The fourth Nor-Easter storm in as many weeks had Tom and I out skiing deep powder well into the later days of March! We have thoroughly enjoyed our first winter being able to ski mid-week and despite some tough conditions in late January and into February, early season and March have been terrific! To tell the truth, though, it was actually quite helpful to have poor ski conditions mid-winter since we had huge projects standing between us and a summer of successful cruising in the Mediterranean on our new sailboat.
Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to – this video will cover it in some detail or you can read about the details below!
Our boat construction is underway and is right on track to be turned over to us in early May … AND, we have an official hull number. ‘What’s a hull number’, you ask? Well, every boat within a specific boat model is assigned a sequential hull number according to the order the boat is manufactured. The first boat of a new model is hull # 1 and, for as long as that model of boat is created, the hull number continues to incrementally increased! When we looked at the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 last October, we were aboard hull number 3 since the model had just been launched! Our boat will be hull number 40 – I wonder how many Sun Odyssey 440’s will be made!
The shipment of our equipment and gear could be going better but we think we’ll still be ok on timing if nothing further delays progress. The shipping company picked our stuff up on February 16 but our things didn’t make it into a container and on their way away from the US until late March. The projected arrival in Rotterdam is April 6. After arrival in the Netherlands, the shipment will go through customs and then be transported over the road to where our boat will be commissioned and launched, Canet-en-Roussillon on the Mediterranean coast of France. Our boat is scheduled to arrive there in pieces around mid-April and since some of the things we shipped are to be installed on the boat, we hope customs clearance doesn’t take too long!
Finally, the biggest news of all is that we were granted long-stay tourist visas for France so we can stay up to a year if we wanted or needed to. I go into significant detail in the video about all that we needed to supply to convince the French authorities that we wouldn’t be a burden on their society. I understand all of the requirements and was happy to provide the detail. The process was smooth and the people at the French Consulate couldn’t have been more helpful! We are very excited to be able to remain in the waters around the Schengen states for longer than 90 days!
Our previous video on shipping our gear and equipment to France can be viewed here:
It’s winter in New England, which for some of you might conjure up romantic notions of snow-filled meadows adjacent to a snug log cabin with a rousing wood fire burning inside. What it is not is a time for sailing, unless you are one of these crazy devils from the Boston Sailing Center’s Frostbite Racing Series.
Instead, for Karen and I, we have been busy preparing to take delivery of our new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 “Sea Rose” in France this Spring. I can assure you we will be posting lots of pictures and videos of our experience in the Mediterranean, where the only ice you will find is in the freezer or the cocktail glass!
In the meantime, I just recently completed two YouTube videos related to our preparations. The first video explains our boat buying experience in Annapolis this past Fall, including the standout features of the Jeanneau 440. The second video details our new travel companion – the Google Pixel 2 phone and Project Fi service. I’ll admit it didn’t take much to bring out the inner geek in me, but for any of you that travel overseas and need an easy way to stay in touch and online, these two solutions should be on your short list.
If you enjoy the videos and want to be reminded when new ones arrive, simply click on the button at the end of the video to subscribe to our channel, LifeFourPointZero, or go here. And a thumbs up is always appreciated it!
All good things must come to an end. At least that is what Geoffrey Chaucer said in 1374, and for his sake, I sure hope that 1375 brought Geoffrey many more good things. Because Karen and I had an amazing summer of travel onboard Thalia this year and we sure hope more fun is in store for next year.
We brought Thalia to her new winter home at Navy Point Marine, in Sackets Harbor, New York this week. It was a whirlwind of a week, not the least of which was due to a weather pattern that started out in the low 90’s and ended in the mid 40’s. We had been blessed with three weeks of sunshine and warm temperatures in the Thousand Islands, so it was fitting that the cold weather would catch up to us eventually. It took Karen and I four days to unload the boat and winterize it for her long winter nap. She has now been hauled out and is in the fine care of the staff at Navy Point Marine. For our part, we hope the winter is gentle in the North Country so that Thalia can easily rise to the task of another adventure, on the St Lawrence River and beyond.
Karen and I were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity this summer to explore and discover the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. And we had a fine boat that took us wherever we wanted to go in comfort and safety. Thalia weathered hurricane force winds, shallow canal waters, jagged concrete lock walls, skinny bays and coves, lighting and squalls, and even two teenage intruders. But she was also a platform for reunions with friends, old and new, and a waterfront dining extravaganza. As the days get shorter, and the temperatures drop, we will look back fondly on the tremendous uniqueness of the Great Lakes, the generosity and sincerity of it’s people, and the incredible natural beauty.
Thank you for following along on our adventure and for your comments and support. We look forward to sharing the next chapter of our adventure with you. Until then, I’d recommend locating a nice puffy down jacket and at least one thick pair of wool socks!
No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend’s Or of thine own were: Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
While I agree that ‘no man is an island’ but part of a greater whole, poet John Donne could not have know when he wrote these words in 1624 that the Thousand Islands area could capture many a man (and woman) in it’s warm and tender embrace.
We are back on the boat after taking our youngest son to college. As you’ll recall, we left Thalia in Toronto so it was a long drive home and back. Our dog “Journey” is now on board with us. Journey is a ten-year-old cross between a black lab, a blood hound and several other breeds. Journey has become less excited about being on the boat as he has aged. He gets anxious when we heal or if we are slamming through waves. While our son was home working this summer, it was nice to have Journey able to stay home; but with our son going to college, Journey had to come with us! This will be an adjustment for all three of us.
I’ll just get it out at the beginning. Leaving Detroit behind and entering Lake Erie, we were both a bit apprehensive. Apart from the tasty mojitos at Put-in-Bay on our way through last time, Lake Erie had not been very kind to us. Bugs, hurricane-force winds, shallows – I would have been perfectly happy finding a portkey of the kind Harry Potter would discover to take us directly to Lake Ontario. But being mere Muggles, we were going to have to do this ourselves.
The action adventure got off to an immediate start as we were pushed down the Detroit River, running with the strong current directly into an opposing wind, what we affectionately call the Buzzards Bay effect, as it is reminiscent of being flushed out the Cape Cod Canal into Buzzards Bay with it’s prevailing SW winds and step square waves.
I’m not sure if being born in 1963 qualifies me as a child of the 60’s, as I was still in diapers during Woodstock, but the concept of thumbing your way across the country is certainly appealing. In the present context, that means hitching a ride on the winds of the Great Lakes around the coast of Michigan. And what better coast to hitch along than one that Michiganders whimsically portray as the outline of a thumbing hand!
The Erie Canal is divided up into three sections – Eastern, Central and Western. Quite a few boaters do the Eastern canal, and then head north at Three Rivers Junction to the Oswego Canal, which takes you into Lake Ontario. There were a number of tricky shallow areas in the Eastern portion and we had considered this Oswego route to get us out of the canal and into the expanse of Lake Ontario, and thus avoid even shallower areas further west in the canal. But we had heard from multiple sources that the Western section was the most beautiful and we didn’t want to miss it. I was able to get ahold of the head of navigation and dredging at the NY State Canal Authority, which by the way is an amazing organization that deserves a whole blog post of it’s own. He quickly talked me into continuing west on the canal, all the way to its terminus at Buffalo. He put me at ease, letting me know that the shallow areas I saw on the charts had just been dredged, and that if we took it slow in sections, we’d have no problem. He re-affirmed that the Western Erie Canal is not to be missed. He added that if we headed to Lake Ontario, we’d have to uplock the Welland Canal (which circumvents Niagara Falls), and in the process have to hire crew to handle the lines, all while jockeying for position in the locks with lots of commercial traffic. Simply put, in his words, we’d be ‘second class citizens’ if we did the Welland. The Welland is actually in Canada, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him we weren’t citizens there, but his point was well taken. I couldn’t help but hear a bit of pride in his voice, implying that the Erie treats their pleasure boater citizens with first class, white glove service. Which they really do! But again that’s a story for another day. Continue reading “Go West, Young Man! Ep. 73”
Above, we transit the Erie Canal as it narrows to pass under a railroad bridge (complete with passing train!) and then right into a lock!
We have been in the Erie canal for five full days now and in the 152 miles we have traveled in the canal, we’ve experienced 22 locks for a total lift of 419 feet and a drop of 51 feet. The first 20 locks were all up-locks … we experienced our first down-locking at locks 21 and 22 to drop us down to the height of Oneida Lake. The highest lift in a single lock was 40 feet and this lock (lock E-17) had so much water flowing into it that the boats were only allowed to secure themselves against the southern wall. The water flow from north to south as the chamber fills is so significant that boats are not able to hold themselves against the north wall. Continue reading “Embracing the Erie Canal Ep. 70”