Category Archives: Boating

Albacore – Out the Door

Recent blog traffic suggests there are people out there interested in my Albacore restoration project so I thought I’d better post sooner than later that – pardon the pun – the wind has sort of gone out of my sails on this one.

I’m not sure which was the mistake – buying a project boat in the first place or moving up to keelboat lessons last year. Having now experienced both dinghy and keelboat sailing, keelboats rule! Had I simply stuck to dinghies, I might have completed the restoration by now and be frantic to get mobile enough (hip surgery) to be on the water. But no. So she will soon be looking for a new home with a more appreciative owner.

And as much as I’d like to jump into a keelboat of my own, this is not the year for it as I likely won’t have decent sea-legs for sailing till at least July. Perhaps some crewing opportunities will appear after that??

Switching gears to powerboats, we recently upgraded from a fishing boat to a bow-rider! I’ve only seen photos so far but I think I may soon be mobile enough for a trip to the lake* and a maiden voyage. The new boat, with a full windscreen, canopy and zip-on-and-off side panels, should make the trips to and from the island much better on rough days. Or any days really – she’s fiberglass instead of aluminum, beamier and about two feet longer (18’-something …) The seating is higher on the comfort scale and the swim platform, ladder and bigger motor mean skiing or wakeboarding is an option … not likely for me, but you never know …

So goodbye Albacore, hello bow-rider, with sweet dreams of a keelboat in a few years’ time!

*The lake is Big Rideau, where we have just over two acres of property on a 25-acre island – alas, no cottage, just a very modest sleeping cabin (OK, shed, really), however, the beauty and tranquility of the setting, the stellar view, clear water and weed-free swimming are all that really matter! The boat ride from marina-to-island is about five kilometers (three miles).

The Amazing Adventure of Alessandro di Benedetto

Last year, after decades of delay, I did something I’ve always wanted to do – I started down the path of becoming a sailor. Better late than never, but those dinghy lessons only served to reinforce my regret at not having started years ago. I love it!

While researching various aspects of sailing, I inadvertently stumbled onto blogs by solo circumnavigators and enjoyed following the journeys of teens Mike Perham, Jessica Watson and Abby Sunderland (I was too late to follow Zac Sunderland).

The recreation of Bligh’s journey by the crazy and recently successful crew onboard the open Talisker Bounty boat was fun to follow too.

The most captivating journey, for me, however, has been that of solo circumnavigator Alessandro di Benedetto, a Franco-Italian who set sail some months ago from southern France.

Alessandro is now just days away from completing his round-the-world adventure. He’s stayed pretty far beneath the media radar, perhaps overshadowed by the younger crop of solo sailors or maybe due to the fact that his website updates are short and infrequent compared to the longer, almost-daily blogs of the others.

But this guy is sailing a boat that’s a mere 21 feet long!
He catches tuna, grows salad greens on the deck of his tiny boat, and even managed to bake bread out there one day!!
He was dismasted just before rounding Cape Horn, yet salvaged enough of the mast to jury-rig the boat and managed to sail up the coast of South America and across the Atlantic that way!!!

This guy deserves a little more attention and applause!

To see more about his journey and catch the last days of it, see his website

Spring has Sprung with Boats on the Brain

Normally still cold and white here at this time of year, the snow has melted, the ice is off the river, bits of green are emerging, the geese are returning and I spotted my first robin yesterday! It’ll be tough to take if we get whacked with the white stuff once again …

Back about six weeks ago, while still cold and dreary, a good friend enticed me out for an evening at the Nepean Sailing Club, for a talk and slide show about sailboat cruising in the south Pacific. My friend, our two daughters and I had taken White Sail (dinghy sailing) lessons together last summer and now she wondered if I might join her in the upcoming season for a keelboat sailing course? I’d think about it, I said.

I was already thinking about sailing. I had avidly followed the blog of 17-year-old Mike Perham’s round-the-globe journey last summer and had recently started following the blog of Jessica Watson, the 16-year-old girl from Australia who embarked on a solo circumnavigation late last year.

In the next few weeks, I also began to follow the Talisker Bounty Boat prep for their upcoming voyage in an open wooden sailboat, due to begin in April. It’s to be a 4,000 mile journey, beginning in Tonga, in the South Pacific, that follows the path taken hundreds of years before by Captain Bligh (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame). Mike Perham, now 18, is one of the four crew members.

I’m also now following 16-year-old Abby Sunderland’s solo journey as she follows in the path of her brother, Zac, and vies with Jessica Watson to become the youngest to sail around the world.

All this blog-following is now bordering on obsession as I constantly check for the latest updates but, inspired by all the boating activity of those far younger than I (there’s also the girl who recently rowed across the Atlantic and the guy who rowed across the Tasman Sea!), yes, I am now signed up for the keelboat course.

And now I’m eying boats for sale …

But I bought that old Albacore last year. The one in need of all that work. And the snow is gone, which means we can now get in on the road to my sister-in-law’s cottage, where the boat’s been hiding out all winter, haul it home and get to work.

But now I want a bigger boat – not just the typical two-foot-itis familiar to most boaters, but rather a bigger leap into one with a cockpit and cabin.

I will restrain myself, however … for this year … and so the overhaul of the Albacore is set to begin sometime soon.

After the imminent tile job in the front hall. And between bouts of finish work to the front porch. But likely before starting on the finish to the outdoor brick oven (which may get fired up today!).

That’s the trouble with spring – as the snow melts, all the reno and restoration jobs are unearthed.

I’m about to be really busy but, in the end, I hope to be sailing come summer – stay tuned to see how it all shakes out!

PS – Cider Update – extreme carbonation now, but no blown bottles yet. It’ll make a fine alternative to champagne whenever the refurbished Albacore (still in need of a name so please feel free to offer suggestions) finally re-enters the water.