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2008-09-21

Farewell to Silverheels III



Ken and Lynn and I met in 1999 taking Canadian Power Squadron courses, of all things. Ken had the experience actually sailing, mind you...he owned a 19-foot Sandpiper named Shortwave that he didn't get to sail enough. Long story short, the pair hooked up (after school studies?), changed Shortwave for Silverheels III, a 35 foot Niagara 35 and when Ken retired in April after decades working at Ryerson University fixing audio-visual equipment and assorted electronics, Lynn had little problem "retiring" in her 40s so that they could take their boat south, date of return indefinite.


While not quite "gone" yet, they plan in the next couple of weeks to dismast at Oswego and take the canal system down to New York City and then to go via the ICW south to Florida and the Bahamas. They have worked exceptionally hard and long to make this dream happen and I wish them, my inspirations, fair winds.

Read all about them here: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/silverheelsiii/




Roundabout minus the Red



It will have occurred to anyone with a world map and the meanest intelligence that there are only a few ways in which a sailboat can get around the world and stay in liquid without an ice axe, a parka or a shiny set of deck-mounted missiles. The first two would involve a circumnavigation via Cape Horn, or the Northwest or Northeast Passages, once frozen, now less so, but seas poorly charted and not, as they say, to be trifled with.

Panama, the Cape of Good Hope and the Red Sea are pretty well the remaining choices. The Red Sea has in the last few years been subject to increasingly vicious piratical activity, emanating from either Yemen or Somalia, or some days both.

Transiting this area is dangerous: Yachts travel in convoy and keep the Western navies that cruise these very warm waters apprised of their locations...which is probably quite helpful to the pirates, but we'll leave that to one side.

To miss plowing up the Red Sea, however, means likely foregoing visiting the Mediterranean Sea during the voyage, but I would rather face the storms at the south end of Africa than a bunch of ruthless bastards pointing AK-47s at me and my family.

Because the situation is too fluid to predict for us, who are, in fact, planning a five-year circ, I can't say how omitting the Red Sea as a cruising ground will play out, but my thoughts run along these lines if the area is still dangerous by the time we leave the South Pacific.


Provisional Toronto-Toronto Circumnavigation Route

Year 0 (summer prior to leaving): Shakedown cruise to Nova Scotia in the early summer. Deliberately look for heavy weather in my own "home waters", so to speak. Break things. Fix things. See what works, what doesn't, and get needed sea hours for everyone (me, wife, nine to 10 year old son).

Either overwinter in Halifax to dash south in the spring, or return to Toronto to overwinter aboard (while ensuring the "tenant mix" in the house is correct and I don't need to pay for a new roof or plumbing...).

Year 1: Leave either Halifax or Toronto in early June. Head to Western Caribbean before hurricane season spins up. Try to transit Canal into Pacific by September/October.

Head south via Cocos, Galapagos, Marquesas, Cooks, etc. No need to rush.

Year 2: From Fiji or Tonga, head to New Zealand. Probably stop for six months to explore, coastal cruise and haul out for repairs.

Year 3: Australia/PNG/Torres Strait/South Indian Ocean. See Maldives before they sink; consider Sri Lanka. Go in Mauritius or Madagascar, and if able, finish year in Cape Town.

Year 4: South Atlantic Islands...possibly divert to Argentina/Falklands, more likely go Tristan/Ascension, etc. to easternmost Brazil and then into Caribbean for the leisurely look we missed the first time. Haul out in Trinidad.

Year 5: Head north in spring and do a trans-Atlantic circ after "crossing the outbound path" off New York or Halifax. Go to Ireland, Wales (relatives) and then the Bay of Biscay down to Lisbon to show Alex how proper sailing is done (the odd thing is Fred would be about 19 at this point...). Then to Gibraltar, Spain, Madeira, Azores and across the Atlantic to Bahamas and then back north to New York and up the canals to Lake Ontario and home. Inform one set of tenants that it's time to go, and keep the other set for "cash flow".

Year 6: Haul boat, repair, repaint and remove all personal gear and broken hardware. Sail out the St. Lawrence and trans-Atlantic to Europe (France, Holland, northern Germany), where they appreciate steel boats that have done this sort of thing. Sell the boat, return to pay off the mortgage (I may do this ahead of time just to be done with it, but that means relying more on tenants to supply working money), and either retrieve my classic plastic 33 footer currently on loan, or sell it and start shopping for a Lake Ontario cruiser.

Of course, if I can make money while sailing, I might never return. But I'd probably go funny in the head. Some would comment that this entire enterprise is solid evidence that said head is already in sad shape.