Third Time’s a …

Have we left home yet? Were there any, er, incidents this time?

Tim and I have been wished a boring start. An uneventful launch. An utterly unexciting beginning to this, our 3rd voyage on Ariose, our Alberg 30.

On our maiden voyage in 2015, we were novices. Within 18 hours of departure and a cascading series of newbie mistakes, we found ourselves on the rocks. Not our relationship. Our boat. Literally. A few harrowing hours later, with Coast Guard search & rescue getting practice in rappelling down to us from the sky, we were freed from the smashing and grinding, and limped back to our start. A month and a new rudder later, we set out again. That first day brought with it the hardest-earned of many lessons on our 9 month journey from Lake Ontario, via the New York canals and Intracoastal Waterway, to the Bahamas and back. That voyage, meant to “get the cruising bug out of our system”, despite the difficult lessons, just served to infect us more severely. We dreamed of setting sail again.

Our 2nd attempt, last year, was less than certain. Covid vaccines offered promise of lifting restrictions, so we thought we’d give it a go. We aimed to explore the Caribbean, but this time to take the more challenging St. Lawrence route to the Atlantic before turning south. Once again, that voyage started out badly. When lifting Ariose, incorrectly placed crane straps slipped causing a heart-stopping, couple-foot drop before the rudder (yes- the new one from our first voyage) bore the brunt of our boat’s 11,000 pounds. After a month of being baked-in-Ariose in the marina parking lot through an extreme summer heat wave, we had yet another new rudder. Tim and I then belatedly headed off. We spent a pleasant 2 months sailing from Kingston to Rimouski, but the longer voyage was not meant to be. With winter approaching, the US border not yet opening to recreational vessels, and my father’s health taking a downward turn, we called it. We sailed upstream and headed home. This wasn’t the year for us.

If you’re interested, check out ArioseNotes’ Archives 2016-2017 and 2021 for our (detailed! ) accounts of those voyages.

So will this, our third time, be a charm?

Port do Plaissance, Longueuil Quebec: Travel lift launch

There’s been some trepidation associated with this 3rd voyage. My anxiety grew as our departure date approached. Hard to shake that ominous feeling, that feeling of certitude as we awaited the next incident. I could sense something calamitous lurking just ahead, something dire that would rob us of our dream. And yet, there were so many positive indicators.

Dec 2021: Ariose and her crew over-wintering.

Tim and I had enjoyed winter, relaxing or more accurately, semi-hibernating, in our off-grid cabin. We drafted plans for the home we hope to build whenever we tire of the sea and return to terrestrial life. We intend to employ as many natural materials and processes as possible, using wood from our forest, soil from our land, and straw from local fields. What we can’t source naturally, we hope to reclaim. This spring, we lent a hand with a nearby home demolition and scored all the roofing material we’ll need. Planting seeds for this next dream somehow helps embrace our current one.

Unroofing steel for our future home.

I relished time over the winter and spring with my kids who are spread wide across the country. We got together at our place in North Bay, and I also travelled to their homes in Southern Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. For the latter, Tim and I tied in a fun road trip across Canada. Nothing replenishes my heart more than time with my kids, and a full heart is a good thing to carry with you when sailing.

Taking in the panorama of the Alberta Badlands, on our cross-country road-trip.

Other family time together was particularly precious. My vibrant 91 year old father’s health, as I’ve mentioned, took a downward turn. His final decline was quicker than anticipated . Had Tim and I continued on our voyage, I’m not sure I would have been able to return in time , so I am especially grateful for our decision. Over the course of the winter, my father reminisced, shared regrets, and peeled back a lifetime of layers revealing an emotional side we had rarely seen. Ultimately, as his lungs gave notice that they were nearing their expiry, he orchestrated the details of his death, said his goodbyes, and approached life’s end without fear. Spending his final week, final hours, and peaceful final moments together was truly sacred.

Thoughts of my father as I’m awed by this Lake Temagami, July 2022 rainbow.

Ironically, in his life’s ending, my Dad offered an unexpected gift. He has always attempted to cocoon me, forever his little girl. This is how he showed his caring, by wishing me a safe, and risk-free life. He was bewildered by my desire to sail. “You should get yourself a pontoon boat and enjoy that little lake you live on,” was a frequent suggestion. He was extremely anxious about our sailing. With my Dad gone, there’s a huge hole in my life, but also a certain relief knowing that as Tim and I fulfill our dreams, I am not causing someone I love sleepless nights. Looking ahead to this 3rd voyage, I feel a little lighter, if only I could get beyond the dread of its start.

Since my Dad’s passing, my mother and I have spent some lovely time together. It is difficult to think of not being within a couple hour drive from her once Tim and I set out. I know, though, that she is excited about our upcoming voyage and is on board Ariose vicariously. I thank my Mom for my adventure genes.

The rich family time helped, but did not alleviate the stressful feelings associated with our upcoming launch. I reminded myself that last year’s truncated voyage, a shakedown cruise of sorts, helped Tim and I get our sea legs back. There would be no “would-we-remember-how-to” jitters this time. Familiarity with the first leg of this journey further reduced worries of the unknown. With returning home just last November, gear was handy and re-packing easier than ever. And yet my apprehension persisted.

Tim and I enjoyed an unusually chaos-free pace of repairs and upgrades as we readied Ariose and ourselves. Ariose has never been in better condition. I’ll share more about those projects for any yachties who may be interested, or for those who are open to being impressed with our industriousness. We also have some great additions to our safety gear, thanks in part to Steve, a very generous neighbour. We should be feeling confident, or at least reassured.

With our boat work, the essentials and many nice-to-haves, completed ahead of schedule – yes! – I treated myself to a week-long canoe trip in Temagami area wilderness with some very special friends. It was incredibly empowering (translation: gruelling!). A perfect send-off. And still, the mixed emotions: anticipatory excitement and apprehension lingered.

A few days later, Tim and I set out slowly towing Ariose to a marina near Montreal, arriving near midnight, and without drama.

A minor scheduling error delayed our launch and mast stepping by a few days – but this could hardly be called an incident. In fact, the extra days afforeded a more relaxed pace of set-up. Ariose has never been better organized.

Tim in a rather compromising position, preparing to step the mast. Looked like promise of a little drama, but alas, none.

Tim returned truck and trailer home to finish closing up, while I remained at the marina to organize Ariose. We’re reassured by James, a friend and neighbour, who will keep an eye on our place. We have no time-lines for this voyage. We intend to sail as long as the good days outweigh the trying ones, so could be gone for many months or even years.

So on this, our 3rd, voyage, we’re well prepared. A restful winter, seeds sown of projects that will fulfill us on our return, special time with friends, and an abundance of rich family time. Maintenance and upgrades done. Ariose and crew are more readied than ever.

This relaxed start allowed for some extras, including welcoming our first guests of this voyage aboard.

Shirley’s Montrealer, their love & parents enjoy lumch together – wonderful first guests aboard Ariose.

Over the last months and weeks leading to our launch, I’ve thought of sharing what we’re up to in an Ariose Note. I’ve been updating friends and family almost every day and it would have been easier to just do so with a post. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t bear to make it public that we were close. I couldn’t shake that ominous feeling that if I announced we were on our way, I’d jinx a smooth start. Rather silly.

Club Nautique parkland . A perfect place to relax in the shade while gazing out across the St.Lawrence to Shirley’s Montreal offspring’s Hochelaga neighbourhood.
Sat night Montreal fireworks. We told the city they didn’t need to go to such trouble to wish us Bon Voyage!

We have now said au revoir to Club Nautique de Longueuil, a lovely coop marina that we called home for the last week. Dan, a liveaboard who we’ve enjoyed chatting with, offered an unusual parting gift. Tim, who is very particular about the pillow he lays his golden locks upon, was distressed to realize he left his at home. (On hood of my car! Perhaps to prevent my new-to-me vehicle from feeling abandonned?) He gratefully accepted a spare from Dan’s Bayfield, and now, with all necessary gear aboard, we were ready to untie the lines.

Ariose safely docked at Club Nautique, Longueuil Quebec, ready to take us on our 3rd voyage.

Sunday morning at 0930h, we fired up Ariose’s diesel, and headed out into a calm Montreal harbour – without incident. As I click “post”, we have 75 uneventful nautical miles in our wake and 2 peaceful nights at anchor. No drama. No adrenaline. Not particularly exciting to read, I’m sure, but ever so much more appealing to experience.

Note the distinctive former Olympic stadium profile on Montreal’s skyline at our stern. We are indeed underway!

I am now able to share: Third time has indeed been a charm. Relief!

Welcome aboard & here’s to a continued fair and incident-free voyage!

22 thoughts on “Third Time’s a …”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey journal. Thanks for sharing this.
    I feel joy and inspiration and a beautiful wind.
    Love to you cuz. So excited to read more

  2. It is so exciting to hear you are on your way! I am enjoying reading the notes about your journey even without the high drama.

  3. Happy to read about your departure in more details, and excited to follow along with the blog. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us, bon voyage to you and Tim! Lots of love xoxox

    1. Hugs, Nadia, and hope our good times give you daydream escapes from the office, and our trying times give you gratitude that you are where you are!

  4. Bon Voyage!

    Our new to us Alberg 30, has miles to go to be as set up as yours, but we are excited to be on our own journey growing, as we enjoy your actual sailing adventure vicariously.

    Thanks again for being here for our launch and also for being our continued source of information and inspiration.

    1. “As set up” equals “as weighted down & slow”… hope you racers can find the perfect balance as you fit out Nimbus IX. We’re thrilled to have you both sharing in our voyage and us in yours.

  5. How fabulous! I’m very excited to follow your journey with no timelines or set in stone plans!
    Shirley, I’m so very sorry about your dad’s passing this past winter. My deepest condolences on your loss. ♥️ No doubt you handled it with grace, but losing a parent in my experience is hard. Please extend my sympathies to your family.
    And my best to Tim!

    1. Thanks for joining us, Elisa, and for your condolences. I thought of you and of your father’s passing often in my father’s final weeks. Yes, losing a parent is hard, and brings up complicated emotion … and for me, has helped my resolve to appreciate life.
      Any chance of a Bernstein scuba adventure in the Caribbean this winter? Would be great to meet up!

  6. Fair winds Shirley & Tim … looking forward to reading every detail ! Saw the girls Temagami pics , you’re really living the dream, kids, canoeing and now sailing again! ❤️

    1. Who knew the joys of reaching a stage where we can live life as we desire! Hope all’s well in your world too, Nancy.

  7. Sweet! Looking forward to hearing all about your sailing adventures and seeing your fun photos… Bon voyage!

    1. Bonjour Patrick. We were so proud, other than a pillow, to think we’ve launched without forgetting anything, and withyour message, realized we completely forgot that you are based in Montreal and that we could have enjoyed a visit. Veuillez accepter nos plus sincères excuses! Drop us an email to update on the progress on your lovely vessel, and how your plans are coming for your Atlantic crossing. Not as pleasant as a cockpit conversation, but we look forward to hearing how you’re doing. Salut!

    1. Thanks, Cynthia! We are optimistic that we will enjoy much of what lies ahead, and hopeful that those moments outweigh the trying times. So nice to have you along with us. xo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *