don’t work without power so during a recent black-out they had a manual flush to revert to when the automatically opening toilet lids refused to budge.

Around 8:30 Andrew and Stella take off in his truck to pick up Magnus, who is on the train from Brantford to join us for the weekend. Ana and I have a great visit with Victoria while they are gone and catch up on all the news. They return with Magnus and he’s all smiles – it’s so great to have him here. We stay up chatting for a while then Ana and I retire to the boat while the kids stay in the house in the luxury bedrooms that have already been made up for them.

Tomorrow is going to be a big day.

July 20, 2023 – Boldt Castle, Alexandria Bay, Sailboat Meets Rock

I am up at 6 and crank out a few pages of journaling then give the boat a good washing. By 8:30 the dock lines are free and we are on our way east to Boldt Castle. This hadn’t been part of the original itinerary but we were strangely running a little ahead of schedule so we decided to push ahead. We’d last visited here about five years ago and were simply astonished at what we found. Today, it feels just as exciting and new and we explore the grounds and castle from top to bottom. Mom loves it. And because we arrived here early we were first in and the crowds really didn’t become unbearable until we were on our way out.

We motor from the Boldt Castle docks over to Alexandria Bay, the main US Thousand Islands party town. We pull the sailboat up to the free 4-hour public docks and are the only sailboat there, and possibly in the entire town. This is powerboat central, complete with bikini girls, jacked-up muscle dudes, overpowered pontoon boats, and coolers full of Coors Light. I join the girls for a walk down the main street of shops but my infinitesimally small reservoir of shopping stamina flames out almost immediately and I head back to the boat to construct tuna sandwiches to the sweet sounds of death metal.

When the girls return it’s time to cross the border back into Canada. This is as far east as we will go on this trip and we are 180 nautical miles in a straight line away from our home marina. Go west, young man.

As we wind and twist our way through channels and around islands back into Rockport, Ontario, I am filled with dread. Well maybe not dread, but last year checking back into Canada on our boat trip was a royal pain in the ass. And we are not disappointed this year. We get tied up at Huck’s Marine and while I am getting a diesel fill and pump out, Ana calls into border services. She is on hold for nearly an hour when what sounds like a 16 year old flunkie finally takes her call. He asks the basic info – passengers, passport numbers, where we visited, and thirty other unnecessary questions. Then he asks what we bought. She gives him the consolidated total for the four of us.

“But what exactly did you buy?” he asks.

“Some clothing, groceries, some alcohol, a few other things.”

“How many dollars worth of merchandise are you, just you, bringing back?”

Ana throws him a number. I write it down and do some quick math to make sure our four individual totals will add up.

“Give me a listing of what you bought.”

“What? Really?” Ana says exasperated. “Well, I bought a very nice bracelet for $13, not too flashy, but with a touch of class. And I bought a silver ring, which was also $13 dollars, and the vendor says it’s real and I think it is actually real, but it’s hard to be sure. My mom – she’s Portuguese – showed me this trick to know if something is real silver so I’ll do that when we get home. In any case, the ring goes very well with the bracelet, not to mention the dress I bought here too, which was $47 and is very nice. Short sleeves, long at the leg, quite modest with just a hint of cleavage. Oh, I found some amazing shoes at a consignment store in Rochester, really stunning. Not sure if you’ve seen this style but they have a…”

“OK, that’s enough. Tell me about the alcohol you bought and who bought it.”

This stupidity goes on and on for a very long time and our beautiful afternoon is slowly evaporating. The only thing he doesn’t ask about is if we are carrying any weapons, undocumented migrants, explosives, or drugs (all the things you’d think they should care about). Everybody that travels these lakes by boat knows there is no goddamn way that anybody from Canadian Border Services is coming down to check you, as there’s probably a grand total of five of them covering all the boats coming into the country. Plus many boaters have Nexus so if they do get caught bringing over illegal stuff they are royally screwed so most are generally very cautious.

The Customs Kid finally clears us and gives Ana a confirmation number then we blast out of the marina and head for the Navy Islands to find an anchorage for the evening. We bitch for a while about the shitty system Canada has for clearing boaters, when our best friends to the south have a perfectly good app they’d probably give us for free.

The ride through the islands is beautiful and peaceful until it is not. As I am maneuvering through a tight channel with strong currents there is suddenly an explosive bang and the 20,000 boat surges out of the water up and to the left then crashes back down. We have just struck a giant rock moving at 5 knots. Stella’s water goes flying. Stuff gets toppled everywhere. Mom nearly gets flung off the front of the boat where she was relaxing. Ana screams. Once I regain my footing I pull back on the throttle and let the boat coast. I test the steering, and it seems to be working so perhaps the rudder is not damaged. There is something floating in the water behind us, but we can’t tell what it is. Ana goes down below to check for water ingress. Looks like the hull is fine and not taking on any water. Stuff in the cabins is all tossed around and our water dispenser base has popped its screws and is lying on the counter. Most of the eggs have broken and there’s a pool of yolk on the counter. I get the boat back underway as Ana cleans up down below.

I am rattled.

Remember I wrote earlier how we like to keep the disasters fresh? No matter how much experience I get as a boater, and how many mistakes I make and learn from, the potential for disaster is simply always there. As I’m piloting the boat I think, how the hell did I hit that rock?? What could I have done differently? Well, I should have reduced speed when I saw the difficult turns required in the channel. Maybe I should have tried to find a different route. Maybe I should have had a spotter on the front of the boat. Maybe I was in too much of a rush. Maybe I should have calibrated my charts and GPS better. These thoughts rocket through my head and I feel sick to my stomach as I imagine the potential damage to the keel bolts and fiberglass. Fuck.

We finally get to the Navy Islands and it takes a long time to find a spot to anchor. I am indecisive, uncertain, and keep second guessing myself. Ana and I talk it through and we find a good anchorage, get the hook set in deep, turn off the boat, and finally have a chance to stop and reset. We all jump in the water for a swim, and at nearly 27 degrees it feels amazing. I do a bit of snorkeling while the ladies float on pool noodles then we assemble back at the boat and put together a delicious dinner of grilled steak, roast potatoes with basil and cilantro, tomato salad, garlic bread, and we feast. But as we are feasting we realize we’ve taken a bit too long to prepare dinner and a frenzy of ravenous and determined mosquitos are feasting on us. We close up all the canvas and the boat windows and retire to the cabin, but they’ve infiltrated the inside too and we swat endlessly as we eat.

Mom and Stella go to their cabins to do war with the mozzies while Ana and I stay up for another hour turning over every hiding place in the boat, capturing the blood filled buggers with paper towels.

It’s time to put the wraps on this day.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

July 19, 2023 – A Thousand Islands

“Wake up, need your help with a freighter.”

There’s nothing that wakes you up faster than the word “freighter” on an overnight sailing run. I throw my clothes on and climb up into the cockpit. Ahead of us some distance are three giant lights, a high white, a lower white, and a green and these belong to a large ship. The problem is, the light configuration I’m seeing does not make any sense. If the ship were coming directly towards us, we should be seeing red and green lights. If he were going away from us, we should be seeing just white lights. But the combination of green and white tell us nothing about what this ship is or where it’s going, but we do know it is huge. We try altering course first to starboard, then after a while we swing back to port, but it seems like the ship is just sitting there. We slow right down and wait. All of a sudden the ship takes off towards shore, thankfully away from us, and his lights still don’t make sense so I don’t know what the hell it was. But Ana did the right thing by slowing down and gathering the crew for a second opinion.

For the first time in the trip, we had been able to get the cloth out and do some sailing. Actually, motor sailing as the wind was coming from 30 degrees so not giving us much power with just the jib sail so we ran the engine too, which sort of defeats the purpose of nice quiet lake sailing, but when you have to get somewhere that’s just what you do. It lasted for about two hours then the wind shifted northward in our face and we were back to motoring.

Around 2am or so the girls went to bed and Mom joined me in the cockpit. When she came out she was shocked to see me hanging off the back of the boat in the dinghy with a lifejacket on. I had decided to get in there to ensure the motor was securely attached as the wind was strong, the waves were choppy, and the towed dinghy was getting pretty beaten up. She thought there was a major emergency operation underway, but I soon jumped back in the cockpit and everything was as normal as I could be.

Mom and I chat about so many different things as we sit in the cockpit experiencing Lake Ontario at night, the first time for her, and the most recent of many for me, but always mesmerizing. The new moon renders the water black and invisible. The strong winds pummel the boat and she creaks and whines as she rolls back and forth chaotically, threatening danger, but we are safe. Time drags on stubbornly when you think about it but moves rapidly when your mind is elsewhere. I am glad Mom gets to experience this. As dawn approaches I am having a tough time keeping my eyes open so Mom offers to stand watch solo while I cat nap. I doze for about an hour and when I awake Mom has been busy taking photos of the sunrise as we glide off Lake Ontario and into the St. Lawrence seaway and its  Thousand Islands.

Mom heads down for a nap and Ana wakes up shortly after that and joins me in the cockpit. We are now in northern shield land with a landscape of pine trees, rocks, shale, and islands everywhere. By 9am we are tied up at the public dock in Clayton, New York and it is a beautiful summer morning. I immediately crash and sleep for two hours while the ladies get up, get showered, and get ready for the day.

Clayton is excellent as always. The girls go wild exploring the many shops and I even pick up a couple of purchases at the hardware store – a multi-coloured ski rope to rebuild the towing harness for my dinghy, and a pack of Wrigley’s gum, a stick of which I offer to Stella and am rewarded with a suspicious look then, “Dad, I know it’s a trap.”

See what happens when I try to do something nice? I have no idea how she even knows about those old school finger snapping gum traps. Probably saw it on TikTok.

There’s a lovely line of about 20 multi-coloured Adirondack chairs on the Clayton waterfront so we each take a seat and enjoy the scene around us – power boats zipping back and forth, runners on the waterfront path, tourists walking by with bags, local kids jumping into the water off the breakwall. Clayton has by far the nicest waterfront of all the towns in the Thousand Islands.

We decide to stop for lunch at the Hops Spot and I start with a delicious craft beer, then the food comes shortly after that. As we are eating my mom mentions this popular radio jockey from my youth in Saskatoon, whose name is Brent Loucks. He’s the guy you hear on the Princess Margaret Home Lottery radio commercials in Ontario. My mom works for a home lottery organization in Saskatoon and runs into him frequently.

“Mom, I gotta tell you something about Brent Loucks.”

“OK, what is it?” she asks, curious.

“Do you remember the Face Song?”

“The Face Song? Nope. What is it?”

“Well, when I was a kid he used to play this song on the radio for a joke. And that goddamn song’s been stuck in my head since then. That’s 40 years. Quite the earworm. You want to hear it?”


I begin my awful singing.

“Scrub your hands (scrub your hands), wash your face (wash your face), comb your hair (comb your hair), before you get up each morning, every day! Do doo da do doot doot da doo.

Your hands are sure to shake hands with someone who’s hands are sure to be clean. Your hair is where your face begins and your face is the very first place to be seen.

Scrub your hands (scrub your hands), wash your face (wash your face), comb your hair (comb your hair), before you get up each morning, every day!”

Ana looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. Stella is clearly embarrassed. Mom is flabbergasted.

“That song’s been stuck in your head for 40 years??” Mom asks incredulously.

“Uh huh.”

“How often do you think about it?”

“A few times a week. Oh, there’s another one rattling around up there in my brain too, a jingle about the Saskatoon Transit System. Take a bus, take a bus. Yes, I’ll take the bus! Take an STS, it will get you there. Doot doo doo doo doo, doo, doot, doo, doo, doo doo.”

“I think there might be something wrong with you,” Mom says. Both Ana and Stella nod in agreement.

“No shit.”

Ana gets word that Daryl and Lydia are on their way in so we head back to the boat and give them a hand with their dock lines. We have a visit and hear of their morning run from Little Sodus Bay, which was excellent. They take off for a walk through Clayton while Ana and Stella chill on the boat for a while and Mom and I take the dinghy for a ride to a nearby island for a swim, a cigar, and a beer – glorious! Once back, Stella and I jump in the dinghy and go for a high speed ride down the waterfront and beneath some low bridges. She is a speed demon.

We all meet up back in Sealight’s cockpit for evening pretzels and dip that Lydia brings over. As we are chatting Daryl notices the new towing line I had purchased.

“Where’d you get that Jamaican line?”

“In town today. Needed a better towing harness,” I say, then add, “Why Jamaica line?”

“It’s got the colours of the Jamaican flag. We have one exactly like it, bought it years ago,” Daryl says, then stops for a moment, points at me and says, “You copied me!”

I guess he’s been reading my blogs.