If you’re reading this, that means we left yesterday, Monday July 31st, to cross to Ireland with a quick stop in St. Pierre. See you all on the other side… Here’s how the past week went:
Monday 24 JULY 2017
Having made the decision to leave on Thursday means we are now in preparation mode. Though we will continue to check the weather and make decisions up to the minute we do leave, we have a set a deadline and it feels good.
Preparing to prepare.
Glenn checks and rigs the stay sail and the storm jib for the inner stay. (Translation: he puts the lines (Translation: ropes) on the smaller sails so we can hoist them on a second stay (Translation: cable) we have behind out primary jib (Translation: front sail) stay.) These sails are better for higher winds.
I take a food inventory. For this I make a high tech spreadsheet on the computer. I record our current food situation (low!) and our ideal one for a 3 or 4-week passage (high!). This comparison results in our (very long!) food shopping list for tomorrow.
Sometime during the day we find out that Martin and Lydia could not stand to be away from us any longer and have decided to come to our “arm” of Halifax. They roll up sometime in the afternoon. As usual, there is a sparkling rainbow floating directly above their mast because as soon as they get here a nice Canadian boater (Judy) takes her bow line off of her mooring ball and just hands it over to them. Judy points them to her house, offers them her many amenities (yes, even a car), and welcomes them to the city. Just like that. Now, I don’t want to count how many days we have been here, and I don’t want to discuss the countless good deeds we’ve done for the Canadians (ok none, but we have been paying those very high taxes). And still, no one has offered us a thing out in the bay… Who are these magical Germans?
At night Glenn, Ava, and I go to the Korean BBQ place on Quinpool Street. We grill meats over our tabletop “fire,” drink beer, and wonder why we never go to restaurants like these at home. It’s fun. So fun, that Ava declares THIS meal her official birthday meal. My domestic talents don’t measure up. Sad faced emoji here.
Martin and Lydia invite us over for dinner tomorrow night.
Tuesday 25 JULY 2017
We wake up to a day of cold and drizzle. Jeans, fleece, and hat weather. As we trudge through town, we laugh that the summer weather of Halifax is the winter weather of Eugene, where we lived for three years. Today is a big day of preparing and we rent a car to get everything done with a bit more ease. We walk three miles for this luxury. We arrive at the car rental place and they hand us a Prius. I get way more excited than I should in front of the Budget clerk.
From there we proceed to drop off our laundry, get our propane tank filled, pick up peat moss for our family farming project (just kidding, it’s for the composting toilet), and then grocery shop. The shopping is the big task. We need to provision for the long haul across the ocean. We are estimating about 20-28 days on the water, so we have to buy enough food to last a bit longer just in case of problems/slow-downs… Even at home, where we have a big refrigerator and freezer, I NEVER shop for four weeks at a time. Ever. (Actually there, we do about two or three days at a time.) And here we have a small refrigerator and a very small freezer. This means we eat quite differently from our usual while on long passages. Much of the fresh stuff we buy, we eat in the first week. Then it’s potatoes and onions (Spanish omelets!) and cabbage for the rest of the time. We spread out the meats by unfreezing them periodically. Typically, we will use them in stews and this prolongs their life as we can serve rice or polenta to make a bigger portion. We also eat pasta with sauce, mostly from canned tomatoes; lentils and beans, which we buy dry; and bread (sandwiches) and pizzas which I make. This time we are trying a few canned vegetables and fruits too. (Maybe they’ve gotten better since I was a school lunch eater?) And we always have on hand the ol’ Irish staples, cup O’Noodles, chicken O’Da Sea, and O’Reos. Not the food we’d eat if we had a choice, but what we have to do, given the circumstances.
Tonight we dinghy to Cheglia for dinner. (Thank you Martin and Lydia for introducing Ava to lasagna. A dish we have unsuccessfully tried to get her to eat because she “doesn’t like cheese.”) There we meet Judy, the owner of the mooring ball on which we are bobbing. She is an experienced sailor (Antarctica!) and has lived in Halifax a long time. She tells us many stories about the region, including many interesting ones about the Halifax explosion of 1917. We already knew the explosion was huge and devastating. (In fact, it is the third largest explosion ever.) But Judy tells us even more details. One really nice story is about the U.S. It seems that because of the cold weather at the time and the remoteness of the east coast of Nova Scotia, Canadian emergency crews sent through the Lawrence River from the big cities of Ontario were having a difficult time reaching Halifax. So, crews from Boston were sent. The Americans lent a large amount of supplies and help. So much so, that every year now, as a gift of recognition, Nova Scotia sends Boston the very large Christmas tree, which they mount in the Commons. Wow.
After dinner we come home and look at the weather. There is a low growing in size and intensity which we are thinking may postpone our trip. Stay tuned.
Wednesday 26 JULY 2017
A slow day as we track the weather which is looking worse for moving eastward. Two lows have combined and made one larger, more intense one off the coast coinciding with where we will be on Sunday. Because the gusts are predicted to be up to 50 kts. we postpone leaving until Monday, July 31. Again, we will keep checking the weather and make decisions up to the last minute.
In the meantime, I pickle some cherry tomatoes and pearl onions and make some ghee (preserved butter) to have a special morsel of tastiness when we get way out on the sea. The art and techniques of food preservation is something that I never had to learn because I have never lived without refrigeration. I now pick up methods through the internet and “artisanal” cookbooks. These methods are perhaps, had I anticipated this kind of life, things I could have learned from my grandmothers in Romania. There, they were always pickling and drying and salting and distilling and brewing. My people, always being faced with shortages and lacks, had a deep knowledge about food longevity. And this knowledge extended to food flavor. My grandmothers made very tasty food too. I wish I had paid more attention. Ah, there are so many things lost in the name of progress… Though I do also love my refrigerator.
Thursday 27 JULY 2017
We talk to Glenn’s mom on the phone for a bit. It’s nice to be chatting with someone who cares so much about us. We are away from that kind of love. We will miss her in the crossing.
Martin and Lydia tell us they are leaving tomorrow. They will have a good weather window to get to the Bras d’Or Lake two days away. It looks like a spectacular place and we wish we could go too. Next time, we vow. In the meantime we meet them at the beer garden in town for a good bye meal together. We will miss them too.
Friday 28 JULY 2017
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LINDA!!!
Saturday 29 JULY 2017
Mid-morning, Patrick, stops by the boat. Pat is a friend we met in Shelburne on the night of the fireworks. His face is easy to remember because he resembles Joe Biden, a fact about which he had some cute stories. It’s really nice to meet up with him again. He is traveling the east coast of North America as he has done for a number of years. He moves from the Florida Keys to NS (or maybe Newfoundland this year!) annually in his Tartan 37, “Hope.” Now he is here in Halifax for a few days and its fun to have another familiar person around. We walk to town with him, but go different places. Pat goes to the Library and we go to the very large Tall Ships Show on the waterfront. It’s cool but very crowded. Eventually after some pizza and fog we trudge ourselves to the library too.
In the evening we get invited to Patrick’s boat for a drink which extends into dinner (Frittata! Ava “Maybe I do like cheese” Wilcox eats her whole portion without a single whine) and a long evening chat. It’s great to talk and get to know him better. He understands boats/sailing very well (he was a boat delivery captain for years) and likes movies, so we have a lot to talk about. At one point, Ava tells Pat that he has “crazy hair” and that though he has the face of Joe Biden, he has the hair of Bernie Sanders. To which Pat laughs out loud says “Yea, I’m a Berden!” (Whew! That could have gone a whole different way!) Great night. Thanks, Pat!
Weatherwise, Monday continues to look good as a departure day. We have also signed up for Chris Parker’s “customized” weather forecasting. It will be good to have a second (and expert) opinion as we move across.
Sunday, 30 JULY 2017
Today is all about re-preparing. We stock up at the supermarket on the few things we’ve eaten/used in the four days we were supposed to be at sea. Our plan now is to leave in the morning tomorrow to catch a northerly wind up to St. Pierre, an Island just south of Newfoundland. This trip should take 2-3 days. We may or may not stop there – it depends on the conditions. But if we do we will be walking (sailing?) through a magical portal into Europe on this side of the Atlantic. St Pierre and Miquellon (the neighboring island) both belong to France, not Canada. We have heard that it is not at all part of the Quebec culture, but much more like France. We’ve heard that there is a stockpile of brie, paté, and wine waiting for us. We will investigate. We will let you know.
But not very soon… this is likely my last “live” post until we land in the Europe on the eastern side of the Atlantic in several weeks. I have, however, scheduled posts for every Tuesday for the next three weeks – just something fun and short to keep readers reading. I hope you enjoy these intervening posts. (And you’re welcome!) In the meantime, if you want to know where we are physically, use our Yellow Brick tracker (side menu). Or text us at: +881623400040. I will check this number daily at noon UTC or so and rsvp to texts. I mean, I will need things to do, right?
Monday, 31 JULY 2017
OK. Bye, Canada!