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Why the new year is, hopefully, the last year

I'm pretty good with weather, but this cloud waterfall is both baffling and ominous.
Amid the lowering clouds of December I toiled to get the boat further in shape for a late June/early July 2019 departure; hence the title referring to the last winter of refitting, which I realize is probably hubristic. There's a lot left to do, including moving out of an apartment and stowing the contents 160 km. to the east, along with purchases from the upcoming boat show of an EPIRB, a life raft, water tanks, and the finishing of various welding/fabrication jobs.
Ah, speed wheel, you're yesterday's news.
To that end, out came the old speed wheel. This hole will be plated over. Zincs are also to be added. Plus a big change I'll cover off in future weeks. Plus Christmas happened. Goodness, it's a busy time.
Although not without its upsides: Can't take it with me!

After a very pleasant Christmas and New Year, during which the wine cellar was liquated with enthusiasm, we are getting back to work. But we didn't really stop: December saw a lot of progress.

This is not as disorganized as it looks, although with the hydraulic hoses out, I can tidy up and cable-tie the wire runs better.
The hydraulic setup to the helm, as the surveyor remarked last spring, were requiring more pumps to effectuate rudder action. While the hydraulic fluid was sufficient, there was evidence that the hoses themselves were starting to "sweat" and needed replacement. Job one, then, is to remove them and take them to a truck shop or something not "marine" to have them made up to the same gauge and lengths. The fittings are in good shape and may be reuseable. Here's a lucid link for the perturbed to the wonderful world of hydraulic pumps in general, but a lot of this is marine-orientated.
The back of the first of two Marol HRP-38 helm pumps.
It's a messy, cold job, I won't lie. Out of shot is Mrs. Alchemy, down in the engine bay with a bucket to catch the spills.
As I removed the retaining nuts on the couplers, I swaddled the ends in paper and tape to catch the leaks. Spinning the wheel squirted out a lot more into a handy cup.
Pretty clean back here after 30 years. Good.
The mounting system is four Allen bolts and a nut. Easy and secure.
The rare shot of the skipper at work.

If heavy and awkward (see: 90% of the refit process). These are fishing trawler-grade helms and they are about 15 kilos in weight minimum...and empty.

Perhaps Cabin Boy can polish the entire wheel spoke area now!
The rest of the draining exercise took place on deck. Just visible is the "sailing" helm, as opposed to the "pilothouse" or "downstairs" or "power" helm. A secret of sailorly exclusionary language is that a lot of it is completely made up to be difficult.

Needs a paint job as the outdoor life is a hard one. The insides, however, are in good shape. The brown ring is a fibreglass spacer.
The second helm was easier to remove because a) there's direct access behind a metal plate in the binnacle, and b) its wheel is much smaller and lighter, which is easier to handle with an Allen key in one hand.
Also wanting a paintover, but essentially in good shape.
The helm will have some TLC. The nearly rotten wooden box atop it will go to be replaced by a HDPE caddy for beverages, sunglasses and the like. Wood on a steel boat is fine...inside.
That's leaked hydraulic fluid. I'd swab it out, but it will keep the rust at bay until it's warm enough to paint. Or so I maintain.
And some very nice AWAB T-clamps, for the discerning boater's BWL needs.
I have been able to obtain, at reasonable cost save for the detective work, the seal rebuild kits for both helms and for the Marol MRB-75A rotary actuator controlling the rudder ram. Because it's the hoses that were near end-of-life, and not the seals, I will likely save the seal kits as I am not sure Marol makes this helm pump, beefy and capable as it's seemed to us, any more. I know they make the actuator, however, but I have no evidence yet that it's leaking or needs the service. Might be a "Halifax" job for next winter, then. We'll see. Now the job is to find a truck place to replacate these hoses in a bulletproof fashion. Truly, I'm not sure if "rubber" hydraulic lines are not sufficient, given the comparatively low pressures these helm pumps create. Comments on this are welcome.

Doesn't look like much, but it promises a great deal.
Lastly, I received the Lars Thrane LT-1000 heading sensor I need to orient my radar and to improve my plotter's accuracy. I foofed around on this decision for a long time; originally, I wanted the Comnav Vector 2 GPS Compass, but this item is a third the size, half the price and works with both NMEA 2000 (the plotter/AIS net) and NMEA 0183 (what the Furuno radar likes). Adding it will unlock the radar's full suite of features and will, in effect, make the radar a second plotter capable of showing the AIS target information, SOG, COG and all those other data points of interest. This thing even gives baro and temp. Getting one involved some effort; once again, I find my needs are somewhat rarefied at the pleasure boater level.

More to come soon!


Strangely compelling, but no one knows why

Yeah, there's a bit of spam in that total, but I prefer to be a light unto the nations.
I have been scribbling about refitting a boat since 2006, more or less a dozen years a slave to a dream of casting off, if I hope not this mortal coil, but that which ties me to land, with what I have laboured to make a well-found vessel. We are closing in, and fast, to the manifestation of that dream in the form of heading for salt water in 2019. My son is now 17 and he'll finish high school in seven months. You can imagine the to-do list is ample and the time, like the daylight, is short.

I've been eyeing the blog's odometer for some time. It ticked over the quarter-million mark today, which might be peanuts for the average bloviation about politics or similar outrage, but is what I consider respectable for the random blatherings of a half-wit with a wrench. The fascination of reading about a man learn how to do simple tasks he would've known how to perform mere decades earlier must touch a masochistic nerve, is all I can say. Nonetheless, this humble scribbling, replete with half-assery, bad ideas and compromises of both material and spiritual kinds, has brought me into the lower ranks of Those Who Sail.

This is generally not the same ranks as Those Who Drown.

I have received a great deal of advice over the years and have particularly benefitted from contacting...and learning sailors and refitters...some significantly younger than myself (not that that is so hard to be these days) who have inspired me. Veterans and beginners all, I have learned from them and from my readers.

Thank you.


Rack, not ruin

If this cradle is rocking, you're in trouble.
This is the cradle I put up a couple of days ago in anticipation of haulout, provisionally at the crack of dawn on Saturday. I am not precisely sure what will happen to this cradle if, as we fervently hope, we mosey down the St. Lawrence to overwinter in Nova Scotia. I'll have to see about the logistics and costs of shipping it, an object as bespoke as the boat it fits, to Nova Scotia as I imagine we'll haul there for the winter to complete some projects and live in a furnished apartment. Or something. We haven't really planned that far.

The mast was pulled yesterday. This took Mrs. Alchemy and myself about two half-days to manage, involving as it does the removal and packing away of sails, mainsail/vang tackles, removing and coiling down of cables, halyards, spares and assorted strings, plus the sometimes fraught process of getting a line over the first spreaders to make a loop for the mast crane to hoist the heavyweight (I estimate 200-250 kilos) mast out of its tabernacle. And it was windy (25 knots) yesterday. And there are 12 stays. And we removed and disassembled the SPADE anchor, a non-trivial job when the boat's in movement and you are trying not to scratch the neighbour's swim platform. Anyway, no time for pictures, and I'm sure my shoulder will heal.
Inside that jellyfish-like blob is the radome, wrapped in both bubble-wrap and heavy-duty plastic sheathing. The yellow and orange bungees kept it from flopping in its journey to the mast racks.
I removed the spreaders today, again in wind that gusted to about 30 knots, took off the Windex and the AIS and VHF aerials, padded the Furuno radome, cable-tied and bungeed all stays, shrouds, wires, cables and the forestay foil snug to the mast, and then used a jib sheet to hog-tie (think "parcel wrap" the mast from bottom to top.

I then helped several other club members to do the same. It's the nature of the club deal.

I had an update go wonky via wi-fi, so I prefer cards now. It's significantly faster, too.
Elsewhere in the floating world, my plotter has, in the fashion of what could only be a 21st-century problem, been nagging me to accept an upgrade. Fair enough. My usual habit, as the Wi-Fi signal to the end of the dock is sub-optimal, is to download the requisite files to a micro SD card, insert said baby's fingernail-sized object in the slot at the back, turn the plotter on and wait for the old blue bar.
All went well. I quite enjoy the AIS info my Vesper unit feeds to the plotter.
I wanted the upgrade for the best shot at trying something I've wanted to do for some time. In August, I got a new phone as my basic but functional Windows phone, a Nokia Lumia 625, had a cracked screen due to some thoughtless boat gymnastics on my part. When the salesperson at the mall kiosk (a place I rarely tread) learned my birthday was the same as his, he threw in an LG Android tablet into the deal. All I wanted was roaming, for fairly obvious reasons. Prior to sailing away, we are moving about more.

So even a cheap tablet fitted my plan, which was to download a bit of software so I could use the tablet as a repeater screen for my plotter at the outside helm or elsewhere on the boat. In the appropriate waterproof case, naturally.
Well, that's damned handy.
The reviews of this software weren't good, so I fired it up with a bit of trepidation. But making the plotter into a "hot spot" allowed me to log into it and to even control it remotely from the tablet. I think it helps that I have been setting up networks since the evil days of DOS and just assume I can get devices talking to each other, but really, this was a doddle and unless the latest version of this software is vastly superior to the bitchy comments I was reading in the reviews, I'm not sure what the problem was. It took me four minutes to set up. I went outside and the steel of the pilothouse created a tiny bit of lag, but it appears I can use the tablet at the outside helm to control the plotter without running wires. That's a big plus for me.

Now, to get the boat on land...


Falling into winter

It was the jib's time, actually.
For Canadian sailors on the Great Lakes, October can be a sad time. The same weather that brings exciting sailing in the form of cool, windy days great for long trips also heralds the five months of the year (here inland at Toronto at least; it's different on the east and west coasts) that our boats are, generally, cradled on land. Decommissioning, which involves at our club demasting, is a fair bit of work and preparation to avoid damage or even injury (our mast may be 200 kilos to judge by the grunting five adults make to get it off the dolly and into a rack).
The naked foretriangle is shocking!
This year, however, is (I certainly hope) the last year we'll be in Toronto for some time, and we are crowding the boat with all sorts of spares and tools we've previously kept in a garage or a related storage space. Making room for every sail we intend to bring has involved a fair bit of planning. And there will be more to come.

I was able on a relatively light air day to take off the yankee-cut jib by myself and to bag it and the staysail in the forepeak. The mainsail removal required Mrs. Alchemy, as the day selected was very breezy (20-28 knots) and only the favourable WNW wind direction that made "head to wind" at dock over the deck, more or less, allowed a reasonably crisis-free stripping and folding away. No pictures, alas...I'm sure it was dramatic from shore!
The pensive Mrs. Alchemy did not, evidently, fancy being in this shot.
Because I need to prep the inward-turning pilothouse flange to restore its roof, I needed to have a look-see. I want to clean up this flange and put a wide strip of HDPE plus butyl tape for sealing purposes all the way around to separate the steel from the aluminum prior to bolting it down; the bolts will have coatings and nylon bushings to keep them from reacting electrically with roof or hull. The roof, although it's aluminum, is a well-built, heavy thing, so I rigged the boom to work with the topping lift to hoist it up.
Needs a clean, but the two-part's intact.
Unfortunately, the imminence of the haulout this coming weekend means I may have to wait until the spring in order to finish this job (paint not kicking well in mid-winter), as without the boom, I would either have to rig a gantry to lift the roof or, as has been the case in the past, find four men willing to lift the thing gently to one side or to find a Polecat crane.
That "polished" part is where the old fluxgate compass sat, and where the new heading sensor will go.
One outstanding task is to regasket the pilothouse roof's opening hatches. Both drip a bit in the rain, and as a stop-gap, I've taped them up.
The sharp-eyed will note I went from the straps to the line. More secure.
Lastly, I brought down the Honda 2 to sit on its designated workshop mount. One-armed lifting and shifting is a beautiful thing. Tomorrow, the mast comes out.
There's a newer 2.3 HP Honda, but I'm not tempted. An air-cooled, 15 kg. 3.5 HP? Perhaps.


The rare instance of actually enjoying the vessel

We are coming around to the "no instruments on deck" idea...maybe a compass and maybe a tablet holder to show course, but not "the bridge of the Enterprise" as that distracts from keeping watch. Ignore the not-to-code propane's empty.
The day started with legal stuff, and then semi-related banking stuff. Then cleaning stuff (the never-ending aspect). But there was still enough hours and (more or less) enough wind to attempt a "let's get reacquainted with the boat" two-hour tour. Because we haven't sailed in weeks. We've done a bit of boat work, and we've been down to check bilges and clean away sad cobwebs, but there's been little time to actually get off the dock and move about on the water. So, despite a lingering cold and impressively hacking cough, off we went.

I'm still giddy at how accurately can report our movements, and aware that I will want to turn the AIS off sometimes.
The wind was SSW 9-11, fitful at best, so we didn't crack much more than 4 knots and more often dawdled in the mid-three range. But that was undemanding and there were few other boats out, despite the weather being very warm and sunny for mid-September.
Outrunning a Hunter 24 was not difficult, even for a barge such as ours.
Save for the occasional plane landing nearby, it was quiet and cool. What a difference to the sorted chaos of the last couple of months. Regretfully, we have only a few weeks to enjoy this, as haulout is early this October, on the 19th/20th weekend, meaning I'll have to haul the mast a week or more before that. We may try to squeeze in a trip to Trenton, where our new house is, in the first week of October, but that's about that for the season.
Mrs. Alchemy's head, diesel jerrycan and Toronto skyline: a fairly representative prospect.
Gratifyingly, we still know how to sail. Nothing failed, no leaks, no engine blips and I laid the boat right on the dock upon our return well enough to see the missus step off with two lines and no waiting.
A bit loose as the wind merited it. The little grey blotch was a wasp starter kit.
I've started a somewhat frightening to-do list for the winter that will be the subject of another post soon. I recently heard an Andy Schell podcast with sailor Paul Exner, who has had to rehab his damaged boat after Hurricane Irma and sail it to a new phase of life in Hawaii, in which Exner defines seamanship not only in terms of knowing your knots and your splices, but in terms of time and labour management, as both are finite resources. I found it a rather compelling proposition.
Could we have gotten a pointless 0.8 of an extra knot with the staysail up? Guess so.
All in all, a beautiful, relaxing break and a mild injection of peaceful fun to remind us why the hell we've been subjecting ourselves to such levels of disruption on the home(s) front. It's for the greater good.

Yelling out "STARBOARD" not necessary in this case.
Now, I also reacquainted myself with an issue that is fixable, but remains a touch ambiguous in terms of "best fix". I have reason to believe our engine is significantly over-propped, which I can fix at haulout easily enough, but I would like to get my pitch numbers right. With a low-hours Beta 60 and a clean, if heavy-displacement, steel full keeler, I hit cruising speeds at too low (1800 RPM) a throttle settingand can't get above 2,050 RPM in relatively flat seas when I hit hull speed under motor. I do not have evidence of overheat or overpressure, however, which is good.

I've input my numbers into this worthy app, but the fact is, I have a 19-inch four-blade feathering prop (a Variprop D-107) on a steel full keeler and that isn't going to change. What can change is the pitch of said prop in forward (overpitched in reverse means I can stop and back down "with authority" and I don't care if I'm lugging for 30 seconds). But I do care I can't get the engine revving at hull speed a full 600 RPM short of its rated max, meaning unneeded strain and poorer fuel economy at cruise speeds (75-80% WOT).
The prop in, and with, question. Works like a charm otherwise.
This adjustment of pitch is probably a drop from the present 15 inch pitch to 11 or 12, but I'd rather do the math before I tinker with the stops in the hub. As a side note, everyone unhappy with their fuel burn or their RPM at WOT should understand this topic as it really makes a large difference in terms of efficiency and wear. There's even books on it, but I really just need to experiment at a slightly coarser pitch than the app (a very flat 10 inches!) suggests.


Unmooring and unmoreing: How we've done it

Slightly cobwebby, but in good working order
This was the good, if slightly neglected, ship Alchemy a couple of days ago. Good, because I try to leave her ready to sail and motor at all times, but neglected, because several weeks of this rapidly expiring summer has been spent on processes and events both tangential and necessary to slipping the dock lines. Our levels of effort, labour, confusion and delay have been so high as to cause the greatest gap in blog posting (horrors!) of at least the last decade. But on that fact hangs a tale.

Had you asked my wife and I, say, three months ago, if we were particularly materialistic, we would have demurred. We've never owned a car, never had cable TV, and have not, having lived in half a house with tenants above, had the space to acquire much save books...or so we thought. But as the date of the close of the house sale approached, we realized that our nearby flat, rented for just one year so that our son could finish high school nearby with minimal disruption (and, to be fair, so we would be no further away from our boat and its later refitting stages) was in no sense large enough to accommodate our vast amount of "stuff". Furthermore, we needed to rent a garage from our new landlords just to hold my power tools, things migrating to the boat over the winter, things I would want in our new, out-of-town place (more on this below), and the sort of heavy-duty racking, sawhorses and bottle-jacks one hesitates to just put on Kijiji.
The new flat's living room was quite spacious until I put in a load of dining room furniture and six seven-foot bookshelves.
A particular struggle were my books. Bibliophilia is only a problem in confined spaces, and our old house only looked small because there were so many damned books. Maybe two or three thousand, down from four or five thousand before I did a radical cull a few years ago. Now, apart from service manuals, almanacs and "how to cruise" books, the approximate space budget on Alchemy for recreational reading in paper form is probably five paperbacks per crew. So disposal, even in terms of getting to the interim land-based habitations, was going to be a big deal. And so it was.
These are just two of the half-filled boxes of just sea-related books I either sold or gave to my club, which had to build a new set of shelves to bear them. The filled boxes numbered at least 15, all transported by bicycle cart.
So the Great Culling commenced with nautical books. Keeping in mind I run a business from home and am not actually retired, this took a couple of weeks, and, as is the way of such things, the idea of lifting boxes up a flight of stairs at the height of summer led to an increasingly unsentimental attitude to the keeping of books I would not be taking on the voyage. Off about 500 salty volumes went. Enjoy, National Yacht Club members and visitors: I did.

You know what's large? A windvane in an aft cabin is large.
Certain other pieces belonging to the boat had to vacate the garage also. The wind vane above was one. Oddly, because I have complex reno plans for the aft cabin this winter, I will likely install it on the stern, but not make it functional with lines until next spring's launch. I'll fashion a cover to keep the weather out.
Atomic 4 oil pan, one of the many valuable pieces that came, sales pending, to the new garage.
While I made a nice little packet in July on some Atomic 4 parts, I had to haul (via hand-cart, see below) a few items to the new garage, which we have rented only until November 30 and which is not quite filled, but certainly piled higher than I'd hoped.

The vast uncluttering included the running of a garage sale (once enough crap had been removed from the garage to permit the sale!); two separate visits to load up a van with scrap metal, surplus racking and far too many fence posts; the rental of a dumpster bin in which went a brim-ful collection of unwanted piano (I tried to give it away, as it was free to me 10 years ago, but you can't give them away); and a visit from a two-tonne "GOT-JUNK" truck we filled with the remainder of our crap.
Moved by mechanical advantage: it's good to be a sailor.
Amid all these focused efforts were a constant stream of chests of drawers, boxes of books, racking, flooring, fans, heaters and related mildly desirable acquisitions to the curb in front of the house to be sold, where the magic of big-city salvage made most of it vanish. We also used the garbage and recycling bins at both properties (our landlords are away on holiday) and some bins at the club to dispose of things like sails I'll never use.

Not materialistic, eh? Reality and the terrified housecat, who was moved last in an increasingly barren, echoey house, begged to differ.
She is not coming out until you've damned well finished moving.

But, painfully (for I was moving the three blocks from old house to new flat via hand-cart, the process of which ground down the turning wheel bearings to little shavings), the decluttering proceeded.
A typical array of Not Wanted on the Voyage.
We were astounded, as was the buyer of our house on her final walk-through the day prior to the scheduled close, at how much space was actually on the property once we'd nuked, shifted or otherwise vanished our ridiculous amount of possessions. 
The mancave returned to its original form as a stable.
The dark spot in the middle is where the horse-pee drained away to whatever sewer arrangements pertained in 1900.
Quite airy, minus mahogany accents and IKEA shelving.
Somehow, we managed to jam in an end-of-August day trip to the nearby town of Trenton. I had been surveying real estate there on the basis of several parameters, which can be summed up as follows:
  • 1) We wanted to maintain a Canadian, and specifically, an Ontario, address while we were off a-voyaging. We did not want to "sell up and sail", but to keep a toehold in our native country. This would simplify certain interactions with the government if we had just one principal residence, even if it was a pied-a-terre in the basement of a place we otherwise rented out.
  • 2) We needed this place to be within driving distance of a relative skilled in property management who would be our point person with said tenants and who could do, or arrange to have done, maintenance as needed.
  • 3) We needed to be beyond the "halo of greed" generated by Toronto's insane house valuations in order to maximize our bang for buck of our Toronto house sale. We did not care to tie ourselves or our gotten gains to Toronto, with its high taxes but limited upside for rent (and ease of access to our possessions, when required). At the same time, we needed the place to be of sufficient size to have a train and a bus stop, and to be close to a major highway. Trenton has all three and it's 130 km. or 90 minutes by car east of Toronto.
  • 4) We needed said house to be of sufficient value to hold its purchase price for the next five years in a town with both a tight rental market, but also with relatively high incomes. Trenton has a nearby university, light manufacturing, a big new marina and recreational industries (it's the start of the Trent-Severn Canal system) and a large airforce base (CFB Trenton).
So we saw five places with the rather odd request that "a separate entrance granny flat plus a garage and shed...the rest just has to be rentable" was the mandate. Our Trenton-area real estate agent complied as best she could in a place where maybe a couple of hundred houses of any type change hands in a year. A couple of hundred houses within walking distance of me, by contrast, are getting quarter-million dollar renovations as I type here in Toronto. Our old house is also slated for some version of creative destruction.

Just as an addendum to how we afforded the house (and, by extension, the good ship Alchemy) in the first place, I'll recap by noting that we paid off our house in 2006. It had doubled in value since 1998 when we bought it, paying it off via tenants' rental income and dedicated (bi-weekly mortgage payments) debt reduction, so once paid off, we borrowed against it to the tune of a 40% loan structured as a new, first mortgage. As we had paid off the house in seven and a half years once already, we got attractive terms of about 2.15%.

We had tenants paying down the mortgage and we kicked in a few thou a year as a top-up. Long story short, we were down to $60K owed (still at around 2%) last summer. We wanted to have the flexibility to sell the house, now valued at over a million due to location, so we converted that to a HELOC and the last pair of tenants conveniently moved on. We paid off the HELOC at $1,000/month and are once again mortgage-free. The line of credit also allows us to renovate in anticipation of sale, which we never actually did, opting for an "as is, where is" exclusive listing, and because we had so little to do directly with paying off the 2006 loan, we essentially consider the passagemaker we will shortly move aboard to be "a free boat".

Of course it isn't. There's tens of thousands in gear and (mainly my) labour aboard. But it was a smart way to afford a boat using the house as a successful and friendly bank. Let's face it, no bank would loan money for a 30 year-old boat! Also, few home owners would live as on-site landlords in the less appealing part of the house without car or cable TV or much in the way of vacations for years on end  in order to eliminate debt. But that was the only way to pull this scheme off, which I described to Mrs. Alchemy in 2006 as "a sleigh ride you can't leave once you've started down the icy slope." Which was, in retrospect, a little melodramatic.

Sticking with the real estate component of making the crusing life possible, I won't bore my long-suffering readers with the saga and photos of the somewhat odd places we saw, but they were all of a price that our house sale in Toronto would have allowed us to buy all five, with a bit left over. But we settled (very rapidly; having Mrs. Alchemy's retired home inspector father's input helped here) on a house very reminiscent of my youth in the suburbs. Behold: The Storage Locker.
I am easily swayed by proper drainage.
This house has everything we wanted, save for the separate entrance. We will have to sort that out with whatever tenants we acquire, but it's no biggie. Some of the features were fated to appeal to me: a separate, automated 17 KW, natural-gas genset that will heat and light the house should the main power fail...
It's called a Generac, and it looks clever. "hydronic heating", which the home inspector deemed a very tidy installation.
I like tidy installations.
The tenants will have to pay off all the utilities, and we'll handle the taxes. We'll be doing some minor repairs and will have to shift the garage contents from here to there by November, at which point we will know how much space the rest of our possessions will take up. This crazy plan may actually come together. In the meantime, we are renters who will also be owners who will be prepping to be landlords who live on a boat.
A colourful symbol of hope and refraction.
So now we are ensconced in the new and frankly very nice apartment. Boxes are being (finally) unpacked, and after a titanic struggle with the idiot phone company, my landline is working.
One of the five technicians over four separate visits dispatched to fix what was essentially a work order screw-up. Can't wait to install my SSB.
We are enjoying the balcony off our bedroom and have recreated, sort of, the "fire pit" area of our former back yard, minus the fire, save for a candle or two.
At night, the trash pandas sing.
Now that I am beginning to unwind from the ridiculous level of dirt, detail work, sweating and hauling and lifting that this interminable process has demanded, I've come to the realization that all those who intend to cruise must come to terms with: possessions not directly related to the safe operation, repair and maintenance of the boat must be ruthlessly reduced and scruntinized, because there's not only limited space on a boat, but you can't leave most things unstowed when underway, because of the rather good chance they may become projectiles. Extending this (minus outside of earthquake zones the projectile consideration) to houses has made us realize that the urge to acquire, whether it be through inheritance, scavenging (much of our furniture was cleaned-up curbside acquisitions or bargain-hunting (we have enough tinned food to last a year) is, or can be, pathological. Material goods can save your life, but they also have the power to restrain your life. Sentiment can be a set of chains, and so can fear of poverty: we gave to charity about a dozen full bags of surplus clothing but really, the boat's only got room for maybe 10 days' of t-shirts and shorts and two sets of "shore clothing"; the rest is foulies and boat-specific gear. So there's still work to be done on that front. We all need, I feel, to "unmore" our lives. This process has taught me that less is more.

I have also come to terms with not, in the usual sense, anticipating missing our house much. Partially, this was because we paid it off (twice) via rentals to a rotating cast of tenants of varying degrees of aptitude; we lived in the dimmer, less renovated, more cluttered half and while I enjoyed and continue to enjoy the surrounding neighbourhood, the house was a means to an end. It's certainly paid off in the monetary sense, but that same advantage is driving us out, ultimately, of our home town: we didn't want to own another "crap shack" at Toronto prices just to rent it out for five years for little return when we could spend a fraction of what we've cleared down the road and make about two-thirds in rental income. The arbitrage wasn't sentimental, either.

On that personal front, while all but about 12 months of my marriage was spent in the sold house, not all the memories I have of it were positive. One of the reasons I have a free hand to sail away today is because my mother, father and only sibling have all died since 2002. There's not a lot holding me here nephews live elsewhere in Ontario, as do my wife's extended family. A lot of friends have, prompted by the increasingly hard logic of overpriced housing, moved away from Toronto. So unmooring in terms of sentimental attachments has been made easier.

Long-haired hippie crew with the infamous cart on its 100th shortcut from Crap Shack to Chateau Nouveau

My wife and son put in Herculean efforts to make this happen: the phrase "worked like a two-dollar mule" was not used figuratively this summer: I thank them both. And now we return to boat-fixing and, I hope, a few sailing expeditions prior to haulout at the end of October. More to follow soon.
Cabin Boy's "back to school" haircut, done at his request.