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.

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