Sunday, November 24, 2013

Up, Up And Away

No, we're not going up, up and away in a beautiful balloon. Better yet, we are going to see the world from an ever better vantage point - up on the flybridge of a boat.

 For the first part of our boating lives, we always had express style cruisers. These vessels were styled with sleek and low to the waterline profiles and built to go fast when under way. The looks were good and the performance was adequate, but those sleek lines meant compromising living space.

Our old 'Boogaboo III', with a classic express style hull.

 When we were looking to move up to what would be our current boat, more living space was the top priority on the list. To be honest, my mind was pretty much made up on the style of boat I felt would be best, that of a sedan bridge. The benefit of the sedan style is that one gets expanded living space, with direct cabin access from the cockpit, as well as a flybridge helm.

 When we originally took the new toy, 'Boogaboo IV', for it's sea trial on Lake St. Clair, it would be the very first time that I had piloted a bridge boat. It was a whole new world! After getting used to the fact that the pitch and roll of the boat was a little more evident up top, I found the commanding view amazing.

 After having the boat for that first year (only a half season, as we took possession of it in late July), I had come to the conclusion that driving from way up on high was the best way to fly :-) I mean seriously, when compared to a cramped helm of our older express boats, the ability to see all around literally gave us a whole new perspective. And a much higher one, too!

A way up high flybridge. I love it!

 I'll never forget the first time we drove it home along the Severn River after the voyage from Michigan, through Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Now that we were back to more familiar waters, Anchor Girl was all of the sudden noticing buildings along the shoreline that, at this point, were brand new to her. At one spot, she actually asked me about a couple of the cottages along the shoreline when I told her they had been there every other time we had previously ventured this way, only she had never noticed them on the old boat. That was funny.

 If you ever get tired of the confined helm view found in many express style boats, then the cure just might be moving to a Sedan Bridge. Climb up to the flybridge to survey all that lies around you. You’ll feel like you have truly made it to the top :-)

Flybridge boats on eBay
 Please follow me and all of my Collections on eBay.

My eBay Collections were curated as part of my collaboration with eBay.

Oh The Humanity!

Has it come to this? Yes, I spend a lot of time on the Interweb. That is because we are working towards expanding our online presence to one day soon providing us with a full time level of income. That is something that doesn't happen overnight, nor does it happen all by itself. This goal requires a great deal of effort and that's why Anchor Girl & I find our days being filled by a full time commitment to this ever expanding enterprise.

 As such, we are interacting more and more with signing in, logging on and applying for various elements in the online world. Most are innocuous and straightforward in nature; email address, password, etc.. Last night, I had to stop, chuckle and share this one with AG - a new line on a sign up page that I had never seen before; 'You must be a human. Accounts registered by "bots" or other automated methods are not permitted'.

 I must be a human to sign up?!?!? The nerve of those non-human servers to make such an outrageous demand. Next thing I know, these same, cold hearted machines will expect us to actually enjoy the fruits of our labours like real humans; taste the food, take in the sunsets and reflect on all the beauty that this human life affords us mere mortals

 Yes, I am a human. And yes, I will continue to take it in with all the glory and wonder that this flesh and blood existence provides. And throw in a dash of spirituality, just to keep it all in perspective :-)

A glorious sunset over Georgian Bay. One more human enjoyment :-)   

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

iPhone as a Video Camera?

 As you have already figured out, my next favorite thing to boating is capturing our fun and adventures on video - and sharing them with the world :-) Well, to achieve better and better video quality over the years, I have continued to upgrade to better and better cameras. Well, what a pleasant discovery it was to realize how good the camera is on my iPhone 4!

Lake sunset taken with my iPhone 4. Pretty nice quality, I'd say.

 I am blown away by the quality of both the still photos and video capture from this compact camera. Couple that with the recently upgraded YouTube Capture app and I now have a DSLR quality solution for on the fly production, all at point & shoot price - plus it's always with me!
Camera shake on the video side is a bit of an issue for hand held (on the fly) capturing, but the YouTube app now corrects that while rendering. Basic video editing is now built in to the app as well with the ability to cut and join different clips. And again, it's all on the phone!! Brilliant :-)

 Will this replace my other cameras? No, but it does make a great companion unit. Especially for those times when we are out and about and it's the only camera at hand. Hey, never know when the mood is gonna strike. For filming, that is . . .

 Makes me wonder if there's anyone who still only uses their phones for simply calling people any more?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Countdown To Boat Relaunch

Here's a little something that all of us northern #boaters can look forward to. Those of us who have our ships out for the water until next spring can periodically check this countdown clock in anticipation of once again getting our bottoms wet ;-)

 I have it set to count down to April 12/14, which is the date that I hope (I hope, I hope!) that 'Boogaboo' will be back where it's supposed to be...

 In the meantime, here's a video of our spring preparations and launch, back in at the beginning of the 2013 #boating season. Enjoy!

 Boogaboo in the water - where it should be!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Boat Cruise on The Trent Severn Waterway 2013, Part Three

In the autumn of 2012, we were shocked and somewhat dismayed by the frightening water level drops in Georgian Bay/Lake Huron and feared we would not be able to take the boat up there during the the following summer. Having had the good fortune of spending three weeks each summer up on 'The Bay for the previous five seasons, we were starting to consider heading 'down east' along the Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) once again.

 Considering that our 2013 summer holiday plans came from a sort of last resort type of approach, I thought that this would end up turning out to be basically a shrug when asked how it was. Far from it! This turned turned out being a great decision, as we not only got to revisit ares we hadn't seen in a number of years, but it actually ended up being like a first time experience in many ways.
'Boogaboo IV' tied up at the bottom of Rosedale Lock for a couple of nights.

 In the past, and with only one exception, we had stayed exclusively at marinas for all of our stops. This year, we got a season's mooring pass which allowed us to spend limitless days/nights at the locks along the way. Sure, we had been by and driven through all the locks all the way to Trenton (Mile '0' of the TSW) but now that we were stopping and spending a day or two at each lock, it was like the a whole new world.

Setting up the BBQ grille on a picnic table beside the boat.

 Lock # 35 at Rosedale is a perfect example. When approaching from the east and simply focusing on getting the boat through the lock, one has little time to actually survey the surrounding grounds. Couple that with thew fact that this lock has the second lowest 'lift' (just a little over three feet) the boat is down (or up) and through in no time at all. Stop for awhile and discover that Rosedale has probably one of the biggest park areas of any of the locks!

Anchor Girl is on her phone again, probably checking Facebook ;-)

 When we were stiing at the back of the boat on the first morning here, I noticed something in the distance that looked like a very large snake poking it's head up out of the water amongst some Lilly pads, so we walked over for a closer inspection.

Scouting the Lilly pads for a large snake or turtle.

 We stared into the water, waiting for movement from what I thought for sure was the head of either a large snake or turtle, but it just seemed to float motionless. I suspected that whatever it was, it was waiting for something tasty to float or fly by, within striking range. Of course, at the point I was pretty much on my own, as Anchor Girl was too scared to get too close to it.
 After studying this close up, zoomed in photo, I surmised that it was nothing more than an oddly rolled up leaf fromt he Lilly plants, arranged to look like an animal's head. Tell me I'm seeing that and we weren't going crazy ;-)

Snake, turtle of oddly shaped leaf??

 As I mentioned, the grounds are quite expansive, larger than any other lock we've stayed at in the past. Our second evening there brought an opportunity to wander around in the (windy) sunshine and capture some nice shots with the boats in the background. This is at the top side of the lock. Always a popular spot for overnight boaters, one has to time their arrival just right - or be lucky - to grab a spot on the tie up walls.

A full house of boats tied up along the top side of the Rosedale Lock.

 Looking back eastward, towards the lock and lower tie up / blue line walls;

Rosedale Lock along the Trent Severn Waterway.

 Not quite a sunset, but an interesting shot of the sun's rays shooting out around this quickly passing cloud, right above the lock chamber;

Another windy day, with quickly passing clouds at Lock #35

 Here's a nice pic of 'Boogaboo' and our home for two days. As I mentioned, this is a very popular lock for overnight boats, and we had to squeeze into the corner between the lower entrance of the lock and the blue line. We just fit too, as the Lock master didn't want us withing the blue line area or having the bow stick out beyond the entrance to the lock. It took a bit of creative tying of the boat, but we got it, with a whole three or four inches to spare ;-)

'Boogaboo IV' snugly tied up at the bottom of the Rosedale Lock.

Here's a video of the arrival at Rosedale and a nice look around the grounds (yes, I had to use the same photo for the thumbnail view on the video - it was just so darned pretty);

 They say that parting is such sweet sorrow, but our next destination would be even more fun, as we leave Rosedale for a short hop across Cameron Lake and the village of Fenelon Falls.

Pulling away from Lock #35 at Rosedale, Ontario.

 Up next, a wonderful time - and spectacular sunsets - in Fenelon Falls!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Holding Tank Replacement

After talking about it for the past three seasons, we were finally forced to replace the poop tank on 'Boogaboo'. Yup, a shitty job, but we ended up having no choice but to do it now.

With lots of cruising to beautiful destinations like this, more holding tank capacity is appreciated.

 The boat was originally built with only a 28 gallon capacity holding tank and we wanted to replace it with a larger tank from season one of our ownership, but never got around to it. For better or worse, the tank actually made the decision for us, as it began to leak around the waste removal side - which is at the bottom of the tank, so it would have leaked all the time if not repaired. Plus, there had been issues with too much suction in the past and the tank had imploded, for lack of a better term and there was a crack at the top of the tank. Further, one of the leads for the useless tank monitor had broken loose and was letting stink smell escape whenever the toilets were flushed. I had thoroughly investigated that issue a couple of weeks before haul-out, but despite a thorough check, could not determine where that smell was coming from. It wasn't until the tank was removed from the boat completely that I could see what was happening, as it was at the very top of the tank but the top of the tank was too close to the deck to see it in the cramped bilge. . .

 Thankfully, the worst part of the job is now out of the way and we're ready for the new, larger tank. Given the time of year and the fact that cold weather has set upon us, we won't be getting the replacement tank until closer to the spring and will do the install at that time. I'll be doing a follow up post and video at that time, so be sure to check then (that's spring of 2014 - if you are reading this well into the future).

 In the meantime, here's a long video of the stinky removal project. Don't worry, you don't have to hold your nose, as I had the smell-o-capture feature turned off on the cameras when the work was being done ;-)

 As always, I look forward to your comments, questions or suggestions!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wings on Your Feet

While checking out some of the updates and and stories from last weekend's Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, I came across a neat bit of water fun technology, called the Flyboard. It's a jet pack attached to a board, onto which riders strap their feet and away they go! Apparently a big hit with the charter yacht crowd, these things will send riders flying - literally.

Photo credit;
 Developed by a company called Zapata Racing, only a couple of years ago, there are already over 2,500 deployed throughout the world. Looks like the world of fun on the water just got a little wilder. Here's some video of it in action. Hold on to your hats!

Price? Around six grand.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is Your Q-T-R Factor??

 Have YOU figured out one of the most important things to consider in life - your Q-T-R Factor? I have, and I'm not the same!

 I consider myself somewhat of a fan of Mike Joyce, the CEO of Hargrave Yachts. Well, more appropriately, I should say a fan of his style. I think it was a few years ago when we were looking into a winter escape to Fort Lauderdale for the first time that I initially came across some YouTube videos for Hargrave Yachts, who are headquartered in Lauderdale.

 You know how Google works, some search results aren't spot on to your query, but I'm OK with the odd happy discovery like this thrown into the mix. Geez, it's almost like Google purposely plants these things to get us all coming back to search for more - or get lost on something else ;-)

Some of the acres of gelcoat in Fort Lauderdale
 Well, as part of my happy diversion into the world of super yachts and the acres of gelcoat that includes, I found myself impressed with Mr. Joyce's down to earth, plain talking style as he discussed the 'Hargrave approach' to selling boats. After all, here's a guy sitting on multimillion dollar yachts but making the viewer - me - feel like he was just another guy talking about the joys of boating. I mean, this stuff was really compelling. By the time I was done watching a few of these vids, I felt like I should be jumping on the next plane south and seriously consider buying one of these things. And he hasn't even shown us around ONE boat!

 OK, so we weren't and aren't in the position to actually buy one of those beauties, and with our current plans to slow down and take it easy, it's more than likely that the Boogaboo Crew won't be seriously perusing the used mega-yacht market any time soon. But hey, never say never. . .

 That said, I wouldn't mind at least meeting Mike, shaking his hand and having the opportunity to let him know what a great job it is he's doing. I actually saw him at the Miami Yacht And Brokerage Show (don't call it the Miami BOAT Show) this past February, but he was busy with 'real' clients and I didn't want to disturb him. Next time.

Big boats, big houses and lots of palm trees. Welcome to Fort Lauderdale ;-)

 So, you are asking yourself, what the heck does all this have to do with that Q-T-R Factor that I asked you about? Well, if you've never had to look at yours, this may come as a real eye opener, so sit down.

 Last week, I was looking up info on this past weekend's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) and saw a video by, you guessed it, Hargrave Yachts, starring non other than Mike Joyce. As part of the hook to get prospective clients to come to the show, he recalled a talk he had with a colleague (Dudley Dawson, formerly of Hatteras Yachts and current technical editor for Yachting Magazine) about this Q-T-R, or 'Quality Time Remaining'. In other words, what is the expected extent of your quality time that is remaining in your life - and how will you make the most of that time? Good marketing angle, Mike.

  Boat shows aside, that basic question was suddenly and very bluntly slammed into our faces this year and resulted in putting everything into a new perspective for me and my lovely Anchor Girl. Besides being a little older than we used to be, our future years have become something a lot different than we had ever even thought about. To be diagnosed with a condition that was straight out of left field initially left us scared, confused and for me pissed right off. Sorry, but that's how I felt.

 Now that we have had almost a year since the first suggestion of my MS, we are in a far better place, emotionally. To put it bluntly, we can no longer 'expect' to simply carry on the way we have before all this. Some would argue that we could, like most do, but not us - not ME. We have had too many great times over the past few years and we aren't going to be robbed of the opportunity to experience even more and that's why we are making dramatic changes for our better good. It is amazing how things like money, and plain old STUFF suddenly loose their importance completely. And it's awesome! It frees our thoughts to those of the new memories we are going to make through our new adventures :-)

 Whatever your current life situation is, weather young or not so much, I urge you to consider where you might be in the all too close future and how you will ENJOY that time. We all have the freedom to make choices that will make us happy in what we are and what we are experiencing. For us, it will be enjoying sunsets on our boat in the summers, and walks along southern beaches in winters. For you, well, you will have to figure that out on your own. But do it while you still have a chance to make a free choice. . .

  So, when I do get around to meeting Mr. Joyce in person, I look forward to thanking him for relating that story and putting it into terms that many can relate to. I hope most will ponder, take stock and ultimately make positive, forward thinking changes in their lives to get the most out of the quality years that we all have left.

 And if that involves living on a boat, so be it. I know just the guy that would be happy to sell you a new Hargrave ;-)

Walking with Anchor Girl walking along a sunny Florida beach


Monday, November 4, 2013

Quit Your Job & Live On A Boat - Upcoming Book Review

This is another part in the continuing series of updates on our preparations to sell our house, downsize everything and move full time aboard our boat 'Boogaboo', a 1997 Sea Ray 400 Sedan Bridge.

 I recently came across a book written by a fellow boater who, like ourselves, came to the conclusion that living on the boat is better than living, well, pretty much anywhere else! His name is Ed Robinson and he has a bit of a jump on us as he and his wife have been living this dream for awhile already.

 He wanted to share their story and has wrote a book about it, entitled 'Leap of Faith / Quit Your Job And Live on a Boat'. Ahhhh, words to live by :-) I have requested a copy of the book from Ed and he is sending me a one soon. I'm really looking forward to reading it and will be sharing my thoughts and insights here, so keep an eye out for it.

 More inspirations for my imagination :-)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Que The BBQ

 Even though the summer boating season is behind us, we all still need our boating fix. One of my favorite off season ways to get that is to look for new items to make next summer's experience that much better.

Looking forward to next season's great boating times

 I tell ya, there's no quicker way to re-ignite visions of fun on the water than perusing those items that you didn't have time to get over the summer. Remember all those times when you told yourself 'Next year, I'm going to have to get a new . . . '? Well, now's the time to do some shopping :-)

 Given the fact that we aren't rushing to get to the boat on the weekends, we have the time to search in a more relaxed manner, and looking online offers the best opportunities for this kind of boating activity.

 For the past few weeks, I've been building a number of boating themed eBay 'Collections', a new feature that I've shared on my profile pages. With 24 Collection in total, there is a lot to see and I'm sure there's something here for everyone. From boats of all styles, sizes and vintages to equipment, collectables and more, it's amazing what I have come across when building this feature. The fun was in coming up with my own short introductions for each listing - these things wrote themselves! Check it out, and keep in mind that I'll be updating the listings as I discover new finds on eBay.

 One of my favorite collections that I put together was, believe it or not, for BBQ grilles, featured in  Grillen' & Chillen';

 So, where does my inspiration for something as innocuous as the simple act of cooking come from, you ask? Read on. . .

Summer and boating go hand in hand. And what’s one of our favorite things to do at the end of a great day on the water? Eat! But before diving in, we get to prepare that tasty meal on the BBQ. We are no longer talking the simple task of ‘cooking’, but rather, we are entering into to a tradition that invariably becomes a social event; talking to family or friends while flipping burgers or showing off your prowess on that perfectly grilled steak.

 Yup, a meal prepared outdoors becomes something more, made even better on the water. But not just for dinner time. Consider breakfast on the back of the boat; no rushing through a quick bite and running out the door. No, no, no – we are on the boat now and not going to hurry through this, but savor the morning. Mmmmm, I can smell the bacon and eggs gently frying while I take another sip from my mug while gazing across another idyllic setting on the lake.

 No sir, we are not going to rush this one bit.

 Please follow me and all of my Collections on eBay.

My eBay Collections were curated as part of my collaboration with eBay.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Boat Cruise on The Trent Severn Waterway 2013, Part Two

This part of our summer holidays voyage takes us through the hamlet of Bolsover to Canal Lake, up the Kirkfield Lift Lock and on to Rosedale. Not as sunny and warm as the day before, but a good day to travel, with no wind and the rain held off.

One of the many locks to pass through in this stretch;
Heading up through one of the locks.

The first of two swing bridges in Bolsover, this one had been operating by the staff from the Bolsover Lock. As a result, when we left the lock, we had to hang around at the bridge, waiting for the lock master to drive over by car to swing the bridge for us. Coming the other way, we had to wait for the same thing. This is something new that started in the 2013 navigation season as part of Parks Canada's cost saving measures. I will have more to say about that in the future;
One of the swing bridges at Bolsover, along the Trent Severn Waterway.

Passing by the gas dock at Sunset Cove Marina. A nice spot to spend a night.
Sunset Cove Marina in Bolsover.

 Midway through Canal Lake is this old bridge, commonly referred to as 'the hole in the wall bridge';
Hole In The Wall bridge on Canal Lake.

When initially built on 1905, the location was nothing more than a field. There is a really good book about the building of the TSW called ''A Work Unfinished : The Making of the Trent-Severn Waterway by James T. Angus' that includes the whole history of how it came to be and is full of many period photos. Included in that collection is a neat shot of this bridge under construction - in the middle of a dry field.
 Here's a close up shot of the build date for the bridge;
Hole in the wall bridge, Trent Severn Waterway

More healthy eating, even while traveling. This is my daily fruit intake. Lots of FRESH fruits and veggies every day. Good for the body!

Healthy fruit bowl snacks.

 Crossing Canal Lake we encountered this family of White Swans. A first for us to see the little young ones;
White Swans with babies on Canal Lake

 This sign sits at the easternmost part of Canal Lake, right at the beginning of the man made Kirkfield Cut, advising bigger boats that they must call a Securite, warning other boaters of their transiting this area. Reason being is that it is very narrow in spots and for two large boats to pass would be difficult & downright impossible in some areas.
 Trouble with this plan is that sometimes the signal may not reach boaters entering the cut, way over at Mitchell or Balsam Lakes (where there is the same sign for boats heading in the other direction). As well, many boats travel with their radios off (which it down right irresponsible) and wouldn't get the message any ways. My advice? How about if Parks Canada staff were to simply cut back the severely overgrown trees along this stretch? Too simple, I know. . . .
Warning sign for larger boats at Kirkfield

 There is a tangle of weeds as one enters into the Kirkfield Cut and one must stay within the more traveled middle of the channel, or risk becoming completely entangled in them. Right after this shot was taken, we clunked something (I'm thinking it was a bigger branch) at this spot. Fortunately, there was no damage (in a subsequent post, I'll share a video of a couple of scuba divers inspecting the running gear for damage, taken a few days after this incident).
Lots of Weeds

 A closer view of the weeds.
More weeds on the waterway.

 Here we are, just about at the top of the ride up the Kirkfield Lift Lock. This point marks the summit (highest point over sea level) for the entire Trent Severn Waterway. From this point, one is heading downstream in either direction. It's with this in mind that the navigation buoys change - green on the right from here!
Kirkfield Lift Lock
Here's a long video of the cruise from Bolsover, through Canal Lake and a ride up the Kirkfield lift lock (remember to watch in HD quality!);

  After exiting the lock, I heard one of the aforementioned Securite calls from this boat. Unfortunately when I tried to hail them to discover their position or ETA for arriving at Kirkfield, there was no reply. To be prudent, I decided to tie off to the lock wall and wait for whatever was heading towards us to arrive at the lock. Good thing, too, as by the looks of the beam on this thing, we would have had a lot of fun trying to pass each other in the cut.
Wide beam boat in the Kirkfield Cut

 The lady on this boat was VERY grateful that we held back and waited for them to transit the cut.
A grateful boater

 This is what I am talking about - a very overgrown canal. Apart from a break at tiny Mitchel Lake, this man made cut runs all the way from Kirkfield to Balsam Lake - a transit of about an hour. It is pretty, though.
Narrow Kirkfield Cut.

 This is the tightest spot, with no more than 20' of clearance.
Approaching Balsam Lake

  Coming off of Balsam Lake and approaching the hamlet of Rosedale, at the south east part of the lake.
Rosedale on Balsam Lake

Next stop - Rosedale Lock, but that's gonna take up an entire post to share the beauty of the place, so c'mon back for lots more :-)