Directions

Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:
FIRST "REFIT" BLOG ENTRY - March 2011

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas...

With less than 200 days to go before we leave, we are faced with many "lasts" in our life.  As a pastor, Christmas Eve services have always been pretty special in my world.  Unfortunately, mother nature, along with some questionable, politically motivated choices, leaves my churches without and power or running water or heat this Christmas Eve.

Here in southwestern Ontario we were hit with a CRAZY ice storm last weekend.  trees were down and power was out in many places.  3 days later we discover that out in the country there is a noticeable shortage of HYDRO 1 trucks (the provincial utility).   It turns out, that most (or maybe all) of their assets were sent to Toronto (our closest MAJOR city) to get folks there re-connected, leaving thousands of rural customers with no heat or power or water for days... A sad way to run things...



At the end of the day, for the first time in more than twenty years, I will not be leading Christmas Eve services...

That said, I hope that everyone has an awesome Christmas time with friends and family and we can't wait for next Christmas when we have promised our great friends, Mike & Margaret in Cozumel, Mexico that we will be with them!

Our plan is to leave home on July 1st and make our way slowly down the eastern seaboard until the end of hurricane season next November 1st. The first weather window after the end of hurricane season will hopefully get us to Cuba where we will make our way east along their north cast before we head to Cozumel in time for the beginning of December.

Sometime after Christmas we will head toward the windward islands and hopefully end up in Grenada in time for the 2015 hurricane season...  Lets all hope things go as we plan...

Again, Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 13, 2013

200 Days to Go...

On the one hand 200 days seems like a really long time, on the other hand, it is really just around the corner... As soon as Christmas is over we will get serious about getting the house sold and the rest of our stuff sold, stored or packed for the boat....

the boat seems to be holding up really well in storage...  yesterday we checked the dLink camera and all looked well:


This year we are also looking forward to seeing our son and his wife and our granddaughter at Christmas..  Next year we hope our family will find the time and money to join us in Mexico.  We promised our friends who we have taught diving for for many years that we would spend Christmas 2014 in Cozumel, Mexico...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Boat is Safe & Sound...

Last week Shelley and I went to Rochester to check on the boat and found everything just as we left it...  It is such good news to know that the folks that are storing it are keeping a good eye on things...  Even the cover which we weren't too sure of is still in place.  The most interesting thing is that we have left a DLink camera set up and running off the 12 volt house battery and the house batteries connected to the solar panels.  When we checked the voltage was a steady 13 volts!

The solar panels are doing a great job even with the camera drawing a little current 24 hours a day....

On our way down we passed this guy who was having a REALLY BAD DAY!




We are busy at home getting the house ready to sell in the new year...  We are also still busy selling and giving away SO MUCH!   I have to say that as difficult as it is, there is something very liberating about divesting ourselves of STUFF that we have been accumulating over our lifetime... I am becoming aware of just how much we have and how little we really need to be happy...  I am sure that will be some painful moments, but for now we are doing really well....

This month we bit the bullet and bought ourselves a Christmas present.  With the hopes of doing some writing as we travel, (after some pretty extensive research) we have purchased a NIKON D3200 digital SLR camera and 2 zoom lenses that will give us everything form 18mm to 300mm.  What an awesome piece of gear! When we submit a story for publication, we understand that photos need to be of the best possible quality, something you just can't get with a point & shoot camera...  In a previous life, I did some professional photography and am really happy using this great new technology...  I am pleasantly surprised that the cost of a decent SLR is roughly what it was 30 years ago when I was in the business...  I guess that really means the cost of this equipment is much less than it used to be.... Given the value of the dollar today vs 30 years ago...

More soon,
Kyle

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Some Winter Projects...

With less than 220 days to go before departure we are keeping really busy with organizing all the things we want to take with us. A few weeks ago we found 2 Apple Apps. One is called Boat Manager and the other is called Stock Control. These two programs have made our world a way more manageable place!

First, Boat Manager looks after EVERYTHING you could think of...

Below are a couple of screen shots of the things this ap is capable of doing:












Above is the part that records all our costs.

There are lots of other reports available:

Fuel statistics: 

Scheduled Events:

Service Schedules:


Then the STOCK CONTROL program is AMAZINGLY powerful...



 Here are some of the things it can do:
Here is a sample of our Mission Goods:


Our Assets and Inventory:

Our Medical Supplies:

Our Tools:

And our Food:

 Lastly, this program tells us WHERE everything is...


 if you have anything in your life that you need to keep track of, this is the ap that can do it.... If you want to find something visually... NO PROBLEM:



Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Final Coat of Paint....

Today was the beginning of the end.  I put the first of the final coat of paint on the dodger.  It is looking great! I will let it cure for a few days and install the handle hardware.  The we can store it until spring...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Making Progress of the Dodger....

Thanks again to Mike D. for coming over the other night and cutting out the windows on the dodger. A big job made to look easy when a pro steps in...  After we fitted the windows we cut the solar panels to accommodate the wiring.  Sadly some of the primer got scratched when we were working...  I am wondering if I didn't let it cure long enough before we touched it...  Why can't paint cans put all that info on them?  The only instruction was "leave overnight between coats"...  Oh well...  Today I touched up all the scratches and pre-drilled for the 12" grab bars I will install after the final paint is applied...  As soon as all the work is done on this dodger, we will be storing in Mike's storage shop for the winter and install it on the boat when we bring it back from Rochester in the spring...








The very last project we will undertake before we leave will be to replace the 4, five year old 6 volt deep cycle Trojan house batteries.  We plan to replace them with the same kind but this time a bank of 6 batteries instead of 4. this should give us just over 600 amp. hours of house batteries.  In addition we have 2 starting batteries, and a single battery bank for the windlass.  To keep that all charged we will have 400 watts of solar over 4 panels (2 x120w. & 2 x 60w.), (plus an extra 40 watt panel dedicated to the windlass bank) and our awesome wind generator for the days that the sun doesn't shine... Last summer when we were on our shakedown cruise we lasted 5 days on the hook, never once starting the engine or generator, all the while never dropping below 12.4 volts on the house batteries...  After adding the 2 solar panels this winter and the 2 extra batteries in the spring we hope that we will be able to sustain our power needs without running the engine or generator...  Here's to hoping!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The DODGER Has ARRIVED!

After many months of planning and many weeks of waiting our new aluminum dodger arrived today!
Thanks to our good friend, Mike D. we are the proud owners of an awesome looking new dodger that will keep the sun, rain and waves at bay as we begin our journey in just 250 days!






This was the last major project to be completed before we are ready to go.  Over the next few weeks we will complete the last few jobs to finish it in our heated garage.

We need to:
 - epoxy a few inside joints (to make it look good)
 - cut out the window openings
 - clean all the bare metal with solvent
 - prime & paint it
 - install the two 60 watt solar panels and wire them
 - install the solar controller
 - install a wire for a white and red led light that will live under the dodger
 - install a passive motion sensor (a part of the alarm system that will detect movement in the cockpit)
 - install two handholds on the sides of the dodger.



When that is all done we will store it until the spring when we will either take it to Rochester and install it before we sail back to Hamilton, or sail home with no dodger and install it before we leave on July 1st...

As we wait out the last few months we are VERY busy doing something with everything we own.  

Everything we own will either be:
 - sold on Kijiji, EBay, or Craigslist
 - sold in a giant garage sale we are planning for the early spring
 - be given to one of our children or friends
 - put in storage (We have decided on a MAXIMUM of 10 boxes of important keepsakes and papers).
 - or brought with us on the boat....


Above, is a picture of some of the "stuff" we have set aside for the garage sale...


That last option is the one we are most worried about!  As you can see in the picture above we already have a ton of stuff earmarked for the boat... Some of the stuff was already on the boat and was removed for winter storage...  We are being careful not to leave with the waterline just below the gunnels...

We have decided that with all the work we have done to make this boat our home, we need to do everything we can to protect it.  And while we are not naive enough to imagine that we can protect ourselves from all eventualities, we believe that there are ways to deter some of the theft that is out there...  Our research tells us the many of the crimes in the islands are petty and crimes mostly of opportunity.  That said, we have already installed a better than average lock on our hatch door, and installed bars in the main salon ceiling hatch...  To further our "deterrent crime prevention system" we have purchased a 12 volt "home" alarm system from a company called "Skylink".


This "Skylink" system includes magnetic switch sensors that will be installed on every hatch in two positions so that they can be left open slightly for air circulation when we are aboard.  2 motion sensors that will cover the main salon and the cockpit, and 2 wireless panic buttons that will set off 3 110 decibel alarms at the push of a button...  We think that when we are away, the noise created when the system goes off will be enough to attract the attention of a neighboring boat, and that when home, if we hear someone on our deck at night they can be sent packing either with the noise set off with our panic buttons or their movement picked up while they are still outside the boat by the infrared motion sensor located under our new dodger.


In addition to the new "Skylink System", we already have 2 cameras installed on our solar arch on the transom.  They can be set to start recording on a laptop by a motion sensor inside either of them and we can turn on the TV in our cabin at night an see who is out there in infrared mode...

Is all of this going to keep us from getting robbed? Who knows, but after years of living in the city, we know for sure that if a thief can find an easier target, he will likely move to that before tackling something more difficult...  As always though, the best way to protect ourselves is to make sure we don't make stealing something easy....

More later,
cheers,
Kyle

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blowin' Bubbles Is Tucked Away For Winter....

After a long 17 1/2 hour sail / motor from Hamilton to Rochester I arrived around midnight Saturday night / Sunday morning....





I got the boat tied up (without a scratch) and plugged in and went to bed....  At 9:30 Sunday morning I finally woke up and got myself and the boat cleaned up and ready for a busy day.  The first order of business was to assemble one of our folding bikes and get to the grocery store to pick up a few supplies...  I really have to learn NOT to shop when I am hungry!

I bought $50 worth of food without many redeeming qualities and returned to the boat to get my work started.

I spent the day getting the sails down and folded which is much harder than I imagined! I have always had help, so doing all that work on my own was quite a challenge... Fortunately a very nice couple arrived home to their slip (beside the one I was docked at) and they helped me get the mizzen sail folded....





In the end the sails got put away, the Mack Packs and lazy jacks got taken down and the running rigging was neatly coiled and stowed below...



About 7pm I barbecued a steak I had purchased earlier only to discover that Shelley had already removed ALL the spices and condiments from the boat!  I wonder now if I have ever had steak, corn on the cob and a baked potato with NOTHING on it... Oh well, I'm sure it was good for me...

My last job on Sunday was to get the new dLink camera working.  this camera is live and will send us an image on the interior of the boat ANYTIME we want it either on a laptop or our IPhone or IPad....  You just have to love the technology that we could only dream about a few years ago... Shumway has a fairly dependable WiFi in place that is left on all winter and the camera and router on the boat is connected to the house battery system and the solar panels are still charging so I suspect we wont have any issues keeping an eye on the interior of the boat...

An image From the DLink Camera

Another Image Taken  On My IPhone After I Got Home...

Early Monday morning I got up and showered and by 8 am I was ready to be hauled out...  I have to say that I have NEVER seen a more professional and capable crew handle our boat before... within an hour Blowin' Bubbles was hauled and on its way to its storage location with no fuss or drama, all for a price almost half of what I would have been charged at the west end of the lake! Just to give you an idea of the pricing, it was only after some serious negotiation that we paid the people at Ship Shape Marina over $1500 (they wanted almost $3000) just to keep us for a weekend in the spring, launch us and provide a crane operator for an hour...  Shumway wanted $1700 for a haulout, bottomwash, winter storage and launch in the spring!  I'd say this easily makes the 17 hour trip each way worth it!



The end of Monday saw the boat and engine winterized and the cover about 3/4's installed.  Shelley and Kelly arrived about 6pm in a rented car so we could stay in a motel and finish up the boat closing in the morning...





You may wonder why we rented a car when we have two cars of our own... The answer is simple, both our cars are over 10 years old and we now have a policy that we wont take them farther away from home than the 100 kilometers that the CAA (AAA) auto club is willing to tow to our mechanic... The cost to rent a brand new Dodge Charger for 2 days with unlimited mileage was $68!  that way cheaper than a 300 kilometer tow would have been any day...  Because we are leaving in a few months it make no sense to replace either car and so for now we just pray that they will hold together until we leave in 271 Days!

After a good nights sleep Shelley, Kelly and I returned to the boat and finished up the cover and then headed toward home.  On the way we had an appointment for Kelly so it all worked out to be a very productive few days....  Our last stop on the way home was to drop off a piece of the stainless steel pole that held up the wind generator.  Unfortunately, it had to be cut to get the travel lift off the boat after it was cribbed for the winter.  The pole was make by Klacco Marine in Grimsby and Doug was happy for us to drop it off to be fixed on our way home.




As you can see the cover is well secured and is held in place with 4 rolls of Tuck Tape" and 100 yards of synthetic twine...  The yard guys seem to think that the cover won't last till Thanksgiving, but I have greater faith than that....  At the end of the day, it is all closed up and it wouldn't be the end of the world if it got rained and snowed on for the next few months...



We expect to launch early in the spring and are on track for our July 1st 2014 departure!  The excitement and trepidation is rising daily....

When we got home we had two great emails.  the first was from Shelley's brother Bob who, if you remember, designed our logos for the boat.  He has now designed a logo for our "Right to Write" mission ministry...  the other note was from Mike D. who now has our new aluminum dodger welded and ready to be finished.  We will install the windows, solar panels and paint it over the winter and install it in the spring.... I just hope Shelley doesn't mind it in the living room all winter.... lol...


More news later....
Cheers,
Kyle