Fit for a new adventure

So, it turned out, we could have stayed a couple of extra weeks in Newfoundland. It only took us one day of actual looking, to buy our new (old) car. So we got to spend the next few weeks hanging out in Ottawa, relaxing and easing into our coming fall/winter travels. There was still lots to keep us busy. There were:

Poker games to play

Faucet to replace

Hammi to watch lounge outside

and Fred to help

go on adventures.

The time passed quickly, as it so often does, and we soon found ourselves loading new(old) Fit for our travels north, then west. Having bought pretty much the same vehicle, we knew our life would fit … into the Fit (HA!). So we said our goodbyes to Mom, Hammi and Kathy (aka the bratty sister), and headed off.

Lil’ Black performed perfectly. No issues, and kilometrage seems on par with Lil’ Red. We made it to our first stop in Thessalon, which is a lovely town with a nice motel on the shores of the North Channel. We once sailed past here on our way south, and our friend Chester used to have his summer home in the community RV park. So it always feels right to stop here.

The next day we passed through the Sault, and turned north for the stunning part of the drive along Lake Superior’s shores. The weather was great, so we made quick time, driving past our old haunts near Marathon. This included passing by the Hemlo Gold mine. The operation has shifted largely to an open-pit mine, and the tailing mountain gets bigger and bigger each time we pass by. It’s kinda scary…

Our first house-sit stop of our winter sojourn was to be at Cathie & Joe’s place near Rossport, a village of a few hundred people. Their house is actually in a place called Selim, with a population of perhaps a few dozen, making it the suburbs of Rossport. We often stop here for a few nights as we pass by, but this time we had been asked to stay for nearly two weeks, while Joe & Cathie travelled to Quebec City.

This trip is just the latest in many excursions taken by Cathie and Joe, along with Cathie’s brother Duncan, and sister Margaret. They’ve chartered a canal boat in France, taken a small boat cruise in Norway, and stayed in a village overlooking the Isle of Skye.

Our friends sure know how to live! But so do we, because we got to look after their beautiful home on the shore of Lake Superior, while looking after the cutest dog alive: Piper!

We arrived a couple of days before the gang was to depart on their trip. While we’ve spent time at their Shangri-La house in the past, we were always just guests. Living a life off the beaten path is glorious, but sometimes more challenging. There was plenty to learn about generators and water systems, about maintenance and the garden, about newspaper delivery and garbage day, and most of all, about Piper.

We also got to spend time getting to know Margaret and Duncan. We’d heard so much about them both over the years, so it was great to finally put real faces to all the antics. As expected, both Cathie’s siblings are sweet, incredibly smart, and a joy to be around. We had a grand time just hanging out with them for those couple of days.

We finally saw the gang off, and were left to manage pup and home. Piper was a trooper, and seemed to accept us right away. She kept us busy, with all the walks and regular feedings, and of course daily ball time.

The time passed all too quickly, which happens when you’re constantly busy. In addition to all the Piper walks and plays, we did some minor work around the place. Ann did some cleaning, harvested a bit of the garden and I managed to split a bunch of firewood. We lived well, enjoying the fruits of Cathie & Joe’s gardening labour.

Sadly, our time came to an end all too soon. Cathie, Joe and Duncan returned safe and sound (Margaret flew directly home from Quebec City), with more grand stories to share. We spent one more glorious day hearing about their latest adventure, and then we packed Lil’ Black up, and said our goodbyes. Happily, we know we’ll be back in a few months, so the parting was not so sorrowful.

With some weather coming in, we decided to give ourselves an extra day to do the 2,000km drive. Lil’ Black performed admirably, but with only all-season tires on, we carefully planned our stops to avoid the worst of the wintry weather.

We stopped in places we’d not been before. First Ignace, ON , then Portage La Prairie where we drank some good beer (actually, bought near Kenora) , and met the motel owner: Paul. Turns out Fireball Paul is a local folk singer who gave us an impromptu concert, so we could hear his latest tunes.

On our final day, we stopped for lunch at a Maple Creek Chinese/Canadian eatery. I’m sure the decorations haven’t changed since the 1970s! Food tasted like it was from that era as well. Frozen ripple fries, basic burger, old-style milk shake machine. It was all very good… but felt like a blast from the past.

Our next destination for our house-sitting season had us in Medicine Hat, at a home we had first sat for in the spring. Gail & Pat’s place is nestled on the edge of “The Hat”, not far from the South Saskatchewan River. Their house is located in a quiet community, and is very nice and comfortable. They have two little Morkie dogs, and two cute cats. The dogs went with the ‘parents’, so all we have to do is look after the home, and cuddle with the kitties:

In praise of slow

With Ann’s iPhone safely back in hand, we pulled out of the Marina and headed off to join Mark. He had left a few days before, and was tied up at Knight’s Island north, swinging from the club mooring. We tied up beside him and settled in for days of much-needed R&R.

Knights is a lovely, and fairly secluded anchorage. The only negative is that it is close to Exploits Island, with its population of cottagers. This brings a small, but constant, stream of visitors as people motor around in their little boats. Only one stayed a night, and this was a large ketch from some foreign land.

While at Knights we did a little work (fibreglass repair) , and a little play . Ann got out her fancy camera and started taking a lot of Ann-shots : and then she did the dance of the seven (white) veils. . She also pulled out the old tin whistle and serenaded us with her dulcet tunes.

While refugin‘ in Knights, Mark received notice that his boat had a prospective buyer. He had decided to put it up for sale, following his return from his northern excursion. A buyer was on their way from Quebec, so Mark decided to head back into Lewisporte to meet them.

We stayed a couple more nights at Knights before moving on to Fortune Harbour up at the top of the peninsula. This is an anchorage we’ve been to many times, so knew it well. Good thing too, because a nasty squall overtook just as we were getting in. We had barely got the anchor down when we were hit with 30+ knot winds and heavy rains.

Happily, the nasty weather passed quickly, and we were gifted with a beautiful afternoon and evening.

The following day we decided to do some exploring. We got the dinghy out, and hooked up the outboard. We don’t use the engine a lot since we usually row the dinghy, but I do get it running each season. I even changed the oil before we left Lewisporte. It ran great, so it was a little surprising to have it sputter and die just as we motored out of the anchorage.

Luckily we weren’t too far from home, and the winds were light, so we just rowed around, and eventually made it back to the boat. The next day was spent trying to fix the engine. Turns out when I changed the oil, I over-filled it with new stuff. This fouled the spark plug. Ann pulled out the spare spark, and once it was swapped out, the engine ran flawlessly.

The next days we spent exploring the various nearby coves.

After a few days Mark rejoined us in Fortune Harbour. We spent the next few days reading, relaxing, dancing the veil dance, and generally just settling into life afloat.

After about a week we decided to head over to Seal Bay, heading for our favourite anchorage: Gods Pocket. It was one of those windless days, so we ended up motoring the whole way. Mark had left ahead of us, but since we were going to anchor, he let us get ahead of him.

As we headed down the bay we spotted a white dot on the water. It grew as we got closer. Yes indeed, it was an iceberg! We’d seen a few earlier in the season, but that was from land. We’d also seen a couple in the distance when coming into Fortune Harbour, but they were far out to sea. This was our closest ice approach.

We pulled into the very familiar godly anchorage, and went far back to the bottom. Just as we were getting the hook down I looked up and saw…


The bear lingered around the beach as we got the hook planted. It barely took note of us as it groused for mussels, or other critters. It visited us at least once more during our stay.

Now that we were in ‘The Pocket’

the serious relaxing could begin.

The following day we pulled out the kayaks and got them all set up for paddling. It’s no small effort to haul the kayaks out from below deck, and then to get them inflated, so we only do it when we know we’re going to stay put for some time. The gods whispered that this was the place, and the time, so out the kayaks came.

And of course, we have to mention Ann’s Sacred Rock:

Being in ‘the pocket’ lends itself to the easy life. The anchorage is incredibly secure, offering good holding, and protection from all winds. It would take a hurricane to affect us in there. So it’s the perfect place to stay, and stay, and stay… So we did.

On one memorable kayaking day we saw a bald eagle, (nearly saw) a seal, whales, and witnessed the collapse of the nearby iceberg. This last one came in the form of thunder. The berg was about 2nm away, but the sound was like a distant thunder clap. Amazing… and very glad we weren’t closer.

After nearly three weeks time was starting to drip away. Mom and Sis were visiting our area of Newfoundland, and we wanted to be back at Lewisporte to connect with them for some of their stay. We also planned to haul our boat out a few weeks earlier than normal so we could get back to Ottawa and begin our new (old) car search. Lil’ (old) Red has been a great car, but had reached its end. We needed the extra time to find a replacement — at least we thought we needed the extra time (spoiler!).

So we packed away our kayaks , offered our blessings to The Pocket , and hauled up anchor so we could begin the journey back to the marina. Our anchor had been holding both boats for the entire time, it was deeply dug into the bottom. It took over an hour to pull it up. And along the way we found a few other critters had started to call our anchor rode home. This included a starfish, and lots of jelly fish tentacles — yuck!

We left on a favourable west wind, which gave us a nice broad reach towards our destination. We were having such a good sail that we bypassed Fortune Harbour, and pushed on into Bay of Exploits. Unfortunately, as we rounded south into the bay, a nasty squall line caught up to us . The skies opened up, the winds piped up and the rains came down.

Luckily we didn’t have to go too far before getting into our anchorage at Samson Island. We grabbed a club mooring and settled in for the night. The next morning Mark headed back to the marina, while we lingered for one more day. Endings are so hard…

The following day was lovely, with a light northerly wind. This gave us an easy sail back home. We lingered for hours, but eventually got going. It was a great way to end the sailing season.

It was a lovely final sail; light steady winds, moving us along at 3-4knots. It was so easy, we let Fred helm for a while 😂. Mark was at the dock, ready to catch our lines. And the expert crew even remembered to put the fenders down this year. A good ending to another fun sailing season.

What was not so good was the state of our car. Old Red started up fine, but the battery was soon dying. No amount of reving helped, as it seemed to in the past. Checking the alternator, I soon figured out it was dead. With the help of Brian at the yard, we soon has a new one on order. And with a little begging, I managed to secure a date for the local garage to install it. We had to wait about a week, but it could have been a lot worse.

Happily, the car was a minor downer. The real fun was not done yet. Mom & Sis had arrived at their nearby BnB a few days earlier, so we planned a little day trip. Kathy drove in and we spent the day motoring (there was no wind) out to Knight’s Island. As an added bonus, on the way back we became peripherally involved in a boat rescue. A small powerboat lost its engine, and had to be towed away from the rocks and back home. We offered to assist, but luckily our help was not needed.

Later, we went over to their BnB to spend a few days being tourists with Mom/Sis. Our car was still on the fritz, awaiting a new alternator, but Mark, ever-the-sweetie, lent us his. What are we going to do if he sells his boat — we’ll be lost!

Sadly, we soon had to get back to boat chores. Haulout was coming soon, as was our already-booked ferry date. And there’s always so much to do to get the boat out of the water, and ready for winter.

Little treasures guarding the boat

Finally all the tasks were done. We headed off in our rattly, noisy little red car. After making an all-too-short stop in Corner Brook to spend time with friends Byron & Paula, we boarded the ferry and sailed back to “Canada.”

It was an easy overnight ferry ride, and I managed to get some sleep. Ann — not so much. Luckily, we had a short drive to our friends Chet & Margie in Truro, NS. Old Red almost made it without mishap, but just as we were getting into the city Ann heard a new, bad sound.

We spent a couple of relaxing nights with C&M and all their many cats . The next day Chet drove another friend to Halifax for a medical appointment, so Margie took us on a short trip down to a park on the Fundy shore. We spent one more night with them before beginning our final push to Ottawa.

Lil’ Red got us back to Ottawa without further… losses. It was great to get back ‘home,’ although it now meant we had to get serious about car shopping. We’d begun the search from Lewisporte, and Ann had already spotted what seemed like the perfect car: A much newer (2013) Honda Fit. Low KMs, and seemingly in good shape. But these kinds of cars don’t last long, so we were surprised to still find it listed by the time we got looking.

Long story short, we looked at three other cars, drove one other, then tested this new (old) Fit. It was the perfect FIT. So we swap Lil’ Red for Lil’ Black.

That sinking and soggy feeling

We arrived back home to Pachina Mia and found she had weathered the latest Newfoundland winter well. Her new winter cover remained intact, and everything seemed pretty good on board. Fred the killer watch dog had done his duty well, so all I had to do was reassemble the electrical system, and we were ready to move on board.

All seemed well… which is always a bad sign in the boating life. And true to superstitious form, we soon noticed a drip coming off the lowest point of our keel. How odd, says we. The boat has been high and dry for months. How could it be dripping?

Turns out our mighty 6-ton keel had somehow taken up a fair bit of water. So now we had two challenges. The first was to get the water out, and the second was to patch the leaking area. Sounds easy right?

Unfortunately, Newfoundland was experiencing the worst Spring on record; cold, rainy and generally crap conditions, making work nearly impossible. Simply put, it’s damn hard to drain a keel in the rain, and you can’t set epoxy and fibreglass when it’s wet, or in the cold.

We had weeks of both, so we spent a lot of time in the clubhouse, staying warm and dry.

But all things must pass, and we eventually got enough semi-dry and semi-warm days to get the job done. This was largely to the great guidance and assistance of fellow boater and good friend Mark, who has earned his doctorate in recreational boating fibreglass by basically building his own sailboat.

Work progressed slowly, but luckily there was plenty to keep us occupied and entertained. We even joined in on various events; some planned and some rather impromptu. There was a big “Welcome Back” dinner put on by the club. And there was great little jam session with two great guitar players: Terry and Eric. Eric, on the right, is a singer song-writer. He has two albums, which he kindly gifted to us. What a lovely gift!

Since Mark was gunning for Labrador this season, he had been working like a press-ganged slave these past few weeks. It’s a long way north, and weather was not cooperating. Undaunted, Mark and his new crew member Michael, shoved off in the cold and rain.

As it turned out, this was not the year to attempt such a journey. There were more icebergs in Newfoundland’s waters than anytime in the past decade (maybe more). Mark made it to nearly the top of the Northern Peninsula and the Straight of Belle Isle, but he wisely turned around at that point. Going further north risked life and vessel.

In the meantime, work progressed on Pachina Mia. We’d get one day of decent weather, and then five more days of crap. But in between all the work, there was this little birthday event. Ann completely surprised me with a delicious chocolate, chocolate, chocolate cheesecake. It was made right under my nose. I was completely oblivious. So much for my dreams of becoming The Great Sailing Detective.

My wish, which everyone knew, was to have my keel fixed so we could get going.

While the icebergs are a serious hazard for us boaters, they are a wonder to see, even from land. Our other new friends, Kathryn & Harald, took us for a road trip to see a couple modest sized bergs that had made their way very close to our marina.

Back on the boat, work progressed slowly, which is pretty much the only way we do any work. Launch day finally came and Pachina Mia went in the water — and she didn’t sink! So then we started into all the other projects needed to get our floating home back in shape. There were lots of jobs, both large and small, including the Big Climb up to the top of the mast. Ann does it in the Spring. I do it in the Fall.

Although it was a bit frustrating to still be at the marina, one of the great benefits of hanging around the clubhouse was all the great people we got to meet. Early in June the club hosted a group of European sailors who were preparing their boat, Que Sera, to go through the Northwest Passage. We also met a couple who were planning to sail back to the UK via Greenland and Iceland. And on the other side of things, we really got to know a few cruisers who have more modest ambitious: Kathryn & Harald, Paula & Craig, Roy & Tammy, to name a few. All sweet and lovely people who have been a joy to now call friends.

Coincidentally, all our boats were dealing with problems, meaning we were all slow to get going. Interestingly, three out of four of us had keel problems. This meant we were all making good use of the club’s galley and dining room. During one of our slightly boozy evenings together, the subject of Kraft Dinner came up. Seems like everyone has a different idea of how to cook it.

Somehow this morphed into the first ever:

Great Lewisporte KD Cook off!

Five chefs, one barkeep, and KD of all varieties. What could be better! The results speak for themselves…

Time marched on. We finally did get out for a sail… on Craig & Paula’s boat. They are both new to the life, and to their boat, so we’ve offered what little wisdom we have. They wanted to get out and do a bit of sailing, and to learn how to anchor, so we agreed to go out with them. It was a fun evening of sailing. Unfortunately, just as we were coming to the anchorage, the engine started to sputter. Seemed like fuel loss, so we turned tail and motored/sailed for home. We just got back to the dock when the engine died completely. Sometimes the gods are gentle in their torments.

During those long days we welcomed Mark back to the dock, and slowly ticked off most of the ‘to-do’ list. Just as we were winding up to leave the dock an unfortunate event set us back: Ann’s new iPhone went for a swim! It must have fallen out of her pocket as she stepped onto the boat.

The odds of finding anything down there in the murky, gunky waters of our marina are slim to none. And even if it is recovered, it’s likely the salt water will have done it in. Que Sera, as they say. I had given up hope, but Ann being Ann, was determined to find it.

And she did! The water nymph actually found it!!

Success came the day after the loss. Ann actually dove on it the first day, wearing only her bathing suit and goggles. But we were facing a rising tide, and with water being only about 9ºC, hypothermia set in quickly.

Ann was hell-bent to give it another try, so we waited for low tide the following day. This time she donned her wetsuit and flippers. Friend Mark, who is a SCUBA diver, gave her some diving weights and an underwater light.

After three dives, and against all odds, she came up screeching in victory!

The phone had been underwater for 22 hours, at depths of around 9 feet, with a water temperature of around 8ºC. Amazingly, it was still on when she pulled it out of the drink. We washed it with fresh water, and Ann took it out of the case. It seemed to be dry inside, so things looked hopeful.

It sat for 24 hrs in rice, and then … The patient lives!

Unfortunately, this little iPhone drama set back our departure by a few days. But we still expect to be off the dock soon … unless Neptune decides to have more fun — at our expense.

The long road home

We said our goodbyes to Gail & Pat, and the two kitties Sasha & Allie, and once again headed east. The day before we left Medicine Hat the Prairies had been hit with an early Spring winter storm. It dumped a lot of snow, and closed many roads and highways. By the time we got going things had been mostly cleared out, but we saw the after effects, with lots of snow, and more than a few car & truck crashes along the way.

Leaving from Medicine Hat put us out of sync with our normal driving patterns. This meant we stayed at a couple of different places, before making our way to Thunder Bay. Our first rest stop was Moose Jaw, SK. We found a simple, and relatively inexpensive motel in Moosomin, SK. And then we drove to a place in Vermilion Bay, ON, before making the final hop to our friends’ place at the Lakehead.

Kylo the cat, Ann the ‘we’re not really sure’, and Julie the human

Paul and Julie once again opened their home and their hearts to us wayward vagabonds — we truly are blessed with such good friends. We got to spend nearly a week, hanging out, talking sailing and boats, and being entertained by their two cats: Kylo and Cedric.

It’s always wonderful to hang out with P&J. We ate and drank, and caught up on their adventures, which usually include doing way more work and projects than we could ever accomplish. But we also discussed their pending visit to the Caribbean, where they had put an offer on a new sailboat! Unfortunately that deal fell through, but as I type, their quest for another boat continues. We shall see…

During our time in Thunder Bay we also managed to connect with our younger friends who live in a rural area north of Kakebeka Falls, ON (which is west of Thunder Bay). These kind folks continue to house our storage trailer that contains the remains of our land life. It also houses our second set of tires (winter or summer, depending on the season), which we were able to swap out, before arriving for a wonderful visit.

Ben & Sherilyn are always fun to visit. They are living off the beaten path, but in a very different way than us, so it’s always great to catch up on how things are going out on ‘the farm.’ But most of all, it’s a great excuse to hang out with their Oh-Too-Cute girls: Olivia & Molly.

After a week of Thunder Bay (and area) visits we loaded up the little car and headed east once again. But we only had to go a few hours before reaching our next stop in Selim (the burbs of Rossport, ON). We always love to visit our dear friends Cathie & Joe. In fact, all this friends and family visiting is one of the great attractions of our current lifestyle. Traversing the country each year means we get to stop in on all these wonderful people!

While Joe & Cathie are the main attraction in Selim, they were somewhat upstaged by the newest member of the family: Piper!!

We spent five days “refugin” in the bosom of C&J’s Lake Superior sanctuary. We spent a little time on chores, and a lot of time eating, drinking, talking, and playing with Piper.

It’s always hard to say goodbye, but the road beckoned, and we know we’ll be back in the Fall (this time, for an extended period), so we packed Lil’ Red and headed off once again. We had a quick overnight in Thessalon , and then we washed up once again to the warm embrace of Mom and Sis in Ottawa.

We spent a few relaxing weeks just hanging out. We did a few odd jobs around the place, including Ann doing some body work — on Kathy’s car, not herself 😄. And I did some bread baking (of course). One night we went to a Jill Barber concert at the National Arts Centre , and we spent a little time with Colleen and Connor, which is always great .

Oh, and Hammi is once again an outdoor cat. He now gets to go outside — under supervision, of course. Apparently he’s become a bit of a demanding monster … good for him, I say 😼👍.

Time ticked away. Various health checks were made, renewed licenses arrived, vaccines were got. So we held our final pub night, and headed off once again. Instead of our normal Edmundston, NB stop, Ann found another even better, and cheaper, place just a little east in the Quebec town of Cabano. It’s a simple little motel, but overlooks Lake Témiscouata. It was great — this is likely our new normal.

Another new normal, at least for this trip, was fixing the car along the way. Sadly, our little car is nearing its end, and is literally falling apart. Before leaving Ottawa, part of the exhaust piping broke apart. I fixed it using the wizardry of scissors and glue (actually it was epoxy putty and high temperature amalgam tape), but we had to keep repairing it all the way along.

One great thing about this vagabond lifestyle is that it lets us visit our far-flung friends all across the country. Chet & Margie are now Nova Scotia folks, so we pulled into their yard to spend a couple more days, relaxing 😁, and fixing the car again ☹️. It was a great time. We stayed at their new house, visited an old grist mill, met all their cute cats.

With our car repaired (once again), we said our goodbyes and headed off towards the ferry. We’d been getting used to the unseasonably hot weather throughout our travels in the Maritimes so far, but this came to a freezing end once we got out of the car at the ferry terminal at the end of the road in Cape Breton. On the plus side, the forest fires that were raging in around Halifax were nowhere to be seen.

So we stopped for supper, boarded the ferry, and went up to our luxury cabin for the overnight crossing. This was the first time we’d taken an actual berth; normally we just stick it out in oversized chairs. But this boat had none of those, so we had to upgrade to a full cabin. It was very nice…

We drove off the boat, into the pouring, cold rain, and headed off towards Corner Brook. A short way down the road, while dodging all the potholes, we were greeted by Newfoundland’s unofficial land ambassador: Moose!

Lewisporte is across the island, on the NE side. But instead of driving directly there, we were warmly greeted by our friends from Corner Brook. Byron and Paula have been grand friends since we met them during our time at the Bay of Islands Marina in Corner Brook. We hadn’t been able to visit them since before pandemic days, so it was great to be back in their company. In so many ways, it felt like no time had passed. The beer and the yarnin’, poured easily. It was so great to catch up on their adventures, and swap stories about all our future plans.

Alana, Mark, Byron, Paula, Me

Our final goodbyes given (for this season), we jumped back into our noisy, rattle car, and drove the final few hundred km of the long road, back to our floating home. We found her looking pretty good, with cover fully intact, and Fred and our treasures still guarding Pachina Mia.

So now comes the hard times — on the hard. The cold and damp weather that greeted us in North Sydney has stuck around, making it hard to get a lot of work done. And unfortunately we’ve discovered a keel problem which is taking a bit longer to solve. But we hope to be in the water soon. All we need is a few days of sun and warmth.

Little house in the desert

We said our farewells to Carol and Pete and the gang of critters, and headed over to our final house-sit in Medicine Hat. We made a quick stop in Calgary at Donna & Sam’s — just long enough to help celebrate Phil (Jr.)’s birthday, before making the short hop to “The Hat.”

We were warmly greeted by our homeowners, Gail & Pat, and we spent a lovely evening together, swapping stories and getting to know the house and animals. Although they have four critters in total, they had decided to take the two small dogs with them to California. This left their two sweet kitties in our charge: Allie and Sasha.

Every cat has its own unique personality, and these two are no different. Sasha is easy going and immediately accepting of everyone — especially if you give her treats. But Allie needed a little more convincing. At first, she greeted us strangers with growls and little hisses. She made it clear that she didn’t know us, so didn’t trust us. Happily, this only lasted until about day three. After that, it was all purrs and cuddles.

In the end, Allie became completely connected. She wanted to be close to one of us most of the time. She would sleep beside me through the day in the office, or curl up on Ann’s lap. Allie would constantly do the leg rub thing, seemingly just to say hi. And she was so engaged visually. She’d lock eyes, and purr, and reach out with her paws. She was soooo sweet.

Meanwhile, Sasha just continued to be her purry, cutie self.

Our house here in Medicine Hat was located on the edge of town. It wasn’t quite rural, but it was in a pretty small subdivision. Even better, the house was located not far from an oxbow in the South Saskatchewan River. There were plenty of walking trails right outside the door, and a short 10-minute walk got us down to the river’s edge.

Medicine Hat’s climate and geology is fascinating, and very beautiful — in a dry, dusky sort of way. It’s actually a semi-desert, with dry prairie grasses, badlands and hoodoos (or nearly so). One big surprise for me was to discover all the cacti that grew along the bank of the river. I haven’t seen cactus growing in the wild since our motorcycle trip through the deserts of the American south. But here I was, nearly tripping over some, here in Canada.

Our time in Medicine Hat was very relaxing, and easy. The house was the most luxurious we’d had this winter season. Kitties are always easy. There was an excellent swimming pool nearby, so Ann could continue her dolphin evolution. She also kept up with her online exercise class, much to the amusement of the cats.

I spent time drying more food for our coming sailing season, and walking the river paths nearby our house. On one of my walks I watched a bald eagle swoop down to the river, grab a large fish, and then fly right past me on the river’s bank.

I managed to get my camera out for the last part.

During our time, Ann was able to reconnect with a dear old friend from Pincher Creek days. Tammy lives in a smaller town outside of Medicine Hat, so when she came into the big city, the two got together.

Our time in Medicine Hat went all too quickly. Happily though, we’re planning to be back next fall, so we’ll get to reconnect with our lovely homeowners, as well as those two sweet kitties.

Feeling like Dr. Dolittle

After saying our goodbyes to our Smithers folks, we made our way down to Cochrane, AB. But first we had to make a quick Calgary stop to see little Olivia! … and also those other not-as-cute family folks like Donna, Sam, Monique & Phil (Jr.) 😃. After that, it was off to the next farm.

Our Cochrane friends have a small farm that houses a rather large collection of different critters. Inside are three cats, one dog (two, but one travels with the owners) and two parrots. Outside there are two miniature donkeys, a large Tennessee Walker horse, and a new miniature horse. It’s quite the collection.

This is our third time sitting for Carol and Pete, and it felt a bit like coming home. Sadly, they’ve lost two cats, and now one horse, since we first began sitting for them. But on the fun side, they now have a very cute, and rather mischievous, little miniature horse. His name, Snoop, suites him well, because he’s often getting into trouble.

Tucker and Snoop make a real odd-couple pair.

Another new development is the free-range birds. The parrots have always been rather … annoying. They easily get bored, and then start to squawk and Squawk! and SQUAWK!! But Carol discovered that if they are given more freedom, they are far happier — and so are we. So the birds now get to roam where they please.

With so many different animals, the demands on our time are pretty constant. There’s constant cuddling , and holding , and carrying , and sleeping with . Oh, and of course there is poop management… that was mostly my job:

During our stay the weather went from warmish and dry, to:

Very Cold!

Then icy

Then snowy.

The snowblower was also a new addition to this farm life, and a darn good one. The weather turned pretty snowy for Alberta, with dump after dump after dump… Normally we’d get a chinook in between the snow falls which would blow and melt it all away, but not this time. The snows just kept coming, so I made good use of the blower.

At least the cold, crisp skies, and snowy fields delivered some stunning morning images:

One of the joys of being at this place, is it puts us close to the family in Calgary. Sisters, brothers, nephews, nieces, and now a grandniece! It also allows us to give a little back by hosting, instead of always being hosted. And so we did… First playing host to Donna & Sam, then Peggy and Phil paid a visit. And then the big event: nearly the whole motley crew showed up for dinner and zoo time.

Unfortunately Monique and Olivia took sick so didn’t make it out for the dinner. But they came out a week later, along with Niq’s friend, Abaigeal, her daughter Astoria, and baby Hugo.

Although we were at the mini-zoo for over a month, the time went fast. Ann kept busy cleaning, and swimming, and video exercising , and cuddling (with the critters, not me, of course) . I passed the time ukeing and drying food , and of course, pooper-scooping . In general, we just enjoyed the comfortable space, and spending time with the critters.

As always, our time here ended all too soon. But it looks like we’ll be coming back next winter, so it is goodbye, but not forever. For now, we move onto our final house sit of the season, over in Medicine Hat, AB. This is actually a house house-sit, with only two very cute cats to look after.

Allie & Sasha

It’s a farmers life for us

Life on the farm, or more accurately, the ranch, moved on. We celebrated the new year by keeping an extra close eye on the calves, most especially our rolled-over victim, L5. Happily, his recovery was swift, and within a few days he was as fit as the rest.

By now we’d settled into a regular routine, with two or three calf walks on the ‘off’ days, punctuated by the major effort of feeding every third day. Jasper the dog was a constant companion, and always up for a “cow walk,” but soon Shamus the cat decided he wanted to be part of the daily action too, and started coming with us on our morning walks.

Shamus would even come out on the snowy days… although he didn’t really like it.

Our days revolved around cow walks, water checks, basic house maintenance, the occasional snow ploughing, and then the big feeding day every three sleeps. This was actually the fun day, because we got to use the tractor. As always, we took turns, and each got the same amount of time behind the wheel.

Although the calves all look the same, they each have their own personalities. It’s a bit dangerous letting yourself get to know them, because, well… 🥩. But we really did start to make connections with a few, especially the “M” group. M7, M3, M2, and most especially M9 would often come over to us and start to sniff and lick, which is apparently what cows do with those in the same group, or family. It was all rather touching, if a bit disgusting because cows are snotty, poopy, slobbery creatures.

In between cow and house duties I found time to do some food processing and dehydration in preparation for the coming sailing season . And Ann kept busy with her video exercise class, along with plenty of cross-country skiing, which Jasper was always eager to help with.

Our time indoors was mostly spent being entertained by the two critters who lived with us. We’re sure going to miss them both:

The remaining time passed relatively uneventfully. No new (major) problems occurred, and all too soon we were picking up Les & Chris (the homeowners) at the airport and saying our goodbyes. One of the harder parts about this life is the departures, but with each one of those comes a new (or renewed) arrival.

And so it is here where we move from one farm house to another; in this case back to Cochrane, AB. This is the small hobby farm we have sat for before. We only have 10 animals to care for here: three cats, one little dog, two parrots, two donkeys and two horses. Should be easy 😉.

Doggies, and kitties and cows, “oh my!”

Our time in Ottawa was relatively short this time. Unfortunately, we were under a bit of time pressure to get out west for our first house sit in Rouleau, SK. And of course we had to stop in on our many friends in northern Ontario. So we came, we drank, and we left. Thanks Kathy/Mom!

Our journey through northern Ontario was a bit different than normal. To see everyone we had to alter our normal travel pattern a bit, staying first in Thessalon , and then making it all the way to Thunder Bay.

Our incredibly generous friends, Paul & Julie, once again opened their hearts and their homes to us. P&J have been letting us stay at their cabin on Lake Superior. It’s a lovely rustic place with a little fridge, a propane stove, a woodstove for heat, and an outhouse for… other necessities.

We spent a few wonderful days with our old sailing friends, enjoying their company, and meeting their new kitty . We heard about their adventures on the Big Lake, and talked about all their new projects, future plans involving their land, and sailing, and generally enjoying retired life.

We also spent a lovely afternoon with friends Ben & Sherilyn, and their two sweet and always-fun girls, Olivia & Molly. We played, and sang a few ukulele songs, and generally caught up on their lives. They are living another form of the freedom-dream at their rural home outside of Kakabeka Falls, ON. It’s a joy to spend time with them, and we remain ever grateful that they continue to house our little storage trailer for us.

From Thunder Bay we had to travel east to go west, backtracking to Rossport (Selim) area so we could spend time with Cathie and Joe, and meet their newest addition: Piper!

While there we lent a hand cutting and moving wood for future winters. But mostly we spent time talking and sharing stories of adventures past, and to come. C&J continue to be inspirations for us. Despite challenges of age and health, they continue to live the lives at their semi-remote cabin overlooking Lake Superior. It’s not the easiest place to live, but it is enlivening. We always love spending time there.

Sadly, we were pushed on after a couple of days. We arrived at our first house-sit of the season in Rouleau, SK., which is more famously known as Dog River, the fictional town of TV show Corner Gas. The show used many of the actual town’s structures, including Oscar & Emma’s home, the town bar, and of course the shop that sells both insurance and liquor. This is not made up; it really does!

We arrived at our new temporary home just after a nasty winter storm swept through. It had knocked out the power, and would remain out for the next 36 hours. Luckily our hosts Christine & Joe were well prepared, and had a generator that kept the heat running, and at least one electrical outlet powered. We were able to stay warm and cook using the air fryer oven. Best of all, we met the small horde of critters who would be our main charge: Five cats, and two tiny and very energetic dog-pups.

The two little morkie dogs were a hoot! Very funny, constantly on the move, and always in need of something. Being puppies, they were not fully house-trained, but we managed fine. And they enjoyed winter when it returned after a couple of days.

Our time in Rouleau was relatively brief, but a lot of fun as we got to know all the animals. All too soon our time came to an end, and we packed up and headed off to Calgary for a month-long stay with Donna & Sam. Along the way we discovered the perfect restaurant smack in the midst of the flattest flat lands of the Prairies. You gotta love it:

Restaurant owner is Nepalese…
but it’s still hilarious!

D&S’s place is our second land-home. In fact, it’s kinda like the two foci of our land travelling ellipse, with Ottawa being one and Calgary being the other. Of course, the incredible BIG NEWS in our Calgary life was … a new pool table! That, and losing a tooth after someone (Donna!) insisted I go to a dentist .

But I’m kidding, of course. The big new thing was meeting the tiny new thing called Olivia; Monique & Phil’s new baby.

And there was one more Really Big Thing that happened while we were in Calgary. A certain someone turned 60!

Yes, little Annnnneeeeeeeee is now into her 7th decade. She clocked over the big day near the end of our stay. Still pretty amazing for an old woman 🥰. And of course, a big birthday deserves a new, big, iPhone.

We spent our final day packing up, and saying goodbye to Olivia, who will be something like twice as old as she is now when we meet her again in February, 2023!

The following day we packed our bags, gave our thanks to our hosts (thanks D&S!), and headed north to our first real ranch-sit. We decided to take the Icefield Parkway up through Jasper and past the Columbia Glacier. The road seemed the most direct, although it is less travelled, and was a bit difficult in places. But we managed, without only one wild animal attack

We arrived safely, and in good time, at our ranch near Telkwa, BC, which is about 1/2 hr away from Smithers. Les and Chris greeted us, along with the dog Jasper , and the cat Shamus . After a wonderful first meal together, and then a good night’s sleep, we then spent the next three days learning how to run a ranch.

There are 47 calves which we have to manage. One of the important tasks is to keep a count. This is easier said than done when they all look the same!

There are also two largish tractors that we had to learn how to operate. Happily, they both operate more or less the same, although one is larger than the other. Both have 16 gears, with front-end loaders and rear three-point hitches. The larger is dedicated to snow ploughing, so has a blade attached at the stern. The slightly smaller one is used for general work, mostly of manoeuvring around the 1-ton bales of hay and silage.

Other than our regular duties of keeping the calves fed (three or four bales every three days), we need to keep up on general maintenance. The fence needs monitoring and repair, the pellet stove in the farm house needs regular cleaning and filling, and the waterers need to be checked to make sure they never run dry. This is a critical part of maintaining the herd, and this was our first ‘crisis’ during the extreme cold snap that gripped the area not long after Les & Chris left for their trip.

Despite being fairly far north, the climate here is generally pretty easy in the winter. Typical overnight lows are in the mid minus teens (-12ºC to -18ºC), and the daytime highs are in the single minus digits (-8ºC to -2ºC). There is snow, but usually not massive amounts. So just our luck that record-breaking cold weather settled on us for days: -35ºC with wind chills well into the -40sºC for days on end. It was even chilly inside.

On the fourth day of this extreme cold, the calf waterer froze and stopped working. We sprung into action. Firstly, we had to get water to the critters, so found some temporary troughs and manually filled them — no easy task in -30ºC. We then tried to thaw the waterer, but soon realized we needed more help. Texts went out to Les, and he called in the cavalry: Jesse, one of our wonderful neighbours.

It took us over seven hours of working in the freezing cold. Turns out it wasn’t just a frozen pipe. There was a cascade of failures; first it froze, then the feed hose cracked, then the valve broke. Just when one thing would work, another thing broke, but Jesse soldiered on. We were working with headlamps in the dark, but he finally got it all working. He was simply incredible, and the cows were happy once again.

The deep cold finally let up, but this was followed by three days of fairly heavy snow. Our private driveway stretches a km, and there’s also a fair bit of driveway in front of the house, and then down to the hay barn. All of this has to be kept passable, so we fired up the big tractor and spent something like eight hours moving snow around.

In between all this excitement we also celebrated our own little Christmas, complete with tree (cut from just down the lane), some skiing, lots of Prosecco, and the full turkey meal.

As the year came to a close we faced one more crisis. Coming out in the morning we found one of the cows lying on his side, with legs outstretched and a severely bloated stomach. Rectum/intestinal material was protoruding from the rear. Turns out this was a case of a “roll over,” where the calf couldn’t get up. It kept digesting food, producing gas, but couldn’t expel it, so it just kept building up inside.

Once again the cavalry (or is it calfary) was called in. Jesse was first on the scene, and with my limited assistance we managed to get “L5” (they all have ear tags) rolled over. It tried to stand, but immediately fell. By then John had arrived. He’s the senior cow hand, and he figured out what had happened. He and Jesse found some tubing, and they forced it down the calf’s throat so as to release the gas.

After a few minutes the calf started to deflate. They let it rest a bit, then with their help L5 got to it’s feet. Pretty wobbly at first, but it stayed up. We got them all fed, and it started to eat… tentatively at first, but better all the time. We’ve been checking him/her(?) multiple times every day, and all seems well. But John figures we were within an hour or so of death. Who knew lying down could be so deadly?!?

Despite the challenges, we’re having a blast. It’s hard work at times, but it’s stunning beautiful, and we’re learning so much. We have one more month, so hopefully nothing worse will happen. In the meantime, we’re enjoying the place, and the critters.

Taking cover from Fiona

It’s always a mix of emotions coming back to the dock after a season of sailing. It’s nice to be back and to reconnect with the people we’d started to get to know, but it also meant our time on the boat was nearing an end — at least for this year.

But on the plus side, good beer was once again at hand 😁.

One of the reasons we came back when we did was the deteriorating weather. Hurricane season had started like a lamb, but that lamb had mutated into a nasty demonic ram, sending cyclone after cyclone up our way.

Weathering Danielle at Swan Island

First there was Danielle, which brought us some nasty weather that we sat out at a nearby anchorage (Swan Island). Then came Earl, which hammered the Avalon Peninsula, and brought strong winds and big seas to our area. We weathered that at the dock. But then this gal named Fiona started heading our way … we knew our season was done.

At least all that weather brought some stunning skies:

While waiting out the weather and storms, the three of us (Ann, I and Mark) took a road trip to the nearby town of Twillingate. Along the way, we stopped into visit the Beothuk Interpretation Centre. This museum is located at a historic Beothuk village site that had been previously investigated and researched. It was a fascinating window into the history of the original Newfoundlanders — sadly driven extinct.

After spending a couple of hours at this historic site we headed up to Twillingate to visit this storied town, and to get a view of the open ocean in all its Earl fury.

Of course, the real reason we went on the road trip was to satisfy an Ann-itch for good fish & chips. The fish place near Lewisporte had already closed for the season, but we’d been told “the best” was to be found at: Doyle W. Sansome & Sons Super Lobster Pool.

We were not disappointed.

The fish in the fish&chips was succulent. You could taste the lovely sweet cod. And their “fish cam” let you see what was swimming just below. They even have a wharf right next to the place, so we might be able to sail there next season.

The following days were spent getting Pachina Mia ready to haul out. This is probably the hardest part of the season, because we know we’re working to leave the boat, not get her ready. But it has to be done.

One of the interesting jobs is to climb to the top of our mast to remove the wind instrument, to do a rigging inspection, and to detach the lazy jack lines. Ann usually goes up in the spring because she’s always fit, and I usually go up in the fall because, by the end of the season, I’m somewhat in shape 😉.

Haulout happened without any problem, and we continue to get her ready for the coming winter. This meant a lot of unloading, and general shifting of our lives from boat back to car. It also meant more cleaning, with Ann trying to reach the last bits of mould up in unreachable areas deep in our chain locker.

But our main concern through all this, and indeed through our entire sailing season, had been to get a new winter cover for Pachina Mia. Our boat is a fine old lady, but without a good winter cover, she suffers greatly. The previous winter had destroyed our old cover, but we had a new one on order from TopShop in Kingston.

Building a cover for any largish boat is no small task, and it’s doubly hard when done remotely. Under TopShop-Dave’s guidance, we had taken all the necessary measurements. So now we were awaited its arrival, all the while keeping a close eye on the calendar. We had already booked our ferry ride back to Ottawa, so we were under some time pressure. And if that wasn’t enough, something else emerged on the horizon: Fiona!

What started as a serious, but very distant storm, soon became a very real problem for us as it became clear Fiona was headed our way. It felt like 2019 all over again when we first arrived in Lewisporte just ahead of another hurricane, called Dorian.

Putting a winter cover on is difficult in the best of conditions. Any wind or weather makes it hard to impossible, and we were facing a completely new cover. We knew we had to get it on before the winds and rain arrived.

Dave had promised delivery in time, and we’d been tracking it via Day & Ross delivery since it left Kingston. We knew it was nearby, but often the last km of delivery is what takes the longest. We had pretty much given up hope of it arriving before Fiona when we were awakened to a banging on our hull early (for us) in the morning. It arrived!

It arrived… and just in time. Fiona was bearing down on Newfoundland, but as predicted, there was the calm before the storm. It was just enough time to get the cover up, and reasonably well tied down. We battened down the last hatches just as the wind really started blowing.

This new cover seems to be significantly better than our previous one. The material feels tougher, and less permeable. This should mean our boat is drier and better protected. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite fit. All the cutouts were perfect, and the overall sizing worked well, but our forward pulpit extends further out than expected.

The gap was small, so we made it work with a combination of extra lacing and the use of a fender. Ann spent so much time with her head peaking out of the little forward hole, that she became a feature of the yard. People would walk by just to talk to the cute little Ann-gopher peaking out of her nest.

Lewisporte only took a glancing blow from Fiona, but this was still enough to produce high, sustained winds that lasted for over two days. Our new cover took quite a beating, but survived quite well. But other parts of the marina didn’t fare quite so well. I saw at least one large power boat have their bimini cover shredded by the wind, and one of the finger docks almost ripped apart.

By early evening we had our cover in place, and fairly well secured. We spent the evening safe inside the club, singing and mostly listening to fellow boater Eric as he shared his guitar and singing talents. As well as being an impressive mariner (in boats small and large), he is an accomplished singer/song-writer.

Our cover did well in the face of these high winds, but being on our boat under the cover was like sticking your head into a set of drums. It was deafening — so much so that I chose to sleep in the clubhouse for the last night on board. Ann, who can sleep through anything loud, and isn’t quite as portable in her sleeping arrangements, stayed on board.

We only saw 30 to perhaps 50 knot winds over in Lewisporte, but on the south-west side of Newfoundland, and over on Cape Breton, the hurricane hit with full force. Ferries had been cancelled for days, but our sailing remained on schedule, so we did our final inspections, tied everything up, and left Shah and Fred and the treasures to watch over Pachina Mia. We expect to be back in the spring, 2023 — unless the world falls apart again.

We hit the road and headed for the ferry over at Port aux Basques. The town itself had been severely damaged by Fiona’s storm surge. Many dozens of homes had been destroyed or simply washed away, and many more were severely damaged. Luckily (for us) the ferry docks were undamaged, so we boarded and said goodbye to Newfoundland once again.

The drive through Cape Breton and even parts of Nova Scotia proper revealed a lot more storm damage. There seemed to be no power at all on the island, so we had to drive for hours before making our first coffee and breakfast stop. By the time we found a place with coffee, Ann was starting to twitch and sweat, but luckily the Farmer’s Daughter came through with liquid caffeine.

The rest of our journey back to Ottawa was uneventful, and so we washed up here at Kathy & Mom’s place once again. We’re here for a few more days before we start our western journey, heading to Saskatchewan for the first of three winter house sits.

Sailors once again!

We knew we could not leave the dock without finalizing plans for our new cover, so we were happy and lucky that Dave at TopShop agreed to do the job. He’s based near Kingston and would normally come and do all the measurements himself. But since that was impossible in our case, he sent us detailed instructions on all the specs he needed.

We assembled our frame and spent a whole day with tape measure and note pad, getting all the numbers. It was surprisingly difficult work, double-checking each measurement, but we got it done and sent the forms off to Dave. He was right on it, and with just a few minor additions he said we were good to go … so we got gone!

Mark, our Ottawa sailing buddy, had already left about a week earlier. He’d been teasing us with pics from the nearby anchorage that he was at. So we headed there to join him. It was so great meeting up again, and this time off the dock.

We spent a couple of nights at this first anchorage, then moved over to another one a bit further out the bay. This was another beautiful, protected anchorage where we got into the groove of doing very little. Books, swimming (Ann), ukulele playing, good food & drink, and plenty of just soaking in the beauty.

After spending the first week in a couple of anchorages in Bay of Exploits, we headed out (briefly) into the full Atlantic, rounding the headland that leads to New Bay, Seal Bay and Badger Bay, where we would spend the next five weeks. At the top of the headland is a place called Fortune Harbour. We anchored here in 2019, so looked forward to returning. It did not disappoint.

We spent a few days basking in the good fortune of Fortune Hrb. But we also did a few small projects like creating a new bug screen for our forward hatch, and of course doing more reading. After a few days we headed back out onto the briny.

Our next stop was a place that had to be visited: Gods Pocket (I prefer the plural, although some insist on calling it “God’s”). The place definitely lives up to its name.

As we headed around into Seal Bay we caught sight of our first whales of the season. Actually, we heard them before we saw them, with one coming up for a big breath close to our boat. The sound of a whale exhaling is unmistakable once you’ve heard it a few times, and these were quite close. We figure they were minke whales, so not as large as humpbacks, but still pretty impressive. Unfortunately, they moved too fast for pics.

Gods Pocket has a very small entrance, with some shoaling off one side. It’s not hard in good visibility, but as it turned out a wall of rain started blanketing us just as we headed close. With no visibility, we had to divert back out into the channel for a few minutes to let the rain let up. Once it did we scooted in to find… heaven.

We lingered in the presence of the gods for a few days, weathering a minor storm which hardly touched us at all in the pocket. After the storm passed the weather turned quite warm again, so we basked in the sunshine for a few days. And of course, Ann went swimming…

After a few days nestled in the arms of the gods we up-anchored and headed off to our next destination: Julie’s Harbour. Both Gods and Julie’s were both highly recommended by our new friends at Lewisporte, so we were keen to see how it measured up. A lovely sail out and around another headland brought us into Badger Bay. Julie’s is right near the end.

While not quite as protected as Gods, Julie’s is another slice of heaven in a land full of heavens. It has a narrow entrance marked by an ancient, rusted out, snowmobile. There is one large cabin/house near the entrance point, along with an old wharf and newer floating docks. But otherwise it’s pretty isolated. We anchored and went ashore for a little exploring.

The following day Ann and I rowed ashore to take a little hike up a creek. There are a couple of freshwater ponds (lakes), and we were both inchin’ for a bath 😉. We made it up, and while the shore was covered in sharp rocks, we both managed to wash the grime away. Oh, and Ann went swimming… of course.

After a few days Mark, who had left us a couple of weeks prior, decided to brave the open water to come and join us at Julie’s. He had been anchored not far away, so he did some heavy sailing to reach us. After a full day of sailing, he made it into the bay, and we tied together.

Turns out Julie’s Harbour isn’t quite as remote or as isolated as other places. It’s not far from a couple of towns, so we would receive visitors nearly every day. Mostly they came in smaller zippy boats, although there were a few Newfoundland dories plying the waters. We learned that Julie’s Harbour was once a thriving fishing village. And apparently it is haunted by the ghost of a girl who died while swimming in the pond where Ann and I had gone.

We didn’t see any spooks, but we did visit the old graveyard that is the final resting place for some of the villagers of this forgotten old outport.

On the way back to the boats we stopped by the old rusted snowmobile again, and then collected a bunch of wild mussels for the night’s dinner. Nothing finer than fresh seafood!

The days slipped by. We got into an easy routine of reading and swimming, rowing and eating. The owner of the cabin eventually came by to introduce himself and welcome us to the neighbourhood. He probably wondered if we were permanently mooring there. But the day finally came when we decided to weigh anchor and head off to …

… back to God’s Pocket!

Mark sailing ahead

We had a lovely sail out into the open water, and then down Seal Bay, right back into the pocket. We slid in through the narrow entrance, dropped the hook, and settled into a longish stay so we could pull out the kayaks and do some paddling.

We spent the next 11 days livin’ the life of Reilly 😁, eating, sleeping, reading, swimming, doing a few boat chores, and exploring around in the kayaks. Mark even got in on the paddling. Ann did her happy dance…

One of the joys of boat life are all the daily chores we get to do. Ann discovered the joys of yogurt-making. I kept up the bread and sprout production, and Ann even did her laundry one day.

With the days getting shorter, and the nights getting cooler, the end of our season was coming in sight. We reluctantly put away the kayaks, hauled up anchor and said goodbye to Gods. It’s a place we’ll definitely return to.

We sailed back over to Fortune Harbour for one more night, and then rounded the big headland to get back into the Bay of Exploits. Lewisporte is located at the bottom end, so the end was drawing closer. Joyfully, as we headed back into the home bay, we were treated to the best whale sighting of our season: humpacks!

We were pretty close to home by now, but none of us was racing to get in. We still had a few more days, so decided to try another anchorage that Mark had explored back in 2019. This anchorage has some pretty thin water compared to most Newfoundland harbours. The entrance showed less than 10 feet on our sounder, and it got even shallower as we came in. We grabbed a yacht club mooring and proceed to hang there for the next few days, floating in as little as perhaps 6 feet of water at low-low tide. Our boat draws 6 feet!

Flag getting battered

The wind picked up as we began to feel the effects of the first of two tropical depressions/hurricanes as they brushed by Newfoundland. We weathered the high winds fine though, although the days were definitely getting cooler and the nights even colder.

[Ann: It was here that we had the inReach messenger on continuous checking and waited for news of little Olivia Jean Barndt, born September 7, 12:15 NDT].

With even more weather coming our way, we decided it was time to head into home port and begin the sad, but necessary work of putting Pachina Mia to bed for the winter. We also wanted to have enough time to deal with our new winter cover, which was still in progress, but had not yet been finalized or shipped. So back we went…

The final 20 nm was uneventful. We motored all the way to try and burn up some of our very old diesel. Mark, who had left a couple days prior, was there to grab our lines. Good thing because the captain (me) hit the dock kinda hard, and crew (Ann) had forgot to hang our fenders out. So all in all, a perfect ending to a perfect cruising summer.